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Reclaiming My Time – 3 Quick Time Management Tips for Writers


How can writers reclaim their time?

Recently, U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters became an internet hit (again) during a congressional committee discussion with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Mnuchin didn’t answer Waters’ question about him not responding to a letter from her and other committee members. Waters interrupted Mnuchin’s long-winded comments, repeating three words: “Reclaiming my time.”

U.S. Congresswoman (and internet meme queen) Maxine Waters (Image: Twitter)

Everyone who has ever been in a pointless work meeting, a soul-draining social conversation, or in any other time-wasting activities, suddenly had a new three-word mantra. (see #ReclaimingMyTime)

I love Maxine Waters. She is an expert on handling her haters and has now showed us that sometimes you have to speak up to regain control over your own schedule.

As writers, we also need to reclaim our time.

There are so many people and things that steal our time and stop us from writing. This includes outside forces such as social media, family and personal responsibilities, or our jobs. We are also fighting internal time thieves such as self-doubt, fear of failure, and being overwhelmed by a long to-do list.

How do writers reclaim their time? Here are 3 quick ways to find more time for writing.

1. Just say “No.”

Stop saying “yes” to everything. I get it. We’re afraid to say “No.” It feels like we’re being mean and we want people to like us.

But what good is it to say yes to some activity, only to end up secretly resenting that person later? They may like you, but right now, you don’t like them very much anyway.

And if they truly like and respect you, then they can respect that your time is just as important as theirs.

This is what Maxine Waters did during that recent congressional committee meeting. She said no to Steven Mnuchin’s attempt to not answer her question, which would waste the time she had to ask questions.

2. Use a timer.

It’s amazing what you can do in a short amount of time. Maxine Waters knew she had a limited amount of time to ask questions, which kept her focused on what to ask Steven Mnuchin.

Knowing that time is limited motivates us to get things done.

Set a timer, using the timer app on your smart phone, for a short time period to write. You can set your timer for 10, 15 or 30 minutes. Then take a short break. Set your timer again for another 10 to 30-minute writing period. Repeat these steps to get more writing done.

3. Set priorities.

Maxine Waters probably had a lot of questions on various topics for Steven Mnuchin. During the congressional committee meeting, she only focused on the few questions she thought were most important.

Setting priorities will help you schedule your day, week, and even your month, to effectively meet your writing goals.

Always ask yourself, “What needs to be done today?” “What activities or projects can wait until tomorrow?”

Priorities help us focus on the one or few tasks that are most urgent. And, if there’s extra time in your daily or weekly schedule, you can set aside shorter amounts of time to work toward longer-term goals and projects. This helps you complete immediate tasks while achieving bigger goals, that now seem less overwhelming, after being split up into smaller, daily or weekly, time slots.

Final Thoughts

The biggest threat to your writing time probably isn’t a long-winded bureaucrat. And you might not become the inspiration for a gospel remix song, like Congresswoman Waters did, for staying focused.

But choosing what to say yes to, using a timer, and setting priorities will help you quickly meet your writing goals. These goals may include creating a rough draft for a book chapter or a blog post, or developing a magazine article pitch.

And, as writers, our time is just as sacred as everyone else’s time.


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Did this post inspire and help you? How do you reclaim your time to finish your writing projects? Share your writing experiences and questions in the comments section below.

2 Replies

  1. Great article with so many great suggestions. My favorite one was to watch how much time is spent on social media. It can really keep us from creating ourselves. I also liked the idea of setting a timer since I do well when I have deadlines, even if they are self imposed.

    1. Thanks, Anne! These tips help me write more and I hope they help you, too.

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