Today’s guest post is by Carrie Willard, who blogs at Natural Moms Talk Radio. I appreciate Carrie’s writing style and her refreshing perspective, and am delighted to introduce you to her today.
First I want to take a moment to say thanks to Anne for letting me address her readers. I too am a “long books/big ideas” person. And with the exception of my current pregnant state, she had me at strong coffee too!
I want to share how I find time to write alongside several children and our homeschool schedule. (I’m currently expecting my 7th.) There are several reasons this is so important to me.
The other day I read a discussion on several linked blogs of how the authors find time to write despite having a busy family life. While there were some good tips, I was disappointed to read that the overall tone implied that having a successful blog meant not putting your family first. The authors were basically apologetic about their writing.
I have a very different view of my blog. I don’t feel that pursuing my personal goals as a writer and online business person competes with my role as a wife, mother and homemaker (or homeschooling mom). I think it quite complements those roles. Writing makes me a better person and adds to our family’s bottom line financially.
A mom may start a blog for many reasons: because she longs for a creative outlet, to earn income, to create a community, to share her wisdom and experience, to document family events that are so easy to forget in the blur of daily life. All of these are perfectly valid!
I read a wonderful quote by blogger Amy Lynn Andrews that I would like to Sharpie across my arm. In her book Tell Your Time, she says: “I think you should spend less time doing what you have to do, and more time doing what you’re made to do.”
Isn’t that great?
The quote immediately reminded me of a principle I discovered in a wonderful, game changing book by Laura Vanderkam: 168 Hours. The principle of Core Competency. (And this is something Anne has written about a lot here, search around!) A core competency is something that you are uniquely qualified to do. A core competency is also something that only you can do, such as exercising your body, spending time with the hubby, and pursuing your spirituality. (In other words, things you cannot outsource.)
What are your core competencies?
Mine are: nurturing my children, my marriage, and my relationship with God, writing/blogging, facilitating my children’s education, caring for my family’s health by cooking good food, and exercise/self care.
Can you guess what comes next?
Once you know your core competencies, you can schedule your life around them. The other stuff can be minimized, outsourced, or overlooked.
So now that I’ve shared with you the principles of my thoughts on time management, here are a few tips that illustrate how those principles can work out in your daily life:
- List your core competencies and create a daily schedule based on those “big rocks.” My most important daily tasks are: Bible reading, Exercise, Read Aloud with the kids, Write at least one article/blog post, and Dinner. Those are things I do every single day, and if nothing else get done, I still go to bed feeling satisfied that I lived my day in alignment with my highest values.
- Track your time. Similar to a dieter keeping a food journal or a newbie to budgeting tracking their spending, write down how you spend your days in 1 hour or smaller increments. Do it for at least 1 week. I did this for 3 weeks and it uncovered some very useful information. What changes do you need to make to your schedule to find time for important goals?
- Make hard decisions. Once you see where your time is going, you’ll have to cut some things out to make time for what really matters. I permanently deleted my Facebook account. I don’t watch TV. I get up earlier than the rest of the household to have quiet time to write. You can’t make time, you can only buy out time.
- Be prepared. When you get online, know exactly what you want to accomplish so you don’t get distracted. I play a little trick with myself. When I turn on the computer, I get to writing immediately and only after I’ve published a blog post or written an article do I allow myself the “treat” (visiting Twitter or reading what’s in my RSS reader). It’s helpful to keep a notebook or file on your computer with a list of blog post ideas. Some people love Evernote for this, but I find paper and pencil to be quicker, and I won’t get distracted by the Internet. When an idea pops into my head, I jot it down quickly in my notebook. I add ideas as they come to me, and sometimes the outline of a post is done before I sign in to WordPress.
- Minimize and outsource. Don’t assume you can’t find time for blogging. Get creative about what you can take off your plate. I outsource a lot of chores to my children! In the past I’ve hired mother’s helpers to play with the kids in my home while I worked in another room. Currently I keep a “work” schedule that I take seriously, with my hubby taking the reins while I skip off to a coffee shop to write.
- Be flexible. Different things have worked for me as my life situation has changed. When this little one makes its appearance, I know things will change all over again!
“Never complain, never explain.” It’s a quote attributed to both Katharine Hepburn and Henry Ford. (Either way, I’ll take it!) Don’t apologize for your writing, whether it’s a hobby or a bona fide business endeavor. Make it happen!
Carrie Willard is the host of http://www.NaturalMomsTalkRadio.com, a wife and mom of soon to be seven kids, and has been blogging for nearly 10 years about motherhood, homeschooling, frugality, healthy food and commonsense green living.
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