How I make time for writing as a teacher

Regardless of your profession, make time for the things that you love. Dedicating yourself entirely to a job will only lead down one path: regret. Whether it’s family, friends, habits or hobbies, stop letting things fall by the wayside in favour of your career. We are so much more than that: I may be Mr Hamilton in the classroom, but as a writer, I take on a new persona of J.J. Hamilton. I’m Josh in the offline world outside of work. I play the ukulele, I blog every Friday, I go to the gym at least three times a week to stay healthy, and I write as often as I can.

And yet, as often as I can isn’t always enough. It is so easy – too easy – with the busyness of the working world winding by, to forget to make meaningful contributions to what you enjoy. I noticed that I was struggling to keep at my habits around New Year 2021, so I wrote a blog post to make myself accountable to my goals and desires for the year ahead. 7 months on and I’ve come up with a few rules and routines to make any habit achievable, even in a profession as busy and full-on as teaching.

For me, this was all about how to stick with writing.

Make the most of Google

To start with, turn Google into your best friend. I say Google because it pretty much controls my life (Gmail, Google Home, etc.), but in truth it doesn’t really matter which app you pick – as long as it syncs across your devices. That part is incredibly crucial to this stage, because we’re aiming to pick a productivity tool of choice, do all of the work once, and have that appear on any device we use.

So, you’ll need to create a calendar called ‘hobbies’. Add a recurring event, which may change depending on how often you’d like to stick to your new hobby. For my example, I’d like to write for half an hour every single day. What I write doesn’t matter – it could be hot garbage – but at least I’m doing it (because, like anything, a hobby is a skill that can be perfected. And practice makes perfect).

Now, every day at half 7, my phone screams at me that it’s time to sit down and write. Can I choose to actively ignore it? Sure. But having the tool that is in my hand for at least an hour a day yelling that it’s time to write is one way to make sure I get it done.

Let apps do the heavy lifting

Even with a daily reminder, sometimes it’s difficult to feel inspired about what to write. It’s for this reason that I downloaded an app called Daily Prompt, which sends my iPad – where I prefer to write – a notification telling me that ‘it’s time to write!’ If I’m motivated enough to click the notification, the app will present a writing prompt. This might be an image or a short paragraph to get the writing juices flowing. I may choose to write directly about that thing, or use it as inspiration for the longer project that I’d already been working on.

I also use the subreddit r/dailyprompt, which sometimes works a treat. However, this is a little more reliant on making the active decision to write something and, since motivation is a myth, it’s important to not rely on my own willpower everyday.

I actually use apps for a lot of daily habits, such as Duolingo for learning Spanish, and Yousician for the ukulele, and they also work wonders. If you’ve got an interest in something (anything), chances are high that there’s an app for that.

Making it too easy

Pick anything but your nose

Both of these methods are very much dependent on picking a time which works for you to work on something meaningful. I could suggest a time for you to settle on – such as half 7 for writing, like I do – but what would be the point if it doesn’t work for you? Focus on creating sustainable habits by listening to what your body does best and treat life like the marathon that it is, rather than a sprint. If you run at your peak in every race, it’ll only be a matter of time before tripping on that hurdle you didn’t notice, and end up stumbling every time.

How do you keep up your habits? Does your career make it easier for you to find time for your habits? Or do you find that it keeps on eating away at your free time? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below.

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