The reality of a teacher’s life is that there are too many things to do in too little time. While I live in the daily reality of this time crunch, another part of me realizes that we make time for the things we really want to do. I mean, I did not really have time to watch seven episodes of Orphan Black in three days…but somehow that still happened. Procrastibaking is a very real thing. You’re making the time to read this blog post. (Thanks for that.)
A few years back I read an article about Buddhist monks and how they cope with stress. They try to keep a mindset of working within the present moment. In other words, whether they have 25 things to accomplish in a day or just two, as they perform a task they realize they can only perform that one task in that one moment. In this way, they stay focused on singular events and actions as they move throughout the day.
I try to do the same. Notice, I write that I try. Last week I was winking awake at 2:30 a.m. worrying about the mediocre way in which I have been leading my students through Twelfth Night due to time constraints, but after a few nights of that silliness, I returned to deep slumber because I focused on the time I had and did my best within it.
This same mindset gets these blog post written. I take comfort in routines, and I have created a set of daily rituals that help me carve out writing time. Maybe some of my habits will help you find time to write, too? At the very least, making my habits public might help me stick to them more regularly.
My Writing Ritual of Late:
- Get my 20 XPs. I live in Germany and speak only mediocre German. I MUST make time for daily language practice. This school year I have been using Duolingo to get my minimum practice in, but I am finding that the 15 minutes I dedicate to German have actually been a nice writing warm-up. This step quiets my mind and helps me focus on my writing.
- Find ten minutes. I try to find at least ten minutes every day to write. Lately, I have been using the beginning of my planning period to accomplish this step. After I practice my German, I start pecking at the keys. My available planning period is different every day, but if I write before I go home, it is much more likely to happen.
- Log it and organize it. I keep a running Google Doc where I log the days that I write, as well as ideas for future blog posts. Every year I start a new doc. My rough drafts of blog posts also go in this same document, keeping everything organized.
- Put butt in chair. When I actually find at least ten minutes each day to write, my blog posts get done. When I am sporadic in my daily writing, I don’t produce much content. This step is a no-brainer, but it is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome.
- Embrace sloppiness. I try to keep to one blog post per week, but I am finding that I am more likely to write when I sit down and just do it, without the pressure of a weekly posting deadline. Lately, I am just worrying about getting my minimum ten minutes per day. I am not worrying if what I write is any good or not. This mindshift makes sitting down to write much, much easier….and I am hitting my once-per-week-self-imposed deadline more regularly.
- Tardiness is O.K. I am learning to not beat myself up too much when I can’t find time to write. I just start the daily count again, trying to build a long run of consecutive days. I am doing the same thing with my exercise routine, and forgiving myself means I jump back on both horses much more quickly and regularly.
- WriteitdownNOW. Throughout my day, I stay receptive to writing ideas. If I’m not by my computer, I record possible topics on my phone and transfer them to the Google Doc later. If I don’t write the ideas down, I forget them. You will, too.
This is an imperfect system, of course, but by ritualizing the writing process, I am making it part of my daily life. It becomes something that is natural and relaxing. I look forward to my short bursts of writing…and they are getting a bit longer most weeks. And, as the daily hits of this blog grow, I am finding more and more motivation to write. I hope you are enjoying the results!