Daylight saving time begins March 12 this year. Too bad it doesn’t really save us any time, huh? In fact, they’re actually going to steal an hour that most of us can’t afford to lose. After that, we’ll all still have the same old 24 hours in the day. And really, this is a great expression, isn’t it? Makes us feel less alone in our mad scramble of trying to eke more minutes out of a busy day. With Amy and I both tackling our busiest writing schedules ever, it’s only natural to wonder where we’ll “find the time”? And, as we look around at family, friends, co-workers why does it seem that some people manage to accomplish so much more in these finite hours? Are they sleeping less, eating less, talking less, not brushing their teeth? What are people really doing?
A nifty article from the Wall Street Journal outlines how Americans spend their time. We sleep an average of 8 hours and 52 minutes and those with full-time jobs work for 8 hours and 8 minutes (sans commute.) This Bureau of Labor Statistics chart shows women spend just over 2 hours on household activities. (Anyone shocked by the fact that women spend an average of one hour more than men?) These are necessities where we can a fudge a little, especially that last one. (Please don’t ask me how long it’s been since I’ve mopped my floor.) But sleep and work are things we all have to do. But what about the rest of our time? It’s the just over 5 hours per day of “leisure time” where things get interesting. This category includes activities like watching television, socializing, and exercising. (Exercising as leisure time? Seriously?) For many of us authors, these are the hours we draw from to write our books. These are the minutes we need to be as streamlined as we can.
Time Management Ninja, Craig Jarrow, reveals five of the biggest time wasters and how to “fix” them. They are Facebook, email, the internet, snacking, and your phone. (Guilty, guilty, guilty, very guilty, and guilty.) This last one really got to me; Americans, he reveals, look at their phones 150 times a day. He then goes on to point out that if you only follow through with a quick two-minute look half of those times, that adds up to two and a half hours a day. And, let’s be honest, it takes some of us (Carol talking here) two minutes just to figure out how to get where we need to be on the phone.
We all know what we need to do to avoid these obvious time-eating monsters – turn them off and/or set aside specific time for these tasks. And for the most part, as writers, we’re managing to do this somehow. Because, thankfully, we’re meeting deadlines and writing books. But what about those more personal time stealers? Those things, the ones that are more difficult to control or maybe they are even unique to you, that steal your time and make you crazy? Let’s talk about those.
~ Running errands. The planner/optimist in me always believes that running errands is going to take me far less time than it ultimately does. No matter how I strategize; going to the store/bank/dentist/bakery at the most optimal time of day, combining trips, planning my route, attempting to multi-task, trying to kill all the errand birds with as few stones as possible inevitably leaves me frustrated and exhausted. Because everywhere I go it seems a time-wasting conspiracy has targeted me; the grocery store is out of what I need and I’m forced to go to another, the line at the bank is 12 people deep, the dentist/hairdresser/doctor/vet is running behind and I’m forced to wait an additional 45 minutes for my appointment. While there, my plan to multi-task fails because I forgot to charge my phone/Kindle/laptop. And then, thinking I’ll get gas on my way out of to town to save time on my next trip, I pull up to the station only to realize that fuel prices have dropped, school just let out for the day, and every pump has a three-car line.
~ Searching. Can you hold on a minute while I… Disembowel the sofa in an attempt to unearth the remote? Dump out my purse for the fifth time to try and find my keys? Locate a flashlight so I can search every hidden crevasse of the car for my cell phone (which inevitably I will find tucked inside a “secret” pocket of the bag I’ve already rummaged through 17 times)? Lost keys, misplaced remote, AWOL phone, sunglasses, address book, grocery list, iPod, headphones, Kindle, etc. A detailed unscientific calculation reveals that I’ve personally wasted 128.26 billion days of my life searching! (And that’s just for my husband’s stuff.)
|I need this guy to move in with me.|
~ Word Cookies. I sat next to my son on our flight home from Florida a couple months ago and watched him play this stupid word game on his phone. It was driving me nuts that he couldn’t unscramble the letters to make words that seemed so obvious to me. He got annoyed, he ended up hiding his screen from me so I couldn’t “help”. When we got home, I downloaded the game on my phone. And now … hours lost. I’ve earned 8231 points. I can’t stop playing. There are so many levels. So many letters to unscramble. This thing is more addicting than Candy Crush!
~ Netflix. My parents bought my husband a subscription to Netflix for Christmas. The entire family may never be the same. I’m not a huge TV watcher, but since getting Netflix, I have binged more shows than I care to admit! Have you guys watched Stranger Things? SO good. We watched the whole season in two days. I watched two seasons of Fuller House in two weeks. It brought back so many memories of watching the original series Full House as a teenager. Gotta love Uncle Jesse! My husband and I are working our way through Season 3 of Black Mirror, which is the 2017 version of The Twilight Zone. Freaks me out but is so intriguing. Oh, Netflix! What have you done to me?
If “they” can move and manipulate time in increments as big as an hour, would it be too much for us to ask for an extra minute or two or ten here and there or as needed? Perfect. We’re all in agreement. Where could you use an extra minute or ten? What’s the biggest or sneakiest time thief in your life? Or maybe you’ve found a solution to some of these common time wasters? If that’s the case, please, share them with us!