Friday, May 27, 2011

How to Balance Your Writing and Your Day Job – Part 4: Simplify

Your whole life is spent running from one commitment to the other. There’s barely enough time in the day to eat a real meal or sleep properly, much less write fiction. Never mind the time crunch – you can’t even find the energy to sit down in front of a computer and be creative.

Your writing career and your day job seem to be pitted against each other in a battle to the death. One of them must go. But it can’t be your job…you need it! So what’s the solution?

I don’t believe you have to give up on your dreams of being a published writer (or whatever your actual dream might be) just because you also have a day job that you need to go to every day in order to survive.

The solution to a hectic, overcrowded life is…take a breath, hold it for five seconds…three, two, one…let it out…


Simplifying your life merely means taking out the unimportant and leaving the essential, important aspects.

What are the things (people, activities, even possessions) that are important to you? If you don’t know already, spend some time thinking about it. You can’t simplify, part of which involves eliminating the extraneous, without know what it important and what is extraneous.

If you’re like me, you balance your day job, your writing, your family, your friends, your partner, your community activities, your hobbies, your entertainment and a dozen other commitments on a daily basis. It’s exhausting. If you’ve decided your writing career is one of the most important aspects of your life (and frankly, why would you be engaging in this process if it wasn’t?), then you may need to trim the other categories.


The simple way to simplify is to cut out those categories that consume the most time. One of your hobbies is sailing but it involves many hours every weekend on the water. You like sailing but you like writing about sailing a little better nowadays. You cut out sailing. This may or may not be a good idea. But it has certainly freed up some of your precious time.


The better choice for simplifying your life is to automate it. Put your finances online and automate your regular bills. You’ve just saved yourself an hour or two every month when you sit down at the dining table, write checks, lick envelops, and give yourself a headache.

Online tools can be used to automate everything from your grocery shopping list to your work. Many of these are even free. Try some of these out and keep what works for you.


The most pointless time drains stems from a lack of organization. How many times have you spent an hour searching for an item that you could have found easily if you had a better system for your tools, your files, your clothes, or what have you?

A few practical storage mechanisms, a calendar and reminder system can save a ton of time and effort. This is one area where the investment of time up front (to create the organizational system) will save you time in the long run. Online tools are also available for keeping track of your time, possessions, etc.


I’m not saying stop spending time with your friends or stop volunteering but do these things in quality rather than quantity.

Instead of spending two hours every week with your friend at a movie theatre, where you can’t talk to each other anyway, why don’t you spend every other week catching up over a two hour dinner? Instead of volunteering every weekend to build houses, why don’t you try getting on the board of the agency that builds the houses, which meets every month? All of these options are just as valuable, the latter ones just don’t take as much time.

Come on, breathe with me. You can do it. Wait, I can simplify that. Do it.

Photo courtesy of Pixomar at

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