I have several appointments coming up that will take three hours out of several different days and a couple of favors I didn’t have the nerve to say “no” to. I was bemoaning the chunk of work time that would be deducted from my work week.
How would I get my writing done?
Then I realized that my husband hasn’t missed an hour of work in more than a year, yet he keeps his doctors’ appointments and other special commitments. He does what I need to do myself–he makes up for lost time. He works afternoons and evenings. If he has to make appointments during work time, he switches shifts, or he goes to his appointment and works extra hours afterward. The alterations are rare though; work is a given.
He doesn’t moan and groan about time pressure, he doesn’t miss any work, and he takes care of important appointments.
Keeping Office Hours
I’m guessing that I need to follow his example in that area. If I’m going to say “yes” to a favor or a long phone call with a friend, I need to “clock out” of the office for that time, and then make it up in the evening. Or, better yet, I need to get up earlier that day and log in the extra writing time before my appointments. Too often, I go to the appointment or run the errand or babysit grandkids…and let the writing go for that day.
You can do that once in a while, of course. But this had become my habit, and my lack of productivity showed.
If I diligently make up the writing every time I quit work short of my goal for some reason, I bet I will get better at saying “no” to some requests. In fact, I can almost guarantee it as I don’t like writing at night.
I like to say “yes” to favors when I can. But I imagine I would be more productive if I thought like a nine-to-fiver and said, “I can’t do that for you this morning, but I could do it at four o’clock.” Sometimes the person wanting the favor can rearrange his schedule.
Whatever your writing goal for the day–whether it’s fifteen minutes of scheduled writing or four hours–try making it non-negotiable. Think like an office worker with a boss looking over your shoulder.
Home Office Hours
Yes, it’s easier if you work at an office with a boss. None of your friends or family members expect things from you during the day when you work outside the home. So your only option when working from home is learning to say “no.” I’ve been working in my home office (mostly full-time) for thirty years. Many people still half-assume that since I’m at home, I’m not really working.
So, as usual, it comes down to this. *I* need to take my writing schedule seriously before anyone else will. It’s not about convincing the people in my life that I’m serious about my writing. It’s about convincing me.
You will need to do that too.
Once we do, I suspect our schedules will fall into place. The boundaries I need to set are most often on myself. And now, off to re-read my own e-book, Boundaries for Writers. I need periodic reminding on how to do this!