Friday, April 23, 2010

Transition Time

I have a terrible time transitioning from one activity to another. This isn't something that I'm alone in; kids have this problem all the time. In our lives, we learn to manage transitions.

My difficulty comes in transitions between writing-related activities. I blog. I navigate Facebook, which for me counts as maintenance of professional relationships as well as personal ones. I write - and right now I'm actively working on three different projects. Each time I have to transition from one of these to the other, I lose time.

I'm guessing I'm not the only one who experiences this, so I thought I'd share some of my ideas for dealing with it.

1. Transition-filling activities
These are the kind of thing that I put under "fallow mind time" in my earlier post. If you're in a solid stretch of three hours and have to leave off one thing and go to another, try spending five to ten minutes taking a shower, or running around the block, preparing tea, or scrubbing that thing in your house that you never scrub. Keep a time limit on it, and while you're doing it, try to empty your head. You may find it easier to go on to a new activity this way.

2. Compartmentalizing
I have different types of time. There's with the kids time and alone time. There's also before school time, during school time, and after school time. I try to keep Facebook maintenance and other social sites for times when I'm with the kids (but, importantly, not concentrating hard on a kid activity!), because such web activities don't require too much close attention. I then try to divide projects between the before school and during school times, taking advantage of the drop-off as a non-deliberate transition filler. It's so much easier if I can blog before school, and then write during school, and Facebook after school.

3. Using the Differences
I had a hard time knowing what to call this one. Essentially it means if I have to work on two separate writing projects back to back, I try to choose two things that are very different from each other. Given two short stories about aliens, I try to compartmentalize. Given a single block of time, I'll try to spend some of it on Japanese Fantasy and some on aliens, or Varin. On the other hand, it helps me if blogging is more similar to what I'm writing about, not less.

4. Scheduling
For a project that doesn't seem to fit well with others, try picking a fixed day when you'll work on it. That way, nothing else will butt into its space.

These are my thoughts. Share some of yours - I'd love to hear!