One of the things many writers struggle with is time management. I’ve heard so many writers cry out, frustrated that they just can’t find the focus or time to write like they want. I knew if there was one person who could share wisdom and tips on this topic, it was the author of today’s guest blog, Tricia Goyer. This woman is amazing! I’ve known her since her children were little, and it’s been a delight to watch her grow as a woman, a parent, and a best-selling author. I’m delighted she can share her time-tested wisdom with us today. You can find out more about her at www.triciagoyer.com.
How to Balance a Busy Writing Schedule and a Busy Life
by Tricia Goyer
I’m a wife, homeschooling mom to ten kids (yes 10!) and best-selling author. I’ve had 60+ books published, and I lead a Teen Mom support group in inner city Little Rock. The number one thing I’m asked by others is, “How do you do it all?”
If you were to see the piles on my desk and the piles of laundry you’d realize I don’t DO it all. Everything does get done, but not on the same day.
Those sixty something books have happened over sixteen years, and I didn’t birth all of our ten kids. I totally cheated and adopted some as teens. (Not that it makes parenting any easier!)
But there is some mindfulness to the madness. Over the years I’ve had to make choices. I don’t watch TV. I miss most movies. I don’t have any hobbies except reading. And I’ve cut back on my speaking schedule to be home more. I’ve also developed some habits to make my life work better. Here are some things that have worked for me, and maybe some things you might want to try.
Making the Most of Our Minutes
- I’ve created a rhythm to our day: Daily rhythms are a biggie for me. I have quiet time and write before anyone wakes up. We start homeschool around the same time every day. We have dinner around the table together, and nightly bedtime routines. Schedules give our children a sense of order. We all know what to expect in the day, and I make the most of the quiet moments I have in front of my computer, knowing that time is all I’ll probably get.
- I pick two to three important things to get done in each day. There are days I need to write 2,000 words. There are days I need to get caught up on laundry. These two things cannot happen on the same day. When I choose what things to focus on, I’m also choosing other things to ignore. This is important. There will never be enough time to do it all in one day. Ever. Making choices relieves the stress. I’m able to push nagging thoughts out of my mind, knowing I’ll get to those things all in time.
- I set aside times for fun and play. I give attention to my little ones when they first wake up. I try to do the same in the afternoons with their big sisters. Sometimes I color with my kids, and I play a board or card game with them nearly every day. When my kids know they’ll have dedicated time, they don’t have to fight for time (or act up to try to get it) throughout the day.
- I seek help. I’ve managed my workload and budget so I can have a woman come in four hours a week to clean. I have an assistant who helps with my blogs and other online help. I have a babysitter/nanny who takes kids to therapy appointments or watches kids a few hours in the afternoon so I can write.
I was not at this place ten years ago, but I’ve worked to find people who I can help financially and who can help me.
While you may not be at the place to hire someone, ask yourself if there is someone who you can trade with. For years I traded homeschool days with another mom so I’d have a free day. Also, when you see someone who is seemingly “doing it all,” know that person probably has help, too. No one can do it all and balance everything well. No one.
- I say NO. My kids aren’t in many activities outside the home. I pick a few things, like the ten mom support group, to volunteer in and I leave it at that. When I think about adding something I then consider what I have to give up. I used to be the worst at overcommitting, but I’ve learned to only say YES to the things I really want to do and that I have time and space for.
- I turn to God. God has the answers for my day. His Spirit guides me to what’s most important. God has good plans for me and my family. I’ve learned to take my eyes off the schedule, and put them on Him.
There are times I’ve pushed aside writing for a kid who needs one-on-one attention. There are other times when all the kids have played together happily and I’ve been able to sit and work. When I feel a nudge in my spirit, I pause to listen to what God is speaking to me. Even on days when I push writing to the side God shows me that He can redeem those moments.
Balancing a busy writing schedule and a large family isn’t easy, but it is possible. As I live out this writing life in front of my kids I’m also displaying what it means to work hard to serve God and people. My kids know I take my work and my service seriously. They also see how God shows up. Life in our era will always be busy … but the good news is we get to choose what to be busy about.