How I do it all, or not

A few weeks ago, someone said to me, “I don’t know how you do it all.”

The truth is, I don’t.

I’m doing a lot, and there is a lot I’m not doing.

How I do what I do

The key distinction I see between me and other people I know is that I have learned — through pain staking trial and error — to put the hard stuff first.

In other words, I schedule time to do what’s most important to me first, which includes my writing, my work, and my family.

I work on screenwriting first thing 6 mornings a week, give or take time off for good behavior.

I have time scheduled on my calendar for marketing, learning time, administrative and financial time, writing my non-fiction articles for my site and for my column. I block out time on Fridays for longer stretches of time to write.

I have time set aside for my family, fun, and taking care of the house.

But I still don’t do it all

And, I don’t always accomplish all those things in quite the way I’d like. I learned from Miriam to use “time blocks” — to set aside the time each week, so that if I have to miss an activity one day, I know I’ve got the time for it next week for catching up.

Where I drop the ball

The biggest place I’m dropping the ball is housecleaning. My house is much less clean than I would like it to be. And, I’m okay with that. Seems to me there are more important things than a sparkling clean house.

I also give up time with family more than I’d like, and my social with girlfriends is in need of repair. I’m not so okay with that and still working on it.

Another place I drop the ball is with “extra stuff.” Lately I’ve been dealing with a slew of unusual medical appointments, paperwork, and challenging decisions. And there’s stuff I lump into the “extra” category that needs a regular time slot too, like filing.

So clearly, there’s room for improvement here.

Looking from the outside in

I think it’s always worth keeping in mind that what looks easy from the outside isn’t always so. Whether we’re looking at someone else’s relationship, business, finances, or life, we just can’t truly know what it’s like. So even if it looks like I’m “doing it all,” trust me, I’m not. And I’m mostly okay with that.

Next week — tricks I know but don’t always use.

Your turn

You know I always love to hear your thoughts.




Coming Attractions

~> August 30th. Register by August 30 for the next 4-week session of my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle (starts September 3rd). For serious writers and for writers who want to get serious about their writing.

~> September 6th. Last day to register for the next Life Purpose Breakthrough Group happening on October 4th. These groups always sell out (only 3 spots remaining) so if you want to discover your life purpose through the remarkably accurate tool of hand analysis, sign up here now:


What I'm Up To

~> Ongoing. Working on my script, Progeny, with screenwriter Chris Soth after finishing the ProSeries.*

~> September 18 to 22nd. Heading to Hollywood for a ScreenwritingU* event to meet with producers and agents then staying on for the InkTip Pitch Summit.

~> Sacred writing time. Early mornings and Fridays.

~> Reading: Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince. Watching Weeds and Newsroom.


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  1. Jo Wilson says:

    I have heard the following attributed to Lesley Stahl when asked how she kept all the balls in the air – wife, mother, friend, colleague, news journalist.
    I don’t keep all the balls in the air all the time. Some drop, but I make sure to drop the rubber ones, not the glass ones. Glass ones shatter, but rubber ones bounce and you can get to them again. The real trick is deciding which ones are the glass ones.

    I loved this and have often used it when I feel overwhelmed. Sort the balls and drop the rubber ones. And know that sometimes a ball can be rubber and other times it is glass.

  2. I really resonated with your article Jenna. I am often asked the same question and the only way I can keep plates spinning rather than my head spinning is by careful management of all areas of my life. It’s taken me a lot of trial, error and pain to reach a point where the pendulum doesn’t swing too far either way. Thank you for expressing your views with such humility. I shall pass your link onto a couple of dear friends here in the UK who will also take comfort from what you have written. Keep happy, healthy and wise.

    • Judith, thank you for your comment. It’s always nice to know things are well received. Trial, error, and pain = learning, doesn’t it? I’m right there with you.

  3. Hi Jenna,
    good article.

    I try to do the things that make my life sing first. The others can wait. We tend to put the things we don’t like first because they are emotionally easier – they have no “take us to a new place” factor – just the same ole, same ole. If I don’t watch TV – and I’m close to less than 2 hours a week, if that – I find I have time for all sorts of things.

    Housecleaning – a waste of time for the most part. IF we didn’t have so much STUFF, it wouldn’t take long to clean. PLus, some dirt is good for our health. Bring the mud pies back!


    • Giulietta, I love what you said about picking the things that make your life sing. That’s brilliant. I do feel like fear and self-doubt can interfere even with the things that make life sing (like writing for me), so I’ve learned to do it even on the days when it feels like work.

      LOL re: housekeeping. :)

  4. Thanks again Jenna for posting! It’s fun to read your articles, they usually come at a time where I might be experiencing something along the same lines. A few weeks ago a 9-year old cousin of mine was staying with me and my husband and he said what he finds magical about us both is that we always seem to be able to do everything. That meant a lot coming from a younger family member, that he feels like we always try to make time for everyone.
    What is always interesting to me is how I can still feel like I am never doing enough or helping enough. It’s been an ongoing battle, that has been at the base of everything I do. The fun part was this past couple weeks I was in Italy on my honeymoon. No computers, no phone, no Facebook, and no housecleaning :) I didn’t have facebook to compare my life to others and what they were doing, I couldn’t be reached by family or friends where I would either be planning something or helping them with something, and my mind wasn’t list for hours on a computer searching for something on the internet. All that was left was enjoying being around my new husband, soaking in the sights, using my pen and paper, and one of my favorites, just sitting on the hotel couch not worrying about having to clean or organize the rooms! I bought a pen in Rome at middle of my stay, and by the end of my trip it ran out of ink. I don’t think I’ve written, drawn, or let ideas flow through me before as easily as I have let them the past week. I need to remember that I am always doing enough, I am going at my own pace, and I just need to trust what comes my way and that’s what I am supposed to be doing.

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