When you need to “find time to write” how do you go about it? What are some things you need to reflect on in this process?

Coach Rocío Caballero-Gill helps us break down the phrase “I need to find time to write.” She’s got some perspective on this universal issue, as well as some strategies for where to start.

When we’re looking at trying to “find time” for something as academics, there are 3 things we need to start by reflecting on.

What are my barriers?

Speaking as someone who is a coach, academic, mom of 2, and non-native speaker who lives in a multi-generational home and has a chronic illness, I want to impress on you the importance of acknowledging what our barriers are. 

What are your specific barriers that are preventing you from easily accessing that time you want to write? After you identify and acknowledge the barriers, you’ll be better equipped to define clear boundaries, enlist support and help from others, and decide which barriers you are able to influence and which will need to be worked around.

An example: 

As the only woman of color in a department, you might find many requests coming in for advice, feedback, sitting on committees, etc. Acknowledging this as a barrier to finding time to write, you might be able to put a boundary around some of those things. 

“A caring and respectful ‘no’ is actually more meaningful, and it has a lot more impact too, than an empty ‘yes’.” – Rocío Caballero-Gill

Am I finding time or protecting time?

Language is important. Our mindsets and how we view the importance of a particular task or project can be illustrated by which words we use to talk about it. 

Is writing something that you are constantly having to find time for? If there is a project that you want to focus on, try thinking about setting aside and protecting the time you are using for it. It might seem like a small detail to focus on, but the things we prioritize need to be protected, rather than squeezed in around the edges. That simple mindset switch can help you keep those dates with your chosen project. 

Time vs. energy

Keep in mind that time itself is not enough. You could have all the time in the world for a particular project, but if you don’t have the energy for it, you’ll still struggle to make progress. 

Try to transition your thinking from simply grabbing blocks of time, to evaluating your time, energy, mindset and focus requirements for a given project. Once you find a block of time, create a realistic plan for how you will spend the time, and what you wish to accomplish. Break it down into smaller steps. Make sure you choose a block of time when you know you will also have the energy you’ll need to feel successful. 

“It’s not just time, it’s energy. Time is finite–energy is too!” – Rocío Caballero-Gill

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