I have recently determined why I am not filthy rich. I thought I’d take a moment to share my conclusion with you and how it relates to the business of writing. I’d also like to solicit your assistance.
I’m tempted to blame the fact that I wasn’t born into old money or even enough new money to hang out with old money, but I think my parents more than compensated for that shortcoming in a number of other ways, so I left that off my list and opted to isolate a singular cause for my lack of a massive fortune.
It’s because I have an amazing ability to mismanage time. I’ve been relatively successful in beating back that particular weakness by sheer force of will. I’ve built up a massive sleep deficit in the process.
However, tenacity will only get one so far. At some point, one must realize the truly awesome power of time and its management. After studying my own habits with some care recently, I’ve concluded that I’m doing a horrific job with time.
Unfortunately, I’ve been trying to beat time to a pulp instead of living within it. That’s a fool’s errand. I know that physicists have all sorts of ways to explain relativity and the theoretical means by which one can bend time, but your average (or even above-average) Joe or Jane can’t turn seconds into hours.
Time is time and it’s kicking everyone’s ass one second at a time.
You can get by with that when someone else is writing your paycheck. The only good thing I can think about when it comes to being an employee is the fact that one gets paid for the countless hours spent doing nothing in particular. Even employers realize that they’re paying for idle time; they accept it as part of the cost of doing business. Very few people really work all day at their jobs and those who do… Well, I hope they find better jobs or are duly compensated.
Things change when you own your shop. If you don’t work, you don’t earn. Yes, there are “passive income” pseudo-exceptions, but we don’t really need to muddy the waters with that conversation right now. The fact of the matter is that if you want to make money, you must earn money and that generally means creating and pushing out product while you manage lining up additional opportunities.
You can compensate for unyielding nature of time by doing things that bring in more cash per unit of time. I think I do pretty well in that regard. On the far end of the spectrum (and for those with more limited earnings goals), that might be enough. Not so for most of us. And even when that is enough, it requires properly utilizing time in the first place in order to do that.
So, that leaves me with a burning professional question. How am I going to make better use of my time?
This really is an exceptionally important question, too. I don’t want to get too serious here, but we’re all going to die. Time runs out. We need to do our best to maximize its value. We need to protect it for our families and passions and to improve the yield of the portion set aside for our professional endeavors.
I’m guessing that Deb expected me to provide some helpful hints when she asked me to contribute these posts. However, this time I’m going to try to use this pulpit as an opportunity to get your wisdom.
What are you doing to turn eight hours into the equivalent of ten, twelve, or sixteen? What massive time-wasters have plagued you and how did you fight back (or have you)?
What is your top time management trick?
I’ve discovered that my favorite just doesn’t work any more. For years, I’ve relied upon sleep deprivation as a means of making up for time management blunders. Now that the big 4-0 approaches, I’m realizing that my ability and willingness to greet the sun on a regular basis without the benefit of sleep is waning.
That’s why I’m working on systematizing some aspects of my professional life that I’ve been managing on an ad hoc basis. That’s also why I’m trying to resist the siren song of some of my favorite time-wasters.
So, readers, lay it on me. What are your time-sucks? How are you beating them? What have you done to make your days seem longer or to boost your productivity? Did you find a great way to tame the email monster? A solution to feed overload? A cure for your Twitter addiction that didn’t require a 12-step program? The intestinal fortitude to not watch the Tivo’ed episode of your favorite program?
As Red Green says, “We’re all in this together.” Do share.