Monday, February 4, 2019

I can manage time better than I can manage cats

Q: How best do you manage your time and resources? What tools are helping you manage life while you complete your next work? Websites? Apps? Tricks of the trade?

- from Susan

Managing time? Well, I try to bargain with myself for a few uninterrupted hours a day to write. Then I have to negotiate with myself not to spend those hours on Facebook, and the latest screaming headlines in the online newspapers. There’s no negotiating with the younger cat who believes my lap belongs to her whenever she wants it, or with the supposedly mature one who does her 10,000 daily steps across the keyboard and the desk, dislodging papers and pencils and eyeglasses as she goes.

Managing resources? I’m lucky that I have no one to support but the cats and myself. I eat lightly. They don’t. My resources include space – I have a dedicated office space, many hundreds of crime fiction books that should inspire but mostly intimidate me – and a laptop. What more do I need? I don’t need apps. I sure don’t need more websites or social media. I don’t need pep talks and Netflix and the chocolate chip cookies my alter ego forces me to buy.

What I need is to get back into the zone, to sit down at the keyboard, sans animals, and feel myself diving into a world of my creation, thinking and feeling like my characters, accompanying them on their journeys. I love that but it doesn’t come when I let too many other admittedly enjoyable things get in the way of a regular “butt in chair” as Annie Lamott says.

There are no tricks, but I’m getting off to a good start in 2019. No phone calls, no internet, no food or laundry for a block of time every weekday, or five days a week if something takes over a weekday. The only trick I know is to wrestle the alligator, climb out of the pit and go back in the next day and wrestle it again. One day, I’ll forget that it’s work, however briefly, find myself in that happy zone again, and then I can stop managing and just be.

I’m thinking of banishing the cats from the office, but that is a much bigger alligator.
Picture of cat hugging shoes. Shoes are on feet.


RJ Harlick said...

I hear you with those screaming headlines and let's just check Facebook one more time. I turned off the automatic retrieval for emails years ago. Every time the ding went I couldn't stop checking that latest email. So good for you for starting out 2019 with such good intentions, Susan. I wish you luck.

Susan C Shea said...

Thanks Robin!