Tammy's Terrible Ts (part 1)

Or perhaps they’re terrific. I’ll let you decide. For me, they’re terrible. Why? Because my coworker just quit on the cusp of the busy season and he was the designated balancer and poster of cash drawers, retail sales and charge sales, along with the filer of such nonsense, which means I assume all his loathsome work until such time as a suitable victim may be procured.

I did not get the day after Thanksgiving off, and therefore, did not make turkey enchiladas or complete the Christmas mail out. I spent inordinate hours mucking out the basement this weekend whilst the head of house was gone (and remember, I’m ever so pinned between a two-year-old and his parental units, a basement millennial, and that problematic 90-year-old who owns the roof but can’t remember that orange juice doesn’t go on cereal and wicks can’t be lit on electric stoves). Oh, and it snowed today. And not the frothy Hallmark Christmas stuff. This was the dozens of cars off the road, 40-mile-an-hour, and it took me over an hour to get to work stuff.

When my editor reminded me of my blogly obligations due um…now? I almost cried.

You see, I am struggling to manage the first of my terrible T’s and that is – Time.

Here’s the deal. We all only get 24 hours in a day. This we can plan on. Unfortunately, we are not promised tomorrow, so those 24 hours become more and more precious the closer we get to collecting social security. Unless you’re me. I’ll still be working.

I digress.

The other evil they don’t tell you in school is that once you are out there on your own and independent, you’re still not your own boss. Unless you own your own company. And if you do, you aren’t reading this because you don’t have time. So unless you’re indigent or independently wealthy, part of those 24 hours will be spent procuring funds so you can have a bed, transportation, food and all that other stuff that makes life livable.

So now you have 16 hours to do what you want, cuz you’re grown. Unless you’re me. My job requires 9.5 hours a day. So I have 14.5 left. Let’s add my commute shall we, because if you work outside your home, travel happens. So there’s another 1.5 hours of my day, and its highway miles so multitasking is not an option. So now, I have 13. Gotta sleep, right? Now I have 6 hours. We eat as a family, so now its 5 hours. But wait. What about getting ready for work, getting lunch packed clothes out etc.? 1.5 hours? Now I have 3.5 hours a day. Free time, right? Divide it up amongst the myriad other things my family might need (toddlers and those with dementia have little concept of time – or their impingement on yours), extra work I take on because I have bills to pay… but wait! There’s the weekend! Oh yes, that’s when I have time to pay those bills, balance my checkbook, clean the basement, cook something. Go to my house of worship. Buy groceries. Squeeze in a cry and an extra five minutes in the shower…

I know, It sounds like a diatribe, a list of whiny crybaby problems. It’s not.

Perhaps your life is even busier. And yet there is that burn to write. And you reach the end of your day with nothing on the page and an ache in your heart. That’s why my first T—time—is terrible. Because it is limited, and in order to write, you must sacrifice the time you would spend on something else so that you can spend it on writing.

Personally, I rarely cut my toenails. I hardly ever dry my hair. I inhale most of my meals. Who has time to chew, really? And during one of the most challenging times of my life, I am wrapping up a novel. At least the first draft. All I really had left to sacrifice was my Netflix binge time and Pokémon Go.

But I only have 24 hours in the day, and I am a writer. Besides. Who really needs a shiny Pickachu? So the next time you are faced with a lack of time, put some math to it. Jot down just how you carve up your allotted 24 hours. Then consider what you can do without. And if you’re spending 3.5 hours inert, binging on Netflix – your solution is only as far away as your remote. Time is not the enemy. You are.

Tammy Boehm, Associate Editor