By Shani Petroff
My schedule is in overdrive at the moment — it’s all for good things — but it has me trying to figure out how to fit everything in. I am on a deadline for a new book project, I have my freelance work, I’m trying to have a tiny bit of a social life, and I have a new teen book, My New Crush Gave to Me, coming out at the end of the month. It’s a holiday romantic comedy that I am super-excited about. But as I try to gear up for the book launch and do everything else, I’m finding myself overwhelmed — and a result, wanting to turn to junk food.
However, instead of caving in, I’m working on budgeting my time so I can fit in exercise, grocery shop for healthy snacks, and get in all my work and fun:
Social Media. I can easily waste a whole day scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Connect, etc., etc., etc. Only, I don’t have time for that. So, I’m implementing limits. I’m setting a timer on my phone, and when the alarm goes off, I must sign off. Since I know I’ll want to log back on, I’m making it a reward. Finish a task, get five minutes online (or if my reward is a TV show, then I can look while watching.)
Hide the Remote. TV may be my biggest procrastination tool, and it’s so tempting to just turn it on. But, for me, one show tends to turn to two or three or ten. So, I’m saving my TV viewing for the evening (after my work is done) or when I’m at the gym (so I can kill two birds with one stone). And when I’m at home, I’m moving the remote control to another room. Having to get up and go get it is a nice reminder that I should be doing something else!
Mind & Body. Meditation and working out — I always mean to do them, but I never think I have the time. Then, the other day, someone recited to me what they said was a Zen proverb — “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day — unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” It struck home. I waste a lot of hours on ridiculous things (often googling random things that pop in my head), but instead of doing that, I want something that will get me focused and will help me achieve my goals. Making time for myself can actually help me finish my tasks at hand more efficiently.
Just Start. When something seems daunting like putting together an address list for a mass mailing or writing a new chapter or post, it becomes so easy to put it off — to say in a few minutes, after I have dinner, or when inspiration strikes. Only, sometimes I’m still sitting there at 3 a.m. with nothing accomplished. So, now I’m putting my fingers to the keyboard and just getting to work — whether I feel like it or not. It’s easier to fix something that’s already on the page than to start from scratch!
It’s Not All or Nothing. When I think about sitting down to write or getting on the treadmill at the gym, I envision myself doing it for a really long time. That’s intimidating. It makes it harder to want to start if I have limited time. But I don’t have to write a chapter every time I open the computer, and I don’t have to work out for an hour either. If I only have 20 minutes, it’s still something! In fact, I had an unexpected reminder of this the other day. I was at the gym (the first time in a while), and I started working out. I walked a little on the treadmill and then started to jog. Two minutes later, something was poking my chest. The underwire in my bra had popped out. It made me laugh, but it was also uncomfortable — so I had no choice but to go home. I had only been at the gym a short time, but I still felt good – a lot better than those days when I didn’t go at all. It was a reminder that even a little bit can do some good.
Save the Easy Stuff for Last. One of the things I’m doing for my book launch is sending holiday cards to some librarians and booksellers. The other day, getting the cards ready was my first task. I did it for hours (still have many to go), but afterward I wasn’t in the mood to sit down and write. I wound up going to my procrastination tools — TV and social media. I realized I had done it all wrong. I should have worked on the writing first! I could have addressed and stuffed envelopes while I was watching TV later that night. I didn’t need all my brain power to seal an envelope. So now, I’m trying get the harder things out of the way and then finishing the easy tasks afterward!
Do you have any events or celebrations you’re trying to get ready for? I’d love to hear about them! You can find me on Connect @shani!
Read more Shani Weighs In.