What is the one thing that, no matter how hard we try, we can never get back?
There are a lot of answers to this riddle but the one thing I am thinking of is time. I find it hard to believe but my daughter is slowly, quickly, imperceptibly, but must be, as marked on the calendar, soon to be two years old. I already have all my appointments set for this month and am starting to plan for the next month, and what literary conferences I will attend this spring. I ran through most of my life at a fast, neck-breaking pace. But I took some time off before law school and I was really glad I did it. For the first time in my life I had unstructured days and I wondered to myself, how I would spend this time. It turns out that I took classes at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston on book-making, visited museums, read, held down a part-time job in retail. It was a very therapeutic time for me.
Even now I try to make time for unstructured time. I guard my time very carefully on weekends and make sure to spend it where it counts: with my family. In the late evenings after everyone is asleep that is when I get most of my reading accomplished. Usually two or three solid hours before I call it a night, where I can concentrate and there are no distractions. During the day I attend to business matters, continue to read manuscripts, work on proposals, set up meetings with clients, editors, and prospective clients, decide what networking events to attend and all the other activities that one engaged in literary life does. The time often passes very quickly and before you know it, suddenly it’s 6 p.m. and time to go home. And I make it a point to go home, no matter how much remains to be accomplished because it’s important for me to spend time with my daughter. She is only two once in her life and I already miss enough of her days.
How do you, as a writer, view time? Are you structured about how and when you write or does it come to you in spurts? Do you leave unstructured time where you can just relax and do something that you enjoy?
Although we may try to over-schedule down to the hour and grab these shards a time and our calendars give us an illusion of control, life often shows us how sometimes things happen that will shift our time and attention elsewhere, whether it’s someone that needs our care, our own bodies, a pressing urgent matter, or something more trivial.
A good practice is to keep a log of how you spend your time. Many attorneys will laugh at this suggestion since logging billable hours is something that they do as second-nature, ticking off time in quarter-hour intervals. But when I say keep a log, I mean not just a record but also take time to reflect on whether your time was well spent and what you can do to improve. And thank you for spending some of your time with me, on my blog. Happy reading!
Time is our most valuable resource and the only one we can’t really re-capture. We are all prone to procrastination in our attention-deprived society. So take time to prioritize and focus on what is most important based on your goals. But also have time to relax, have fun, and reconnect with your family and friends.