In this life there are always things we want to do, and things we have to do. Then there are the things we should do…
All this has me writing really long to-do lists, at which I often stare perplexedly trying to decide which item to tackle first.
Sometimes it’s a challenge to figure out where my creative writing endeavours should lie on the list. Should writing come before or after washing the dishes… doing the billable work… figuring out how to use the latest software so I can send invoices and pay the mortgage…?
In truth, the priorities change on any given day, depending on how high the plates are stacked and how short are the deadlines.
But one thing I have discovered. If I make the time to do the important (to me)-but-not-necessarily-urgent things (like writing), the other important-and-urgent things somehow get done anyway.
Yep, if I prioritise writing, the essential work gets done anyway.
This doesn’t of course mean I can spend all my time writing, but if I carve out a manageable chunk of time — say, an afternoon in a cafe — it ensures the writing goes forward. This makes me happy. Very happy. Which helps me get more efficient with completing the other tasks that need to get done.
There’s a lot to be said for giving in to what we want to do. For allowing it to be important. Life would be really dull if all we did was what we have to do, or feel we should do.
I’m not suggesting we should throw away all sense of responsibility in order to cater to every base whim. But I am suggesting we should identify what’s important to us, accord it suitable respect, and then treat it as important by making time for it.
Sherry Isaac posted last week about how priorities float to the top of the to-do list naturally — which is true. But in my own experience the things that float are the things I have to do (except for sometimes when I just throw prudence to the wind), and I want to take a more active stance. If I wait for my writing to prioritise itself, well… hmm… (Not very happy!)
In my case, I choose most often at present to carve out my writing time in a local cafe. This is beneficial to me for several reasons:
- It gets me away from all the other things clambering for my attention at home, particularly now that I’m working from home.
- It gets me away from the internet; I’m good at not logging on to cafe WiFi, although I do have my phone so I’m not completely cut-off.
- It gets me out of the house into a vibrant environment where I can interact with people.
- The food is much better.
- [Most important!] I come away with words down that would otherwise not exist.
What endeavours do you wish you had more time for — or more success in prioritising? Do you think this approach would work for you?