When writers work from home distractions abound.
(I see your heads nodding.)
We care for our families, care for our homes, chauffeur kids, tackle laundry, prepare meals, and handle the day-to-day affairs that go with the territory.
We also field infringements on our time from outside sources. Those come by way of well-intentioned friends and family who may not realize that while we’re home, we are indeed still working. At writing. Yes—that.
And though we are home, our time still matters. (In fact—I wrote a tell-it-like-it-is post on time management. If you’re struggling with guilt or mixed feelings on the issue, I suggest you read it.)
The truth is if we don’t value our time and treat writing as our career, no one else will either.
Prioritizing our work load isn’t something that always comes naturally. We must be intentional, focused, and goal-oriented. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be some leeway involved.
Life ebbs and flows. Of course, there’s bound to be those unforeseen things that crop up and upend our schedule. We know we have a problem, though, when we begin to see a pattern—when we allow those things that could wait to hijack our day.
For people-pleasers, time management is difficult. We want to be approachable (and available), yet we also understand the rigors of working from home. We have X number of hours during the day to get our work done before our families arrive home and our evening routine begins.
Sometimes, we think we can juggle it all and we have to learn the hard way that we can’t.
Writing is our job. Maybe we don’t yet earn the income from it we’d like. Maybe we’re still pursuing career goals.
Does that mean our work is less meaningful?
Many years ago *Sally Sue used to call me—usually more than once a day. I dreaded answering the phone because I knew what was coming.
“Hey, gal. Whatcha doing? There’s a great meat sale on down at the market. Of course, they tried to cheat me out of some deals, but I got everything worked out. Let me tell you about it.”
“I’m working just now, Sally Sue. Can I call you back when I take a break later?”
“Oh, this will just take a minute. Five, tops.”
And what do you think happened? Well, of course those just take a minute/five, tops phone calls morphed into thirty minute commentaries.
And Sally Sue was always in a tizzy. Nothing ever went right. The world was against her.
Her calls left me resentful and deflated. For this see-the-glass-half-full gal, I was thoroughly parched by the time the calls ended.
As much as I wanted to be there for Sally Sue, it became apparent I needed to distance myself from what had become a disturbing pattern.
“Sally Sue, I won’t be available to talk as often,” I announced one day. Subtle hints hadn’t worked and neither had direct cues. It was time to cut to the chase. Tactfully. Truthfully. Lovingly. (Did I mention truthfully?)
“Oh, what do you mean?” The sound of an electric mixer whirred in the background.
I sighed and plunged ahead. “My time matters, Sally Sue. I work from home and when you call, that’s time away from work.”
“So you want me to call in the evenings? I can do that.”
That’s not what I wanted at all. Evenings were family time.
Long story short, I nipped this situation in the bud. I regretted not doing it sooner.
I told Sally Sue I’d only be able take calls on Friday afternoons and I could no longer chat beyond the ten minute mark.
And when she pushed the envelope, as I feared she would, I stuck to my guns. I refused to answer her calls other than on Fridays, and when ten minutes passed, I ended the conversation. Politely, but firmly.
Her parting sentence was always: “Wow. I guess you’re serious. Your time really matters, huh?”
Yes. And yes.
Sally Sue’s calls stopped altogether when we moved from the area.
Since I’m a firm believer that God brings folks together for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, I recognize that circumstance as a defining point in my writing career.
When I got serious about managing my time, I began to think in a new way. My craft (my work) no longer took a backseat to other “nobler” professions. I approached my job with a new mindset, having learned a valuable lesson in the process.
There will be times of sacrifice, but self-respect is non-negotiable.
Let me encourage you today to get real about your work—be it at a tabletop or in a little niche carved somewhere in your home.
Some folks will understand. Others won’t.
That’s when we love them anyway.
And then we turn off the phone. And eat chocolate.
While we work.
*Name has been changed
ADDITIONAL POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY
If you don’t value your time, no one else will either.
Time-management for writers. Knowing when to draw the line.
Sally Sue’s calls left me resentful and deflated. Here’s why:
Do you struggle with time-management?
How do you balance your time?