Now that the holidays have been packed away and we are back into the swing of things, I know that some of you have had an interest in how I manage my work days. The answer to this varies, largely depending on whether I’m working on a novel or not. However, as it happens, I am working on a novel again, and also, I’ve decided to put a bit more structure into my day. So in theory, here’s how my work days should go in 2022.
8am – 9am: General crawl out of bed time, and also take care of any emails/other messages that have to be addressed immediately (otherwise they can wait). Check Whatever comments to make sure no one made a fool of themselves overnight. Take the dog out if necessary. When writing, look over the writing from the day before and make adjustments to it. Post any Big Idea pieces. When all that is taken care of, turn on blocking software to clear out social media and news sites.
9am – 12pm: Write new stuff. “Write” in this case means typing actual new words, but can also include research (like today, when most of the day was spent on Google Maps and various realty sites looking at commercial real estate prices). I have a general goal of 2,000 words a day, most written in this time block, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t reach that word goal.
12pm – 1pm: Exercise, shower and lunch, usually but not always in that order. Take the dog out for a longer walk. Check the mailbox. Turn on social media again but try not to spend long stretches of time on it until the end of the business day. Avoid news if it can be avoided until the end of the business day.
1pm – 5pm: Any other business-related tasks, other writing (including blog posts) and email, and any phone/zoom meetings or out-of-house errands. If work is not pressing, read something that is not social media or news. If there’s time left over, practice music. Probably some photography in there if I feel like it.
5pm – onward: Work day is over so, really, whatever I feel like doing. Check out the news (or maybe not if I don’t feel like bothering), spend time with family, watch movies/TV, read, nerd out of social media, write more on Whatever, etc and so on. More dog walking! And then, because I’m old now, usually in bed by ten.
So that’s the theory!
How will it work in practice? As with so many things, it depends. The most dependable part of the schedule is the 9am – 12pm block, since it really is the part of the day when my creativity and energy levels are at their highest. I really need to protect that part of the day if I’m going to, you know, get anything done and make money and whatnot. Everything else is movable — I might exercise later in the day if I have a meeting that needs to be scheduled at noon, or decide to read but not practice music, or vice versa, and so on.
Also, it’s possible that if I crawl out of bed before 8am, and as I get older this happens more often, then I’ll shift my day backward a bit: Start that 8am-9am block at 7am, for example, and then do the 9am – 12pm block from 8 to 11. The amount of time is more key than the exact hour.
One thing I am really working on this year is ratcheting down the time I aimlessly spend on social media; I have the ability to endlessly scroll if I’m not paying attention. My new guideline for the year, during 1pm – 5pm business hours, is to limit myself to five or so minutes an hour on Twitter/Facebook and then ask myself if there’s anything else I could be doing with my time. The answer is usually yes (see: reading and music). I don’t think people on social media will notice if I spend only five or so minutes an hour there rather than endlessly scrolling, but I will notice it on this end. I’m 52 now; there’s more I want to be doing with my time than staring glassily into Twitter all day long.
(That’s not entirely true: experience tells me that I am actually delighted to stare glassily into Twitter all day long. It’s more accurate to say I have other things that I want to do, and the time to do them will have to come out of the time I spend, slack-jawed, on social media.)
This is the work plan for 2022, and probably beyond. Let’s see if I can stick to it.