Book Tour Blog: The All Night Library
Colleen M. Story | Overwhelmed Writer Rescue
The Truth About What’s Happening to Your Time
One of the most common complaints I hear from writers and other creative artists is that they wish they had more time.
“I don’t have enough time to write,” they’ll say, or to paint, or compose, or start a new business.
It’s true that we have more things vying for our attention today than we have in the past. We’re all victims, to some extent, of our “always-on” culture. It’s easy to get burned out when we travel with technology all the time, work at all hours, and even take our smartphones to bed.
But outside factors like technology and information overload are only part of the problem. There are more destructive elements I like to call “time thieves” that literally steal your time away, often without you realizing it. Unfortunately, you can never get that time back.
I talk about the seven most common thieves in my new book, Overwhelmed Writer Rescue, but today I’d like to share with David’s readers three of the most sinister when it comes to robbing you of your creative time: television, social media, and interruptions.
Time Thief #1: Television
An astonishing eighty percent of American adults watch three-and-a- half hours of TV per day—which takes up about half of their leisure time, according to a 2015 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
A 2014 Nielsen media ratings report put the number even higher, stating the average American watches five hours per day. That’s not just a huge time thief; it’s also horrible for your health. Recent research shows that the more television people watch, the more likely they are to die prematurely.
Examine what you’re watching and how much time it’s taking. There’s nothing wrong with sitting down to relax now and then, but if you want to be more productive, find the “off” button and use it more often.
Better yet, schedule your viewing time around your favorite shows, and then turn the TV off when they’re over. Don’t fall for those teasers that try to lure you into watching the next one.
Time Thief #2: Social Media
Social media networking now accounts for nearly thirty percent of the time Americans spend on the Internet—an average of 1.72 hours a day, according to a 2015 report from the Global Web Index. That doesn’t include blogging, reading blogs, or online research, just social media interaction.
It may be hard to imagine that so much of your day is spent on social media, but take a second look. A report from Informate Mobile Intelligence revealed that people check Facebook, Twitter, and other accounts an average of seventeen times a day—once every waking hour. And the highest usage wasn’t in the “kids” group —it was in the 25-54 age bracket!
Facebook reports that users spend an average of fifty minutes a day (nearly an hour) on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger platforms. That may not seem like much until you remember that you have twenty-four hours a day, and about eight are spent sleeping and another eight working. That leaves just eight hours, and the average Facebook user shoots one of them on the social media site.
To keep social media from gobbling up your time, set limits on when you allow yourself to check it. Dedicate thirty minutes a day, for example, or every other day, or on certain days of the week. Be vigilant about stopping on time, so you don’t fall victim to the “just one more thing” trick the social media thief uses to keep you from breaking away.
You can also check social media as a “reward” during the day, as long as you keep it to no more than ten minutes. This so-called “grazing” used as a reward between completed projects actually increased productivity in the workplace by about nine percent, according to one study.
Think of checking social media as the modern-day “smoke break.” Just don’t let it take over your day.
Time Thief #3: Interruptions
You’re working away on your project, and someone knocks on the door. You look up, address what that person wants, and then go back to your project. Don’t be surprised if you stare at the screen for a while before being able to get going again.
Interruptions are costly. They increase errors, cause you to take longer to finish a task, and boost stress. A key 2014 study from George Mason University found that people who were interrupted while writing produced poorer quality essays than those who worked undisturbed.
Other research has found that it can take an average of twenty-three minutes to recover lost concentration.
To minimize interruptions:
- Communicate clearly. To work or write uninterrupted, make it clear to others that you don’t want to be disturbed. Close your door. Don’t answer the phone or check emails. Hang a “do not disturb” sign. Whatever it takes.
- Don’t answer the phone or the door. When unexpected visitors come calling, avoid any interaction at all, or at the very least, apologize and reschedule the visit.
- Turn off your cell phone, or at least silence it.
- Isolate yourself—go somewhere you won’t be disturbed.
When you sit down and start writing out exactly how much time you’re spending in each of these activities, and then add up that time over the period of a week, month, and year, you can quickly see how detrimental they can be to your creative dreams.
The good news is that you can take control of the situation. By simply identifying your time thieves and creating a new security system that keeps them from robbing you of those precious minutes you so desperately need, you can increase your productivity and get more creative time into your days.
I’ve got a chart in the book that helps you do just that, but for now, you can simply keep a daily diary and mark down each time you start doing these activities, and when you stop. Becoming more aware of the time you’re spending on daily time thieves may be enough to motivate you to make some positive changes that support your creative dreams.
To learn about the other four destructive time thieves— as well as discover your unique “time personality” and personal motivation style—order your copy of Overwhelmed Writer Rescue today! Available at Amazon and all other print and eBook retailers. Enjoy your FREE chapter here!
Colleen M. Story has worked in the creative writing industry for over twenty years. Her novels include “Loreena’s Gift,” an Idaho Author Awards first place winner, New Apple Solo Medalist winner, Foreword Reviews’ INDIES Book of the Year Awards winner, Reader Views award finalist, and Best Book Awards finalist; and “Rise of the Sidenah,” a North American Book Awards winner and New Apple Book Awards Official Selection.
As a health writer, Colleen has authored thousands of articles for publications like Healthline and Women’s Health; worked with high-profile clients like Gerber Baby Products and Kellogg’s; and ghostwritten books on back pain, nutrition, and cancer recovery. She finds most rewarding her work as a motivational speaker and workshop leader, where she helps writers remove mental and emotional blocks and tap into their unique creative powers.
Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness (writingandwellness.com), a motivational site helping writers and other creative artists maintain their physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being throughout their careers. Sign up for your free weekly email containing tips for living your best creative life at http://www.writingandwellness/ newsletter.
To find more information on Colleen and her work, please see her website (colleenmstory.com), or follow her on Twitter (@ colleen_m_story). She loves to hear from readers-feel free to use the “contact” form on either her website or Writing and Wellness to get in touch with her.