Sometimes I feel like Hugh Grant. Well, not actually Hugh Grant. Lately I’ve been feeling a little like Hugh Grant’s character Will in About a Boy. Not in the lazing about, filling my life with meaningless tidbits of self-serving activities way. But the man had a good point. In About a Boy, Hugh Grant’s character has found that the best way to organize his decadent daily activities is in units of time.
My daily activities are anything but decadent, unfortunately. And I do tend to handle this business of being an adult pretty well most of the time. But this time of year definitely presents some challenges as far as time management. Somehow, we are all supposed to continue on with our regular work schedules, parenting and household responsibilities, friend and family commitments, and—I know I’m not alone here—after-school chauffeuring of children to guitar lessons, dance lessons, gymnastics, hair-cuts, and so on and so forth. If we’re being honest, let’s also add a modicum of time for our own individual sanity-maintaining activities: writing is mine. Now add to that the entire idea of the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, or another holiday I neglect to list, I believe most of us feel a bit of a crunch this time of year.
What I’ve been trying to figure out is how to juggle. I think we all strive for that sweet spot where all the balls are in the air, even if only for a moment. What I realize today, as I sit working on revisions for The Secret Remains amid my cluttered house, my gaze avoiding the dishes in the sink and the wrinkled mass of clean laundry waiting patiently for me, is that Will in About a Boy had a good system. It is the stuff his units of time are made of that is grossly flawed, at least until Marcus stumbles into his life and overhauls it for the better. But the units of time concept is a pretty genius one.
I learned today that I am much more productive when I take a stab at breaking my day into units of time. Now, I can’t say it works without a hitch. It takes me a while to settle into the units I’ve allotted for writing. There are several trips back and forth to the kitchen for coffee. Chocolate. Then minty gum. Then an adjustment in my current playlist. Maybe the dogs need to go out. But once I’ve rejoined my characters and fallen back into their lives, several units of time flit right by without me even noticing. Which is all the more reason I really need those extra couple units of time later on for the real life essentials.
After all of that, and my great realization today of how much I’ve learned from Will in About a Boy, I’ll readily admit that I’m not an incredibly organized person. I can’t swear that from here on in my life will be evenly divided into neat units of productive time. But right now, for the holiday season and all of the fun craziness that I wouldn’t trade for the world, I think I will be like Hugh Grant. Just a little.
So here is my question. What tricks have you learned to use this time of year, to squeeze every bit of time out of these even busier days and nights?