If you’re here, either you have children, or you don’t, but you’re hoping to garner some super time saving or organizational tips which will help find you the elusive precious moments to write. Working outside of the home fulltime and with four kids, the Kool-Aid house and four completed novels in five years, I’ve perfected a few balancing acts.

First, and I think this is probably the most important factor, is your mindset. Don’t set yourself up for defeat before your start. You must realize that you neither need or do not write a novel overnight, but you can complete a novel in bits of time. Many advise getting up before family and write. But if you’re not a morning person try scribbling a paragraph, maybe dealing with the internal conflict— not a page, a paragraph. Jot down banter between two of your characters the conflict created while on coffee break, lunch or while waiting for an appointment. Edit what you wrote while watching TV with the family. Before you head to bed, write another paragraph. The perfect place for me is in the shower. I talk it out and as soon as I towel off, I scribble. If you only do this much, you will have a page every day and in year you’ll have a 75K book. Hint: 1 year in the publishing world is like a week in our time. So don’t fret.

Never, and I mean NEVER, handle correspondence twice. This goes for personal bills, magazines newspapers, and email. Don’t save it for later. Later never comes. If you open it, deal with it, file it or trash it. This is my philosophy at work too. Write your checks out or pay paid bills on-line while eating lunch at your desk. It will be one-less chore for you to do at home.

Understand a sterile Goodhouse Keeping home will not be yours for many years to come. With somewhere to go nearly every day, I knew right away if I wanted a home that would not be quarantined I needed to break the chore down to manageable bites. A room a day became my rule. Also, as my children became older, they learned to pick up toys their before bedtime, and then later to take care of their rooms, including dusting, vacuuming and straitening their closets. Twice a year, mom entered the domain for some serious sterilization. My kids were happy and healthy. When my boys went college they showed their friends how to do laundry.

I wanted more time but I also my family to eat well, so my crock pot and oven became my best friends. Take an hour or two and surf the net for recipes your family will enjoy. Plan a week’s worth of meals ahead of time. The one question I hate more than any other is “What’s for dinner?” For some reason as soon as I hear it, I feel my drive slip away. My energy level stays up, if I walk in the door and serve up dinner and more on. I plan for a month. And except for milk, bread and fresh veggie’s and fruit, I shop once a month. I’d rather clean a bathroom than grocery shop so handling this chore this why works for me. I cut this time eater by 75%. Instead of an hour and half each week. I spend 3 hours in a month. That includes time to stash the stuff.

Volunteers are important to non-profit organizations, such as the PTO, Scouts, church and you can volunteer, but set limits. I’m a social butterfly and love to raise my hand, but I’ve learned to raise my hand and say I can only work from this time to this time or I can only help on blank night. Believe me people will still appreciate you.

Hang a calendar on the fridge. Jot down appointments and events there. It’s in your face every day. It will help you shift your schedule because of a special event. Ie: I don’t have time to clean living room this morning/night because I need to be at school early/night to work fundraiser, but I do have time to clean bathroom. Carry a pocket calendar with you at all times. Even to weddings. Remember you want to handle things once. If friends want to get together, you look on the calendar see Susie has a fundraiser you volunteered for and you can’t do noon, but you can do 2 pm. Done. Pencil in. Do not say, "I’ll call you later." Later will take up time, at home, you don’t have.

The first thing that I put on my calendar is anything writer related. Meeting dates, blogs, on-line class. Then I fill in family events. Sometimes I have a conflict, but seeing it ahead of time allows me to shift obligations around if needed. Important; If at all possible, keep your allocation of time to be with other writers. Who better understand your creativity and needs?

Okay does anyone else have any ideas, which have worked for them, to scratch out writing time? I’d love a few more minutes.

Those commenting will be entered into drawing for a 2010 pocket calendar.

47 comments

  1. KELLY FITZPATRICK // November 7, 2009 at 9:46 AM  

    I don't think I could be writing if I had small chilren. My youngest is 20. He was about 16 when I started writing.

  2. Autumn Jordon // November 7, 2009 at 9:53 AM  

    Kelly, Sure you could or would've. You're driven. You would have made it happen.

    Today I'll be blogging and writing in the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Chatroom and baking cookies with my granddaughter. At the end of the day, I'll have more words on page then I did when I rose and that is what is important. Some days you can write 10 pages, others 10 paragraphs.

    Thanks for your support. ((HUGS)) AJ

  3. Jeanmarie Hamilton // November 7, 2009 at 11:13 AM  

    Thanks! Some great ideas there. I tried to write when my daughter was little, but then her after school activities and family obligations and clubs took up my time. So the writing was put aside. But now, my writing comes first, unless there's a really good reason it needs to wait.
    My family understands I need to write. I've met some great writing friends who are truly helpful and supportive. We all understand when the writing comes first. My writing is my work as well as my creative outlet. I take breaks from the pc to edit, or to do a quick household task, so I'm not sitting all day. I think we need to take breaks to keep the blood flowing, at least every hour if not every 45 minutes. It's amazing how much one can do during the breaks from the pc. :-)

    Jeanmarie

  4. Lynne Roberts // November 7, 2009 at 11:20 AM  

    I think I love you, Autumn.

    I'm a single mother with 4 children. Time and money are my biggest concerns. I love your idea of doing everything once. I'm fairly organized but my kids are not.

    I'm learning to take it in bite sized chunks too and not be such a neat freak. I also love the months worth of shopping. That sounds like a time saver.

    I still panic when I have a deadline and the book isn't finished and the kids aren't cooperating... you get the idea. : )

    Any tricks for that?

  5. Autumn Jordon // November 7, 2009 at 11:43 AM  

    You're so right, Jeannie. I can't sit for more than 30. SO I get up and move around all the while talking to myself. One day someone will but me away. LOL. But I will have many books to take with me.

  6. Ann Charles // November 7, 2009 at 11:47 AM  

    I love your concept of doing everything just once. I've been adopting that more and more. I used to be a procrastinator, but with a full-time day job and two toddlers, there's no time for procrastination.

    I try to use my spare time productively, whether it's brainstorming with my husband on the way to the grocery store, bugging my coworkers with ideas I have, begging editing from my left-brained friends, reading books on promo and marketing while watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse AGAIN with my little ones, and reading reference books in stolen minutes during family get- togethers.

    Oh, and I'm constantly juggling social networking while hanging out with my little ones.

    Every spare moment is important for me. :)

    Thanks for some more great ideas, Autumn!

    Ann Charles

    P.S.--I saw your post on RWA Elements and stopped by. Very glad I did!

  7. Magnolia // November 7, 2009 at 11:50 AM  

    Good tips!

  8. M.C. // November 7, 2009 at 11:54 AM  

    Great advice! I, too, find inspiration in the shower, do my bills as they come in, and have a calendar in my face on the fridge. I'm so reliant on my routine, in fact, that the other day when my daughter made coffee for me, it disrupted the routine of taking my morning medicine and looking at the calendar, so I missed an appointment! I also find housekeeping is easier if you "clean as you go." If there's something on the stairs that needs to go up, take it the next time you go; if you're in the laundry room switching from washer to dryer, take a moment to scoop the catbox. :o)

  9. Autumn Jordon // November 7, 2009 at 11:55 AM  

    Ah, Lynne, I so understand. I get frustrated to at times. Time I slotted for me gets eaten up, but you know sometimes I find time that wasn't mine to begin with. So keep the word flexibility in mind.

    Hugs,

    AJ

  10. Autumn Jordon // November 7, 2009 at 12:00 PM  

    Hi, Ann. Same here. I'm always reading and highlighting a craft book while watching TV. We're women. We can handle more than one thing at a time. LOL

    I just cleaned up an overflow on the washer. Water into my kitchen. So now my floors are clean and and that will give some more time later this week. YEAH!

    Thanks for stopping by. I hope we see you again.

    AJ

  11. Autumn Jordon // November 7, 2009 at 12:02 PM  

    Thanks, Magnolia. I'm sure you could add a few. Wink.

    AJ

  12. Autumn Jordon // November 7, 2009 at 12:11 PM  

    M.C. Exactly! I never carry the recyclables downstairs to the bin for that purpose only. Sometime I need to go the car, then they go with me.

    I can't do this all now, but I can do this much. Break any large task down.

    Good Advice.

    AJ

  13. Christine Bush // November 7, 2009 at 1:13 PM  

    Hi Autumn. Good thoughts here. I'm seeing how life sure goes in cycles. My kids are grown. For a while, managing my "writing time" was easy, but now the grandmother stage is here.. here we go again!

    The calendar idea works for me, when I allow it to. Funny how hard it is to block off writing time for myself in INK.. and move the "other things" around instead. I guess it's a test of commitment, to determinedly put my writing tasks/ meetings on the schedule, to admit how important that time is. I am working on this in this next stage of life. Hey, I'm worth it.

    Thanks for your thoughts!
    CB

  14. Toni V.S. // November 7, 2009 at 1:54 PM  

    My son learned to cook when he was 8; every year he cookws Thanksgiving dinner. I dedicated one of my books to him for all the meals he had to eat alone. It was always, "Mom, how much longer are you going to be?" And my answer was (of course) "Just let me finish this chapter." Now, 30 years later, Mom has moved back in and she has his dinner on the table when he gets home!

  15. Autumn Jordon // November 7, 2009 at 3:03 PM  

    Christine, you certainly are worth the time. I'm entertaining the GD today and tonight, so I'm learning the challegne of bits all over again. I hope the calendar idea works for you, lady.

    AJ

  16. Autumn Jordon // November 7, 2009 at 3:13 PM  

    Ah, Toni. Isn't it a satisfying feeling to know you raised your kids to be self-sufficient. I bet your son is happy too. And think of all the writing time doing so gave you.

    Thanks for commenting.

    AJ

  17. Scarlet Pumpernickel // November 7, 2009 at 4:37 PM  

    Autumn, execellant advice! I will begin all over again to try and find tiny pockets of time to write. The idea of handling correspondence once is a gem! Get it over and move on! Thanks for all the hints.

    Scarlet

  18. Autumn Jordon // November 7, 2009 at 5:23 PM  

    I'm so glad you found something in my post to help you, Scarlet. I'm actually down to writing my checks out once a month, with one exception. After I balanced my check book, I write my checks and seal them. I put the date they need to be mailed in the stamp area and stick them in my briefcase. I mark them off on my calendar. Boom. done. Each week I pull those that need to be mailed and drop them. It works for me.

  19. Mary Ricksen // November 7, 2009 at 5:32 PM  

    Are you kidding me? Your schedule would kill me. I sure wish my mind was as organized, I'd accomplish so much more. Ah. but then I wouldn't be me.
    The do everything once struck a note with me. So I will attack things before they become a stack.
    Thanks Autumn and good luck!
    You are a very strong woman indeed!

  20. Beth Trissel // November 7, 2009 at 6:15 PM  

    I am trying to write around grandbabies and nieces now, as they started arriving before my youngest was out of middle school--make that grade school. I enjoyed your post!

  21. Beth Trissel // November 7, 2009 at 6:16 PM  

    I am trying to write around grandbabies and nieces now, as they started arriving before my youngest was out of middle school--make that grade school. I enjoyed your post!

  22. Gwynlyn MacKenzie // November 7, 2009 at 7:53 PM  

    Darlin', I looked at this blog and realized I do all those things (there are 12 qts of soup in the fridge, sausage and sauce, AND a whole roasted chicken to maintain dh during my marathon) but it still didn't work for me. Why? I get lost in the work. Setting a timer startles me out of it, true, but also makes me furious, especially when I'm on a roll. Truth is, if it went off and I was in deep, I ignored it. Not good.

    My immersion writing doesn't work when children are involved, and I could never teach myself to write any other way, although I did try.

    We are all different in more ways than we can count, so for those who, like me, have to put their dreams on hold while they raise their children, don't beat yourself up. Better to delay the dream that release it.

  23. Diana Layne // November 7, 2009 at 8:03 PM  

    It depends on the kids, I found. My "first" family were laid back, easy going kids, and I could write, I taught them to cook, wash clothes and clean, and all was good. Then I had these last two, my "second" family when the others were almost grown and these two are nonstop energy and so I did have to wait until they were older to pick up the dream again.

    While they do still climb on me while I am writing, at least it's not a constant crying or constant fighting as they have gotten better about entertaining themselves as they got older. And my grown children have introduced them to those Nintendo game thingys, bless their hearts. :)

    Oh, I also take a room at a time...and if I miss a rotation, I just catch it next week...

  24. Mary Marvella // November 7, 2009 at 8:24 PM  

    Autumn you are so much more disciplined than I am! When I taught school I had no time because I also helped my Ex at our photo studio. Writing wasn't an option unless if was fir a class I was taking. I admire the ladies here who make writing time.

    Welcome to all visitors!

  25. Autumn Jordon // November 7, 2009 at 10:35 PM  

    Yes, Mary, I’ve been accused more than once of being organized. With four kids, I learned. And yes, if you were me, then you wouldn’t be you, and we don’t want that. LOL. I’m glad you picked up a tidbit.

    (((hugs)))

    AJ

  26. Autumn Jordon // November 7, 2009 at 10:37 PM  

    My granddaughter wore me out today, Beth. Now that she is sleeping, I'm back to the keyboard. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

    AJ

  27. Autumn Jordon // November 7, 2009 at 10:48 PM  

    Gwyn said: Better to delay the dream that release it.

    Awesome wise words, Gwyn. Maybe we could think of it this way. I'm in training or studying to fulfill my dream.

    If writing a novel is not feasible while raising a family, perhaps writing short stories or poetry might be. There is something to learning to write tight.

    I love when you stop by. WINK

    AJ

  28. Autumn Jordon // November 7, 2009 at 10:51 PM  

    LOL. I do the same. The room, unlike opportunities, will not disappear if I skip it.

    Kudos to you for striving toward your dream.

    ((HUGS)) AJ

  29. Autumn Jordon // November 7, 2009 at 10:57 PM  

    Mary, I think you nailed it. You must make time for writing. If only it's minutes. Sometimes, I set a timer, like Gwyn mentioned. It helps me to really focus on the task.

    Late for work, set the timer for ten, write and then out the door. Really it works.

    If you try it, let me know how it works for you.

    AJ

  30. Barbara Monajem // November 8, 2009 at 1:28 AM  

    Dang! I already got my 2010 planner, so don't enter me in the draw.

    You're incredibly motivated and well-organized, Autumn. I particularly agree re only handling correspondence once. I try, but I still haven't succeeded at that.

    For me, one of the hardest things was to make writing my top priority. Now it has muscled its way to the fore and is on my mind all the time.

  31. Authorness // November 8, 2009 at 4:25 AM  

    Hi, Autumn! I love your tip about never handling mail twice. Going through the mail is such a chore for me because I can't decide on the spot on whether to save or throw out. I suppose learning to be more decisive would help, wouldn't it?

    Great post!

    ~ Vanessa

  32. Joanna Aislinn // November 8, 2009 at 8:01 AM  

    Hi, Autumn,

    My laptop goes pretty much everywhere (except the beach). While the kids ride the half-pipes, mom writes her story or the bills, depending on which needs attention more at the moment. While dad drives to the cottage, mom's laptop is in use while she copilots, and so on, etc and so forth.

    Thanks for some wonderful ideas,
    Joanna Aislinn

    NO MATTER WHY
    The Wild Rose Press Jan 15, 2010
    www.joannaaislinn.com
    www.joannaaislinn.wordpress.com

  33. Autumn Jordon // November 8, 2009 at 8:30 AM  

    Hi, Barbara. As women we do have a hard time putting ourselves first. Family is priority in my life. Friends too. But there are loads of things I can give up without a second thought. Housework, shopping, TV (except for 24-I love Jack), bingo nights, etc. You get the idea.

    I'll let you in on a little secret. I try to be organized everyday, about 30% of the time, I don't quite make it. The other 70% of the time makes up for the 30%. WINK.

    I hope you like the calendar and use it well.

    AJ

  34. Autumn Jordon // November 8, 2009 at 8:40 AM  

    Hey, Vanessa. Checking in in the morning aren't you? Thanks.

    All mail is work, email included. I open, read, respond and file. If there is something of interest, like a blog, I go read and comment. If it's an magazine, on-line or not, I'll put in file/pile. Both I'll keep one week. If I don't read by then, delete, trash.

    Sales flyers, I glance at. If I'm going shopping that week for a present or something I need, I'll put them in my car. How many times have you got to the store and said, dang I have a coupon, but forgot it at home? Otherwise in the recycling bin.

    Try it for a month. I bet you'll never fall of the wagon on this one.

    (((Hugs to you)))
    AJ

  35. Autumn Jordon // November 8, 2009 at 8:45 AM  

    Joanna, We must have been separted at birth. My laptop travels with me. I'm on my third. This one is a bit smaller and pounds lighter. God I love it. You never when time will be handed to you, right?

    I'm glad you stopped by.

    AJ

  36. Autumn Jordon // November 8, 2009 at 9:06 AM  

    Thanks everyone for stopping by and commenting. I'll be blogging at the The Ruby Slippered Sisters blog on Nov. 20, at my own blog through the month and here with my fuzzies again on Nov. 27th. I hope to see you all again.

    Now for the prize. My granddaughter pulled the winner's name from her snowman's belly. And that person it is Jeanmarie.

    Jeanmarie please email me at autumnjordon@yahoo.com

    Have a beauitful day.

    AJ

    www.autumnjordonsnotes.blogspot.com
    www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com

  37. Joanne // November 8, 2009 at 9:20 AM  

    I am always trying to squeeze more time out of my day. I've had children living in my home for 32 years. (my youngest is now 14)

    One way I've saved time is grocery shopping online. My grocery store "shops" for me for a fee of $4.95. Then I drive up to the store and they load them in the trunk and I'm on my way.

  38. Autumn Jordon // November 8, 2009 at 10:15 AM  

    Joanne, that is awesome. Yes the fee is an expense but no impulse buying. I gues you save int he long run, huh?

    AJ

  39. Judy // November 8, 2009 at 10:42 AM  

    Great post, Autumn. I, too, am very organized. When my kids were young I attended a meeting where a woman addressed the need to be organized and, more importantly,giving yourself permission to set aside time for yourself.

  40. Jeanmarie Hamilton // November 8, 2009 at 12:36 PM  

    Oh, my gosh! I can't believe I won the calendar! Yay! Cool! :-) I've been looking for one, although I didn't expect to win one! So this is very much appreciated. Thank you! And thanks to your granddaughter! :-)
    *Hugs*
    Jeanmarie

  41. Pamela Varnado // November 8, 2009 at 1:35 PM  

    Thanks for the tips. I can see how they will me save time and plan ot implement most of them.

  42. Elizabeth Jewell Headden // November 8, 2009 at 3:45 PM  

    Autumn,

    I loved your blog. You listed some great time savers, some of which I've been using forever: Calendar, don't handle paper more than once, and my favorite the crock pot!

    PS I came over from Elements too!

  43. Autumn Jordon // November 8, 2009 at 5:00 PM  

    Thanks, Judy. Years ago I picked up the One Minute Manager. I learned a lot from the book. And anytime, I see time saving tips, I pop over. You never know what jewel you will find.

    hugs,
    AJ

  44. Autumn Jordon // November 8, 2009 at 5:00 PM  

    LOL. Jeanmarie. I hope you like it.

    I hope we see you again.

    AJ

  45. Autumn Jordon // November 8, 2009 at 5:02 PM  

    Pam, Take what works for you. Remember everything I do works for me because I'm me. If you find other time saving tips, please pass them on. I sure could squeeze a few more minutes out of the day.

    GRIN,

    AJ

  46. Autumn Jordon // November 8, 2009 at 5:05 PM  

    Elements. I love that chapter. SO supportive.

    If you have any more tips, Elizabeth, please, please pass them on.

    ((HUGS))

    AJ

  47. janice // November 8, 2009 at 7:16 PM  

    "a sterile Goodhouse Keeping home will not be yours for many years to come" Not EVER, unless I get maid service! :-D Thanks, Autumn.