Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Deb Raney on Time Management 101

Today, Deb Raney joins us. Her latest book, Silver Bells, released this month, October 2013. This is a beautiful story about a small Kansas town's Christmas miracle.

DEBORAH RANEY's books have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists.

Deb has a heart to help writers. She recently critiqued a portion of my manuscript at the ACFW conference. I learned a great deal from her in that fifteen minute appointment, much more thank I expected. This last weekend, she shared blessings from God on my website. Click here to read. Now today, she shares time management 101 for writers with us, here on the Writers Alley.

Please welcome: Deb Raney.

Deborah Raney

An aspiring writer recently asked me how I managed to stick to a writing schedule and still “have a life.” I remembered a list I’d written as a conference handout and shared it with her. This was written while I still had children at home, and I must confess that now that we’re empty nesters, it is much easier to manage my time. But many of these tips are practical at any stage of your writing career and it was a good reminder for me to read over them and remind myself how well they worked in the early years of writing.

1. Lower your standards for household chores. There is no law or rule in this world that says you have to dust every week, mow the lawn twice a week or clean closets twice a year. I dust about once a month. I have not lost one friend over it, nobody has come to arrest me, no one has developed allergies from all the dust. In fact, I opened up the newspaper a while back to discover that scientists suspect one reason people have so many allergies today is because we live in environments that are TOO clean, thus we haven't been able to build up any immunities to dust mites, etc. (It's no coincidence that no one in my family is allergic to ANYTHING!)

2. Delegate. When I started writing, my family treated it as if I'd taken a full-time job outside the home. My husband started doing laundry (something he'd never, ever done before, except maybe when I was in the hospital having babies), and my kids picked up the slack with the housework and yard work. No, things didn’t always get done quite to the standards I would have preferred, but it got done, and the kids gained all kinds of good life-skills as a result. If you already work a full-time job besides writing, maybe you can cut back somewhere else and hire someone to mow your lawn, change your oil, clean your house, or send the ironing out occasionally. 

3. Ban television from your life. For ten years while our kids were small, we didn't even own a TV, so it’s not much of a sacrifice for me to turn off the tube, but even today with two TVs in the house, the only time I watch is for 30 minutes each night while I ride my elliptical trainer, and occasionally on Friday or Saturday nights if my husband and I rent a movie. I simply do not have spare time to sit and watch TV. On the other hand, if you find inspiration in movies or sit-coms, or if watching TV is truly relaxing for you, then quit feeling guilty and count it as “work.”

4. Add a few good, nutritious fast foods and convenience foods to your weekly menu. Or teach the rest of your family how to cook. My kids all learned to be good cooks, thanks to my writing career. We also started ordering frozen entrees and convenience foods from Schwan’s, a frozen food delivery service. Yes, it's a little more expensive than home cooking, but we decided it’s worth it. If that's not an alternative for you, maybe you could spend one day every couple of weeks cooking a freezer full of entrees. Then all you have to do is thaw something out and pop it in the oven each night. The Crock-Pot is also a writer’s best friend.

5. Multi-task. If I do watch a movie or a newscast in the evening, I try to clip coupons, fold laundry, sew on a button, or clean out the junk drawer while I watch. If I go for a walk, I brainstorm the scene I'm working on. If I'm playing cards with my kids or Scrabble with my husband, I have a writing magazine beside me to skim while they take their turn or shuffle cards.

6. Practice the art of "just say no." When I first started writing, I tried to stay active with all my volunteer work, clubs, church activities, etc. I finally realized that I just could NOT do both. In the past several years, I've turned over the church newsletter to someone else (I still teach Sunday School with my husband), gave up freelance proofreading for our weekly newspaper, dropped out of one of my women’s Bible studies, and retired after my second four-year term on our city's recreation commission. Writing takes a tremendous amount of time, energy and commitment. If you’re serious about writing, you will probably have to give up some other things you enjoy. But oh, to be able to say, “I am a writer” makes it all worthwhile.

Thank you, Deb for sharing these great tips!

Reader, We count it all joy to read your comments. 
Please take a moment to share with us. 

Which time management tip could best help you?
Do you have other time management ideas to add to this list?

How is your Christmas book list doing? Don't forget to check out Silver Bells.

In addition to Deb Raney's Silver Bells, what other Christmas books can you recommend to add to our holiday pile?

photo provided by Deb Raney.  Thanks, Deb!

This blog post is by Mary Vee

Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes contemporary and romance Christian fiction and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.

Visit Mary at her website and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter


Joanne Sher said...

Fabulous tips, Deb! I most definitely need the delegate one (so not my norm!). Another tip I like is using those moments - you know - while you're on hold, in line for drive thru, in the waiting room, waiting for carpool. So many people wait for a nice block of time to work on their writing, but even a few minutes can allow progress!


Mary Vee Writer said...

That is a FABULOUS idea. One that whomps us on the head and we forget to notice until after the waiting time is over.
And along with that someone once suggested keeping a note pad or have an app on your cell that lets you dictate with you.
Great idea!

Lindsay Harrel said...

I just did #4...took one day last weekend and made a freezer full of nutritious meals! Since I work full-time and cooking can take up to an hour of my evening time (not to mention energy), it is a great way to compromise.

Thanks for the other tips, Deborah!

Kathleen T. Jaeger said...

The time management tip that I needed to hear is just say-no. That I can only do so much. I need to ponder and evaluate. I have already been doing some rearranging....looks like more is in order.

Unknown said...

Loved all these tips! And thank you especially for the tip on lowering your standards for household chores. Haha! I used to be almost militant about cleaning--once a week on Saturday like clockwork. Now...uh...not so much. I'm lucky if my place gets a deep cleaning once a month. But so far, I haven't died... :) Writing progress is worth a little (or a lot of) dust.

Deborah Raney said...

You know, you all are reminding me of this: if you only chose ONE of these tips and applied it well, you'd be amazed how much more time for writing you'd have––and at the very least, how much less stress you'd have.

All the best as you pare down your lists and manage your time better. I needed the refresher, too! :)

Jeanne Takenaka said...

I do some of these, and I can apply others of these. The one I am kind of doing but can do better is to make sure I have easy meals for cooking on weeknights/writing days. Most convenience foods don't work for a Gluten Free diet, but I love the idea of preparing some ahead of time. Or preparing a bunch or hamburger meat to use for things like tacos, taco salad, soups. I love these ideas.

And the idea of a Deb Raney Christmas book sounds wonderful! One book I enjoyed was Susan May Warren's Baby It's Cold Outside.

What a great post today!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Ah hah--what a wonderful surprise. Deb stopped in!
Thank you!!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Lindsay, I've heard that idea before. Good job, and the kitchen smells awesome while you're cranking out al those meals.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Oh my, saying no can be so difficult especially if someone has that pleading look on their face. But, Deb is right. People will respect us if we wisely choose the best times to say no.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I grew up in a home that was 24/7 ready for company. Oh the pressure.
Life has become much easier once I realized some chores could wait an hour or a day.
You have so much going right now with the new release and book two on its way. Wow. Girl. You are amazing.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I think sometimes the biggest time saver is knowing what is for the meals. It was a great week when my daughter made the week's menu, assessed the ingredients, went to the store for me to buy what we were missing. That, we saved so much time even though we didn't cook the meals ahead.

Krista Phillips said...

Dusting once a month...


My poor house. My kids are REALLY REALLY not allergic to anything becuase, well, I will NOT confess the frequency that dusting happens in my home.

GREAT tips, Deb!!! THANK YOU for sharing!!!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Sometimes that fine gray/white coating on the furniture could be considered modern art, a contemporary design. Conversational pieces.
I will swap ANY job to get out of dusting.
And if someone will come to my house and dust...well, let's negotiate a win win.