- Family and loved ones (including my puppies and kitty)
- The [necessary aspects of my] career
- My writing
Housework no longer appears on the list. Neither do grocery shopping, Christmas cards, dusting (this is not housework, it's a form of torture), or anything else I really don't want to do. You see, the category of "Me" is both broad and vague. I get to decide what fits into it. I do admit that not everyone is pleased with my seemingly arbitrary categorization of what fits under "Me." Unfortunately [for them], I was a writer before I met them and they accepted the "side effects" of my writerly personality. I was not always this callous and selfish; becoming published created the monster. There's something about realizing my dream that made me want to repeat the performance--it helps me narrow my focus.
The third, and final, step is implementation. When I received a request for contract job in Boise, Idaho, I turned it down. I love teaching there--the people are terrific. But because of the fact that you can't get there from here (not directly, anyway), the trip will involve two days of travel for the one day of paid teaching. Since I've learned [the hard way] that I don't get ANY writing done on planes or in airports, not only am I losing time from my day job, I'm losing precious writing time.
One final bit of advice: E-mails, Facebook, blogs, and reading books (not necessarily in that order) are pursuits that can be as addictive as writing. I've learned to schedule these activities into my schedule. I permit myself either a set amount of time, or only certain times of the day, for their enjoyment. I own two businesses so, as my own boss, I can do whatever I want whenever I want. However, in order to take care of the number 2, 3, and 4 items on my Priority List, I do not allow myself to visit Facebook at work, nor do I check my personal or writing e-mails at the office. Take a guess at what's more enjoyable: insurance or Facebook? Insurance or e-mails from my friends/family? What, you're wondering, does that have to do with writing?
Well, you see, it goes like this: the longer I spend at the office, the less time I have at home for writing. If I kill half an hour fiddling around on Facebook or with my non-business e-mail, I'm responsible and professional enough to make up that time at the office. So who loses the half hour? Me? Nope--I'm still going to play with the dogs and cat, eat my dinner, and do the things at home that I want to do. It's my writing that suffers.
If my writing suffers, guess who else suffers? You've got it--everyone!
Seriously, figure out your priorities and be sure NOT to leave yourself off the list. Don't martyr yourself by eliminating the things you like to do (i.e. blogging, IMing, FB)--that's cruel and unusual punishment--make a date with yourself to do them. If other people are important enough to fit/schedule into your day, so are you. And so is your writing.
What are some of the ways you've found to narrow your focus? I'd love to hear them and I'm sure everyone else will too.