I have a lot going on at the moment, in my writing life and in real life. Yes, I do see a distinct separation between the two lives, even though one tends to muddy up the other from time to time.
When I’m writing, I’m a writer. I put on my writerly cloak and think writerly thoughts. That’s my plan for today.
When I’m doing real life stuff, I forget all about the writing part and get crazy. Yesterday, for instance, I mopped the kitchen floor, took a nap, spent quite a bit of time texting with my darling niece, and watched our local college team Colorado State University lose in overtime to University of Colorado in the Rocky Mountain Showdown. And I paid a lot of attention to Katie Cat because she’s very demanding.
When I’m being a writer, I’m also being a blogger and social media junkie. My husband often comments on the number of tabs I usually have open when I’m at my computer. There’s email, this blog, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers blog, a Google calendar, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and sometimes Goodreads and amazon.com.
And I subscribe to a number of blogs that I follow regularly.
So….when I read Leo Babauta’s post this week on Zen Habits, I felt he might be talking directly to me. The post is called “I’m Returning to Single-Tasking.” In the first of six excellent points, Leo says he’s going to have only one tab open at a time. Multi-tasking is out the window. Single-tasking is in.
For me, this is an amazing new concept. How about you? What are your browser tab habits?
Lately I’ve been pretty busy, and the one thing that always gets sacrified is reading time. I started The Road to Character by David Brooks, but I had it checked out from the library on Overdrive and didn’t get it finished before it was automatically returned. I brought home a whole stack of new books from the Colorado Gold Conference to add the the piles of books I already have at home. I just read two short pieces from local author Kay Theodoratus, one ghostly mystery with a charming main character (The Ghost in the Closet), and the other a fantasy tale (Vengeance). I like them both and will get the reviews up soon. Tackling anything longer at the moment probably is not in the cards.
Anyway, back to my plan for today. A little bit of time outside, including to harvest some of my grapes. Making and baking meat loaf to put in the freezer. And working on the rewrites and revisions of one of my manuscripts. Taking Leo Babauta’s advice to heart, I vow to stop working on multiple projects at the same time. I’m prioritizing, and will focus on one. Just one.
Tell me something about your writing habits. Do you muddle about with more than one project at a time? Or do you focus on just one and get it finished before you move on to another?
Sarah Reichert says
Oh, Pat! It’s like you’re speaking to my heart. I often get so split apart in all of my to-do’s in the day that I don’t do any of them very well or efficiently. Thank you for the post. It’s so easy to try to squeeze one more thing into the moment, at the cost of really being present. Thank you for the post! Your Kittie Kat is so adorable. Cute cats can be the worst distraction 🙂
Hi Sarah! That adorable cat has now decided the most comfortable napping spot in the house is the cushion on my office chair. She protests when I try to move her, so I’ve been lifting cushion and cat together and placing them on my desk. Meanwhile, I sit on the chair with no cushion. Adorable, indeed.
Susan Gourley says
I usually have a number of tabs open but I know I won’t be getting much done. I’ve gotten better at mixing my two lives but doing some writing and then getting off my butt to do some chores or exercise. It breaks up the number of hours I sit.
It’s very important to take those breaks to move around, even if it’s to do housework. We also bought a recumbent exercise bike and it sits in front of the television. I pedal to Game of Thrones these days but am almost caught up so I can shift to watching Season 4 of Longmire. For me, those television breaks are also important. 😀
margot Kinberg says
Thanks for sharing what the writing life is like for you, Pat. I have to admit, I am guilty of having a lot of browser tabs open at once. I honestly don’t go to all of them all of the time, but they are there. Perhaps I ought to school myself to pare that down. Hmm……
Margot, I feel good today because I only have eight tabs open at the moment. Maybe if I try to open one less each day, I won’t suffer from browser tab withdrawal.
Elle Carter Neal says
I currently have 483 tabs open, because I tell Firefox to store them from session to session. Clearly I just never get around to reading everything I intend to :-/ Eventually my system crashes or I actively decide to close them all and start again. I’m also attempting to write multiple books at once, along with editing two different works. Single-tasking… I wouldn’t even know where to start 😉
Hi Elle, thanks for coming over. 483 tabs? I would never catch up. Even with my multiple tab problem, I still close everything at the end of a day. If I’ve opened a blog post to read and don’t get to it, it’s gone. Single-tasking may be impossible for some of us, but controlled multi-tasking might be a good alternative to…483 tabs? I cringe at the thought.
Roland Yeomans says
I’ve read scientific studies where multi-tasking is a myth. We only do one thing at a time really but trying to do multiple things one right after after quickly just diminishes how well we do any of them. Life is a harsh mistress, and sometimes trying to find room for our dreams in the avalanche of duties seems like Mission Impossible … but without the stunt doubles! Great post.
Thanks for coming by, Roland. I love the comparison to Mission Impossible. A stunt double is what I needed last week. She didn’t show up, and that’s why I’m at my computer this late on a Sunday evening.
Dean K Miller says
I am task-saturated at the moment, nearly to the point of paralyzed by it all. As I weed through the overgrowth of writing commitments, I intend to scale back, pursue one or two projects at most and get back to the joy of putting words to paper.
You are so right, Dean. When we overload ourselves, we take all the joy out of what we do. Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies.
Susan Spann says
I swap back and forth between multitasking and single=tasking, but when I’m writing, I work on only one book at a time. I find it hard to maintain the different writing voices when I try to do more than one at once.
That’s a good point, Susan, especially if the stories are very different as mine are. My contemporary middle class cop must not sound like my 1830s Kickapoo Indian. 😀
L. Diane Wolfe says
I finally found my way to your new site. I’ll add to to my list so I don’t miss it again.
When I multi-task, I don’t seem to get as much done as when I focus on just one thing.
Hi Diane — I’m glad you found me. I’m gradually re-connecting with old friends.
Allan Emerson says
I suspect multi-tasking how you get so much done, Patricia.
I’d prefer to concentrate on one thing at a time, but sometimes it seems necessary to juggle several things at once. That’s when I multi-task, sometimes with dire results for one of the things I’m trying to keep moving.
I agree that prioritizing is the key to keep from feeling overwhelmed. (And trying not to think about all the stuff that needs to be done.)
Yes, that fretting about the stuff not getting done is what slows me down. Focus! I must remind myself how good it feels to focus on one thing at time.
Alex J. Cavanaugh says
I think it’s easier for men to focus on one thing at a time. I do multi-task at my job – I’m either working and blogging or working and watching a movie.
As for tabs, I use Feedly, so there’s always two open when I’ve blog reading.
Now, go enjoy some grape picking!
The grapes aren’t very sweet this year, Alex, but should still be good for making a batch of jam. That will keep me out of trouble (and off the computer) for at least one day.