Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My secret time management weapon

by Maria Geraci


Recently, I was interviewed by Nurseweek magazine for an upcoming article. The theme of the article? How I juggle my two careers. Like most published authors, I have a second job, or as I like to put it, the job that actually pays the bills. My income as an author is just too shaky at this point to quit my day job (or in my case, my night job). You see, for almost 28 years I've worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse. A job that I still to this day love, and will probably continue in some capacity until the day I retire.

Is it difficult working two jobs? You bet. But it's also incredibly rewarding. Eleven years ago I began writing because there was a creative void in my life. Today, that void is filled, and while there are times I find myself daydreaming of owning a house on the beach and writing full time, I've also discovered that the nursing part of my life makes me a more complete person. Writing is a solitary profession. Nursing, on the other hand, is an intimate profession. You engage with others at a time in their lives when emotions are high. Nursing helps me fill what I like to call my "creative well". No man (or woman) is an island. And neither is any writer. In order to write well, we have to be active participants in life.

So...how do I work 2 jobs and stay sane? Some days it's not easy and a lot of days I simply have to admit to myself that I can't do everything I'd like. But to quote someone (not sure who, but they knew what they were talking about) you always find time to do the things you really want. Over the years I've found a simple management tool that's allowed me keep all my juggling balls in the air and I don't have to go far to find it because it's in my kitchen. Yep, you probably guessed it. It's my kitchen timer.

The first time I thought about using a timer to help me write was while reading cleaning tips from The Fly Lady, who has all kinds of theories about how much you can do in 15 minutes. While 15 minutes might not seem like a long time, it's long enough to spot clean your kitchen, or in my case, write 3 sentences. And for me, 3 sentences is the magic formula that gets my brain flowing and puts me into my story. Three sentences here and three sentences there, and soon, I have a scene. Most days, if I'm off from work, I try to write in 1 hour increments, using my timer as an absolute. As in, I will absolutely not get off my arse until my timer goes off. One hour is my max concentration time. After that, my fingers tend to wander towards the computer keys that will take me to Facebook or email, but I figure I can do anything for an hour.

How about you? Any secret
 time management tips you'd like to share?



Maria Geraci was born in Havana, Cuba, and raised on Florida’s Space Coast. Her love of books started with the classic, Little Women (a book she read so often growing up, she could probably quote). She writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction with a happy ending. Her fourth novel, A Girl Like You, was released last August by Berkley, Penguin, USA. You can connect with Maria by visiting her website, www.mariageraci.com






16 comments:

  1. Maria
    I too do the job juggling act and I too am a timer junkie...hmm wonder if there is some sort of correlation. I use my timer to keep me honest about just how long I spent writing as well as to keep me focused on the task.
    Great post!
    Maggie

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    1. Thanks, Maggie. I have to say I'm awfully addicted to that little time :)

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  2. Maria, Have I mentioned lately that you are my hero?? I could NEVER work a job that requires so much responsibility AND write a book. Alas, multitasking will never be my strong suit! I'm definitely more the type to rely on an hourglass... then, of course, I'd just cheat and flip it over! (-;

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    1. Oh, Laura, I've been tempted to cheat with that timer too ;)

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  3. Wow, Maria, I didn't realize you were a labor and delivery nurse! How amazing!!

    I like the 15 minute idea! I might have to bust out the kitchen timer and see how I do!

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    1. I love the 15 minute thing when I simply don't have enough time to write. Totally keeps my head in the story :)

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  4. I want to be a FlyLady--it seems like it makes so much sense--which is probably why it doesn't happen. I stumbled on the Pomodoro technique, which is basically the timing idea. It does, like Maggie said, help keep me honest.

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    1. I'll have to check that out, Christa. Thanks for commenting :)

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  5. Maria, you are so inspiring! And you're right about the "day job" keeping one grounded and connected to society at large.

    Going to set my kitchen timer now. :)

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  6. I'm into timer's too. Thanks for an inspiring post.

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  7. Maria,
    I think there's something really helpful about that timer since so many of us have come use it ;). For me, it helps me get started. I know I've found my writing stride when I keep going, even after the timer dings!
    As for your wonderful, demanding, amazing "other" profession...I *adored* my Labor and Delivery nurses. I think they're incredible people, and I know your warm personality and that you are certainly beloved by your patients, too. xo

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  8. Great suggestion--I will try this!

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