There’s a funny thing about calendars and time blocks and schedules and deadlines.
I like deadlines. They’re black-and-white numbers that don’t lie. Something due in three days? I have 72 hours. Easy.
Something due in five minutes?
I have one minute to breathe and four to get it done.
Now, I’ve never been a procrastinator where work is concerned, far from it—unless it’s housework. In fact, I usually have the opposite problem. Deadline for a project three months out? Start it as soon as the idea strikes (which usually means I’m starting without all the needed facts and then proceed to get hours into something only to find out that I’m on the wrong track).
But lately, because of life and such. You know, life? Tires and fires and drama and trauma. Deadlines that linger further out are whispering evil notions to me. Something due in a week? Wait five days. Or six. Or six-and-a-half. No worries. You’ll get it done.
Still easy math.
I took an afternoon not too long ago and inked in (not pencil, ink) writing time on my calendar, AKA my brain on paper. It’s a spiral-bound book with plenty of room for long to-do lists, because I like those, too. Black-and-white, get-it-done-and-move-on boxes to check. It makes me feel productive. And this paper calendar is often my only tether to reality and the passing of time. What square am I in today? What’s the number of the square? Do I put on church clothes or my work uniform of T-shirt and jeans?
When Grandma passed away, I had an odd sensation of missing time altogether amid grief and her end-of-life tasks. I remember seeing Valentine’s Day supplies in the front of Walmart on clearance and thinking, “Wait, we haven’t done Valentine’s Day yet.” The same sensation happened again with St. Patrick’s Day and then again with Easter, but not quite so intense.
But anyway, I don’t know what I was thinking—spending an afternoon scheduling writing. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It also seemed a good idea to use red ink to delineate writing tasks from household duties and my “real job” tasks. But then, well, life. Good life and bad life and crazy life. And then all those little red writing reminders and lists in my calendar became laughable suggestions and now I’m scrambling to even get the very basics of creativity under control.
A couple of years ago I did one short story a day. Midnight deadline. Daily. For thirty days. Didn’t miss one deadline.
Now, I’m shooting for one short a week, a blog a week and several thousand words on my work-in-progress. Which is overall much less writing than that intense daily challenge was.
And funny how something that only took a few hours every day now takes seven times more hours of thought and fiddling. Because I have seven days to think and fiddle with it.
The activity is stretching to fill the amount of time in the deadline.
Or maybe it’s that life has poked a hole in my clock and the seconds are leaking out like coffee from a micro-crack in a Styrofoam cup.
I tried to psych myself out, too. Give the tasks a daily deadline.
Try to get ahead. Nope. Not working.
Especially with the housework.
So, because I evidently love punishing myself with self-inflicted time constraints, I’m about to schedule a time to schedule more time to get more writing done—on schedule.
After I white out the previous red marks.
Break the tasks up into bite-sized chunks. Draw little boxes next to each item to check off when complete. Seven days in a week. Seven opportunities to do something I love, if only for a few small ticks of time per day.
But this time I’ll schedule it all in pencil…