window time vs golden time"Window-Time" vs. Golden Time

Lynda Davies 

I am sure the world is spinning faster than it did when I was a kid because I distinctly remember having time to think and get bored.  

Not anymore.  

In our world today, time - quiet time - is a precious commodity worth more than gold. 

So how do we squeeze time for our writing into our hectic, time-poor lives? Multi-task I hear you say! I used to think so, but research is showing that the more tasks we try and tackle at the same time, the less effective we are as thinkers. There's a reason we feel brain-mushed at the end of the day. So instead of keeping fifteen balls in the air at the same time, I try to find windows of time during which I can achieve a writing job. 

I work out what is the 'next most important thing' I have to do to keep my writing project moving. Then I decide what I need to have ready in order to get that 'thing' done. It might be research into the shape of a knife; or the proper spelling and landscape features of a remote French village; or updating my structure and outline documents to keep me on track with my editing. Whatever it is, I get it ready so that when my window of time arrives, I can get straight to the job. So I have my research article and highlighter in my handbag, and when I'm sitting poolside at swimming lessons this afternoon, I will squeeze in forty-five minutes of research. Last night I took editing with me to soccer training and got an hour's work done. 

One of the tricks is to make sure that we realistically assess what we can get done in the time we have available. The examples above are all right for 'short writing jobs' that require what I call processing brain-functions. But for creative brain-functions I quarantine golden-time. 

Presenters at a recent workshop called it this and I loved it - what a wonderful metaphor. They also reminded me why it is best to allocate our golden-time 'first thing'. It helps us avoid the sadly familiar attack of the guilts that hang over us when we keep kidding ourselves that we'll sit and write after we've finished folding that basket of clothes. Get it done! 

To use this golden-time effectively we have to 'assume the writing position' and start. Start what you ask? That 'next most important thing I need to do' that I identified before I went to bed last night. I had set out on my desk (or have ready to set out on the bed, towel, or car seat) the notes, photos, or outlines I will need to help me write that 'next most important thing'. At golden-time I put myself into lock-down mode and stay there, on task, until I get something written (or edited) and my golden-time for today expires. I also set myself writing 'budgets' for the day and if don't meet my budget during golden-time, I squeeze out some 'window-time' later in the day and finish my budget. But for now, breakfast routines call and the other part of my day is about to start. 

Before I head off, though, I take a couple of minutes to decide what little short writing jobs I can get done during the window-times before bed. I keep the project moving, knowing that I'll get more done today and look forward to my golden-time tomorrow. It always surprises me what I can achieve if I just keep it moving. 

When things go awry, however, we have to remember to be realistic! I had to remind myself of this last week. It can be scary when we fall off our railway-car. But productivity and satisfaction are a state of mind. We can get back on track. We can write every day and chip away at our writing goals if we're focussed; give ourselves time to decide what has to be done and what resources we need to get it done. Then it's just a matter of using those little windows of time and realistically quarantining our most precious, creative golden-time early in the day. Stay on target! Get it done!

© Lynda Davies 


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