I love a schedule. I’m a list maker and get genuinely excited about calendars, dayplanners, and online tools. During this season of COVID, I have found that keeping a schedule is even more important for my mental health than previously. It helps me to stay focused, gives me a sense of purpose (and a reason to get up in the morning) and alleviates some of the loneliness I might otherwise feel since my husband works away most of the time and I spend a lot of time in my own company.
Beyond that, a schedule keeps me accountable. As an independent author and publisher, I could easily fritter away the hours without getting much accomplished. External deadlines imposed by agents, editors and the like actually work to motivate us to do the work, but when there aren’t any of those in place other than what we create ourselves, it is very easy to procrastinate.
I really noticed this when I first retired from teaching public school. Like so many others, I often lamented, “If I only had more time!” I thought that more time was what I needed to become more productive. It turns out, I became less productive at first because I didn’t feel the urgency to use my free time wisely. 2019 was one of my least productive years in terms of writing and publishing, yet I had retired the previous June. This is why I now set daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly goals for myself. Without some kind of framework, the days seem to just fly away.
The importance of office hours really came to light recently when my husband had some extra time off. Normally, I try to keep my schedule open for the times when he is home. However, his most recent hiatus from work was unexpected due to a COVID outbreak at his place of work. He had an extra week off, so decided to do some renovations on a house we plan to move into sometime in the future.
It sounds innocent enough, but let me explain something about my other half. We are polar opposites when it comes to making schedules. Calendars, lists, and apps are a delight to me, whereas even a hand written list gives him heart palpitations! (Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.) All of the activities and projects I had planned for that week suddenly went out the window as he needed to talk to me about this or get my opinion on that. I told him that once he retires I am going to institute ‘office hours’ so he can’t bother me! Otherwise, I won’t get anything accomplished!
Of course, one must be flexible, and I am joking about the office hours. (Maybe…) But for me, creating SMART goals keeps me moving forward in my writing career. (More about SMART goals in my next post.)
For now, let me introduce you to my new favourite organizational app. Asana, which the InScribe executive has been using for some time now, has literally changed the way I organize my writing life! Check it out for yourself here: http://app.asana.com