how to make time for writing when you have a busy schedule

In a perfect world you’d wake up in the early hours of the morning in your clean, well-lit apartment, a mild breeze blowing through the windows as your butler served up breakfast and read your notes from yesterday’s three hour writing workshop.

You’d slide into your robe and sip Irish breakfast tea as you contemplated the completion of your third novel, sighing a happy sigh of relief.

Oh, sorry—that’s just my perfect world.

Back to real life: you’re busy. Really busy. You’ve got freelance gigs or a full time job, bills to pay, a body to keep in shape, pets, needy friends, a messy kitchen counter, etc.

Writing isn’t easy, and it gets harder when your schedule fills up with the chaos of daily life. Sometimes it feels impossible to sit down and get some work done—but you know you have to.

Today we’re going to demystify a few ways super busy people get a ton of writing done, even when it feels impossible to stretch the clock any further.

It’s not rocket science! It just takes a fresh reality check, some planning, and perhaps a few apps.

1. Get honest with yourself about the hours at your disposal.

If you’re trying to become a full time writer but you’re currently doing the 9-5 (or just have a lot on your plate), you may only have a couple of hours to dedicate to writing each day.

If you try to cram in more than you literally have time for, discouragement and frustration will pounce.

Count up the hours you actually have, and don’t forget to subtract ample time for your basic self care routine, a decent meal, and quality time with the people—or things—you care about.

This will lessen your chances of burning out and create a more realistic schedule.

Try this: Plan your week and get literal about how much time you have. Put it on paper so you don’t accidentally overestimate the hours at your disposal.

Not happy with the numbers? Try eliminating unfulfilling or unnecessary things from your week to increase writing time.

2. There’s an app for that.

Are you wasting time on social media when you should be rattling away at that novel or editing your client’s new landing page?

Most of us are guilty of this. It’s hard to keep your head straight when we’re living in the age of instant gratification and constant distraction.

If you want to check yourself, track your activity with RescueTime to get hyper-aware of your habits. Sometimes just knowing it’s watching keeps me more focused!

There are more strict extensions that will block you from browsing the internet for up to eight hours at a time, and you can turn your computer into a writing machine with WriteRoom (Mac) or DarkRoom (Windows).

Try this: Download one of the apps or extensions above and work on a project you’ve been procrastinating on. Let us know in the comments if any of these methods help you get the words out.

3. Make writing irresistible.

Plenty of people find apps (like those above) helpful for time management… but others can’t “trick” themselves into being productive.

I’m one of those people, actually! I find that creating an optimal writing environment is more helpful when I need to prioritize writing.

There are a few ways I do this, from de-cluttering and cleaning my desk to putting on some ambient music and lighting a favorite candle. Timing also matters.

I know I get more writing done at night and early in the morning than in the middle of the day, so I try to plan around that.

Try this: Create your ideal writing environment and see if you naturally make more time for writing. Consider space, color, organization, music, aroma and timing. All of these things can make a huge difference!

4. Get back in touch with your purpose.

Why are you writing, and what are you trying to accomplish? No, seriously. Answer this question. What’s the point of your assignment?

If you’re writing a novel, is it to fulfill a greater dream of becoming a published fiction author?

If you’re writing blog posts for a client, are you doing so to work toward your dream of being a location independent blogger?

If you’re doing sales page copy, are you executing an incredible new sample for your portfolio and fostering an ongoing relationship with a business that needs your services?

Try to go beyond “because I have to get this sh*t done,” and get to the heart of why you’re writing in the first place. Remembering your “Why” can help bring you back to your center and get inspired again.

Try this: Write down the most immediate reason you’re writing this week. Dive deeper within that answer to reveal the result of completing the task, and what that means to you in the long term.

Once you’ve got your “Why”, pin it up on your wall in front of your desk and return to it over and over.

5. Use time hacks.

The internet is exploding with ideas on time management and “discovering” hidden time in your day. A few of my favorites are below:

  • When you’re expending tons of energy on minutiae, it’s impossible to produce high quality content. But do you really need to do everything yourself? Delegate tasks to a virtual assistant or contracted writers so you can focus on the good stuff.
  • Write a little each day. That novel might not get done if you try to write a chapter per week… but what if you instead focused on writing 500-1000 words each day? If that sounds like too much, just halve that. The trick is to do it each day so it becomes a habit.
  • Set alerts on your phone. When it’s writing time, it’s writing time.Once you go through your weekly schedule and decide which hours can be dedicated to writing, set alerts on your phone and calendar to pop up and keep you in check. Once you see them, everything else gets put on hold.
  • Try the pomodoro technique. This division and hyper-utilizing of time is popular with my biz mentors Jill & Josh.
  • Don’t waste a single minute. Commuting? Waiting for your food delivery or a friend who’s late to lunch? Bust out your phone or notebook and write.

Finally, don’t forget that you’re human!

You won’t always be motivated to write, and there will be days where you just can’t find it in you to stare at the word processor or pick up a pen. Those days are okay—we all have them.

Most of us have packed schedules and a hard time prioritizing our writing goals.

Sometimes you just have to step back from your work, take a breather, and go through this list again to experiment with new ways to get back into your writing groove.

How do you find time to write? Join the conversation in our free writers mastermind!

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Written by MC
Michelle Christina Larsen never met a palm tree she didn't like. A seasoned fashion copywriter and the founder of Day Job Optional, she loves making clothes, sipping strong coffee on rainy mornings and connecting with other writers in the DJO Writers Community. You'll find her reclining on a beach in the Caribbean, thrifting her way through Brooklyn or writing for her nearly 10-year-old lifestyle blog, Hey Mishka.

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