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. ┬áJust 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!