Monday, February 28, 2011

People Suck . . . All Your Time, If You Let Them

I have discovered the secret to the biggest hindrance to work-at-home types (including homeschoolers):


That's it. That's the biggest problem: People who are time-suckers.

Back when I was homeschooling, I'd get lots of requests: watch my kids, water my plants, pick up so-and-so at the airport . . . if I had a nickel for every favor people asked of me, I could buy myself an island and get away from these people.

You may be saying, "Wow. What a kind and generous person Brenda must be, how giving, that these people know they can come to her for help."

Um . . . no.

The reason all these people came to me for help was because "I had nothing better to do." See, all I did all day was sit around while my kids read books. I mean, that's all homeschoolers do, right?

And when I started writing? Same thing.

Since I don't have a 9 to 5 job, I'm just sitting home, eating bon-bons and watching Law & Order all day. I mean, how much work can writing REALLY be? I just sit around and make up stuff, take a few minutes to jot it down, and then drop it in an envelope. And sometimes people even PAY me for this. Being a writer is living the life of Riley, right? That means I should have 23 1/2 hours leftover every day to take care of everyone else's little errands.

Now, I'm not talking about the important stuff. Time for significant others, time for kids, time driving your elderly mom to the doctor . . . those are important things. I'm talking about all the little irrelevant things that people ask you to do because they don't think you're time has value. Because that's what it really comes down to. A good way to tell the difference is to ask yourself this question:

"If I had a job making twenty bucks an hour, would I skip work to accomplish the task that's being asked of me?"

If the answer is yes, then obviously the task is important enough to give up your time. If the answer is no, then it's a task that isn't worth the value of your time, and you should just say NO! I know it's hard, but you have to. If you try to please everyone else, you'll never please yourself. And then the precious writing time you've set aside for yourself will end up frittered away.

Last week, this quote showed up in my Twitterfeed:
@AdviceToWriters "Leave the dishes unwashed and the demands on your time unanswered. Be ruthless and refuse to do what people ask of you. LYNNE SHARON SCHWARTZ

Words for writers to live by!

What about you? Have you been able to draw a line in the sand with those around you?

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