Several years ago, when I took on a two-year writing project, I knew that something had to give. I already was spending my life constantly trying to squeeze out five more spare minutes. To make the deadline, something (or several somethings) in my schedule would have to be weeded out.
“Where’s the dead wood in your life?” a writing friend asked me. “What can be cut?”
Take a Closer Look
Nothing, I thought. It’s all important stuff. I had a couple of weekly writing jobs, I held offices in a couple organizations, and I led a couple small church groups. Some of the responsibilities had been mine for years, and they all seemed important.
I was clueless about what to cut–until I heard a pastor talking about this very dilemma. And this was the bottom line: if the activity has run its course and you no longer enjoy or even want to be doing it, you may want to weed it out. In other words, he said,
“If the horse has been dead ten years, dismount.”
Put It Out to Pasture
I started over. I looked at my commitments again and made a list of my paid and unpaid jobs. Which job or position that once was fun and satisfying and productive was now just an unproductive time drain? Which things had run their course? Which lifeless “horse” was I still trying to make gallop? Where should I “dismount”?
This wasn’t as difficult to spot as I expected. Some of our time drains are just habits we’ve had for years. Or they’re community or school obligations we took on for a year or two, and somehow they turned into life-time commitments. Some things we used to be so enthusiastic about, but now we resent the time it takes.
Take a close look at your stable of horses. If you have trouble finding time to write–if your schedule is truly too full–I hope you will dismount a couple of dead horses so that you have time to ride a new one!
And if you have difficulty deciding what needs to go, I highly recommend a book I read this year. It’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. It will help you get rid of the dead wood now, plus develop a lifestyle where you don’t add in commitments or activities until you take something out first to make room.
Many of us are too busy to enjoy the very full lives we have. Chances are, if you want a writing life too, something will have to go. Don’t wait. If you’re trying to ride a dead horse (or several!), DISMOUNT!