Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Just a Minute or Two or Ten... by Carol Ross & Amy Vastine


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.



Carol ~
~ 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.
Amy ~
~ 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?
Netflix. Uh-oh.
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!

For more information on Carol Ross & Amy Vastine and their books please visit their websites!

22 comments:

  1. Terrific (although somewhat sobering) post, ladies! I was wondering where all that time went.

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    1. Thanks, Kate. "Someone" is literally stealing time from us. (I think it should be a felony.)

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  2. Fantastic post, ladies. I can't remember the last time I slept for 8 hours. Since I have a flip phone, my time isn't wasted there. :) No doubt, the internet is the biggest time waster.

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    1. I wanted to write that in there, too, Jill. Who are those people sleeping almost 9 hours? I don't any on them over the age of 12. And yes, the internet. I'm trying to follow the Time Management Ninja's advice of setting time aside. I find it challenging though because I'm constantly looking things up!

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  3. Great post. When I retired in 2011, I immediately set out to do everything I hadn't had time for all the years I worked full time. It took me about 10 minutes to become so busy that the retired person's saying, "I don't know how I ever had time to work" was the absolute truth. I'm backing off this year, because of tiredness and because of priorities, but I'm looking over my shoulder every day wondering what I'm missing.

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    1. Liz, I love this! This is how I plan to be when I retire. Well, not the part where you're overdoing it and I'm glad you know your limitations. My dad was the same way and I was just telling a friend the other day that I can honestly that he wasted very little time and lived his life to the absolute fullest. That's what we should all aspire to!

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  4. A very amusing and, at the same time, thought-provoking post, Carol and Amy. Now that I'm retired I ask myself how I managed to work full time and accomplish all that I did but being younger helped. Having a place to escape to is a good antidote to these time debts we find ourselves in - for me, it's an island. No car. No TV and at one time, no internet which can be a big time waster. Thanks for the post and Happy International Women's Day all!

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    1. I'm in awe of people who work full time and manage kids and a husband as well. (Like Amy(: Your island sounds like the perfect escape, Janice. I could get along just fine without TV and internet for long periods time.

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  5. going through all the emails , but on a good excuse reading all the good books and finding new authors

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    1. Ah, but that's not wasting time, that's investing wisely, IMHO.

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    2. Yes, Patricia! I get caught up in email as well. It seems to work better for me if I only check it a couple times a day. My problem is that I don't always respond immediately (I like to process what I've read) and then I waste time going back to look at them again and finally answering. Definite time-waster on my part.

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  6. I confess to of these, except the phone. I keep forgetting I have a cell and not checking for messages for a couple of days - hey, I've only had a smart phone for a few years now - but I make up for it by obsessively checking my email. I especially identify with finding the phone in a hidden pocket. Every time I try one of those organizer bags, I end up hiding things from myself, but if I throw everything into one compartment, what I want always sinks to the bottom. I just can't win.

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    1. Beth, Lol! I'm so glad you feel my pain. I know those bags are supposed to make my life easier - and I want them, too. But my brain just doesn't remember where I stash things.

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  7. Funny, I was just muttering to my husband when he came in from work last night that I could use a cook and a maid. He sympathizes with me. Mind you I haven't worked secularly since 2009, and even before then it was part-time, 2 1/2 days a week for 5 years since before my daughter, 27, was little. Now I wonder how I made time for it. Running a household is time consuming, and keeping a 3,600+ sq. ft. house clean and in order is hard work, even with a very helpful husband. And it's just me, hubby, our 16 yr. old cat, and my daughter when she pops in for a visit. (I know, I know, we should downsize. But I like my house. That's another topic altogether.) Managing the finances and cooking (including prep time) and mundane household chores take up a lot of my time. I'm like johnny jump up....putting clothes in the wash, folding clothes from the dryer, dicing and slicing stuff in preparation for dinner, feeding the cat, cleaning the litter box, changing the linen, making the bed, food shopping, putting the stuff away....IT NEVER ENDS!! And my theocratic routine is a must. I can't live without that. But, how am I supposed to read when I have all of this stuff to do? AND, I plan and execute our vacations. What's the best deal, where should we go, where will we stay, is our cat boarding place available? Oh...and phone calls to straighten out merchant mistakes, or to inquire about one thing or other regarding health insurance coverage, etc. Sheesh. And since it seems like few customer service people are knowledgeable about things these days, it just leads to more phone calls and questions.
    Getting old takes up a lot of my time too. Doctor visits, moving much slower to accomplish things and having to take breaks in between because of aches and pains, trying to remember things without writing them down, stopping to take medicine, taking longer to prepare foods because of new allergies or sensitivities, or acid reflux issues. Aargh!!
    So....there you have it. And by the way, I love Netflix, my iphone, my Kindles, my iPad and any and every other device I can get my hands on. If anyone can find an easier way to handle all this stuff more efficiently, I'm open to suggestions. ( :

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    1. Laurie, these are all SO good! I agree about the house stuff. When you're home, you just get sucked in to all the things that need to be done. I spend a lot of time cooking, too. I like to cook (and eat.) It's a stress reliever for me, but it gets time consuming. I've recently tried to do some meal planning where you do a bunch of prep all at once. I thing if I could get that down it would really help. The phone is a big one for me. Talk about a time-stealer. Why is it that no one answers their phones anymore? Especially merchants and businesses. So much wasted time on hold or playing phone tag.

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  8. Okay, that is entirely too long. I got carried away. Sorry. ) :

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  9. Great post. I sometimes feel like that poor cartoon woman you show in the middle, except I don't iron any more. I thought about the difference between my mother's packed day and mine. She had no phone, TV, or computer. But she canned, made jam & jelly, butchered a deer or beef, made most of our clothes, kept books for my dad's business, and hung wash out on the line and ironed everything. So while my day may have too much TV, internet and phone, I probably have more "free" time than my mom did. So that makes me feel a little better.

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    1. Excellent point, Roz. I've thought about this myself. My mom and especially my ranching grandma were always so busy. We have all these nifty time-saving devices these days, which are great but also seem to cause a lot of angst. Sometimes, I honestly think I would prefer those simpler times - even though they were busier in many ways.

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  10. OH MY GOSH!!! Who has been spying on me? Seriously, all those time wasters came straight out of my life. Well, except the word game, which I'm frantically looking for now. The statistics about how much time we spend on the phone is amazing. One more reason to switch to a flip phone. I should really do that. What a great and thought provoking post. And can I just suggest watching The Ranch on Netflix? Sam Elliot. Ashton Kutcher. Need I say more?

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    1. Lol, Leanne! I'm on a mission to better manage my time. I've been turning my phone off during the day and after 9 at night. So nice. And so far I haven't missed anything I regret. I've heard about this show The Ranch. In this way, at least, I do multi-task efficiently as I watch most shows while I'm on my treadmill. Thank you for the recommend. I'll check it out.

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  11. This was just great and I'm so guilty of a lot of these extemporaneous time-consuming thieves of my precious time. But right now, I can't hang out I have to read Kate's new book. Forget the laundry, putting away the groceries, cleaning the house, doing taxes... know what I mean?

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    1. Thank you, Catherine. Yes, go read! As far as I'm concerned there's no better time-stealer than reading. But that one is in a good way!

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