Thursday, April 2, 2009

112 Hours

In just about every writing publication, website, blog or conversation with other writers, I can usually read or hear about the dilemma of not having enough time to devote to writing. I am guilty of this complaint as well. It seems that, if you are a freelancer, there just aren't enough hours in the day to allow you to set aside at least two or three to devote to work.

Frustrated and whining about this problem recently, I decided to sit down and calculate just how many hours I must spend on everyday, necessary tasks that keep me from accomplishing what I really want to do. I started with the number of hours in a week, 168, and subtracted 56 hours for sleeping (8 hours a day; I actually sleep 7 at night, but I nap for an hour each day); that left me with 112 hours for the purpose of my assessment.

112 hours; sounded like a lot. So, next came meals, both preparing and eating. I enjoy cooking, but I don't like any recipe that requires more than 30 minutes prep time. Multiply 3 hours by 7. So, there went 21 more hours, now down to 91.

Time spent showering, dressing and preparing to face the world each day I judged took about 45 minutes; I rounded it to an hour for easy subtraction. Again, times 7; I have 84.

Routine household tasks like vacuuming, dusting, mopping floors, doing laundry, etc. Since I'm not keen on housework, this is not a daily priority, so I worked out an average for the week of 15 hours. Then there were phone calls, mail and bill paying; 2 hours a day for those, and that included calls to my children which can eat up an hour or more easily. So, daily routine tasks equalled 29, reducing my total available hours to 55.

As regular readers know, I home school my two older grandsons, so I have to spend 2 hours a week on preparation, instruction and grading. Approximately 12 hours a week are spent babysitting my youngest grandson (that varies, so it's an average), and I included 5 hours for running errands, 3 hours for exercise, and 21 spent watching TV (mostly evenings). After adding that up - total of 43, I was left with 12 hours. Divide that by seven and see, only 1.7 hours a day to write!

But wait a minute; let's get real, here. Breakfast and lunch seldom take more than 30 minutes each, not an hour. And dinner on one or two nights is just heating up leftovers, so I knocked off 5 hours from that total. And I certainly don't clean house, do laundry, run errands or chatter on the phone every day, and, if we're being honest, I don't exercise every day, certainly not on weekends. When I deducted all those "in a perfect world" hours, I gained another 18 hours. Adding that to the 12 I originally calculated, and I had 30 hours.

It's rare for me to write on Saturday or Sunday; I devote those days to household projects, family, fun, church, relaxation - all the things that get pushed aside during my working week. So, if being truthful, I only need to divide that 30 hours by 5: there you go, six hours a day for writing! Whoo-hoo!

That easily gives me the three hours I spend creating, and another three to research, surf the Web for new markets and other writing info., send out queries, etc. So, if you're a writer, do the calculations. It doesn't take long and it's an eye-opener. The hours are what you make them. This isn't a lecture; just a fact.

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