Every time I think I have a good handle on time management, I realize I’ve forgotten to include some necessary task. Generally, the task involves cleaning the bathrooms, making dinner, or emptying the cat’s litterbox.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy the tasks I’m ignoring – okay, I can think of about a thousand things I’d rather do than clean out the cat’s litterbox – but it’s just so much easier to ignore them in lieu of other things. Like writing. Or playing with the baby. Or having lunch with a friend. I mean… the bathrooms aren’t going anywhere. The 6-year-old is totally content with pb&j for three meals a day. And the cat spends a lot of time outside anyway.
One of the pieces of advice I’ve seen over the last couple of months is about maintaining a social media presence online – generally speaking, via Facebook, though Twitter comes up fairly often as well. (Tumblr and Instagram are a bit lower on the social media totem pole.) While the details of the recommended method of participating in those sites varies – the fact remains that just about everyone, their publishers, agents, and kid brothers, wants authors to be online.
Which is fine. I get that. I even get the difference between selling books (which nearly everyone admits a Facebook profile or page cannot do) and selling yourself (which is absolutely what Facebook does do, whether on a professional or personal level).
What amazes me are the number of authors out there who run not only a Twitter account… but also a Facebook, and a website, and a blog, and still have time to produce books every couple of months. (Oh, and some of them also raise children, have another part- or full-time job, and presumably do not hire housekeepers, cooks, or professional litterbox emptiers.)
I really, really want to know their time management secrets, so I can steal them.
My own solution to time management is based solely on how long the baby naps – and he’s never been the best of nappers. He started to cut down to one nap a day when he was ten months old, and he still doesn’t sleep through the night. (And recently, he’s decided that 2am is an excellent time to play with his brother’s toys, since his brother is sensibly sleeping at 2am and cannot defend them.) On a good day, I’ll get around 2 hours. On a fantastic day, I’ll get nearly 3.
On a really horrible day – like last weekend? One hour. And he wakes up so crabby that I kind of want to murder some dinosaurs and drive around in circles until he goes back to sleep.
What happens is this: the baby goes down for a nap. I gently lay him in his crib, whisper a loving wish that he have a lovely long nap, tiptoe out of the room and softly close the door.
And then I hightail it downstairs, turn on my laptop, get my water and the baby monitor, and write like the wind without stopping for about 45 minutes or until I hit a stopping point or until the baby wakes up, depending on the day.
Most moms use that time for dishes, for cleaning, for mental health, for making dentist appointments, for… oh, I don’t know. Whatever other moms do. I use it to get my characters naked. Hey, it’s a living.
I have to do the writing first. (The only thing that trumps writing is washing the dishes.) I’ve found that if I do anything else on the computer before I start writing… I end up not writing. And that includes Twitter, Tumblr, LJ… anything.
And when I do use those… I have to limit myself, or I end up spending hours on them and then the baby’s waking up and the bathrooms are gross and I haven’t taken anything out of the freezer to defrost for dinner and the cat? She’s not even speaking to me, probably because the whole house smells like litterbox. I can’t say I blame her.
So I get five minutes on Twitter, and five minutes on Tumblr. (Not for the whole day. Just at a time.) And I’ve found… that’s kind of all I need. I can usually get a queue running in that time, look at what other people are saying, mark out articles I want to read later. It works.
I could probably expand that to include Facebook… I’m not sure I want to. I had a Facebook, years ago… and I hated it. I deleted it that day that my feed was full of pictures of everyone’s lunches. (Friends, I love you, but I do not care about your lunch box.) It took me a few months to get the hang of Twitter, and even now I’m still only so-so with it. It took me about a year to really start to like Tumblr (but now I adore it).
I’m still not entirely sold on how much of any of that is necessary. Whereas I’m fairly sure that if I don’t clean the bathrooms, I will inadvertently create new life forms, or possibly rediscover penicillin. If I don’t make dinner, my children will develop rickets from too many pb&js. And if I don’t clean the cat’s litterbox… okay, probably not much will happen that doesn’t already occur from time to time, if I don’t clean the cat’s litterbox.
It just might happen on my bed, instead of next to it.
Do you split your online time across various social medias? How do you decide what goes where?