Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Motivation vs. Procrastination

I still don't get how you can freelance full time, write fiction, have two kids, maintain a house, promote your book, have a social life, go to the gym...and not go insane. I'm incredibly bad at time management. Do you think about time management or do you do this stuff effortlessly?How do you keep yourself motivated? Keep yourself from procrastinating?

Aw, thanks, but I'm really not a superhero or anything. As I've mentioned before, I'm hyper-organized. But I also know my limits, as well as how long things will take me. This took a long time to figure out...there have certainly been points in my career when I felt overwhelmed (or bored) because I put too many (or too few) eggs in my basket. And I think this is knowledge that can only come from experience - you have to test your own limits and see what washes out.

How do I not go insane? Well, I have fabulous child care to begin with. Again, not to repeat myself here, but I treat my job the same way that a mom who goes into an office does, and in that sense, I have a nanny Mon-Fri. Now, I spend a decent amount of that time with my kids anyway - for example, the baby can't go with my son to some of his classes, so I chill with her during those times...that's the beauty of working from home, but there's no doubt that during most of the week, I can peel off to "go to work" and get stuff done. There is NO CHANCE I could be as productive as I am without good child care, and I make no apologies for that. I also liberally employ the use of the word "no." This is something that a lot of women struggle with, and you know what? I've just come to realize that my time is too valuable, so I now say "no" to plenty of things, both work and social, that I might have begrudgingly dragged my heels to (and on) in the past. I highly recommend it - it's freed up a lot of time and mental space.

And to be honest, my social life isn't that rocking. :) I have my girl's (or is that girls'?) night dinners once a month (which are so much fun, it's like being back in college), and my husband and I have dinners out with friends or on our own over the weekends, but other than that, it's emails and occasional phone calls with friends. But I think that might be more a symptom of having two young kids than anything else. I'm sure that other parents out there can relate. I mean, given the choice, which would I rather: go out and drink a cocktail that will inevitably only make me sleepy or just go to sleep, period? I think you know the answer.

How do I stay motivated? I'm not always, to tell you the truth. Sometimes I'll just blow off days entirely because I can't seem to click away from PerezHilton.com. But what really helps is changing up what I'm working on. As I said last week, I've adored magazine writing in the past, but in the past year or so, I've found myself less interested, and thus my motivation to both query and write these pieces was really flagging. So, knowing this, I've taken the past few months to refocus on fiction, as well as my promotional work for TDLF. As with any job, switching up your tasks often helps relight your fire. And yes, I do procrastinate. But what helps is setting time limits for myself. Saying, "Okay, you can surf celebrity gossip sites until 10:30 AM, but then you have to write for an hour. After that, you can go back to surfing." Living by the clock really helps me - sort of like dieting - it allows me to "cheat," but also forces me to get back to business.

So what helps you guys stay motivated and kick your rears in gear?


Anonymous said...

Hey Allison,
for me, I have to just remind myself, I won't get published pouting or worrying or wondering what's happening with manuscripts that are out and about. I publish short articles and columns locally to satisfy my need to see a finished product, but my love, my fiction is what drives me. And for that to work, I have no choice but to do the work.
I'm lucky, too with child care. My kids are in preschool for five hours several times a week. That gives me chunks to figure in exercise and writing and I watch how often I run errands and do all the fun stuff that keeps me from writing...

Amanda said...

I have to look at what I want to really do. Then make a plan. When it is in my heart I can complete it. If not it doesnt get done.