Thursday, 8 September 2011

Schedule your life

Yesterday, I wrote about the follies of organizing your life with absolutes - like I will write for six hours a day. What do you mean - you didn't read it? Go away and read it now.

Go on. I'll wait right here till you get back.

Done? OK, let's move on. We all agree that shit happens, and it happens all the time; usually it happens to us. So we need to take account of it in any planning or scheduling we do.That means allocating a large chunk of time where we do nothing. Most days, something unexpected will crop up and that time will get filled somehow. If nothing goes wrong, great; we have a couple of hours free time to do anything we like. Read, write, watch a sunset, drink a barrel of ale.

Here, in no particular order, are some other things to remember when creating a schedule.

  • Avoid averages. We may work 48 weeks/year, 37.5 hours/week, which equals 1800 hours, or an average of 5 hours/day. However, we don't work five hours/day on the days we go to work.What with actual work, and travelling to and from, most people have nine hours or more taken out of their life on workdays. Similarly, we don't work any hours at weekends or during holidays - at least not for our job. We may work for ourselves, but that's a different matter.
  • The converse of 'avoid averages' is 'be specific'. So do it. Be specific. Your schedule should reflect reality. If you leave for work at 7:55AM Monday-Thursday, that's what should be in the schedule.
  • Keep it real. If you've always had your evening meal at 19:00 hours, keep it like that. Why change anything you don't need to? You'll only upset yourself and those around you.
  • Avoid ideals. By that, I don't mean become a person of dubious morals. I mean you may approach an ideal state of being occasionally, but normally you're like the rest of us: flawed, weak and undependable. It may be your ideal to run half marathons before breakfast, avoid alcohol and eat a high-fibre five-a-day diet while paying your bills on time and never cheating the Government. It may be your ideal, but if you try and live it, you'll end up mugging some poor sod for his bacon sandwich.You know yourself. You know you'll never do what you'd like to do. You can, however, do something towards it.
  • Think small. Never mind exercising for two hours a day. Start with fifteen minutes a few times a week.
  • Symmetry is great. Don't distort your random life trying to achieve it.
 I'll share my schedule with you now, and explain why I chose various options. It's a good schedule. It's good because it can be done and I can stick to it.


But if all you're doing is creating new stuff for two hours every evening, when does the editing and proofing and so on get done?

Good question. Notice that schedule is weekdays. At weekends, I work for 8 hours on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday. That's the rewrites, line edits, proofreading and so on. So it's about 24 hours per week in total during term time. During the 13 weeks of holidays, I'm writing or editing for about 40 hours per week.So, in my nice relaxed way, I'm still managing as much time writing per year as I am doing paid work for other people.

Which is nice.

Notice the work/life balance? I'm in bed for eight hours a day, working for eight, and having eight to myself - writing, eating, exercising, chilling out. Better than a busy-busy-busy timetable, don't you think?


  1. Thanks for sharing. This was a very helpful post.

  2. Thank you, Rita. Congratulations on the publication of Tears BTW

  3. A lovely schedule - only I need more sleep - and during holiday time, especially when the children are home the schedule is shredded. Even when I have time, as now, my mind is all over place hence procratinating - even on such superbly written blogs as your own :) My schedule is simple - merely write IK a day five days a week and not get too depressed when I don't make it :)

  4. That's a nice, simple plan, Mike. You can't really get any better than that. Realistic, achievable and resulting in 250K words per year.