“We can choose to shift our collective dialogue about time as a lacking resource to a more powerful view of time as friend.”
“Time as friend also means the death of multitasking.”
~ Christine Louise Hohlbaum, The Power of Slow
Yesterday I wrote that my plan today was to write for an hour before going online, and I am happy to say I did it! After showering and conversing (or conversating, as a friend of ours says) with my husband over coffee, I bypassed the Firefox icon and went right to my WIP folder. By 7 a.m. I had one thousand words, more or less, of new writing.
This is definitely a habit I want to develop. One month from tomorrow I return to teaching part-time, so that gives me 31 days to make this new routine automatic. If I can continue to get in at least an hour of new writing every day, during my most productive part of the day, I know that I will not only make huge strides toward my goals for the year, but I’ll feel really good about my work at the end of each day.
About half an hour into writing this morning, I had a question (concerning the inheritance of Tribal land), and I was tempted to go online to do some research, but I decided that this hour will be devoted to writing only, so I put a note in brackets to look it up later and kept going. My guidelines for myself are these: During that hour, I will write new material either in a Word document or longhand, without having a browser open, and I will work only on my novel, which right now is my most important work in progress.
Whatever I do later in the day—more writing, revising, research, planning—is above and beyond that first, most important hour. It’s the least I owe myself.
If you are also searching for ways to manage email and communication overload, you will enjoy this 26-minute interview by Julie Morgenstern, author of Never Check E-mail in the Morning. Julie discusses not only social media, but issues of perfectionism and learning to live the life we want by controlling our choices and attention (if the video below does not load, click here):
Also, you might find some tips or inspiration in Tim Ferriss’s How To Check E-mail Twice a Day… Or Once Every Ten Days or Gretchen Rubin’s Five Realistic Tips for Using Email More Efficiently.
Figuring out how to make social media work for us, as writers, rather than against us is probably a highly personal project. For example, I love email. I don’t love phones. So when I can substitute an email message for a phone call, I’ll do it every time. I know other people, however, who prefer a phone call to having to write out information in an email. A classic case of YMMV.
I still haven’t made a decision on how best to handle email. It won’t work for me to check it twice a day, because I’m a freelance indexer, and often I need to read and respond to queries from publishers or authors relatively quickly. However, I don’t need to check in with Twitter more than twice a day. Same with Facebook. Sometimes I get Facebook inbox messages that are time-sensitive, so today I turned on the feature to have Facebook send me an email alert about messages, solving that problem.
I think we should be easy on ourselves as we make changes in our routines and habits, and resist the urge to castigate ourselves for wasting time. After all, we are dealing with brand spanking new technology that changes almost before we can master it. We are, in that respect, explorers, and we will make mistakes.
What is working for you? What baby steps are you taking to take more control over your use of communication technology and social media?