Monday, May 06, 2013
Making the most of the time
Just came across a long extract from William Barclay, on the subject ofwriting that I posted on one of my other blogs some time ago. There's some very good advice for writers in it, but one particular thing struck me afresh. He writes: My second rule is Keep Going. One of the greatest time-wasters, I find, is the habit we have of saying: 'I've only got twenty-five minutes. It's not worth starting.' But I find it is always worth starting. To return to John Wesley, he did most of his reading on horseback. [He also, according to Barclay, preached forty-two thousand sermons in fifty-three years, averaged four thousand five hundred miles per year in travel, and wrote or edited four hundred and fifty books.] It is amazing how much you can get done in the odd quarter-hour or half-hour. There is not one unit of time that cannot be used.
I think this is something worth noting, that we don’t use those odd minutes well. I used to be able to cope at a job in the Dunedin City Council where the phone would ring constantly, and you had to get on with your other work fitting around the phone calls. You learned to move from one thing to another without difficulty. It was somewhat the same at the bookshop: you’d be in the middle of something when a customer walked in. Drop one thing, take up another, and then come back to the first. Yet I was very productive in those days. At the National Mission office it used to annoy me when the person senior to me would interrupt my work, especially if it meant putting something aside completely; but in fact it was no different a matter than in those other places.
These days it's not a matter of interruption so much as of making the most of the odd minutes I do have (yes, retired people can be surprisingly busy in a day!) Some piece of creative work can be moved forward a paragraph or two in quarter of an hour - it's not the same as getting a sustained period of time, but it's still of value. The thing is to do that rather than flitting through Facebook or Twitter or something else. Or writing blog posts about doing it.