A Guest Blog by Kimberly Napoli
One of the big keys to managing our time effectively is to be able to estimate how long tasks take to accomplish. The real trick is anticipating the Hidden Time Costs (HTC), the time spent on unanticipated tasks related to an activity. It’s tricky because sometimes you don’t see them till it’s too late. Then you need to be secure enough in your routines and habits to make adjustments.
When I was reading the Sept. 12th post by Shonna Slayton I was reminded of my current battle with Hidden Time Costs.
My husband wanted to get a dog for our son. I insisted on certain criteria; after all I knew in the end I would be taking care of the dog my son got to play with. I really was trying to think conscientiously about my time and how much of it I could give.
The dog had to like walks, but not need walks. Enjoy playing but prefer sleeping. Be big enough to not need bathroom breaks every three hours but small enough to be happy in my 800 sq. ft. home. Basically I want the doggie version of ME.
We found an English bulldog named Goose. I fell in love, but hid it well. I may write fantasy, but I live in reality. I asked lots of questions. He smelled funny but he was one of 12 dogs in the house; everything smelled funny. I loved him. More importantly, he loved me. I was his goddess.
Spoiler alert – major HTC about to hit me. That funny smell was a skin infection covering his whole body. He would need a lot of long term medicated grooming.
In the spirit of time management I timed it from beginning to end. ONE HOUR a day, every day. My routine was going to need tweaking. I didn’t panic, much. I had a routine and that meant I had something to tweak. Imagine no routine, just adding chaos to chaos. Or not recognizing this Hidden Time Cost and just doing it not knowing why my day was overwhelming.
Your writing is full of these HTCs. Hypothetically: When you first started you thought, I am going to set aside an hour a day and write. Then you started researching craft issues and reading articles. You discovered writing groups, the groups promoted online classes, your favorite classes were with a local chapter and if you joined you could make other writer friends, hear great speakers, and get a discount on the online classes. You loved you new friends, and when they asked you to volunteer you couldn’t say no. Does some of this sound familiar? Weren’t you only spending an hour a day writing? These Hidden Time Costs can cost you more than you planned. Now what?
If you have a routine, know what your priorities are, and how you spend your time it’s easier to evaluate your situation and adjust accordingly. If you are struggling with this issue or would like to share how you battled Hidden Time Costs, leave a comment. Let’s get a discussion started.
Best to you,
Online Class Instructor on Productivity and Organization
If you want a more in-depth look at this topic and others like it, check out my November online class “Get It Together- Write Now! Managing the Time to Write” offered by the Orange County Chapter of RWA.