Time Management*: Bullet Points, Mole Skins and the Rabbit Hole of Doom

by Christina Lay

*Warning to those with no time to waste- this post will not help you manage your time.


A while back I wrote a terribly entertaining (never published) post about how intimidated I was by the Stop Time button on my stove. How I wish I had that button now. I’m sure the proper combination of hoodoo, ritual and wishful thinking would summon the dark powers of GE and put the brakes on summer. Maybe then I could finish the next novel, promote the old ones, make ends meet at the EDJs (evil day jobs) and have Time left over to get a tan and a semblance of a life. Actually what I’d really like is one of those dimmer switches, with which to merely slow the relentless march of time on days when I have four posts to write, and speed it up on Mondays during financial audits at work.

I’m not the only one with this problem. Recently on one of my author list serves, this question was broached: What’s your favorite planner?  Over 100 back and forth responses over the course of two days ended with a heated Moleskine vs. Leuchtturm debate, complete with youtube videos on bulleting and color-coding. Nothing ironic about that at all.

I’m not an organizer. I’m not a planner. But I should be. My desk is a tsunami of notes, half-filled legal pads, random important looking envelopes, novel-specific journals, journals with no purpose other than to mock me, and calendars stuck open on March, 2014. Trust me, whatever was supposed to happen in March 2014 probably didn’t. Usually I’m okay with this. Panic is a natural phenomena like headaches on Mondays and margarita-cravings on Fridays. Right now it’s panic time, and normally I’m good with that. The problem arises when I dare to think that, just maybe, things could be better, which usually follows an incautious glance at the calendar (the one on the wall that’s opened to the current year and month).

Holy Cow, summer is over tomorrow. In spring I resigned myself to the fact that no money plus no time equaled no vacation. Life and panic attacks would continue as normal. But after a couple weeks of 90+ weather and blue skies, I could no longer deny Summer was happening, and happening without me. I had to do something. Outside. Not involving a keyboard.

Naturally at the last minute before a blistering hot weekend every hotel room in driving distance to cooler climes was booked up by people who plan. People who highlighted August in yellow and drew smiley faces over their blocked out vacation days way back in February. Or possibly just a week ago. Whatever.

A search for dog-friendly cabins led me to yurts in state campgrounds. They weren’t any of those available either. But there were campsites. Very few, which fueled my anxiety. And so I impulsively reserved a spot over on the coast, a mere hour away. It’ll be fun, I said. The dog will like it, I thought. I’ll go swimming and have a day-long summer. Never mind that I hadn’t been camping in over 20 years. Never mind that the campground in question was a Known Refuge for ATV Riding Clan Hoards of Fifth Wheel Ravagers. Nah. Being a single fretful female with an old toothless dog drove me to embrace the idea of a crowded campground.

And now we get to the part where I reveal the secret of Stopping Time. What you do is:

  1. Believe the weather forecast that says it will be nice on the Oregon coast in August; an occurrence more rare than unicorns in your backyard.
  2. Set up a tent in a filled to capacity nightmare inducing outdoor nuthouse otherwise known as a state campground.
  3. Stay.

I’d given myself the option of bailing if it was too awful. It wasn’t too awful. After all, I’d wasted so much of my precious reservoir of time digging out the camping equipment and shopping for survival essentials like flashlights and jumbo bags of chips. I decided a campfire might help get me in the mood. Who doesn’t have fond memories of acidic clouds of smoke blowing into your eyeballs every three minutes? When the rain started I rationalized that it might help quiet things down. Surely the roar of the sand dune destroying ATVs nearby would diminish at sunset, along with whatever paltry warmth remained?

It did and this is when I realized I’d wandered into a fresh-air style Bedlam, as the stalwart sports people and their requisite 15 kids returned and began…whatever the hell it is they do. Mostly yell and scream and ride bikes past my not quite in the road but almost campsite.

The dog and I crawled into our tent and I read by the glow of blessed technology into the wee hours, assuming that at some point the tumult might calm to the point where sleep was possible. And calm it did. Slowly, layer by layer, the hoard settled, thereby allowing the most singularly loud and persistent campers to pierce the night with their befuddled drunken cursing, their hysterical laughter, and their buzzsaw snores. I did eventually doze to the lulling crescendo of the flush toilets about 50 feet from my campsite. And then the magic happened. Time stopped.

Surely this night will end, I thought? Surely the sun will rise like it always does? It didn’t. If only I’d had my laptop, I could have finished the next novel, marketed the old ones, written posts for the next year of ShadowSpinners and possibly knitted my dog a blanket, because he was freezing.

Be warned; The benefits of Stopping Time are very situationally based and it pays to be prepared. However, if you’re like me, this will never happen. No matter how poorly you plan and how long you ignore your basic happy-life needs, time will randomly stop when you least it expect it. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a post idea out of it.

So, Moleskine or Leuchtturm? Bulleting or strikethrough?

Let the trip down the rabbit hole begin.

Lazlo at the beach

Lazlo – once again proving the journey is more important than where your half-deflated air mattress ends up.

Categories: Christina Lay, writer | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

About christinalay

Christina is an award-winning writer of fantastical and literary fiction. Many of her short stories have been published and her second novel, Symphony of Ruin, has just been released. Her first novel, Death is a Star, was released by IFD Publishing in 2013 and her most recent, Symphony of Ruin, came out in 2017. Awards include 1st place in the 2001 Maui Writers’ Conference Competition, 2nd Place in Writers’ Digest Short Fiction Contest and 1st Place in LaBelle Lettres Short Mystery contest. She pushes buttons and pulls levers at ShadowSpinners Press.

One thought on “Time Management*: Bullet Points, Mole Skins and the Rabbit Hole of Doom

  1. I read a book called Time Management for Creative People, and it confirmed that we are not prone to using planners and color coded files. Creatives tend to PILE things (I know for me if I file something it no longer exists) and that the use of sticky notes stuck on computers is excellent advice (or on a bathroom mirror.) thanks for making me laugh

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