In Which I Force Myself to Become Organised

tumblr_inline_n57d1dxEFE1qd8manI confess: I have a big organisational issue. By that I mean my time management skills lately have been zero.

I’ve developed a tendency of writing when I feel like it. I’m stating this as a negative, because if I did everything in life when I felt like it, then I would probably never get out of my pyjamas, go to the gym, or cook dinner.

After finishing my degree, I found myself floundering a bit. I spent excessive energy doing things other than writing, and then an equally inordinate amount of time 1) stressing about not writing, 2) avoiding writing because it makes me anxious, and then 3) sitting at my desk only to feel too tired to write because by then, it’s close to bed time.

My main excuse is that I’m still learning how to function outside of academia. Right now my brain is wondering “Who are we now? What do we do? How do we cope without going to class/writing papers/grading student essays? How do we do this?” Because academics have been a part of my day-to-day for almost as long as I’ve been alive, and I’ve been having a mild crisis of identity lately. Well, not really identity. More like a crisis of, “Where do I go from here? What do I do with my days now?”

And the answer is, obviously, to throw myself into writing 100%. Because it is my job, and like any desk job, requires an ass-to-chair time commitment. And writing when I feel like it isn’t working out for me because chasing that elusive muse is like herding cats. Sometimes, you just have to put your ass in the chair and bleed onto the page. Words don’t come easily. If they did, everyone would write books.

So a friend of mine mentioned organising her daily activities into a schedule — and, reader, she looked so much happier with life in general that I thought, I need to do this. I need to organise my life. I need to adult better.

I’m sure people have seen me mention my new schedule on Twitter and how much I love it. Since so many people have been asking about how I’m suddenly writing so many words per day, I thought I would detail the thing here.

Fair warning, I write as a full-time job. That might change in the future, but that’s what I’m doing right now. So when I’ve shown this to people, a few have been slightly horrified because all of my writing intervals — all of them — are planned out and it looks a bit obsessive and kind of “overdoing it”.

Which is fine if you think so, but my life was a chaotic mess before, and I’m a firm believer that everyone has a day-to-day that works for them. This just works for me:

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Mainly my explanation for the fact that it “looks” obsessive is that my mornings are entirely built around the Pomodoro Technique (which I used to write my dissertation). The difference is that I’m bracketing writing into a strict morning schedule (with all of my pomodori — writing intervals, that is — planned in advance). So all of my writing and housework is done by 2PM. That makes the rest of my day stress-free, which is so nice.

My first week on this schedule, I wrote 15k words, which is a little over 2k every day. I used to strive (and, mainly, fail) to write 1k every day, so doubling that has felt tremendous.

Plus, my flat is shiny clean because I’m bracketing small amounts of housework every day. And I’m less tired because I have a strict settle-down-and-sleep schedule.

Overall, having structure works for me and I feel like I’m utilizing my time better.  And less like I’m sinking under the weight of constant stressful thoughts: I should be working. I’m not working. What time is it? I haven’t done anything today. OK I’ll do it tomorrow (I never did it tomorrow).

So my advice to anyone out there struggling with time management is to play around with a schedule structure (tailored to your work, your goals, and your needs 🙂 ) and see how it makes you feel. Commitment is super important, but so is figuring out a day-to-day that works for you and makes you feel better. Best of luck, readers. <3

xx Elizabeth