It ain’t pretty.
Take it from me, “You-make-me-tired Pamela Hutchins,” aka  “the Energizer Bunny,” no one has time for it all.  Some people have more free/leisure time than others, but that is because they choose to prioritize leisure time over the world of other possibilities, unchosen.  Most of us have so much we want to do (or have to do) that we can barely/rarely fit everything in.
Recently, one of my blog followers, Ruthanne, asked how I work writing into my life.  She had read my posts on time management (both of them), but she wanted to SEE what my days looked like.  And I’m happy to share; it’s a heck of a lot easier to do than finding time to write a real blog!
Making time to write is about setting it as a priority and de-prioritizing other things that are in its way.  If you can’t do that, then you won’t fit it in.  So first make a list of everything you do each day, and be brutally honest.  Something’s got to give, so what is it? Let go of crossword, or Sudoku, or long lunches, or whatever is most expendable.

  • Having it all is about defining what you won’t have more than about what you will

Almost as important to me?  Finding ways to multi-task.  Can I make phone calls while I wait at the orthodontist’s office?  Can I listen to audiobooks while I drive?  Can I edit a manuscript or record voice memos of writing notes while I ride a bicycle?
Then think about what your limitations are as well as your opportunities.  When Eric and I defined this for ourselves, here’s what we came up with:

  • I work from home/client spaces, which saves commuting time, allows me to multitask, and is only rarely full time
  • My husband has a lot of flexibility to his job, too
  • My husband works harder than anyone I’ve ever known, and he partners with me on everything I ask for
  • We have 3 kids at home, 1 in college, and 1 “grown”; 1 of our 3 home kids has a driver’s license
  • We spend a minimum of 10 hours a week on athletic training
  • Writing books and blogging is not my job — it’s an investment in the future, and it’s a hobby
  • I also own investment/rental properties in another state (Wanna buy a property outside Charlotte?  I’ll make you a good deal!)
  • We cook 5 times a week from Cooking Light, with each of our family members picking a meal each week
  • Our middle school daughter walks to school; my husband takes the high school kids in on his way to work; we have some driving to and from activities from 5-745
  • My husband and I commit to spend one hour a day just on each other — relationship time — we are currently working through relationship workbooks (oh the joy of being married to a consultant; I can’t wait to blog about our workbooks, as soon as I can convince Eric what a great idea it is!)

OK, so that’s what I fit in.  My priorities: husband, kids, job, athletics, writing, everything else.
Things I give up: TV (unless doing stationary exercise, and usually then I opt for movies or sports), reading (audio only, while driving or exercising), socializing unless in conjunction with one of the priorities, games.
Biggest challenges: limiting social media to use in consulting/promotion of writing.  It’s easy to get sucked in.
With those parameters in mind, I divvy up my time into those pies, on average:
2.0 hours athletics per day
1.0 hour solely for husband (our 365-day commitment to making our great relationship the best it can be — the payoff of this investment is about 100000000-fold)
6.0 hours to consulting (including marketing/networking/billable hours/social media/administrative)
2.0 hours to writing
1.0 hour to self-care, correspondence, connections
2.0 hours to cooking/eating/herding cats
2.0 hours to kids’ activities
1.0 hours to errands/chores
7.0 hours to sleep; I can’t function with the athletic commitment without the sleep — I sleep about 6.0 hours a night
If I need to spend more time on something else, it comes from either temporarily stealing time from my day job, skipping my workouts, or relying more heavily on my husband to cover cooking/kids/chores.  When I get wrapped up in a writing project, Eric takes over on everything, and I push work off as far as I can.  When my work heats up, I give up writing, and Eric picks up the slack.  I don’t usually abandon workouts for my job.  When Eric’s work goes crazy (especially when he travels internationally for extended periods), I have to stick very tightly to my “pies.”
So, that still doesn’t answer how I make myself perform the act of writing.  Yes, I know it is a priority, I know how much time I have for it on average.  And yet, this is the only method I have found that work for me: I make writing an emergency.  I wait until the last feasible second to still be able to complete the task, and then I write like mad until it is done. This works especially well for the blog.  And if that fails, I schedule myself for another activity that I procrastinate from even more, and then use writing as a way to avoid that activity.
I told you it wasn’t pretty.
I wish I could tell you that I schedule it in neatly each day into its tidy slot, but I’d be lying.  Luckily, writing is an emergency or procrastination opportunity several times a week, so I get a great deal of it done.
This is my actual schedule from last week…”Oh, Pamela,” she cringes and hangs her head.
Saturday
7-3 Swim meets with Kids and Husband.
3-4 Husband grocery shopped, I did some Day Job work
4-6 Husband and I cooked together and herded Kids; we ate dinner; Kids to activities
630-930 Rode bicycles on trainer to movies (darned if I can remember which ones now)
930-1030 Relationship workbooks
1030 Picked up kids then collapsed
Sunday
7-3 Kids swim meet with Husband
3-5 Errands with Kids and Husband
5-7 Cook and Eat with Kids and Husband
7-8 Chores for Them; I prepped for Day Job
8-1030 Bicycle on trainer with Husband while watching Avatar with Kids
1030-1130 Relationship workbooks
Monday
620-720 Up, get everyone ready, do chores simultaneously
720-820 Social media and online marketing research/”errands”
820-620 Damn Day Job Got Busy: worked at client site; listened to Stieg Larssonn book “The Girl Who Played With Fire” while I drove
620-8 Husband did everything while I worked at home
8-9 Family dinner after Kids home from all activities
REST NIGHT – NO EXERCISE
9-10 Relationship Workbooks
Tuesday
620-720 Up, get everyone ready, do chores simultaneously
720-820 Social media and online marketing research/”errands”
820-620 Damn Day Job Got Busy: worked at client site; more “Girl Who Played with Fire” (loved it)
620-8 Husband did everything while I worked at home
8-9 Family dinner after Kids home from all activities
830-10 we rode bikes on trainers, training for our next road race, while watching Hurt Locker with the Kids
10-11 Relationship Workbooks
Wednesday
Very much the same from 620-2, but I worked from home, so I was able to write  two blogs and work on dishes and laundry during mental break times.
2-4 Took Clark to get braces.  Made phone calls in the hallway outside the lobby.
5-8 Husband again picked up the slack with kids and cooking so I could work on queries to agents.
8-9 Today was a swimming day in place of bicycle.  Kids partied while we were gone.
930-1030 Relationship workbooks
Thursday
620-noon Another blessed work from home day, and I wrote next week’s blogs during some mental break time from the day job.
Noon Husband came home for lunch, ah.
1-5 Same as morning, except got a call from middle school Dean that my 13-year old was skipping her “mentor” for 2 months (!!); quick caucus with husband and ex-husband to determine terms of her “consequences” (which were very poorly received, let me assure you, so we know we picked correctly)
5-6 Husband shopped on the way home while I drove kids around to activities.
6-7 We cooked together for a change.
7-8 And all ate together.
830-1030 Bicycle night watching Crazy Heart with the Kids.
1030-1130 Relationship workbooks.
Friday
620-noon Normal morning, but worked a half day from home, then critiqued fellow writer’s manuscript in trade for critique on mineRevisions to manuscript.  Writing of reports on day job. Packed for weekend.
Noon Lunchtime swim with wonderful Husband.
12-3 Same as morning
3- 10 Picked up kids early from school.  Helped son choose non-gaming activity for in-flight.   Flew to Atlanta.
5-8 Wrote day job reports on laptop on airplane while Husband slept.
Now, I am sure after reading this that you are wildly jealous at the excitement that is my life.  Or at least the wonderfulness that is my husband! This is just one week.  Some weeks are even more exciting.  But, I will tell you, I find my life extremely satisfying because while I am exhausted each day when I go to sleep and have been deprived of American Idol and Mad Men, I know that I got “it” in, because I know what “it” is and get rid of everything else.
Most weeks, the writing takes a bigger slice, and I don’t lean so heavily on my husband.  Eric is a chemical engineer, and he is a damn good one with a company that is in high demand for design and revamp work.  The guy makes more money than me.  And yet he is willing to do more “at home” work, week in and week out, to allow us to achieve our shared priority of me pursuing writing.  I know this makes me lucky/special/unique, and I treasure him.
Someday it will get easier, when more of the kids move out, right?  Our dream is to start training for an Ironman (35 hours a week) when our youngest child gets her driver’s license and I finally recover from plantar’s fasciitis.  As it is, whenever we are preparing for an event, our training goes up to at least 15 hours a week on average for about two months.
Enough.  I’m putting myself to sleep.
Y’all have a good one.
Pamelot

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