"Window-Time" vs. Golden Time
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.
In our world today, time - quiet time - is a precious commodity worth more than
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
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
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