Posted by: Vanessa Barneveld | October 23, 2009

Time’s A-Wastin’

Mick Jagger once sang, “Tiiiiime is on my side.” Good for him! Every day, I wail, “Tiiiime is ganging up on me.”

My day starts at 5am and finishes at 11:30pm. You’d think being awake that long would mean I have oodles of time to fit everything in. By everything, I mean my full-time day job, my full-time writing job (and the research, reading, revising, critiquing, contest judging that goes with it), maintaining significant relationships, a major house renovation, demanding cats, and analysing social media (a fancy term for Facebook).

I’m not fishing for sympathy here. I bet you have a crazy schedule, too. Are you coping with it? Or are you on a gradual slide into insanity, like me?

In my quest to be a better time wrangler, I bought a how-to book on the subject. Six months ago. Hmm, it might’ve been seven months. Anyway, I haven’t carved out time to read it. When I accidentally caught the wrong train home yesterday, I had a spare moment to brainstorm.

If You’ve Got Too Much on the To-Do List:

• Don’t be a martyr or a yes-person; learn to say no once in a while, especially to things that make you less productive.
• Unpubbed and blogging all over known universe (um, like me)? Scale back. Writing comes first, self-promotion comes later.
• Ask yourself, “What am I willing to sacrifice?”
• Can you combine two tasks into one? For example, if you warm up with writing exercises, channel it into a blog post or vice versa.
• Prioritise. Work out what absolutely, positively has to be done and complete those tasks first. You might find you can delegate the lesser jobs. (Hey, would somebody else like to do my circuit training routine at the gym for me?)

If You’re a Time-Waster:
• Serial eBay cruiser? Tweeting every two minutes? Is your work suffering as a result? Maybe you need to give yourself a time limit. Try writing or whittling the to-do list for an hour, then reward yourself with a half-hour block of playtime. Set an alarm—a very loud, shrill, hard-to-ignore one—so you know when to stop messing around.

If You’ve Got Too Much Time:
• Luxuriating? Lucky you! In the words of Survivor’s Jeff Probst, I got nothin’ for ya. Now, get to work, you!

Are you a time-waster or a time-miser? What are your best time-saving ideas?


  1. I really like that ‘can you combine two tasks into one?’ suggestion. It’s practical. It’s doable. And it’ll knock two items off the list at once. Excellent advice. I know I’m going to use it – right now!

  2. Hey, Miss Vanessa, what a great post. Can I even say TIMELY???!!! Yeah, I waste time on my jokes…

    I know exactly what you mean. I seem to be running and running just to stand still. It’s very frustrating.

    Excellent advice – especially the say no bit and the prioritizing what’s important. These days, I use lists a lot. And I find great satisfaction from crossing something off the list too – a whole new way to waste a nanosecond!

    Actually (as you know), I’m inclined to become hypnotised by Facebook. When I’m working on a project, I can’t resist flicking over to see what’s going on in the world outside my head. I’ve learnt that I look at the page that’s up and I don’t go scrolling down to the next page and the next and… If I start scrolling, I’m there for hours and have nothing to show for it.

  3. I was off facebook for two weeks and managed to finish off the ends of two novels, it was great. Facebook is my big time spender, so I regularly ban myself from it if I have work to do.
    I love ToDo lists. I am a list girl from way back who married a non-conformist haphazard type of guy with a penchant for throwing my todo lists in the bin. (Yeah those were rocky times at the beginning of our marriage I can tell you LOL).
    But I’ve reverted back to lists and I get more things done, love crossing off tasks and starting on the next thing.

  4. Hi, Sandy! I hope combining tasks is working out for you so far. Surely this concept could become a sport some day.

    I spent most of today practising what I preached. My day job had to take priority. If only I could combine my day job with blogging.

  5. Haw-haw, Anna! Thanks for coming round here for a spot of time-wasting.

    Saying no is really hard, but once you learn, it’s amazing how liberating it feels. Be picky about how you spend those morsels of precious free time, I reckon!

    Facebook is good way of keeping up to date with what your friends are doing. It’s the applications that drive me around the bend! They’re way too addictive. I’ve had to curtail my activities there too.

  6. Nat, after going without FB for that long, did you find it easier to spend less time on it once you got back into the fold?

    This is gonna sound stupid, but I used to watch ‘The Bold and Beautiful’ religiously and would get tetchy if I missed an ep. But after being away so much this year, I discovered it’s really not the end of the world if I occasionally miss out on the ever-changing Brooke-Ridge-Taylor love triangle.

    Crossing off those list items is so satisfying! I sometimes have to carry tasks over to the next day if I don’t get to them, but I no longer feel guilty about that.

  7. Hi all, just taking a few minutes off finishing the book (Ha ha LOL!!) to check in. Vanessa, you may not have much time but you do sound well organised and making the most of what you’ve got. I know what you all mean about Facebook- hence the fact that as yet- get this I am not even kidding-I don’t have one! Couldn’t trust myself. Soon though….

  8. Ellie, I admire your strength in resisting Facebook!

  9. Vanessa yes facebook is all good, I get to keep in touch with friends around the world that I haven’t seen for years, so that’s a good thing. But I don’t lurk there like I did before. I found in those few weeks I went without I was able to finish two stories off that I had sitting there waiting for edits/end chapters. It was a very productive time.

  10. Great stuff in getting those projects done, Nat. Weaning oneself off Facebook is possible!

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