Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Alcoholics Anonymous, Holy Grails, and Control Freaks

I talk a lot about prioritizing time here, especially writing time. Sometimes I practice what I preach, sometimes I don’t. The truth is, I’m a control freak. I’m getting better the older I get, but I’m still looking for the ever-illusive way to manage and balance my time, money, and weight/fitness. To me, being able to control these three aspects of my life is like the Holy Grail of a balanced life. And being as it is a Holy Grail, I’ll probably never achieve it. But if it exists, I think maybe… a huge MAYBE… the Grail is kept at Alcoholics Anonymous.

Though, I’ve never been a drinker—as in I don’t drink—I admire their philosophies. They apply well to managing time (especially writing time), weight control, exercise, and money.

Modifying some of their steps, I’ve come up with a few of my own…
1. Admit there’s room for improvement.
Books (and any large projects, for that matter) are created in those stolen moments of time. Sure we wish we all had big blocks of time, but the surprising progress is made in the 15-30 minutes we chisel away at the rough-cut stone. The same thing could be applied for finding time to exercise. Spend sometime evaluating where in your life you can spare fifteen to twenty-five minutes, with five more left for mental preparation to move on to the next thing in your day. (Another tip: As you list how you spend your days, especially identify the areas you consider time wasters. These are golden opportunities for carving out time for more important things.)
2. Write an inventory of the reasons why you are tempted to “waste” time/not write/not exercise/eat too much or unhealthily/spend too much money. These reasons may seem big or trivial.
3. Open your heart. Be ready to improve.
4. Make a list or a chart of accountability. How much time are you really spending on writing? Exercising? Shopping? How many calories are you eating? How much money are you spending? There is great power in a written report of our doings.
5. Practice self-control. Then give yourself little rewards for the restraint and courage you’ve showed.
6. The above all said, if being too regimented is sucking the fun out of you, then don’t it. There is a happy medium for every person and if looking back and seeing how much you’ve accomplished doesn’t outweigh the drudgery of accounting for your time, then something must change. Account for activities weekly instead of daily. Or if nothing else, run through a mental check of your doings at the end of the day. Doing some accounting will improve your productivity better than doing none.

As I have said, I’m no expert at managing time for writing/exercise/blogging. (Obviously—I’ve neglected blogging most of the summer!) For sure I can’t balance a budget to save my over-indulgent life. But I’m trying! And if you’re too, I hope my take on AA has given you some ideas of your own to help you.

P. S. Notice I’m only to Step 6… haven’t made it any farther in my own program… lol.

Q4U: Anyone have great time or money management techniques they’d like to share? I would love to hear your ideas!


  1. nothing to say to help, but i understand being a control freak. my current situation is making me let go of that a little.

  2. Hi Jackee! Thanks for this post. I also have problems managing time. With only 24 hours and 12-18 hours I usually have to divide looking after the family, doing the household chores and writing plus blogging, I don't think I've got enough!

  3. Great post Jackee! It's SO hard to balance everything. I'm a control freak too - it helps in my job and keeping the books balanced, but sometimes it makes me slip a bit in the health department too. We'll just keeping working on it!!

  4. Wonderful post, Jackee! One thing I do to stay on budget is only buy things if I absolutely love them. I also operate on cash rather than a credit card or checks. I do use a credit card, but only for gas and big items.

  5. Hi Jackee!! Great to see you here in blogland!!

    Money management - I always buy a season in advance - so winter shoes on sale in summer, summer shoes on sale in winter! :-)

    Time management - I have and am and pm schedule. I make myself to things either on the am or pm but all must be done by then! I hope that makes sense. It makes sense to me! LOL!

    I love your 6 Step Programme - esp the rewards system and not being too regimented!! Thank you!! Take care

  6. I'm absolutely the worst at time and weight management. The only time I get disciplined is during NaNoWriMo or some other big-time deadline (and those only work short term - the longest I've had success with Weight Watchers was 6 weeks!) Good thing I don't drink either because I'd be the worst alcoholic ever!!!

  7. Great suggestions. I'm a huge believer in the twelve steps, and I like your modifications. It can be hard to admit that certain activities are just a waste and cut them out, but it's so worth it!

  8. HiJackee! I'm so-so on time management and sticking to a budget, so no help here. I work at it one day at a time.

  9. Clever post! Also it's nice to meet another writer who doesn't drink.

    #1 is very important!

  10. I think my money management tip works for time, too:

    Beware of the little things.

    That cup of coffee every morning adds up at the end of the year. That TV show or internet surfing adds up too.

    Good luck!

  11. Money management? I pay bills as soon as I get them. Just like with balancing the checkbook, I'm a panster with all aspects of life. I write best in morning, so I try to do it then. And I cook closer to dinner. Everything else, I just improvise.

    I hope you're having a good summer. Try not to be so hard on yourself.

  12. hi miss jackee! this is a cool post. i like your steps for getting stuff organized out. for me im way bad at time but im just real good bout money & i always save out some of my allowence. im gonna try doing better on fixing up more time for writing.
    ...hugs from lenny

  13. If I had great time or money management techniques, I think I would be a published author on the NYT bestseller list - sitting comfy for the rest of my life. :)

  14. Thanks for posting this. I'm trying to be better at time management. I'm trying to coax myself to leave my manuscript open and work on it here and there, rather than thinking I need a block of time, because blocks of time are hard to come by.

  15. Seriously, I need to be in a step program right now. I need help.


  16. Self control is what I need to work on - especially when it comes to eating too many sweets. :(

    I hope you're having a great summer, Jackee!