Over the past six months or so, I’ve been looking more closely at where I use my time. I changed jobs last May (has it really been almost a year?), which slashed my commute to a fraction of what had been. Spending 45-60 minutes in the car, each way, takes a huge chunk out of your day — and energy — and suddenly having an extra couple of hours a day, was amazing. It also took a lot of getting used to.
It was literally October, before I could start to relax and not be on high alert about GETTING THINGS DONE while I still had the time/energy/will to do them.
So, a few months before the New Year, I started to think about what I was actually doing with my time. I also looked at what I had been doing in the months and years prior, and I looked at the results of what I’d done.
By my last count– which is changing, because I’ve thought of some additional ideas to pursue, and I realize I need to rework some old ideas — I’ve got over 70 projects either completed, in progress, or planned for the future.
Of that number, I’ve published 17 books, most of them in print, and a few eBooks thrown in for good measure. I need to rework at least 6 of those print books into ePub format, so I can distribute them to e-reader folks, and I have about five projects actively in progress, which will be completing at various stages in the coming months. And I have a bunch of projects planned for the future, which correlate with the in-progress projects.
It sounds like a lot, and it is. Just keep in mind, I actually have a daily routine and a system for coming up with new ideas and cranking out new “content”. I’ve been following this routine and using my system for over 30 years, by now. I don’t usually have to thrash over my creative process, because I’ve put in the constant work to ingrain it into my “interior ecosystem” so it’s a natural reflex with me. Developing those routines has been a lifelong process, and it’s paid off in a big way.
Also, this is the result of me writing for over 40 years, since I was about 8 years old… and never really stopping writing, along the way. I’ve refreshed a number of projects over the years, re-purposing them for different media, and venturing into podcasting, video production, eBook creation, print, and art. I’ve written way more than what’s in these 70+ projects, too, in the form of journal entries, and reams of poetry I haven’t even begun to collect.
Oh, and there’s the art. I can’t even start with that one. I’ve got so much of what I’ve drawn and painted and assembled over the years, it trips me up when I’m walking around my study.
For me, the thing was always to write… Make art. Create. And especially write. Work on that voice, engage with the language, and enrich my whole life with what I found in the act of writing… creating… looking beyond the surface at what was there. Simply get something on paper and see where it took me. I’ve written plenty of stuff that will never see the light of day, too, which is just as well.
So, my new challenge (and I choose to accept it) is to prioritize and focus in on what needs to happen when. Planning and scheduling and figuring out the timing of these things doesn’t seem like the most inspiring work, but it’s necessary. And that’s how I spent my Saturday, when I wasn’t driving to and from Danvers, MA, in the freezing rain, getting stuck behind various salt trucks (thank you to the salt trucks of the world, by the way).
This can all be done. All 70+ projects. Even while holding down a pretty challenging day job. The main thing is time — not only to do the work, but also to step back, analyze, learn from experience, and adapt to what’s on the horizon.
Maybe I’ll have a sudden realization… like I did yesterday, while driving up to Honda North in Danvers to get my minvan worked on (by the way, Honda North rocks! I highly recommend them — and I have never done that for a car dealership before.)
Maybe it will sink in that the way I’ve been doing things is pretty inefficient and a big time-waster and just old rote habit that’s not producing anything useful.
Maybe I will suddenly see the potential for an idea that’s been right in front of me, this whole time.
Maybe I’ll realize that something I’ve been laser focused on for weeks — like doing a Udemy course — is keeping me from finishing off the low-hanging fruit of a couple of eBooks that are 75% done (and could have been done last week, had I not been wrangling with the technical limitations of my recording/producing equipment).
Having time is so very essential — and not just for the doing. Also for the thinking, the analysis, the realizations, the epiphanies. Without the thinking, you can end up just Do-ing and Do-ing and Do-ing… not making nearly the progress you were hoping to.
So, it’s Sunday, and it’s actually warm enough to go outside without looking like the younger brother in “A Christmas Story”. Time for a walk.
The projects will all be here when I get back.