Balancing Work, Home Life & Writing
Especially now, in 2021, we all juggle so many hats from parent to spouse to chauffer to maid to employee and even substitute teacher. And for those of us who are authors, that’s just one more hat to juggle. So, how on earth are we supposed to not only manage all the things we have to do every day, as well as follow all those rules about staying on track with our writing?
There are actually two parts to my solution to this problem.
One, it’s essential to have a home office area/writing space that is clean, organized, distraction free, and conducive to your creative flow.
And two, you must create a writing schedule for yourself and find ways to stick to it the best you can.
Experts say it takes 4-6 weeks to create a habit. And I totally agree. So, the sooner you get started on these two important tasks, the sooner you can decrease stress (at least a little) and make sure you have plenty of time to devote to your book each week.
Part 1 – Set Up Your Writing Space
Let’s start by briefly discussing how you can create that perfect home office. Unless you are just living in the tiniest one-bedroom apartment or a dorm room, there’s always a way to carve out a small section of your living space to devote to your work/writing life. Heck, even if you are living in a “tiny house,” there are still ways you can have a portable workstation you can tuck out of the way until you need it. But for the sake of this article, let’s assume you have at least one corner of one room you can devote to your workspace.
~ Set it Up
You need to first cordon off a corner, a half, or even an entire room, and clean it until it sparkles. Need tips or inspiration on cleaning? There’s actually an entire community of folks on Tik Tok who post and love watching videos of people doing nothing but cleaning every inch of their space. Just hop over there and search the hashtag #cleantok. Your mind will be blown by some of their hacks.
Once it’s clean, set up your space with the basic essentials every home worker and writer needs: a sleek, not-too-bulky computer desk, a comfortable and ergonomic desk chair, and of course, your PC or laptop. And again, even if you have limited space, there are solutions for even these basic needs that typically take up so much room. Check out this floating, wall-mounted computer desk that folds up when not in use to save space, available now at Modern Boss Boutique!
~ Fill with Essentials
Now that you have your basic needs set up, it’s time to fill your office with all the home office essentials you might need on a daily basis to make your work life easier and your days more productive. Make a list of everything you would need the next time you sit down to work. This is an easy way to NOT forget something important. Some of the most common supplies and products you’ll need include pen cups, pens, highlighters, note pads, sticky notes, calculator, notebooks, and even a charging dock for your phone so it’s charging and handy all day. And guess what? At Modern Boss Boutique, we have almost all of those essentials. However, we don’t stock boring yellow sticky notes or standard blue ink pens. Instead, we update our inventory regularly with modern, unique, and trendy home office supplies. For example, check out these adorable sticky notes that come in a variety of colorful scenes.
~ Store & Organize!
Okay. So, you have all the essentials you need…for now. Now, it’s important to start your home office design off on the right foot and keep it organized and clutter-free from day one. This will help eliminate that overwhelming, stressful feeling we all get when things are all over the place and we can’t find anything. Proper organization and storage can also make more space for you to write! At Modern Boss Boutique, we stock dozens of products to help you keep your desk free of clutter, safe, and productive. Check out this cable cord organization box that keeps all your computer cords, phone cords, printer cords, and power cables neatly organized and hidden so you no longer have to suffer staring at a tangle mess of cables. Not to mention, it helps reduce the risk of sparks that lead to fires!
~ Make it Your Own!
Last but certainly not least, you want to make your writing space all your own. Who wants to spend the majority of their days (and nights) sitting in a space that feels like you’re back at the office stuck behind a cubicle? Ew. No! Instead, find ways to spruce it up a bit, give it your own personal touch, and create the perfect ambience to allow your creative juices to flow. In our shop, we have an entire collection devoted to this, including modern lamps, aroma therapy diffusers, desktop décor, and other products that match your own personal style. But our absolute favorite ambience creating doodad is this Himalayan rock salt lamp AND aroma therapy diffuser AND humidifier all in one!
Part 2 – Set a Writing Schedule
Part two of this solution, as mentioned, involves creating and maintaining a writing schedule that is not just manageable but conducive to your creativity. And I’m about to break my own personal rule here to help you do that. I typically never share my super top secret coaching tips with anyone other than my coaching clients. But in this article, anyone who reads this is going to benefit from what you’d normally get from a one-hour coaching session with yours truly (in part). You ready? Here goes.
First, pick FIVE weekdays that work best in your schedule that allow you to have less distraction and more quiet time. It doesn’t have to be five consecutive days, but it should be consistent each week. Don’t pick days you know are typically jam packed with soccer practice, heavy homework nights, choir practice, or yoga class.
Then, decide on the best time of day for you to write. In your experience, have you found it’s easier to write late at night after the kids go to bed? Or maybe you do better if you can make yourself get up and start your day an hour or two earlier before they wake up. Of course, some people either don’t have kids or their kids are older, so they prefer to write in the middle of the day when things seem to be quieter and calmer while the hubby’s at work and after housework is done. Whatever is best, this is going to be your new writing period.
Next, don’t just write down these dates and times, but BLOCK them on a weekly calendar or in a planner. Blocking is when you literally section off 30 – 60 minute sections of your calendar and color code them so they seem more set in stone and so you can tell with a quick glance which blocks are for writing, for work, or other home chores. You can do this time blocking in your planner (digital or printed), or you can simply visit Modern Boss Boutique and grab our weekly planner that lies flat on your desktop and has plenty of room for you to schedule and block your time. You can even use some of our sticky notes for planners to add some color to it!
How to Use & Stick to Your Writing Schedule
Now that you have chosen your 5 days to write and the best writing times, you can start putting it to practice right away. It often helps to set a reminder on our phone or computer or even to set an alarm so you never miss your sessions. But once you get to your desk and sit down to write, make sure to turn off all distractions and let your family know you will be busy for at least thirty minutes. Turn the notifications off on your phone and computer. Turn the volume down or off on your phone ringer. Turn off the television, radio, or other distracting noises. The only exception will be for those who can actually write to a playlist. I can’t do it. But I know a lot of authors do, so if you choose to do this, use noise cancelling earbuds, like those found on our website, to only have the light music playing while you write and block out all background noises.
This is the most important part. Right when you are completely ready to begin writing, set a thirty minute timer. I want you to try your best to write for no less than thirty minutes. If you’re stuck on your WIP, then write something else. Write about your bucket list, your first true love, your idea vacation, anything. Just…write. Eventually, writing will become a habit (in a good way), and you’ll get back into the flow and you’ll even likely get reinspired to pick up where you got stuck in your manuscript. Then, when the timer goes off at 30 minutes, if you still feel like writing, set another 30 minute timer, and so on until you reach 1-2 hours. Believe it or not, at Modern Boss Boutique, we even have timers to help you with this part! In fact, we currently have two options: you can go old-school with these sand hourglasses in multiple colors, or you can go more modern with this brand new digital timer.
Note: A lot of people like using the Pomodoro technique when writing, which is where you write 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, then 25 minutes, and break…I personally don’t find that helps me. But if you prefer this method, you can still use every other part of my writing schedule, as well as the products I’ve highlighted.
Lastly, I want to explain why I try to limit my writing and my clients’ writing schedules to 5 days a week and 2 hours a day. This amount of writing is more than enough to accomplish your goals and stay on track for deadlines. And if you do have a busy work/home life, you’ll find it’s actually quite a bit of writing time. However, I limit writing time simply because writing should never wind up feeling like a chore. It should always feel like a passion…something we enjoy doing and look forward to on writing days. Also, and this is super important, while writing is something we all do for ourselves, and it needs to be a priority, it should never come above things that are truly more important. Your spouse and children, your own personal mental wellbeing and health, and your God (or whatever higher authority you believe in), should always come first. But only after these things, writing should absolutely be your very next highest priority.
Remember…procrastination is not done to us. We do it to ourselves. It’s an active choice we make to set our writing aside, whether it’s out of fear, intimidation, worry, or any other writerly feels you may experience.
So, don’t procrastinate. Instead, create your own writing space, set up your writing schedule using the tools we have for you on Modern Boss Boutique, and stick to it. Before you know it, you’ll be finished writing your best book.