This is the time of year when everyone else in publishing seems to take the month off and drink a lot of eggnog. I, on the other hand, always find myself scrambling to get everything done and feeling overwhelmed by the effort.
Partly this is because I’m thinking, “The year is almost over! I didn’t do every single one of the things on my to-do list!” What can I say? I like having everything crossed off my to-do list.
Partly this is because I like to celebrate the holidays is if it were 1952 (“Let’s string popcorn!” “No need to buy that! I can make it!” “Let’s make a really complicated candy recipe that fails six times but we can’t give up until we get it right!”), ignoring the reality that I have a job or three and that to-do list competing for my time.
Partly this is because my daughter has so much time off from school and I work from home, and you do the math.
But as ever, I have a solution to my time-crunch problem. I just have to dig it out and remember what it is.
1. Step back. I ask myself, “What are you doing, why are you doing it, what fills up your day?”
2. I figure out what I can drop, which is usually the least rewarding thing, like watching relatives fight.
3. I ask myself, “What can you hire out/get help with?”
4. I look over my to-do list carefully for the “shoulds” that don’t really matter to me.
5. I try to become more aware of what’s wasting my time. For example, spending the morning surfing the web when I should be finishing a proposal.
6. I schedule the time. Whatever is important needs to be put on the calendar.
7. I consolidate. For example, when my daughter has time off school, I like to plan a few things for her to do so she doesn’t get bored and whiny while I’m trying to work. (Not that my daughter would ever be bored or whiny.) I have cookies that I want to bake. I have a friend who’s also a single mom and who needs a break to do holiday shopping. I need to give said friend a present. So, I’ve invited my friend’s daughter over for a cookie-baking session with my daughter, which will accomplish all of these things at once.
What are your strategies for making the best use of your time?