Priorities Over Time

It’s really clear the most precious resource we all have is time. – Steve Jobs

Yesterday I had a day completely to myself, with no plans. I spent hours working on an essay I have been writing on and off for several weeks, trying to get it just right. I didn’t get it right yesterday. Sure, progress was made and words were written. Actually, more than two thousand words were written. I knew as I wrote them, most would be temporary and would not make it into the final version of the article. But, not wanting to lose out on a day of uninterrupted writing time I just kept writing, enjoying the hours at my computer lost in thought.

In the middle of the afternoon I took a break and visited Facebook. One of my online writer friends posted a comment about completing her writing work. I made a comment about not completing crochet because I have spent so much time trying to complete my writing. And then it dawned on me.

I miss crochet. I have sacrificed my time with yarn for time with words. I have made scant progress on the many partially completed crochet projects stuffed in bags throughout my apartment. I have not even started working with the sumptuous yarn I brought back from Tasmania.

Because I was unhappy with my writing progress, I started a time study to investigate how much time I spend each day on writing and how I might return to the hobby I love. The numbers shocked me. Although I know I have very little “me” time, I never realized how few hours are mine and mine alone.

24 hours x 7 days = 168 hours (keep this number in mind)

I manage 49 hours/week of my personal care. This includes time I spend in the shower, preparing and eating food, in the bathroom, etc. I work a minimum of 37.5 hours/week and spend a minimum of 5 hours/week commuting to and from my job. I am in bed for 8 hours/day or 56 hours/week. I will do the math for you: 142.5 hours of each week are accounted for.

This leaves me 25.5 hours of unobligated time – on a good week. Β Just a bit more than one complete day. When work obligations require me to work on the weekend or into the evening, I have even less.

Sure, there are moments during my 49 hours of personal care when I can make time for me. I can, and do, check social media while my Personal Assistant is braiding my hair. I often take my turn in Words with Friends while I’m eating. I respond to emails while supervising my Personal Assistant as she prepares my meals. I complete personal writing during my lunch break at work.

I have been so proud of my discipline at maintaining my daily writing habit (today is day 316). Until yesterday, I had not realized how much I had sacrificed my other creative endeavors to make this possible. I have not balanced my love for words with my love for yarn. And as the facilitator of our writing group said yesterday, “Writing at the expense of your relationships and responsibilities is not sustainable.” (Thanks Christine!)

I have pursued my writing without making time to maintain my other creative passions. I have committed myself to one activity at the expense of a hobby I love. My rekindled relationship with writing has damaged my long-term commitment to crochet. And that is not sustainable.

Today, I am publicly announcing a change in my time management, because if I tell all of you, you will become defacto accountability partners. I know you will because you have helped me remain faithful to my writing since September. Thanks in advance for your help.

Starting today, I am committing to carving out at least fifteen minutes each day for crochet. I manage to carve out thirty minutes each day for writing, so I will find at least 15 minutes of each day for crochet. Why fifteen minutes? It takes about fifteen minutes for me to complete two rows of a blanket, which is enough progress to make me feel a sense of accomplishment.

I have to recommit to crochet for another reason. After I finish writing the memoir about me and my sisters, I have to write a second book. The inspiration for this project came from my fellow writers Tonia, Roslynn and Stella. They know of my passion for yarn, and each of them made comments yesterday which helped me recognize the void in my life once filled by crochet. Tonia even went so far as to create a faux cover for the book, and gave me permission to share it at will.

Ladies – thank you for providing the encouragement I needed to set a new goal. I know I will learn important lessons from this new discipline. I promise to dedicate my second book (which Tonia has titled “Hooked”) to all of you.

Image of a crocheted tea set, complete with tea kettle, tea cups and saucers on a doiily. All items are made with pink yarn. Above the image is white text in a black box which reads "Hooked: a Writer's Guide to Completed Crochet by Denise DiNoto"
Full disclosure – I did not crochet these pieces! Image created by T. Hurst.

What about you? Have you sacrificed one passion for the sake of another? How did you make time for both? Share your experiences in the comments below!



16 thoughts on “Priorities Over Time

  1. Your post was an incredibly timely one for me. Like you, I love writing. But I realise almost all the projects large and small that I set myself on involve writing. And I love it. However I also like walking and I am hardly out of the house at the moment. I know its winter and cold, but … having read your post, and after looking at the gloriously sunny blue sky day outside, I really should move away from the computer and rug up and go for a stroll somewhere. I ought to. I should. I am fearful of doing the maths like you did because I know there is a massive imbalance in my life. But I do know my bottom is getting computer seat flatness and that’s not natural.


    • Doing the math was eye opening – and a bit shocking. I actually gave myself a pat on the back and said “Good on ya!” Because I really DO get quite a bit accomplished in those 25 hours. But I understand what you mean. I’m always better in warmer weather myself.


  2. I have no doubt that when you set a goal you do so with full intention of reaching it. I am sure you will find a way to squeeze those fifteen minutes in each day, and you will no doubt be glad for it. I have realized that I cannot sustain being involved in blogging daily. Since I started last September I have tried to read blogs faithfully every day. It is only within the past few weeks that I have given myself permission to step away a few days per week in order to focus on other things.


  3. Denise, I so relate to this. Since college (no kidding), I have packed my life with more than I can possibly manage.

    And still manage to add more to my plate.

    Life’s all about priorities. Started thinking about this much more often lately, as I notice the years speed by.

    Timely post. Well said. Thanks.

    And the faux book cover: fabulous!


    • I knew I was packing too much stuff into too little time, but never realized how little time! It’s truly time for me to prioritize what I spend those 25 hours doing. I need to focus on that which brings me fulfilment. I hope you do the same. I’m glad I connected with you through this post. And isn’t the cover great? Perhaps you can model a completed project πŸ™‚


  4. This is SO awesome! It’s really easy for gurus to say “get up earlier” or “eliminate something”…I’ve even said “If you want something bad enough, you’ll make time for it.” But you’ve shown that there *is* a limit to the time available, and there’s a point where you’re simply using it as efficiently as you can. You *have* to leave time for self-care and rest, and you do need to invest in the personal relationships that matter. You’re an inspiration!!!!!!!


    • Oh, thank you Christine. You are kind to say so. I have actually started to tune out the folks that say “Just get up an hour earlier.” They mean well, and for most people it is an option. But it is not an option for me. Most days, I’m happy to be getting out of bed to make it to work relatively on time – let alone getting up earlier! πŸ™‚ I do think setting realistic expectations is important. If I have 25 hours, it doesn’t make sense to spend 12 of them writing at the expense of other activities and people which bring me joy.

      I appreciate you taking part of your limited time to read and comment!


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