Friday, December 05, 2014

Time and the Still Undone

Sorry, I'm late. Lots going on today, and I needed to come into work early. This is one of those times when my day job as a criminal justice professor intersects with what I write about as a mystery writer. One of my series protagonist, Hannah McCabe, is a female police detective and so I've been viewing what's happening across the country through multiple lens. But that's a post for another day.

What I've also been thinking about today is time management. I'm still trying to find a system that allows me to manage multiple obligations and projects smoothly. I went through that era when I would buy every complicated system on the market hoping that finally I would find a method to keep my life in order -- as with today when I intended to get my post about crime theories and crime fiction up last night but got home too tired to do it. Then this morning, I dashed out the door without my notes so I can't do it from the office. I did finally realize that placing a basket on a table near the door and putting all my keys into that basket when I get home would eliminate that search through purse and coat pockets for door keys and car keys. But other strategies -- such as mind-dumping, getting everything I needed to do out of my head and down on paper -- never really worked out as well as advertised. Or, maybe it was me. But I made the list, prioritized the list, and I still haven't gotten a passport photo so that I can renew my passport. This means I can neither visit my Type M friends in Canada and elsewhere or go on that research trip I want to take in June. Neither have I picked up the last book that I want to read about cowboys in the west before I finish the first draft of the short story that I'm supposed to be writing for an anthology (an anthology based on a movie character --  more about that later). Anyway, the book is uptown in the University library, and in spite of having this task on my list, three weeks later I still haven't picked up that book -- even though I've been to the uptown library at least twice since I added that item to my "to do" list.

Actually, it does work well when I devote a day to working through the list and map my day so that I'm efficiently going from one place to the next and doing what I need to at each place. The trouble is, most days, I don't find the time to come up with a game plan. I know this is something that I should do at night. But I'm tired at night. . .

But not getting things done . . . I think we all get the urgent things done, but it's the long and growing list of tasks that need to be done but don't scream "I'm urgent!" until they are. . . I don't know about you, but that is one of the things that I, as a writer, find a chronic distraction. It's hard to slip into the world that I have created when a part of my mind is worrying about what I'm leaving undone in the "real world". I think that is why going on a retreat is so useful. If you aren't at home, you can't do it even if you want to. So, you can forget your to-do-list and write.

Here's to the future when we'll all be able to have our robot assistants take care of our to-do-lists. Unless that should turn out to be a problem. At least in the world of sci-fi, not all robots take kindly to human domination.

And now I'm going to go look for the book I bought about a new system for getting things done. If anyone has a system that works, I would love to hear about it. Please!


Sybil Johnson said...

I so wish I had an answer to this problem. Time management and writing is something I struggle with constantly.

Donis Casey said...

Same here, Sybil. Frankie, you have convinced me that I need a writer's retreat. The other stuff I need to do will just have to take care of itself.

Charlotte Hinger said...

The best book on this subject I've ever read is David Allen's Getting Thing Done. Come New Years (heh, heh) I'm going to try it.

Eileen Goudge said...

My New Year's resolution is to do less of what I don't enjoy, which will leave more time for what I do enjoy. I don't know if it's the best strategy career-wise, but I'll be happier. I know that much.