[488 words | 3 minute read]
I feel like a performer on 1950s television: constantly spinning plates to keep them balanced on spears. My life has often been hectic—even when I’m overloaded, I still constantly seek new opportunities to “be productive.” This has manifested itself over the years in freelance writing, fill-in TV news reading, and even a stint as a copywriter for adult dating websites. I’ve always needed something to do.
Working in broadcasting means I have weird hours, especially now that I’m employed as a swing announcer. That means I fill in whenever someone takes vacation or leaves the station. Right now, I’m filling in for middays and afternoon drive—eight hours, five days a week. Plus six hours Saturday and Sunday.
On top of that, I’m also the Senior Editor at a magazine. I’m responsible for interviewing subjects, writing features, and editing copy.
Oh, and I write here, too.
It can be overwhelming.
Being Accountable To Yourself
A month ago, I began keeping track of where I chose to spend my time. The reality is I can do anything I want, I just need to budget for it in my calendar. Although this is not indicative of an average week, here’s what my current Monday-Friday looks like:
4:30am wake, coffee, writing (magazine)
8:00am shower, breakfast
8:30am prepping radio show
6:30pm dinner, writing (personal)
8:00pm wife time
The Cold Truth
There’s a lot going on, but mostly everything is accounted for. “Wife time” may seem oddly clinical, but the reality is we’re both busy people and need to align our schedules. In the past, we’ve sacrificed time together for the sake of our careers and not only was it fruitless (we were both miserable and I was fired), it also defeated the purpose of working so hard: to have more time and resources for each other. We also go to the gym together every day, which is a huge part of our routine: it gives us more time together and keeps us accountable with our health and fitness.
Creating boundaries was also a huge part of scheduling my time. Although there are some exceptions, I aim for as little overlap as possible. It allows me to focus on one project at a time and give my full attention to it. Trying to manage five tasks at once—with constant email, Facebook, and WhatsApp notifications—is counterproductive and will usually result in sloppier work. You’ll also waste a lot more time switching back and forth between projects.
I still haven’t fine-tuned everything—my schedule is bound to change from week to week—but I’m much happier knowing that I have deliberately budgeted my time. I can also get a lot more work done, because I’m not being distracted by ongoing, unfinished projects. This is only a starting point and I’m excited to push time management to its full potential.