Thursday, July 6, 2017

What Teacher Writers Can Teach You About Time Management

I’m honored to be at Seekerville today offering tips on time management. At the end of May, I completed my twentieth year as a middle school ELA teacher. One thing I’ve learned is that better time management is something most of us can improve upon. 

At the start of each school year, I spend the first week doing several activities with my students that are designed to help them learn time management skills to keep them from being overwhelmed. Seventh grade tends to be one of the most difficult years for students as they are learning to balance social activities (school dances, ballgames, and hanging out with friends), extra-curricular activities (basketball, football, band, clubs, etc.), and a more strenuous course load. 

Today, I’ve called on a few multi-published, award-winning authors to provide tips to help relate the lessons to a writer’s life. 


Lesson 1: Examine How You’re Spending the Majority of Your Time

Before you can manage your time, you must first know where you’re wasting time. This activity is simple. Keep a log (for one week) to show how you spend your time. This does not have to be detailed. Keep it simple. 

The goal is to see how much time you’re spending being nonproductive. I’m not saying you can’t ever watch T.V. or play games, but three or four hours a day is excessive if you’re sincere about making your writing dreams a reality. 


Lesson 2: Prioritize What’s Important in Your Life

Set time aside for writing, instead of only writing during the remnants of your day when you’re drained from everything else life has thrown at you. 

 “When I was teaching, I had to carve out time in my day to write. I tried to write every day even if it was only a few hundred words. That way, I kept myself immersed in my story without having to do a lot of catch-up reading. Also, I set weekly goals for writing, not daily. Sometimes life happens and if I can't write one day, I can make up the word count over another day or several. A weekly goal takes the pressure off of a daily goal.” – Margaret Daley

“Figure out what you’re willing to sacrifice. T.V.? Sleep? What? Never family time. To keep your kids from resenting the time you spend writing, make sure you’ve allotted a set amount of time for them each day.” – Lynette Eason


Lesson 3: Squeeze Extra Time Into Your Day

You might wonder how it’s possible to “squeeze” more writing time into your day. After all, each day only has twenty-four hours and a certain number of those are non-negotiable, right? I mean some people (Ruthy and Tina come to mind) may be able to function on less than six hours of sleep per night, but personally, I have to have a minimum of seven hours of sleep to be able to function and stay healthy. 


Linda Goodnight offers the following advice on multi-tasking and shortcuts for time management: Excellent time management is important for all of us, but for teachers with families who work long after the bell rings, it’s crucial for our mental health! So how did I build a writing career, win teacher of the year twice, and raise three teenagers all at the same time? Here are some things that worked for me:


1. Multi-task. Save time by doing double duty everywhere you can. 
-Help with homework while cooking or folding laundry. 
-Plan lessons, grade papers, edit books in the car on the way to a game or other event. (Only if someone else is driving! Lol) 
-Use time in doctor’s offices or other appointments the same way. Always have your work with you.

2. Crockpot meals – Our family believes strongly in the family dinner table so I cook every single night. Having a stack of go-to Crockpot recipes helps tremendously.

3. Grocery shop only once a week or less. Keep a running list on the fridge and try to shop during the store’s slow times. It’s amazing how much time we spend in check-out lines!

To continue with Linda’s tip on Crockpot meals, I’d like to invite you to check out my Freezer Meals board on Pinterest. My younger sister, who’s also a teacher, introduced me to freezer meal planning. At the end of each summer, she spends one Saturday afternoon and in a matter of a few hours, she’s made enough frozen crockpot meals and breakfast burritos to get her family of five through the first full month of the school year. 



Lesson 4: Protect Your Writing Time

Most likely, this will be the hardest lesson of all. If you’re like me, you probably have a difficult time telling other people “no” and that can really cut into your writing time. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t volunteer at your child’s school. However, whenever possible, schedule activities around your writing time and not vice versa. If your best writing time is in the evening, then don’t volunteer to chaperone the school dance. Instead, maybe, you could volunteer work for an hour or two at the Saturday morning bake sale.  

Author and homeschool teacher/mom Lynn Huggins Blackburn offers the following advice:

1. Make the effort to determine how/when you write best and then work WITH that knowledge, not against it. For example, when I’m starting a project or have been away from one for a while, I know I need a chunk of time to get the ball rolling again. It’s worth it to me to do whatever I have to do to get several uninterrupted hours to focus on the story or tackle a big revision. 

2. Once I begin a project, I try to work on it at least five days a week. Even ten minutes of effort a day will keep the story moving forward and will keep me from needing a huge chunk of time to get things moving again.

3. Work in batches. If at all possible, I take a couple of days a month to write blog posts, create memes, and save images for social media and then the rest of my writing time is focused on fiction. It’s far more efficient to knock all of it out at once than it is to try to do a bit of everything each day. 


Lesson 5: Use a Planner

Even though I have a smartphone and I log every appointment in my digital calendar, I love, love, love planners and bullet journals. I keep my planner in my bag and take it with me everywhere. At a glance, I’m able to keep track of deadlines and goals, as well as appointments and other obligations. 


“Before I had children of my own, I taught first grade. After our girls were in middle and high school, I substitute taught. Those years in the classroom were a tutorial in time management. With a limited amount of time each day to cover a curriculum that prepared students for success, I learned to plan the work, set priorities and stay on task. Admittedly, the profession is unusual in that teachers are confined a good part of the day, generally with few opportunities to email, roam the Internet or make phone calls. Even restroom breaks can be hard to come by. Still, teachers must handle behavior issues and fit lessons in between recess, lunch and special classes, always keeping an eye on the clock. Writers don’t have a ringing bell to announce the start of their day. Household chores and interruptions vie for their attention. But when writers follow the example of teachers, we’ll reach our goals, meet our deadlines and grab our dreams.” – Janet Dean



I’ve brought an endless pot of coffee and an assortment of cheesecake. Pick a flavor…I’m sure it’s here. Then pull up a chair and visit for a spell. 

I’d love to know, what time management techniques do you use to keep life on track? 

One commenter today will win The Happy Planner by Create 365 along with motivational stickers and tiny binder clips. All you have to do to be entered is mention in the comments that you’d like your name put into the drawing. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.


Rhonda Herren Starnes lives in North Alabama with her husband, who she lovingly refers to as Mountain Man. They have been married for thirty-two years and have two grown children and three grandchildren. Grandbaby number four is due in November.

 Rhonda is an ELA teacher with twenty years of experience. Other than the obvious task of teaching her students how to read, write, and communicate effectively, she sees her number one goal as an educator to be that of a motivator. She wants her students to learn, by her example, to go after their dreams. 

Although Rhonda has dreamed of being published ever since she was in seventh grade and read her first romance novel (many moons ago), it wasn’t until four years ago that she actually sat down and attempted to write. Now she weaves stories of romantic suspense with rugged heroes and feisty heroines. 

Awards/Accomplishments: 
• 2014 Love Inspired Suspense Killer Voices, finalist. 
• 2015 Love Inspired Suspense Blurb to Book, finalist. 
• 2016 Wisconsin Fab Five Silver Quill Award,  Inspirational Category Winner. 
• 2016 ACFW Genesis, semi-finalist.

https://www.facebook.com/RhondaHerrenStarnes/
https://twitter.com/Rhonda_Starnes
www.rhondaherrenstarnes.com

146 comments :

  1. Oh! Time management is one place I do NOT excel! I would love to be entered!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Carol. You're entered!

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    2. Yeah, well, she could've fooled me. Carol's known to crank out THOUSANDS of words in the blink of an eye. ;-)

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    3. Yeah - but my house is a disaster and my life is insane... :p

      ;)

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    4. We will not discuss messy houses!! ;)

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    5. Absolutely NO ONE pays me to clean a house. Definitely not a priority here!!!

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  2. I guess for me, time management has always come pretty naturally. My biggest "secret" is learning to prioritize. Sometimes that list shifts a bit as other things are added while other things remain where they are on the list. Being flexible helps too. Some things you can't be flexible with while others you can. Learning the difference is key (at least for me) :-)

    I'm not saying I'm perfect at it all the time! Monkey wrenches do have a way of getting thrown into the mix sometimes...lol! And then I have to re-adjust again. I'm just saying for me, I've always just felt I have a knack for time management.

    You mentioned Crockpot meals and freezer meals. I would love to use my crockpot more often. Not because we are a super busy family, but it would make meal time so much easier! Throw something in it in the morning and when evening comes 'round, you have a delicious meal :-) And it fills your house with divine smells to boot! I've heard of people doing freezer meals. Take one entire afternoon to cook enough to cover say 2 weeks to a month. I think I could do a 2 week stint if I learned how to. Wouldn't it be wonderful to not cook for 2 whole weeks...lol? I would so be in for taking a cooking lesson in that! I am definitely going to check out your Pinterest board :-)

    This is such a wonderful post and can be applied to all of life I think! Certainly things you can pull out of this to incorporate into wherever it applies for each person :-)

    Since I don't use a planner, there's no need to put my name in the pot. But what a wonderful & thoughtful gift for someone who can use it :-)

    Blessings!

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    1. You're so right, Trixi. Learning to prioritize is key.

      Oh, how I wish time management came naturally to me. Even using a calendar to keep me on track, I sometimes find myself running late to events. Not horribly late, usually five minutes or less, but my family loves to give me a hard time about it.

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  3. Hi Rhonda, you know from critiquing with me that I definitely don't excel in time management. It's an area I constantly struggle in. So please, please, please enter me in the drawing.

    Problem areas for me are a demanding day job that involves computer work. Often when I get home the last thing I want to do is more computer work. Too many irons in the fire in terms of commitments. And too many interests.

    I guess the one thing I do right is refuse to give up. I keep believing I'll tackle the problem one of these days.

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    1. Hi, Terri. I completely understand the struggle with the "day job." As a teacher, I do get summer breaks, but usually that still means working in the classroom, attending conferences and/or meeting, and planning for next year. As a matter of fact, I have an all-day workshop tomorrow.

      Refusing to give up is a great quality to have. It's what helps us keep going when the struggle gets hard. Hang in there!! You're entered in the drawing.

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    2. I was just reading an article about a teacher hashtag #WhatSummerBreak. Between workshops with followup online components (Um, he forgot to mention the 3 week online bootcamp!) and the in-person workshops, plus the weeks setting up in a classroom, summer break is whittled away. #notcomplaining

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    3. I was in line at the grocery store yesterday in front of a teacher I know from subbing. She said she just finished one class and will be starting another, so she hadn't really had a break. A lot of non-teachers don't understand that about teachers.

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    4. Rhonda and Cate, our daughter is a teacher. She's had a bunch of workshops this summer about the new curriculum.

      Cate, what do you mean by online boot camp?

      Janet

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  4. Welcome to the hostess department of Seekerville! I brought time management treats with me! Yes, I did. I put a coffee cake in the crockpot! Iced coffee and iced tea are in the fridge. Help yourself.

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    1. LOL. Coffee cake in the crockpot! Love it.

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    2. I read that too quickly as iced coffee in the crock pot. Clearly I need more coffee!

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  5. Events I am always thirty minutes early to. But juggling is my issue. Once a year I review Eat That Frog and I can tell you, we are in that window of time for a review. Gosh, I've been using it since 1999. I don't use planners but I do..I use tons of calendars and a weekly sheet I print up and fill out with little boxes to check off when I finish something.

    The single most important thing I have learned is not to waste time.

    Always, always have CAN DO LIST.

    So right now I am functioning on 3 hours sleep in 48 hours. I cannot do something creative but what can I do? I have a list of Can Dos to get done.

    So helpful.

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    1. Three hours sleep in 48 hours! How do you function? I'd fall asleep at the first day job meeting and they kind of frown upon that.

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    2. Three hours of sleep in 48 hours!! Yikes.

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    3. THREE HOURS?! Here's what you can do: take a nap. Stat. Wait, I can't order the drill sergeant around, can I?

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    4. You are the Energizer Bunny! I don't know how you do it. I absolutely could not function on that little amount of sleep.

      I do love lists! One thing I love about the new planners on the market are they go beyond the calendar only ones we used to have. They have places in them for lists and goals and things. I ordered the Panda Planner Missy was talking about the other day, and I'm so excited because it's supposed to arrive today.

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    5. Thanks for mentioning the book. I just went to my local library's website and placed a hold on it.

      Wow! I don't know how you function on so little sleep.

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    6. Sleep is so important for health. Hope you get some sleep soon, Tina.

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  6. I too need help with time management. The days always seem to get shorter and shorter when it comes to using my time. I would love to be entered for the planner.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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  7. It's great to see you here, Rhonda! I'm a planner/calendar junkie. I take mine everywhere and record and schedule everything. I love to check things off as I do them. Great post!

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    1. Good morning, Jill. Planners and journals are my addiction. I love them.

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  8. Rhonda, this is helpful. I recently semi-retired and it's tempting to just kick back, I sort of earned it, but it also means I have tons more time for writing.
    Until we're published, and sometimes even then, we have to motivate ourselves.
    I can relate to Linda Goodnight's tip of working anywhere. I carry some of my fiction work with me in my tote bag, and if I have an hour between appointments, I'll stop in a coffee shop and write or edit. I also schedule blocks of time at home when I am the sharpest.
    I did write for years while working full-time, though it wasn't teaching. We have to be crafty about finding time, and if necessary fight for it. And our needs will evolve over the years. I no longer have to help my kids with homework or drive them to activities, but there are other demands.
    I enjoy time management, love planners and have made it something of a hobby, reading articles and learning new techniques. In my case I went too far a couple of times (editing at my dying mother's bedside? Really...) and I had to dial it back. There are also safety concerns, like when I was multi-tasking and produced a small fire on the stove. We can take this too far, but many of us don't take it far enough.
    I'm currently doing SOMETHING on my writing seven days a week, although Sunday is light, maybe an hour or so, and only if nobody needs me. Yesterday I went out to the local lake, set up my beach chair, and edited two chapters in hard copy. FYI, I use a red Pilot G2 for physical line editing. I can do two to three chapters a day this way, and I love the lake, there are no distractions.
    That said, and in far more words than it needed, this was a great post. Please enter me in the drawing. Like Jill, I am a Planner Junkie.
    Kathy Bailey

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    1. You're so right, Kathy. It's all about finding balance. I love the Pilot G2 pens. I use them all the time. I actually like the red ones for editing and the purple ones for grading my students' papers.

      Editing while sitting by a lake sounds relaxing. I'm slightly jealous. You're entered into the drawing.

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  9. Hi Rhonda! What an excellent post. I am a planner nerd (been using paper planners since I was 14 years old) so PLEASE enter me in the drawing. I've been eyeing the Happy Planner. I live your tips on time management, especially the one on batching tasks. I try to do all my social media stuff for the week on Sundays, but after reading this post, I may challenge myself and do all my social media/blogging for the MONTH in a day or two. That would give me loads of time for writing and homeschooling. Hugs :-)

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    1. Preslaysa, you're entered.

      Social media/blogging is an area where I struggle. I've set a goal to post one thing a week on my blog. The problem I have with scheduling posts is coming up with ideas.

      Thanks for stopping by! ((Hugs))

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  10. I am also in a strong Carpe Diem mode. I may have to get a job in the fall, so I'm trying to get as much writing as possible done over the summer.
    One of my best time management tips is having multiple projects going, so I'm never completely dry when I carve out time. I cycle back and forth between stories. Right now my contemporary Christmas story is gelling after a couple of drafts, and I'm working on the sequel to my Hell's Kitchen settlement house historical. This works for me. Some people are more linear and can only work on one thing at a time.
    If we practice time management and self-discipline when we're not published yet, we will better adapt to OTHER PEOPLE'S DEADLINES when we are.
    Food for thought,
    KB

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    1. You said, "If we practice time management and self-discipline when we're not published yet, we will better adapt to OTHER PEOPLE'S DEADLINES when we are." Yes! Yes! Yes!! Wonderful way to look at things and excellent advice. :)

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  11. Good morning, Seekerville! I'm so excited to be here with you today discussing time management. I'm by no means an expert, but it is one area that I put concentrated effort into improving. As you can tell from my post, I sought out expert advice from multi published, award winning authors who have gone before me and mastered writing careers while juggling a career as a teacher. Now, pull up a chair and lets chat.

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  12. Rhonda! You could sure teach me a few lessons and I don't mean 7th grade type. Now that my nest is empty, it seems I should have all kinds of time to write, but of course I don't. That planner thing is a great idea if only to record how I do spend my daily 24 hours and really see how much of it goes wasted. FYI - naps are not considered wasted time!! Thanks for visiting Seekerville and for a wonderful post. Cindy

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    1. Cindy, I think many people have the misconception that "empty nest" means loads of time to do nothing. LOL. Mountain Man and I have been empty nesters for almost six years, and sometimes, I think we're busier now than we were when our children were in school playing on multiple sports teams and running in every different direction. We now have aged parents to help care for, grandbabies and children who live in other states (our daughter's family is moving 1,700 miles away) which requires long road trips and time away from home. For nearly twenty years, I've done the bulk of our driving because I tend to get carsick if I ride. Fortunately, I've learned that I can take Dramamine, and then Mountain Man can drive while I work on my laptop. (This only works on Interstate driving where the roads aren't too curvy and there aren't a lot of trees/buildings casting shadows.)

      You're entered in the drawing!

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  13. Yay! Rhonda is in the house. Good to see you here! I'm a former teacher. High school Spanish and French. I did use planners then and was very organized. Today, notsomuch. Time management is an issue for me. I ALWAYS think I have more time than I actually have. That said, I use my time effectively and somehow manage to get a lot done every day. I almost never watch TV, but I do spend too much time on social media.

    One of the areas I want to focus on is making "office hours" for myself. I prefer writing in the evenings, but with 3 kids under 13, that's the WORST possible time. So, I need to make new hours and stick with them.

    So, yes, time management is an area I could use a lot of improvement in. I totally agree with once weekly grocery shopping and crockpot meals! Going to check out your Pinterest boards, too. Thanks, Rhonda!

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    1. Good morning, Josee! Please, don't think that I never waste time. We all do! And that's okay. Can you imagine how "burned out" we'd all be if we never did anything other than stick strictly to a schedule? I'll let you in on a not so big secret. I love watching Korean Dramas. Yes, I have to read subtitles, but they are so good that I don't mind. Like all TV shows, movies, etc, you can start watching and several hours later wonder where the time went. This is why I limit myself to one hour of watching time, a few nights a week. It's also a great way to reward myself for meeting my goals for the day.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. Gosh, Rhonda, you make me want to run out and buy a planner and become wise at time management. I'm convinced this is an offshoot of people's personalities and that some are naturally good at it and others, like me, are absolutely hopeless.

    I remember when you asked if I had any tips. I think I laughed out loud. I may be a teacher, but I'm as bad at time management as it is possible to be.

    Count me in for the planner. My days look a little too much like your sample planner up top. Bubble Mouse, anyone?

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    1. LOL. If I were naturally good at time management, I wouldn't need a planner. :)

      You're entered in the drawing.

      I've never heard of Bubble Mouse...must resist the urge to Google it...don't need another thing to drain my time...

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  15. Good morning Rhonda! Great to see you in Seekerville!!!

    I vary from week to week on how good I am w/time management. When I'm on a good-time-management roll, I stay there. Once I get off, I stay there too. Hard to get off the tracks.

    I don't use a planner, but I do have a calendar and a journal. The journal is more for keeping up w/what I have done. Kind of proof to myself that I've accomplished something.

    I love Lynn's advice. "Make the effort to determine how/when you write best and then work WITH that knowledge, not against it." And then to work in batches.

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    1. Ah, I love journals! Mountain Man does not understand why someone would need as many journals as I have, especially when some are still blank. I do tell him that one can never have too many journals and I will write in them, eventually.

      I remember when I went to the Writer's Police Academy, I took one of my journals with me to take notes in instead of using a notebook. This journal has a typewriter on the cover and it's now my "writing conference/workshops note taking journal."

      Lynn's advice is so spot on! Sadly, I think we're often programed to think we have to take whatever time is left over at the end of our day to work on our dreams, but in reality, this could be a hindrance to achieving our goals.

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  16. Hi Rhonda. Thank you for your excellent post. It is just what I needed to read. I've been feeling so overwhelmed with everything that I need to do that I've been waking up at 4 A.M. every morning.

    Please put my name in the drawing.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. You're entered into the drawing!

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  17. Good morning Rhonda!! Cheesecake for breakfast. Does it get better than that? Key lime for me today please!

    I love this advice because you have so many practical things! Crockpot recipes are a favorite of mine too so I can't wait to check out your Pinterest for more ideas.

    This blog couldn't be anymore well timed for me. I'm returning to work part-time and balancing family, writing and life in general is going to be a new challenge. I love planners too and joke my calendar has its own calendar. Nothing beats highlighting days and sticky note reminders to keep me going. I keep it with me at all times. I'm carving out that writing time and keeping it a priority.

    Great advice! Thank you!!

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    1. SHAREE!!! Congratulations on your big news, LIS author! So happy for you - cannot wait to read your book!

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    2. Sharee! I'm so happy you found my post useful. You're going to be balancing a lot now that you're a brand new LIS author! I'm so proud of you!!

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    3. SHAREEEEEE! Congrats on your fabulous news! So happy for you!

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    4. Sharee, so happy for you! I also can't wait to read your book.

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  18. Thank you for this, Rhonda (and those who contributed tips)! Such sound advice. I struggle with time management. I stay busy all the time, and yet at the end of the day there's not much to show for it. Better organization and prioritizing may be the answer. Btw, I love that crock pot idea! Off to consume copious cups of caffeine now. Thanks again!

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    1. Laura, I couldn't have compiled this list without the contributors! They are all amazing ladies! Have a great day, my friend.

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  19. Rhonda! It's so great to see you here! Time management, I so need help with this! Please enter me in the drawing. I make lists, and plan time to write, and it still gets away from me. I am always saying there are not enough hours in the day lol. Awesome post!

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    1. Sally, you're entered. Thanks for stopping by!

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  20. Hi Rhonda,

    What a great post! I'd love to be entered in the drawing. I actually dug out my calendar this morning and placed it beside my computer, but I never thought about tracking my day to see how much time is wasted.

    When I take a writing break, I usually combine taking the dog out with getting a few steps in. Sometimes I'll start a load of laundry or clear off the kitchen counter and then go back to work.
    Rhonda, thanks again for a great post.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post, Jackie! You're entered in the drawing!

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  21. RHONDA!!! How totally FUN to have you on this side of the blog, my friend, so YAY!!

    And this is definitely a subject most of us need (not Ruthy, Mary, or Tina, of course) in one way or another! And some -- moi -- more than others!!

    SUPER CONGRATS on the 20-year milestone -- WOW!! With that kind of experience under your belt, you definitely know what you're talking about, girl!!

    I had to smile at your sister's once-a-month cooking regimen at the beginning of the school year because I actually did that once, too, for a few months, and it really was a smart way to go. Problem is, I don't want to be in the kitchen for that long, so I stopped doing it. But one thing I do do now is make triple meals whenever I do cook, which is about 3 times a week, so I have a freezer loaded with meals. :)

    Have to go now ... must apply this post! ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. The trade off for once-a-month cooking is having to spend most of a day in the kitchen prepping the meals. Tripling (or even just doubling) a recipe is a great alternative. Thanks for sharing! ((Hugs))

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  22. Rhonda, first of all - 20 YEARRRRS as an educator? THAT alone is worthy of a million dollars. Congrats! Our son is a teacher, and whoa, the subject of time management is a fave of his.

    Thank you for sharing fabulous hints and tips. (Oh, and the crock pot is one of my best friends. Lol)

    Regarding time management, I've learned to say "no" and not feel guilty about it. Now, I do try to temper it with, "No, thanks I'm afraid I'll have to pass," BUT in the event that doesn't work, I'm a little more direct.

    Years ago, a neighbor would call at all hours. Often, I would tell her, "I'm working (writing) just now, but I'll return your call when I'm able." Her response? "Oh. Writing? Is THAT all? Ok. Well, this'll just a few minutes." ...And the call would go on. And on. And onnnnn.

    I finally had to be more direct. (And no. Leaving the answering machine on would do no good. She would call and leave message after delightful message.) I chatted with her about the situation (tactfully, but truthfully) one day, and that seemed to help - for a time. :-)

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    1. That's so funny about the neighbor. Goes to show people don't really get writing is not a hobby that is easily turned on and off. Years ago before I started writing, I'm afraid I might've been guilty of the same thing.

      Yay for you to stand up for your time!

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    2. Cynthia, I'm so proud of you for protecting your writing time. Most people don't understand that writing is a job.

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  23. Hi Rhonda and welcome to Seekerville. What a great post. Time management is key to all aspects of life. But I love how you've shown us how to carve time in our day to write. yay. I'm a retired teacher so know how exhausting that job is. Treasure those rest hours also. Thanks again for joining us today. Happy writing.

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    1. Sandra, I'm so happy to be here today. Seekerville is one of my favorite places. Thanks for stopping by to say hi!

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  24. Rhonda, great tips. I plan to log my weekly activities. I probably have some wasted moments that could be put to good use. Thanks for gathering input from other teachers as well. God bless you all! We love teachers in our family. You all are stars!

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  25. Rhonda, these are all great ideas! I think when people "work at home" like I do, or are homeschooling their kids, time management is even more important because it can feel like we have that great, long day ahead of us so there's plenty of time to get everything done. Most days things come up and we suddenly realize the yucky chores still need to be done, etc. I use a planner even though I "work at home", wall calendars, and everything is also on my phone. My best time of day to write is 1-4 because I'm more "awake" then but it doesn't mesh well with family needs. So, it's a struggle to also write in the evening but I get it done. Please put me in the drawing for that lovely planner!

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    1. Laurie, I find that I'm way more productive during the school year than I am during the summers. Staying at home all day does make it harder to manage your time. I think that's because you wake up with the notion that you have the whole day ahead of you, and then time slowly slips away.

      You're entered in the drawing!

      Delete
  26. Rhonda, this was a great post. I am always looking for time management tips. However, I also need to follow them. I am a substitute teacher and have been home for over 6 weeks now this summer, but have not used my time wisely at all. I think having too much free time can be a problem because you try to do so many other things. For me it's reading and being on the computer. I save TV for evening. We record everything or watch programs on DVD, so that cuts out commercials. That would be my time-saving tip for watching TV. :)

    I also love planners. I don't think a digital planner would be useful for me at all. I need to see it written out on paper.

    I liked the suggestions from some of the authors about doing something even if it is just a short time during the day. When I am subbing and also working my night job, it is hard to carve out writing time. If I am subbing at a high school job, I often have lots of time that I can work at school as students are usually just working on lessons. Other jobs have a few minutes during the day at least when I can work. I made use of that during Speedbo but need to do that the rest of the year, too.

    I would love to win the planner!

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    1. Recording shows so you can watch them without commercials is a great timesaver. Thanks for the tip! You're entered in the drawing.

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  27. Good morning, Rhonda!

    It's nice to know there are other people out there who are planner nerds like me. I find that busy people surprisingly get the most work done.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us. I love the crock pot idea, since I usually retire that beast in the summer. You've Inspired me to drag it out today. ;-)

    ~ Renee

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    1. Renee, I think most people associate crock pot cooking with winter time and cold weather. Isn't it lovely to come into a house that smells like a warm pot of stew? Yummy! I do still use my crock pot in the summer, though, because it doesn't heat the house as much as cooking on the stovetop or in the oven.

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  28. Rhonda, wonderful to have you post side in Seekerville! You've given us some wonderful, practical ideas for time management. I admire career teachers who also write and rear a family. I didn't start writing until after my teaching years were behind me. Those years did teach me to utilize time but I've noticed the more time I have, the more time I waste. :-(

    Janet

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    1. Janet, thank you so much for contributing to my post. I couldn't have written it without all the help I received from you lovely authors. Y'all taught me a few things on time management, too. ((Hugs))

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    2. You rocked it, Rhonda!

      Janet

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  29. Wow, I really needed this! I have never been a planner type girl, making goals and such. Being forced to set writing goals has been an eye-opener for me and I have been so much more productive. I'm sure if I set weekly goals, I could produce even more. I'm a secretary/registrar/PEIMS clerk/Attendance clerk at an elementary school and tend to come home drained. But unlike teachers, I don't have all the after hours work (except in August and May!)

    The silly thing is, I am not sure the difference between a calendar and planner. I thought they were the same thing! So much to learn!

    I'd love to entered in the drawing. ;)

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    1. You're entered! Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. Sherrinda, I have always used calendars that have one little side section for notes. But I just bought a planner. It includes pages for daily, weekly and monthly entries. Includes areas for goals, successes, areas to improve on, and a themes, and a place to serve as a gratitude journal. It's a calendar plus a whole lot more.

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    3. Missy, that sounds like something I need to look into. A place for goals...daily, weekly, and monthly would be so convenient. And a place for gratitude! I love that! ;)

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  30. Great tips, Rhonda! I really need to reread this post when I, uh, have more time. 😜

    I used to be a sucker for the next, newest time management products. I used Day-Timer products for years. I've listened to workshops on tape (yes, you heard me, cassette tapes--that I still have on a shelf somewhere!). I've done the whole "how I use my time" analysis. I've kept notebooks of to-do lists and daily/weekly/monthly/yearly goals.

    Now . . . I am much more vague. I keep appointments and to-do items in my computer calendar and (hopefully) look at them every once in a while and depend on those reminder alerts to let me know when it's time to do something. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I just repeatedly hit "snooze" until guilt takes over.

    These days, I use mornings for "miscellaneous stuff" and afternoons for "mostly writing stuff." That's about as scheduled as I can convince myself to be.

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    1. Ah, one day, when I retire, I'm going to have a schedule like that! :)

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    2. Myra, I use my phone and reminders a LOT. But today the thing failed to remind me of a phone call I was supposed to make! (not business, thank goodness). So I just restarted my phone and hope that solves the problem!

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  31. Thank you Rhonda!

    I like working in batches too.

    Please enter me into the drawing.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Thank you, Phyllis! You're entered in the drawing.

      Delete
  32. Rhonda your post is helpful. Thanks.

    I'm a crock pot lover, too. It produces a yummy meal and I don't feel like I've slighted my group.

    My favorite tip in your post was to work in batches. I tried that for awhile, used the first week of the month to get everything ready so I could have the next 3 weeks to live in my fiction. It worked really well. I concentrated better and wasn't constantly trying to shift gears. I'm sort of a binge worker/writer and it was nice to have chunks of time.

    But to my chagrin, I stopped batching. Maybe it was a crisis or maybe it was just a change in the weather. I let things slip. And I've been too busy to recognize it.

    Deadlines are another organizational tool and they are a great motivator, but I rarely set one for myself.

    For those of us who work on our own (pre-published, no deadlines) life can be sort of a chaotic playground and time fritters away even though we are always working hard. I find myself saying "once this (whatever this is) is over I will get organized."

    And inside I'm panicking (when I should be hoping) that someday maybe I'll have to add other parts of being a writer to my life.

    So your post made me realize that there are 2 tips I should add- but I'm only pointing a finger at myself- First- I need deadlines. Setting my own deadline is sort of like dieting. When it comes down to the wire will I really take it seriously? After all what's one slice of cheesecake? Other than delicious. (Oh yum)

    And my second tip- Quit babying myself!

    Combining your post with Tina's on dreams is helping me to focus. Bless you and please enter me in the drawing!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Barbara. You're so right about self-imposed deadlines being harder to enforce. I always work better when I'm participating in a contest or something that has a set deadline I have to meet. This gives me hope that once I do become published I will be able to meet the deadlines.

      You're entered in the drawing!

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  33. Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing.

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  34. I could really use some help in time management. Please put me in the drawing! I know that it would be best to take a day or two each month to write and schedule blog posts, social media, etc. But I haven't yet figured out when, exactly, that should be. Plus, then there are those six children, and we love spending time together.... Thanks, Rhonda, for a great post!

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    1. Meghan, enjoy every moment with those six children. I promise there will come a time when you wish they were back at home under foot. You're entered in the drawing!

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  35. RHONDA!!!! :) Sooo happy to see you blogging here today!! Excellent post with very timely tips (yeah, pun intended, LOL). ;) I have struggled with time management for years, yet now as I look back on my years of teaching public school and raising 3 kiddos (many of those years my husband traveled with his job and he now admits I was like a single parent then) I'm thinking I actually got more accomplished than I realized. Still, I'm always looking for ways to be more productive, so I loved reading all these great suggestions from you and these other awesome ladies!
    And YAY for TEACHERS!! So wonderful that you've taught for so long and are still going strong! I just had a thought---if I hadn't had to retire 10 years ago from teaching (doctor's orders due to severe spinal/back issues) I would've just completed 30 years---makes me tired to think about it, LOL. But I'm SO thankful to have more time to write now and need to use my time wisely! So thank you again for sharing this post today, and enjoy your summer!
    Hugs, Patti Jo (About to become a Grandma!!)

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    1. I can't believe you took time to stop by and say "hi" today, Patti Jo (almost a grandma)! Sending you a big hug and lots of prayers! Love you, sweet lady!

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  36. Rhonda!!! My middle of the night writing buddy in Nashville, good to see you!!!

    Oh, this scheduling stuff is crazy... the only thing I do schedule is my 4:00 AM writing stint... that gets done every day. The rest is a conglomeration of farm, writing, family, farm, writing, family, house, farm, writing, family, etc.... and throw in 25 hours of part-time work in there, the days fill up, but as long as I get that early morning writing time, the rest of the day is mine. It's an odd sequence but it works so far!

    Coffee and cheesecake makes me realize how stupidly I passed up the 3 variety Cheesecake Factory cheesecake at Sam's last week... because I would eat that bad boy right now!
    Coffee... yes!

    I'm making antique shutters for a chicken shed out of an old tongue-and-groove door...

    And yes, the skills learned will go in a book which makes every project a tax deduction.

    :)

    Research: It's what's for dinner...

    But I don't cook every night any more, I'm fine with sandwiches, burgers thrown on the grill, hot dogs, a big salad and we all dig in.

    No time.

    But that's okay, we're all okay with it. Cooking time comes again... after farm season!!!

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    1. Ruthy, I don't know how you do it! But you've found what works for you, and that's what we all have to do. Like Lynn's tip said, "Make the effort to determine how/when you write best and then work WITH that knowledge, not against it."

      I can't believe you left the cheesecake at Sam's! Of course, I don't buy cheesecake that often. Mountain Man isn't a big fan of cheesecake, so I'd end up eating most of it. Can't do that too often or I'd need a new wardrobe.

      I can get up at 4:00 AM to write (and I will any time I have the chance to sit and write with you and Mary Connealy), but it's not my best writing time. I prefer 8:00 AM, but during the school year writing time is shifted to 8:00 PM.

      I may need you to send me the blueprint for your chicken shed. I've been trying to get Mountain Man to build me a chicken coop, but it looks like, if I want one, I'm going to have to build it myself.

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    2. Could he build you a really big chicken coop to write in???

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    3. LOL. That's the other thing I've been trying to get built. I want a tiny house in the backyard. I can use it for a writing cabin, and when my daughter's family visits, they can stay in it.

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    4. LOL, Tina!! I will now picture Rhonda in a chicken coop at a desk!

      Rhonda, I think a tiny office would be wonderful!

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    5. Tiny House time. wasn't that a post not too long ago? Tiny house for writing (and storing our libraries)

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    6. Tiny houses, Mike Ehret, yes!!! LAUGHING! Rhonda, I'm totally having fun with the chicken coops and I'm teaching myself tools of the trade... and it's kind of funny. Mistakes have been made, but it is big enough to sit in and type!

      It has two screened windows with antique shutters made from an old door I took apart, and a nesting box... so we could file our stories, hard copies in the nesting boxes!!! :)

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    7. Cheesecake.... oh, be still my heart, my triple berry cheesecake (modeled after Cheesecake Factory) is to die for... I might need an occasion to make this, Rhonda, darling!!

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    8. Missy, there are times when my sweet Mountain Man is driving me nuts and I'm trying to write. I would totally go sit in the chicken coop and get some work done. If we add a small hotplate, I could even scramble an egg without having to disrupt my writing too much.

      Ruthy, it might be time you visit Alabama. You can build me a chicken coop style writing cabin in the backyard and I'll supply you with all the cheesecake you could possibly eat! :)

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  37. Hi Rhonda!

    Time management is one of those things I always struggle with. Maybe I'm too busy...or maybe I have some ADD tendencies (I wouldn't be surprised!)...

    But I have found that a planner is invaluable! With it, I can attempt to keep my priorities straight and my writing time sacred.

    Attempt. The planner is only good if you actually plan the work and work the plan!

    I'll be re-reading this post after my writing time is done today!

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    1. "The planner is only good if you actually plan the work and work the plan!" This is so true!

      Thanks for stopping by, Jan.

      Delete
    2. I'm great at "planning the work." It's the "working the plan" part I really drop the ball on!

      Delete
  38. Rhonda, welcome! I really loved this post! I'm new to using an official planner (I've always used a regular paper calendar plus my phone calendar). But I'm finding I enjoy my new Panda Planner because it's also a gratitude journal and helps with planning and recording goals and projects as well as keeping track of successes and short comings (and how to overcome them).

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    1. Thanks, Missy.

      I ordered the Panda Planner after you mentioned it the other day, and it arrived this morning. I can't wait to start using it. My Create 365 The Happy Planner is used for everything...work, family commitments, writing, etc. I'm going to make the Panda Planner my writing planner. I think it will be good to have a planner that is strictly dedicated to writing and reaching my goal of publication.

      Delete
  39. I needed to read this today. Please put my name into the drawing, because I've got to get organized. Thanks for a very useful post.

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    1. Beth, I'm glad you found the post helpful. You've been entered into the drawing.

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  40. Hi:

    Did you see the Beach Boys singing 'Rhonda' at the PBS 4th of July Party? Just wonderful!

    Great post and well needed. As someone who has almost always run his own business, I most relate to your #2: to Prioritize.

    In business we use a different paradigm. Instead of trying to 'find' time, we 'make' time. Not making time to do the essentials will run you out of business.

    We make time by saying 'NO'. We resign from voluntary positions. We ask what are we doing that we really don't have to be doing at this point. (Many businesses do things for years after the original object has been achieved.)

    We even pay to have some of the work done...even if it is something we can do better our self, we will still pay to have it done if our time is more valuable doing a higher priority objective.

    When you have to get it done, make the time.

    Vince

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    1. On this, my friend Vince and I agree completely. Making time is the key to prioritizing what needs to get done. It's like the "Must do, should do and want to do" theory and I love that, too. Making certain things priorities is really important to making my kind of fractured life/schedule work... Vince, you are crazy smart as always!!!

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    2. I did not see The Beach Boys sing "Help Me, Rhonda" on the PBS 4th of July party. I'm sad that I missed it. I do love hearing them sing that song.

      Vince, I always love your comments and your wisdom.

      I've been trying to convince Mountain Man that, even though the children are grown and it's just the two of us at home now, we need to hire someone to come in and clean once a week. This would be a great way to help me have more time for writing.

      Thank you for "making" the time to stop by today!

      Delete
    3. I saw that, Vince. I was in the other room and heard them singing and ran in. What a trip down memory lane. Dating myself, but I remember driving home with a friend from college. Her name was Barbara, so when Barbara Ann came on, we sang our little hearts out.

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    4. Or you can stop cleaning. I have stopped.

      Yard work. I need to outsource that. NOW!

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    5. Clean house. That's where my dedication really kicks in. No one can ever accuse me of putting off my writing (or anything else) to clean.

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    6. Clean House?

      Didn't you know that 'having to clean the house' is the number one reason procrastinating writers give for not writing? I use it myself sometimes! Why it's the "dog ate my homework" of adult writers. Please, tread softly. :)

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    7. Hi Rhonda:

      We saw the Beach Boys in Tulsa a few months ago. Still a great show. Here's a link to "Please Help Me Rhonda" from the 2015 PBS 4th of July Show. They all look the same as they did in person.

      Have you ever had a student sing that song in class when they needed help on a problem?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmFWZbvfOTM

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    8. Hahahaha!!

      I have a writing activity that I do with students early in the year where they have to write a short story about "the day the dog ate my homework." After the assignment is completed, I tell them their excuse for not doing their homework has already been used and is no longer admissible. :D

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    9. Vince,

      Thanks for the link. I love the Beach Boys. Sadly, my students are too young to know who they are, but it would be entertaining to have one of them sing that song when they needed help.

      Delete
  41. I am NOT good at planning or time management. I also happen to know EXACTLY how I waste my time. I need to do better at the multi-tasking because I've discovered that my seven year old boy loves momma to be in the same with him - but she doesn't have to be paying full attention. Proximity to momma is the important thing.
    I'm not sure I'd use a planner, but I like little notebooks to scribble in...

    No tips because I'm time management challenged. *sigh*

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    1. p.s. I need to get some freezer recipes and crock-pot recipes. I think those would be uber handy. I like that tip!

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    2. I'm laughing! You are delightfully normal... and Guppy sounds like such a cute kid!

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    3. Deb, be happy he still wants to be in the same room as you. The time will come when you are wanting him in there with you, but he'll be locked in his room listening to music or something.

      I love freezer crock pot meals! So convenient once they've been prepped.

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  42. Hey Rhonda! Great post! I will have to check out the crock pot and freezer meals idea. I think that would come in handy.

    I love planners! It's great to be able to see your week and fit things in.

    A trick I learned when I was in my Mary Kay days was to color coordinate everything. Blue is for things related to church, purple for family time, green for anything related to business (my work or writing), red for urgent or important appointments and pink for leisure things. That way when I look at my calendar, I can see if things are out of balance.

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    1. That's a wonderful tip, Dana, and a great way to keep life balanced. Thanks for sharing!

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  43. I'm still a lover of the crockpot even though I'm not teaching anymore, but now I have to check out those freezer meals! Mr. G. could sure use those when I leave for RWA.

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    1. I'm sure Mr. G. would love that, Linda! Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for contributing tips for the article.

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    2. I was thinking that I need to check out those frozen crockpot meals as well.

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  44. Replies
    1. Thanks, Lynette! And thanks again for contributing tips for the article. I especially love that you reminded us, when we're figuring out what can be sacrificed to make time for writing, that we shouldn't sacrifice time with our children.

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    2. Great to have you with us today, Lynette and congratulations on all your recent finals. Okay, fan girl moment. Lynette is an auto buy for me.

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  45. Wow! Getting here late...I may need to manage my time more efficiently...hmmmmm.....

    My hubby and I keep a calendar on the counter and write everything down that is going on in our lives. Since we are retired it's mostly dr. appts and trips to the store. We've kept these calendars for the 23 years we've been together, and when we lost everything in a fire in 2012, we lamented over their loss as it was a chronicle of sorts of our life together. We now have four more in the drawer in our new home, and looking forward to many more.

    While we don't have to manage our time so much any more, one of my dearest's favorite sayings is:

    "If I do this today, I won't have anything to do tomorrow." Silly guy.

    Blessings,

    Marcia

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    1. You're not late, Marcia! I'm sorry to hear about the fire. It may have claimed the calendars, but thankfully, it didn't claim you or your hubby. Thank you for stopping by today!

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  46. Rhonda, in case I don't make it back here tonight, thank you so much for giving up your writing hours to spend the day with us to share your wisdom. Praying for that first sale asap!

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    1. Thank you, Tina. I've enjoyed every moment!

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  47. With 3 young kids and an unpredictable, feast-or-famine day job, I'm not overwhelmed with free time, so this is right up my alley! The only guaranteed writing time I have is a couple hours in the early afternoon, while my daughter naps and my sons are supposed to be quiet (although "sons" and "quiet" generally don't go together). By writing at the same time each day, my brain knows when the time is coming, so it really doesn't take me too long to get into creative mode. Getting back into creative mode after being interrupted for the thousandth time by one of the aforementioned sons who will positively DIE if he does not get a snack RIGHT NOW? That is altogether another matter.

    Thanks for a very helpful post! And please stick my name in the giveaway! I need all the help I can get!

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    1. Oh, Amanda, I do feel for you. My daughter has one of the most rambunctious little boys I've ever seen, and being a teacher, I've seen a lot of rambunctious boys. I can never get all of my writing time in when he's visiting. :)

      You've been entered into the drawing! Thanks for stopping by.

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  48. To help give myself more writing time I've begun waking up at seven which gives me two hours before breakfast to work on my books.

    Since my sister has college in the evening, and we share the laptop, plus somehow the task of preparing dinner falls on my shoulders most nights I try to focus on getting my writing done by then, and then after that I can read or do whatever it is I wanted to do.

    Please enter my name in the drawing!

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    1. Nicki, it sounds like you've figure out what works best for you. It's that kind of determination that will help you achieve your dreams. :)

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  49. I really struggle with this as I chase around two toddlers ;) I've discovered that I can squeeze words in here and there as I pass my computer throughout the day or on Scrivener on my phone when I'm out and about. And then I schedule chunks of time once or twice a week when Grandma can take the kids and I really capitalize on those hours!

    Thanks for sharing strategies! I need to try a few of these...especially working in batches, multitasking, and using a planner for writing tasks too. Throw my name in for the drawing please!!

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    1. It is so tricky with kids... juggling, balancing, back-and-forth.... God bless Grandmas!!!! I love that she helps you like that, Megan!

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    2. Yay, for Grandma! Having someone who understands and helps you make time to write is a great blessing. But I love that on the days when you don't have that kind of time, you still make writing a priority. It's amazing how much writing can actually be accomplished simply by adding words here and there.

      Bonus tip: I've had several authors (Lynette Eason being one) tell me when a thought hits and they're away from their computer they dictate a memo into their cell phone using the recorder. When they get back to their computer and listen to the recording, it jars their memory and gets the words rolling.

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  50. With 3 young kids and an unpredictable, feast-or-famine day job, I'm not overwhelmed with free time, so this is right up my alley! The only guaranteed writing time I have is a couple hours in the early afternoon, while my daughter naps and my sons are supposed to be quiet (although "sons" and "quiet" generally don't go together). By writing at the same time each day, my brain knows when the time is coming, so it really doesn't take me too long to get into creative mode. Getting back into creative mode after being interrupted for the thousandth time by one of the aforementioned sons who will positively DIE if he does not get a snack RIGHT NOW? That is altogether another matter.

    Thanks for a very helpful post! And please stick my name in the giveaway! I need all the help I can get!

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  51. So many helpful reminders. Please put my name in for the giveaway!

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  52. Hi Rhonda. Thanks for sharing these very helpful tips and they are very useful for all of us. Multitasking is definitely a plus if you are one of those who can accomplish it. I would love to be entered in the drawing.
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot(com)

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  53. Super good info, Rhonda. And congrats on 20 years!

    If you have suggestions on scheduling author visits for your district, I'd be so appreciative.

    That's one of the things I struggle with ~ how to best make contact with those I don't meet in "dog" at shows or from other schools.

    And I'd love to be in the drawing also. Thank you again! Consider myself admonished! may (at) maythek9spy (dot) com

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  54. Hi Rhonda! I am a reader but need help with Time MAnagement in a big way! Please enter me for the draw :)

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