5 Tips for Balancing Writing and Work

I’m not a full-time writer.  This means the responsibilities of work often override the passions of writing.  In a world where there’s never enough time for everything, it’s easy to sideline passion.  After all, passion seldom pays the bills, and for some reason, my family tends to enjoy running water and electricity.

Fortunately, there are ways to ensure passion keeps its rightful place within our daily agenda.

Take a Nap Before Writing.

When I come home from work, I am mentally and physically fatigued.  It’s impossible to think about writing in that state, one where my head will barely sit on my shoulders, let alone spend another hour or two watching the cursor push across a white screen.  When work is the hardest, a little shut-eye can achieve miracles in writing productivity.  Take a 20-30 minute nap before delving into your latest project.  Your mind will be sharper, and your potential for productivity and creativity will skyrocket.

Stop Working When You Meet Your “Project Goal.”

I bring work home every day (and on weekends too).  I love my career, and I love the work involved; however, there comes a time when work must cease and other priorities must begin.  In my experience, it works best to set project goals for work rather than time goals (Time goals are difficult to maintain, and project goals produce more consistent results).  Just like setting a word count, you should determine the minimum number of projects or tasks you will complete before putting the work away and starting the creative writing process.

Write During the “Wait” Time.

There are times during the day when you’re waiting and doing nothing else.  This downtime could occur in the final minutes before a lunch break ends or even in the time you spend sitting in the car, waiting for someone else to run inside the gas station.  Ordinarily, we just pick up our phones and piddle around on Facebook (more on that later), but that time could be better spent writing a few notes or sentences on our next story idea.  Small moments add up to chunks of time, and time is the key to productive writing habits.

Don’t Waste Recreational Time.

After a long work week, it’s tempting to rush into the weekend with a wasteful attitude.  After all, you’ve likely spent the entirety of your week squeezing every possible second out of the clock, so why not throw caution to the wind when you’re on your own time?  This type of thinking is counterproductive, and when the weekend or the “day off” flies by, we’re back to work without a single word on the page.  Structure your free time like you structure your work time, and your productivity will increase.  Don’t spend the whole day on Netflix if you haven’t spent a single minute on the page.

Make Social Media a Reward.

Social media is the biggest time sink on the planet.  If you want to avoid both work and writing, just open Facebook, and stare into the abyss for a few hours.  Social media isn’t evil, but it does antagonize our productivity, especially when we’re already inundated with a laundry list of work and writing tasks to accomplish.  The solution is to use social media as a type of reward, not a readily available platform for idleness.  When you’re halfway to your word count, set a timer on your phone, and browse Twitter for ten minutes.  When you finish your word count, go nuts and bury your whole day in Facebook if the inclination strikes.  The trick is to reward yourself when the work is finished, not before.

Conclusion.

These days, it’s impossible to accomplish everything we want to do in the work world or in the writing world.  For that reason, we must strike a balance between our careers and our passions.  One should not give way to the other; rather, each should be mutual partners in fulfillment of the whole person.

Do you have tips for balancing work and writing?  If so, share them in the comments below.

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