Back in 2012 I did my first writing project with my May Days Facebook group. I started calling setting aside big blocks of time like this for particular writing activities...ah...set- aside time. I've written about it a few times here over the years. In fact, just this past August I wrote about this issue in relation to an article by Anne Marie O'Connor in which she referred to set-aside times as "concentrated blocks of time." I was hopeful organizing time in that way could help writers slow down and become more productive.
Well, my group gets together every October, too, so I have started a new set-aside period for working on one of my goals for this year, the "YA thriller that could become an adult thriller." Since I'm now thinking in terms of chaos, I'm hoping set-asides will be useful for that, too.
Why Set-Aside Times Could Slow You Down
To quote me: "Sometimes you have to juggle multiple projects--editing one thing while submitting another or marketing still something else. But finding blocks of time you can dedicate to just one thing slows you down, because you're not racing to work on multiple tasks. And that can increase productivity, because you can see some work getting done."
Why Set-Aside Times Could Manage Chaos
Organizing time like this could also help with managing the chaos of our lives long enough to do something. Mainly because we're only trying to do the something for a specific, and relatively short, period of time. Looking forward to our future, which we, of course, expect to go on forever, it's hard to get a handle on controlling things, because will power and self-discipline are finite. And time management is situational. We can't foresee what situations are going to arise over the next year or multiple years that will have an impact on how we are able to spend our time. Did you see the 2020 Pandemic coming? I rest my case.
But shorter periods of time are much easier to deal with chaos-wise. We can make a good guess about what's going to happen in the next month and plan for it. We have a good chance of extending our will power that long. Or maybe we can do it for a week? Or a long weekend?
Can Set-Asides Counteract Chaos?
I've actually signed up for a 5-day mindfulness event this week. Because:
- Yeah. I am chaos. What could possibly go wrong with doing two set-aside activities at once? What? You say two simultaneous set-asides contradicts the whole issue of dedicating your time and energy to one thing? Won't that cause chaos? Those of us who are chaos just grab for the gusto.
- The mindfulness event is short. It's 5 days. I'm not planning some big mindfulness activity for the rest of my life. Talk about looking for trouble.
So my hope is that the shortness of this new event will counteract my running toward chaos with arms wide open.
Because when struggling with chaos, my thought is less is always going to be more.