Approximately every 15 minutes, it seems, Mosey (our basset hound puppy) needs something. To be picked up, to be put down, to be let outside, to be let inside . . . puppies are a great way to get your 10,000 steps a day in.
The thing is that my work – writing, reading, editing – requires some pretty good stretches of concentration to be done well. And if I really want to enjoy that work, I need even longer periods of time to drop in and disappear some. So, a puppy . . . well, he makes it challenging.
Thus, I am learning what parents have known from time immemorial – naps are golden gifts of life.
When Mosey (and then Meander) sleep, I work – head down, tabs closed, blinders on – when they are awake, I do other things – organize files, answer emails, stand in the yard and breath deeply. Those are all tasks I need to do, but now I’m having to adjust to do them at other times.
Honestly, this schedule of focused time alternated with short, brief tasks is really helping me get more work done. I used to think that I could just put down my head and power through for four hours at a stretch, but I can’t do that – I’m never sure I have been able to. As all those studies show, I really need to break up my day into chunks . . . a puppy is great for this work.
Even more importantly, though, Mosey’s presence here on the farm means that I am developing an easier grace toward interruptions in general. When someone wants to stop over during my work day, I’m easing my grip on that schedule. When a friend calls, I step away from the computer to talk.
(Be right back; Mosey just peed on the floor. I’m not kidding.)
Okay, so yeah, really all this boils down to is that I’m more deliberate with my writing time. I tuck in and do it when I can, and I give myself space to do other things when I cannot. That’s one piece of this.
I’m also learning to have more discipline. While I’m more gracious with myself and others when interruptions come, I’m also more structured about the boundaries on my own work. I’ve finally learned to shut down every other internet source while I write. I’m learned that I don’t need to know the instant a new email arrives, and overall, I only check Facebook and Twitter a couple times during the day. I feel remarkably free in a part of myself that has felt tied down – not lifted up – by connection.
The result is that I have just finished edits on my novel, I’ve made good progress on two book projects for clients, I’m investing myself more fully in the Painted Steps writers and the online writing community, and I feel so much better than I have for several months.
So while I could do without sopping up urine on a regular basis, I’m grateful for the gift of a chance to get my schedule in order and my heart, too.
How do you manage interruptions in your work time? How do you work to get solid blocks of time to do your work?
By the way, if you want to see pictures of the farm – especially the way Mosey got me COVERED in mud yesterday, check out our God’s Whisper Farm Facebook page.