BLOG

The Myth of Having More Time Someday

Friday, July 8, 2011

Have you ever put something off, telling yourself, “I’ll do it someday when I have more time” but then never get to it?

I’m particularly good at putting off mending. In fact, a couple of years ago, one of my twins ripped a gorgeous dress, the kind with the black velvet top and gauzy skirt. I folded the dress neatly and placed it next to the sewing basket in the closet, assuring myself I would fix it when I had more time.

This summer—two years later—as I was de-cluttering the closet, lo-and-behold, I came upon the badly neglected dress. Obviously, my twins have now outgrown the beautiful garment. And as I cleaned out the messy closet, I decided I would keep the dress for my five year old to wear when she’s older. So there the dress continues to sit, waiting for me to sew it someday, when I have more time.

The question is, will I ever fix the dress? And the other question is, when will I ever have more time?

As I interact with other writers, occasionally I hear things like, “I’ll finish the book when my kids are older” or “I’ll devote more time to social media once I’m published” or “I’ll be able to do more writing and marketing once I quit my day job.”

The underlying assumption with each of these statements is that we’ll have more time at some nebulous point in the future to devote to our writing career. In reality, we’re likely only fooling ourselves. Here are three reasons why it’s a myth to think we’ll have more time someday:

1. Busyness will always haunt us, if we let it.

When we finish one activity, there will be ten other things needing our attention. Perhaps we’ll be able to quit our day job, but then maybe we’ll have more family responsibilities that need our attention. Maybe we’ll finish running our kids around during spring track season, but then we plunge headlong into all the summer activities.

The fact is, in a modern culture that’s obsessed with busyness, we can always find ways to fill our time, even when we’re not looking for them. The demands come knocking on our doors and grip us by the neck.

The best way to avoid over-committing is to keep the door closed on the busyness-ogre. We can set personal boundaries and limit what we do (and perhaps even limit our kids’ activities). We try to make ourselves feel better about the busyness by telling ourselves that we're giving ourselves and our kids “advantages” through all the activities. But in reality we’re gaining stress and often forgoing things that should be a priority.

2. We make time for the things that are important.

When we say we don’t have time for writing or marketing, we’re usually just making an excuse, aren’t we?

In the craziness of all the things competing for our attention, we CAN make time for the things that really matter to us the most. How many of us make sure we don’t miss our favorite TV programs every week? (I know I can always make time for mine!)

The reality is that if something is important enough to us, we’ll carve out a place in our lives for it. And the same is true of our writing. If we want to writing and publication badly enough, then we’ll have to give it the time it deserves. If we want to achieve a degree of success, then we’ll have to make time for the marketing too.

3. We can have all the time in the world and still squander it.

Published author life doesn’t give us more time. In fact, we often have more responsibilities to try to squeeze in the same work time we’ve always had. So in a sense we have less time to accomplish the demands.

I’ve learned that often when I do actually have more free time, I’m not as motivated, I’m more lackadaisical, and frequently don’t accomplish as much. When my schedule is full, I find that I need to budget my time better, work more diligently, and can usually get quite a bit done.

My Summary: It’s not always about how much time we have, but rather how we use it.

What do you think? Have you ever believed the myth that you’ll have more time someday? Do you make excuses for why you’re not accomplishing your writing goals? What’s been the biggest obstacle for making time?

*P.S. Thank you to everyone who has signed up so far to be a part of the blog tour for The Doctor's Lady!There's still time to sign up! If you'd like to participate and receive a promotional copy of the book, please email me at jodyhedlund (at) jodyhedlund (dot) com. Or use my Contact Page.

Photo credit: Flickr

42 comments:

  1. "When my schedule is full, I find that I need to budget my time better, work more diligently, and can usually get quite a bit done." - This is true for me too. I just took a week off after turning in another book. Instead of feeling like I had a lot of "free time," the rest of my life gobbled up that extra time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So true, made me smile. I aspire to do many more things but we all need to focus sometimes.
    So important to remember what really matters.
    Have a great weekend,
    Elle

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very true Jody--I've totally had the mending dilemma! Funny with my writing, when I had a deadline and someone was paying me to write something...I suddenly had more time. Priorities. The time it there, sometimes we need to make it a priority!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Goodmorning, ladies! I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only one who neglects my mending! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jody, true indeed. I would say also that sometimes the space for the work we really want to do isn't there, but that doesn't mean we should put off the work that will help get us there. Diving in, even when it's not quite the right time, puts us in a good place to be ready when the time comes for our ship to come in. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a great post. Daily lists work well for me. I try to put a few quick items on each day's list that I can accomplish easily and feel productive. And I leave things like the mending pile in plain sight because I know it will annoy me to keep seeing it, which makes me do it. But even still, when I am obsessed with a manuscript, anything goes.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Life will never get less busy. I feel like I'm more organized and effective now that I have three kids than I was with one because I have to be.

    Smart, smart advice. Thanks for this post!

    ReplyDelete
  8. There'll always be things to keep us busy and distracted. That's life.

    Getting things done isn't a matter of finding time, it's a matter of making time.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Getting things done isn't a matter of finding time, it's a matter of making time."

    Love that line, Paul! Thanks for sharing it! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have all the time I need.

    Seriously, I do. And I couldn't agree more that we make time for what's important.

    ~ Wendy

    ReplyDelete
  11. Jody: Anytime! It's a tough philosophy to get used to, and even stick with, but I find it works.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is true for me. I know I always find time to do the things I want to.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ah, the myth of more time some day ... it often boils down to have I said no to the right things and said yes to the right things. A friend of mine just offered to sit down with me and go over my schedule--and I accepted. She'll be completely objective about all my commitments because she's not emotionally connected to any of it.
    One thought: It's good to include a little "do-nothing" time in the schedule. We all need that. And we shouldn't feel guilty for it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for this excellent post. It's so very true.

    When I was doing my master's, I kept telling myself that I'd have time to finally devote to my writing when I finished. When I finished my master's and jumped into full-time freelancing, everyone thought I was unemployed so I was swamped with requests to volunteer my time. I hadn't yet learned how to say "no," so I ended up with no more time to write than I had before.

    Since then, I've learned a lot about setting boundaries and sticking to them even if it disappoints some people.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Somebody already quoted it, but "I’ve learned that often when I do actually have more free time, I’m not as motivated, I’m more lackadaisical, and frequently don’t accomplish as much. When my schedule is full, I find that I need to budget my time better, work more diligently, and can usually get quite a bit done," is so true!

    If I don't have to get a whole lot done, I tend to get nothing done.

    And in a related note, if I don't have a plan, I don't get anything done. Currently, my first novel's manuscript is finished but needs editing. When I had a concrete goal ("Write 1000 words today," "Finish chapter 7 tomorrow," etc.), I worked more diligently. Anybody else have that problem?

    ReplyDelete
  16. You summed it up...if you want something bed enough, you will find the time...Claire Cook wrote one of her first books while waiting for her daughter during swim practice.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Jody, this post really spoke to me. I find that the more time I have, like during the summer, the more time I squander. We're in between track practice of spring and football practice of late summer, and I recently realized that THIS is the time I should use to get lots of work done. Looking ahead helps me become more organized with my time.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Wait, you're freaking me out here. You mean "someday" won't come and I won't have more time then?

    Hmm, that puts a serious wrinkle in my plans. I really had a lot of to-do's scheduled for "someday when I have more time."

    ReplyDelete
  19. The biggest obstacle for me is my job. It's demanding and the hours vary. I work 3 to 10pm somedays and 9am to 5pm on others.

    Finding that constant writing time is hard. I write everyday but not a the same time.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hey Rachelle!

    Sorry to drop the bomb on your future plans like that! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  21. @Thismomreads: I definitely have that problem. It helps me tremdously to have daily tangible goals. When I'm in first draft mode I give myself a daily word count goal. And in editing mode, I give myself a certain number of chapters to edit a day. In between projects I'll work on guest posts, marketing ideas, etc. All of that helps me to work more diligently!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I wish I would give myself in-between projects time, a story always hits me in the head. I'm writing more than I thought. I just hope I get to write when my family arrives from Uk next week. Everything else may slide lol.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Uggh! I'm very overwhelmed with kids' activities, summer, and finding time to revise and keep up with social media right now. I agree--there never is more time. I feel like I have less each week!

    For me it's all about reminding myself why I'm busy--it's worth it to me to give up extra hours for my kids' sports right now. It's also worth it for me to ask them to give up some other activities (pool time each day) so I can fit my writing in. But I struggle to keep up with everything else, including housework!

    ReplyDelete
  24. This is very much how thing work. I'll get to it, I tell myself. Then real life intercedes and I don't get to it. When asked what I'm working on, I give them the list of projects I am currently working on. Their response is, 'you have too much time on your hands'. To which I reply, 'No, I don't have nearly enough time.' I don't want to wait until I retire to do the things I love to do. So, I am told, make time. I think slowing down time is a much better option. Yeah, like that's going to happen.

    Great article. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'm in the middle of reading the 4 hour workweek--has some excellent things to help you see how you can "have more time" someday. I'm going to be reviewing it on www.makinghomeworkblog.blogspot.com shorty, but I know I need help because I do your #3, I squander. But I'm slowly fixing it and it has some wonderful suggestions.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Wow! I sooo needed this today! Writing, blogging, networking,combined with family time, church, appointments, etc...it can be a bit overwhelming. Well, okay--sometimes more than a bit, ha! (Oh, and now I'm trying to learn Twitter and praying I don't goof!)

    Jody, you're an inspiration! :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm a great believer in the old addage, 'If you want something done, ask a busy man to do it'. I'm better motivated when I have less ime at my disposal because it forces me to be better organised. I had a dream to write a novel when I retired but last year I discovered NaNoWriMo and enabled with the goals, targets and support set by that program I drafted my first novel in one month, while still working full time.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Sounds like a great book, Melissa! I'll be curious to hear your takeaway!

    'If you want something done, ask a busy man to do it' I love that saying, Gayle!

    Thanks for stopping by today, everyone! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  29. *hides head* i'm really skilled in the art of putting off things till "i have more time" - Must get better and doing them the moment i think of them.

    Great post like normal, I havn't read the ones i missed while i was away yet, better get on that right away :-)

    Have a good day,

    sarah

    ReplyDelete
  30. Couldn't agree more. We make time to write if we really want to!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I don't for a heartbeat think that I'm ever going to have more time, but at the same time I'm guilty of this. How? Facebook. I decided it was a toss up (for now) between Facebook and my own website and my own website won out. It's one of those things I know I have to do but my brother describes it as The Great Time Suck, so I admit I'm procrastinating on it. Especially while I'm in first draft hell, soon, to be put on hold to go into revision hell again. *sigh* You know what we all need? To be two people. Maybe I should just save time and work on that pesky little cloning issue! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thanks for this, Jody. You have some very wise observations and suggestions here. When the children were older... when I sold my home-based business... when my husband retired... at various points I've been excited about all the extra time I was soon going to have. Instead, your #3 became my reality. The available time was filled with other things. I've always thought it was akin to Quantum Physics when particles of anything, including time, spread out to fill available space.

    For many years I tried to do everything, until my body and nerves gave out and I was forced to step away from everything. Then I learned the value of prioritizing and list making. Writing was therapeutic during that time, and, along with breathing, has remained near the top of my list of "must do" activities ever since.

    I highly recommend the exercise of listing priorities -- making several different lists (one each for personal, work, home & family, church, community, etc.) then selecting the top item from each list for a master list, and estimating the time commitment each will need before adding any of the second place items, and so on. What ends up at the bottom of the list is often quite a revelation. We seem to acquire worthy commitments like barnacles on a ship, but at some point we have to trim them away before they sink us or we at least wallow instead of speed along on the chosen journey.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Life never allows enough time for us to get everything done. We must learn to resist the urge to become swept away with all the distractions (like playing scrabble on my iPad).
    We must have razor sharp focus on the goals we have set for our life. Be intentional and engaged in our society because that is where we will find the greatest inspiration for our writing.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Love the thoughts from those of you who commented today! I appreciate the wisdom pouring in!

    Carol, it's especially good to hear from someone whose experienced the myth at a variety of life stages. Sometimes I tell myself, when my children are grown up I'll have more time. But I know I'll just be busy with grandkids and taking care of aging parents and all the other things that come after the empty nest. I really like your idea of listing priorities! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  35. OK, Jody-I think you read my mind. I was just toiling with this today and struggle with finding extra time to do everything I want to. I do tend to think about when my kids are older and when I will be able to focus on whatever decides to come out of the right side of my brain-but I tend to think that no matter what, I will always be busy. Plus, I don't want to wish away any stage of my kiddos growth. It's a struggle to say the least.

    Great post!
    Jenny Sulpizio

    ReplyDelete
  36. Preach it, sister! You're a pro at time management, and I often think of you when I feel overwhelmed. Thanks for showing honestly who you are and what you do.

    ReplyDelete
  37. While I do believe I'll have more time one day, (Why? Because I have more time now that I'm not homeschooling and my kids are older,)I am trying to balance the time I do have. My writing life changes with the seasons and I wish I was better at figuring out the next season in my writing life before it changes, but I'm learning!

    This post is really helpful, but I'm more intrigued to learn how YOU find the time to write. WIth five kids (and homeschooling?) and being published, I'm encouraged and hungry for practical ways you write!! Not to mention, it would make a great post for Writer...Interrupted!! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  38. This is so true! I always thought that I would have time for everything I wanted to do when I retired, but the truth is that I still can't fit everything in. There are two reasons for this. One is that I take more time over things like eating breakfast and reading the newspaper instead of gulping food down and skimming the news. The second reason is that I've become involved in other things -- including a second career as a writer -- that take up all that 'extra' time.

    I've come to the realization that I will always have more to do than time to do it. Accepting that reduces stress. I prioritize and get done what is most important. And I remind myself that I'd far rather have too much to do than sit around bored with nothing I cared to do.

    ReplyDelete
  39. All so true, Jody! I really liked this post.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Jody, I've been out of town and haven't kept up with blogs--I see you wrote this a while ago, but I just saw Cynthia Leitich Smith's tweet about it! This is a great reminder for me, especially today. Because tomorrow I start a six-month, full time day job.

    Also, I recently heard author/illustrator Jan Spivey Gilchrist speak and, although it's obvious, her words really spoke to me. She said that when you reach your dreams, no one hands you a new body and says, "okay, you've reached your dreams...here you go!" And, also, that you can't reach your dreams if you're not here.

    I'm much more willing to sit at my computer for hours working for a client than I am to take time to make myself healthy food or exercise. Jan's words and yours are very good reminders.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Hi Kellye, Wishing you all the best as you start you new job! It's tough to figure out balances that work, but we have to start somewhere!

    ReplyDelete

© All the articles in this blog are copyrighted and may not be used without prior written consent from the author. You may quote without permission if you give proper credit and links. Thank you!