I explained to J how overwhelmed I was and he looked at me and said, "Who can you ask for more time? Who can offer relief here?"
And the only answer was: my editor. But it was also the one answer I didn't want to give. Because the last thing I want is to disappoint anyone in my professional life. But, when I sat with it for a little bit, I realized that if I want to put forth my best product and my best self, that was the only option.
The reality is, when it comes to books, sometimes we need more time. Sometimes we need more time to write, to revise, to edit, to research. And sometimes we need time to recharge. There is no one way when it comes to creating art. I'm not a huge fan of writing advice when people ask for it because for everything I tell people I do, I know someone else does something very different. Again: there is no one way.
But there are ways to honor our own time, to protect that, and as much as you want to be all the things to all the people, sometimes time management is the best skill you can have. So, without further ado, here's my 5 quick tips for protecting/managing your time.
1. Say no. God, I hate this one, but I have found myself agreeing to things and dropping the ball on them later and I need to be better about saying no because dropping balls last minute is disappointing for everyone.
2. Do not take on more things when you have 20 minutes of free time. I've gotten to the point where if I actually finish something and I don't have to be at something else in the next four minutes, I start musing on what else I could do to fill that time between X and Y. And this is a terrible idea because I end up putting more on my plate I resent later. Sit with your twenty minutes. Play candy crush or meditate or whatever. It's okay to be still.
3. Wake up early and do your most important thing first thing in the morning. Your brain is at its best after sleep (and coffee) and waking up and putzing around on social media for an hour is squandering really good brain time. Write first, update your FB status later in the day. It's fine.
4. Stop thinking the world revolves around you. Last night at the baseball game, when all the moms were lamenting all the end of the year stuff they had to do/get, I realized, "well, what's going to happen if you don't? what happens if this year you skip the teacher gift? if you don't make vegan gluten-free muffins for the school picnic and bring a bag of chips instead? who's going to die?" Yes, you want to do and be all the things, but it's really quite fine if you can't pull that off. I showed up at our school picnic in my "Well-meaning but deeply flawed" t-shirt and I thought that spoke for itself.
5. Advocate for yourself and ask for help. No one knows how much shit you have to do except you. So if you don't point out, "hey, I have a lot on my plate" then you don't get to complain when people give you more stuff. And if everyone has a lot on their plate, then it's time for all of you to say, "well, sounds like we're all slammed, how important is this? can it wait? can we skip it? how much do we care about it?"
Happy Summer, you all! May you find yourself with lazy days and a fresh brain to imagine all the things.