by Andrew Metzger
If there were ever a School Training Solutions course that seemed to have been custom written for Andrew R. Metzger, it’s the one titled “Time Management.” As one who juggles three writing-based jobs and also actively aspires to be a published science fiction writer, effective time management is crucial. The paragraph below, taken directly from the STS Time Management course, spoke to me in a special way.
“There are two facets of time; the first includes dealing with the immediate and meeting contingencies as they arise, the second is having ambitious goals and desires that take time to be assembled, cemented and pursued. Meeting goals means connecting smaller pieces of time into one block which can be imagined and projected into the future. These blocks of time can also be viewed in retrospect when looking back at what has been accomplished.”
My jobs include writing various materials for Smart Horizons, writing a weekly column about area performing arts events for The Pensacola News Journal and serving as Executive Director for the Choral Society of Pensacola. All three of these jobs involve writing tasks that are immediate or nearly so.
Writing a blog (like this one, for instance) must fit into the time structure that has been developed by Smart Horizons/School Training Solutions. Blogs are scheduled for a certain time slot, and then it’s on to the next assignment.
As a journalist who writes a weekly column, there are 52 deadlines a year, every year. Your story is due by a certain day and time each week. Period. That’s the newspaper business.
My administrative duties with the Choral Society involve many different and ongoing deadlines. Grant applications, marketing and public relations materials, program and brochure text, correspondence, and many other kinds of writing are very time sensitive.
So, I juggle – frequently working on multiple aspects of all three jobs on any given day. For example, there are times when I’ll be writing my News Journal column while simultaneously fielding phone calls pertaining to Choral Society business. Or, I might have both a Smart Horizons project and Choral Society press release open on my computer desktop at the same time.
When I describe this process to most people, they tend to go cross-eyed and express their gratitude to the universe that it’s me and not them.
Ah, but that’s only the “dealing with the immediate and meeting contingencies as they arise” aspect of the equation. Add to my triple juggling act this “aspiring science fiction writer” persona and you plunge into the “ambitious goals and desires that take time to be assembled, cemented and pursued” aspect of my particular time management universe.
I’ve completed one novel and am just about to conquer the first revision of the first draft of the second one. This is going to be a sci-fi trilogy and I am fortunate enough to have a crackerjack literary agent who is trying to land me a three-book deal. Yes, that’s THREE books, so I have to have very “ambitious goals and desires,” and yes, it’s going to take time and every ounce of whatever creative ability I have within me to “assemble, cement and pursue” a successful career as a novelist. It’s the most challenging project I’ve ever undertaken.
I’ll bet you’ve guessed by now that, not only do the three “immediate” writing realities overlap and coexist in their own odd counterpoint, but the three “immediates” also share the same space-time continuum as my “ambitious” novel writing activities. So yes, while I might have my Smart Horizons blog and my News Journal column open on my desktop at the same time, if my subconscious starts serving up a critical conversation between my novel’s protagonist and a certain testy android, I have to pop open that folder immediately!
If you’ve never written fiction, let me assure you that the process is equal parts conscious and subconscious. There’s a part of your brain that never stops working on the novel, and when that part is ready and begins speaking, you have no choice but to take dictation, for these are precious words, indeed!
So what are some of the main points I took away from the STS Time Management course? Here you go, and they are golden!
* Learn how to say “no.” Yes, there was a time when I let too many requests become obligations by not using this one, critical word. I couldn’t survive without it now.
* Eliminate time wasters and procrastination. Like most people, my mind will try to trick me into such pitfalls. Thanks for reminding me of these enemies, STS!
* Make logical decisions about how to manage your time. Prioritizing is essential, even for jugglers like me.
* Streamline your writing. This is a good one, because I really DON’T need to spend inordinate amounts of time with tasks such as composing e-mail responses.
* Eliminate workplace clutter. Hey, I’m getting better!
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