How Write More
When you haven’t got much time for anything in particular
Time. Everyone has it but there never seem to be enough of it. When I was younger, I experienced time very differently from how I experience it now.
When I was a child, time moved much slower. Each day trickling away into dreamlands, made up spaces, made up tales of dragons, princes and princesses.
As I grew up, my priorities changed and these things were replaced by homework and after school shows. There wasn’t much doing but more watching the lives of others, fictional and real, play out on screens.
When I entered the workforce, my time consisted of commute and more screens where I vicariously lived through memes and algorithms that influenced what kind of cats and cooking videos was worthy of my attention.
The I don’t have enough time pinch pricked at my consciousness as another part of my brain tried to tell me that I was neglecting myself.
After the end of my six year stint in the traditional workforce at the same company, I decided not to go back into a 9–5 to give me time to work on the things that mattered to me. But alas, days disappeared and I began to wonder where, again, did all my time go.
I wanted to write but struggled to find time. I wanted to read but struggled to find time. I wanted to do a million other things, but again, I struggled to find time.
Yes, the baby does take up some of my time but not 100% of it. I’m not putting her as the scapegoat to all my woes. That’s just cruel. So where did it all go?
After a bit of self analysis and observation, here’s what I found.
There are sink holes of time everywhere
When I was working the 9–5, commute took up 2–3 hours of time. We’re talking the wait time, the sitting time, the moving time and then the getting ready to get off time.
There was a period where I managed to churn through a book a week by reading on public transport. I would finish about 20–30 pages per trip, 10 trips per week added up to 200–300 pages per book. Depending on how much I had left and enthusiastic about the thing I was reading, I sometimes would finish it off during the weekends or add a few more pages before bed.
Nowadays, my time sink hole is when the baby naps. There’s a good solid hour to two hours around midday. I use to spend that time whipping up some lunch and sit back with my phone in hand. But Facebook is not exactly my priority in life and I can eat when the baby is awake.
Warren Buffett is right
There’s a tale circulating around the Internet about a guy named Mike Flint and his life changing conversation with Warren Buffett.
The story goes, Flint, who was Buffett’s personal pilot of 10 years, was having a conversation about his career aspirations with his boss. Buffett asked Flint to write down his top 25 career goals. Then he asked Flint to circle his top 5 most important aspirations.
Buffett then asked what Flint was going to do, in which the man told his boss that he would start working on his top 5 right away. Buffett then asked about the other 20 things and Flint told his boss that they’re not as urgent but he still plans to dedicate some time to it when the opportunity allows it.
At that point, Buffett told Flint that he’s got it all wrong. His list of 20 things should be the things he avoids at all costs and that no matter what, these things doesn’t get any attention until the top 5 have been completed.
The moral of the story is ruthlessly eliminate and prioritize.
There are things in life I can’t ignore — like the baby. She takes the top slot in my 5 things. There is also the financial aspect of my life, that takes slot 2. Writing is important to me and I want to do something with it so that takes slot 3. My mental stability and sanity takes slot 4.
I haven’t quite figured out what slot 5 is yet and so I’m leaving that one empty. Facebook, twitter, YouTube videos, Netflix and everything else in between does not contribute to any of my top 5 and are massive time sucks.They’re also not worthy enough to get the 5th slot either. I don’t need them in my life and I consciously work to eliminate their creeping presence from my day.
Be organised and keep it stupidly simple
I have a horrible habit of over planning. I would write grand plans, boot up Trello boards, look for productivity tools and do everything else other than the thing I’m supposed to do.
There’s no harm in planning but I find that things change anyway. The best plans can never account for the unforeseeable things like a power cut, the internet dying and random things like phone calls from your grandma.
Planning is living in the future. Doing is living in the now. When I’m organised, it means that I have the minimum tools required to allow me to do the things that I need to do.
For writing, there are only 3 things I need to get started — time, computer and my brain switched on.
What does this look like in reality? A fed and sleeping baby, Medium open in my browser and an unwavering focus with fingers tapping on keyboard.
Learn to do on cue
The more I write, the easier it gets.
The process of writing can be difficult in the beginning but like exercise, the more you do it, the better and fitter you get.
I remember getting back into writing after years of not touching it. It was like trying to start up a rusty and ancient lawn mower.
My words were all over the place. Sentences merged and ran into each other in a way that only made sense to me. My fingers became an outlet for a series of thoughts that may or may not be connected.
But the more I trained myself to focus, the easier the process of writing became. Nowadays, when I have a topic in mind, most of the time it comes out in a succinct manner.
There are still the odd run ins with writer’s block, but not as much now. The writing muscle is in much better shape than what it was a few months ago.
I’ve written more because I’ve decided that this is what I want. I’ve also eliminated the unnecessary like social media and living life through screens. My priority, especially when the baby naps, is to work on getting my words out of my brain and into digital ink.
There is always time for what’s important. To me learning to write meaningful content is one of them.
To write more, you have to pick and choose your daily battles. It’s a matter of prioritization and making it an important part of your life.