Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Administrating your Life

I've no doubt talked about this before, but the importance of working out a good schedule of work can never be underestimated.  It is absolutely crucial, especially because it can be easy for a writer or artist to be controlled by the present moment.  Ever hear of the tyranny of the present?  It's real, folks.  Even if you don't have a full or part-time job while you are trying to be a writer, it's still easy to get sucked up in our to-do lists: okay, I have to do laundry, change the cat's litter, do the dishes, call friend A, mail the bills, call friend B, check facebook, check e-mails, check facebook, exercise, take a break and watch an episode of The League, answer the phone, frick the day's done!!!  There's a lot of stuff that we need to get done each day, particularly if we live alone.  If we don't know how to manage our time well then we're screwed.  I'll be the first to say that I don't manage my time well.  Over the past few years I have noticed my complete inability to manage my time and have tried to come up with a laid-back system that can help me administrate my life better.  Hopefully what I share with you can be helpful, even if you aren't a budding writer or artist.

First of all, a physical calendar is a must.  Personally, since I'm all traditional and such, I refuse to own an i-phone let alone use my phone as a calendar.  But if your phone is always on you (mine isn't) then it makes sense to use it as a calendar because it can send you reminders.  There are countless good calendars that you can use on the computer and/or Internet as well.  Still, I'm serious, you should have a physical, print calendar that can fit in your bag or purse or whatever.  This calendar should be your primary calendar.  Write absolutely everything in it, from appointments to reminders to a to-do list.  The key to the calendar is that you check it every morning and every night.  If you write everything in it, then you can't ever miss anything or forget something; and, more importantly, you don't have to think about things until you get around to seeing them in the calendar and then doing them.  It saves a whole lot of mental anguish.  Saving yourself mental anguish is essential if you want to use brain power for activities other than working a desk job. 

When you have the calendar and are writing everything in it, you can better arrange your days.  If you are writing everything down in your calendar, then you are including chores like washing dishes and doing laundry.  When you are doing that, you can see how much time each day you'll be spending doing necessary chores so that you can decide whether you should write bills on Monday or Tuesday, call friend A on Monday or Tuesday, etc.  Once you know how much time you'll be spending doing necessary life events, you can allocate time to do less necessary life events like calling friends.  You can further allocate rest and relaxation time.  Then, once you have everything written down, you'll know approximately how much time you will have to write, or do whatever your hobby is.  You don't even have to write down when you're going to do an activity as long as you know that you will do that activity on a certain day.  Even better, you can start to arrange unnecessary life events all on one day, and then have the rest of the week to write in your free time.  If you aren't keeping track of all the things that you need to do in a calendar, though, you wouldn't be able to free up your time in that way. 

With a physical, print calendar it's also easier to review what's coming up for the week and when you'll have time to do your writing.  Of course, if you get into a routine, you might know that you'll have time for writing on certain days, but it's always good to have a calendar to look at and see all the time you've carved out for yourself.  Sometimes the pressures of life are overwhelming to the point that it seems like you'll never write again.  Having a calendar handy to work everything out on will ease your tension in such cases. 

You should only use your phone or ipad calendar, or whatever electronic calendar you're using, as a backup.  For instance, if you decide that you want to call friend B on your way home from a social outing, then you should put that in your phone calendar as a reminder.  And if you are the type of person who likes to arrange their days by the hour or minute, then use your electronic calendar to give you reminders at the time that you want to do certain activities.  Otherwise, the print calendar should be the way to go so that you can keep your mind clear, not get interrupted by buzzing, and still always stay on top of your life.

The next tip is to write everything down.  Yes, I've already said to write everything down in your calendar, but I'm now I'm not talking about chores and events and such.  I mean write everything down.  Carry around a small notebook or notebook paper with you everywhere you go.  Have another notebook by your bed.  Wherever you are you should be able to write something down if you need to.  Writers need this tip more than other people, but everyone should learn to start writing down every idea, every thought, everything.  I'm serious when I say that our minds can often get bogged down with things that we've forgotten, even if those things aren't important.  When we spend any length of time thinking we should note what our brainstorming has created.  If we look at our note a day or two later and decide it's worthless, then fine, but whether we realize it or not our minds spend a lot of energy trying to recall ideas that we've already thought of before.  If we can either store it away somewhere or let our mind know that we'll never be needing that thought again, then we'll be cleared for more action.  Seriously.  This is a serious piece of advice.  Start writing everything down your mind will be far more clear and productive. 

Obviously you'll need to work out some system for storing all your notes.  That is my third and final piece of advice on administrating your life that I'll give today.  You should have a solid filing system.  If you're anything like me, you won't often put away files; but it's important to know that everything has a place for when you're feeling cluttered.  Have a file for correspondence, for bills, for bank information, for your notes, for just about everything.  Your life will be more clean and, most importantly, your mind will be far more clean.  Seriously.  If you can free your mind from all the clutter and store the crap elsewhere, to be used later when you want it or need it, then you will be greatly productive. 

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