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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Sleep Is
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Chicago Review Press

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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Writing more in less time

Thanks to Windows Phone 7 for sponsoring this post. See the end of the post for details on a Windows Phone 7 giveaway.

Windows asked me to write about doing more with less, so last night I decided that instead of making chocolate chip cookies, I'd simply shovel chocolate chips in my mouth. That's less, after all. That didn't quite satisfy, however, even after I let the chips sit in there for a while and melt. I considered adding some butter, but that seemed like too much work, frankly.

Then I realized I really like peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies so I shoveled some peanut butter in my maw as well. And what do you know? That was better than some stupid cookies. Better = MORE!

A quiet voice in the back of my sugar-addled mind told me that I was possibly not quite getting the concept of doing more with less, so I stopped to consider how the concept applied to my life. Then I fell asleep. But this morning I woke up, as one does, and my first thought was, "I have a half-hour to write this post." My second thought was, "Thank GOD." Because a small window of time is the only way I can get any writing done. And I do believe that's doing more with less, Windows! BLAMMO!

There is nothing that will murder any chance of productivity for me like waking up to an obligation-free, unscheduled day. Henry's going straight to a playdate after school and won't be home until 6, I have a slow work week, and I'm out of errands to run? Well, I tell myself, that means I have hours in which to consort with the muse, obviously! I'll sit down at my computer and oh, the places my mind will go! I have all the time in the world to write the best blog post ever written. No--five of the best blog posts ever written. Or I'll finally finish that novel I began in 1996. Hell, I can do all of these things. I have all the time in the world!

But when I sit down at my computer with all that emptiness stretching ahead of me, panic sets in. That's a lot of time. I need to get a lot done, in that much time. And it better be good, too, because I have no reason to phone it in. I have time. Time means quality. If I write something terrible, that means I'm a terrible writer. Crap. I'm hungry.

So I decide to make breakfast. And since I have all these hours ahead of me, I have time to make myself a real breakfast. No need for a bowl of cereal, like some rushed breakfast-eating chump. But before I do that, I should check Twitter and see what's going on. Oh, look, someone linked to a funny video! Thank goodness I have time to watch it, as I have so very much time. And look, there are all these related, also funny videos! I never noticed how many videos there are of kitty cats flushing toilets. Those are always fun. I normally don't have time to watch those, as I'm rushing about.

Then I look up and it's eight hours later and Henry is home from his playdate and I'm still in my bathrobe.

I am convinced, after all these years, that the two most useful tools in my writing arsenal are: 1) limited time and 2) low expectations. If I have four hours to write, I will expect greatness, or at least quality, and my chattering brain will be consumed with what "quality" means and whether or not I'm approaching it, and as a result I'll avoid work. I'll dawdle and daydream and check my email like it's the only thing keeping me alive. If I have an hour, however, I don't have time for these shenanigans. I have to focus. If I have a half-hour, my fingers better keep moving around that keyboard and words had better be appearing on screen, or I'm screwed.

Even when I have only fifteen minutes, I can get some quality work done. If I can sit down and still the endless chatter in my brain, when those fifteen minutes are up, I find that I've made more progress on a project than I had all week. Because I don't expect much from fifteen minutes. All I expect is a few paragraphs, and maybe to have gained some momentum. And sometimes that's all I need.

So hey, if you want a Windows Phone 7 of your very own, you can win one right here! To enter, leave a comment of 25 words or more about how you do more when you have less time. You've got until November 29 (midnight PT) and you can enter once a day. On the 29th, I'll pick a winner using and post it here. Here are the official, long-winded rules about this contest.

Reader Comments (299)

When I have less time, I do more cause I'm more focused to getting things done. Right now, I'm not doing anything since I know have time to do it later but I should really start studying for my Biology course. Agh, finals are next week. Hopefully, I combine the best of both worlds and do more no matter if I have more or less time.

November 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJearv

I think the Thanksgiving dinner is one of those busy ones! This year we made everyone bring their own food lol Here's why! I no longer have to be worried about everything and we all experience different kind of foods from different families! :D

November 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJose D

For me it is a combination of organizing, planning ahead and multi tasking. it i didnt do all of those i wouldn't have enough hours in the day to get things done

November 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkate

Doing more for less means delegating more responsibilities to the kids so my time can be used more productively.

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSchmidty

I really like spices and herbs. If you buy them in the ethnic food section, especially the hispanic themed aisle they can be only 99 cents a bag! They add flavor to everything including cheap cuts of meat and inexpensive dishes

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha

We have the same philosophy on writing! I am a graduate student and I had the entire week of Thanksgiving with nothing to do but eat and write. When did all my accomplished writing happen? Sunday, when time was running out.

I have found that I need pressure to be productive, so I regularly break my projects into stages and invent deadlines for the various stages. I also work part-time throughout grad school, which helps with the noise that results from too much time.

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKyley

We spent the holiday weekend traveling with our 8 month old to visit family. In this case less time means more visiting! Since my family knows we will only be in town for a short time everyone comes out of the woodwork to see the baby!

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterApril

I do more with less time by making lists and staying organized as much as I can, and also by setting deadlines for myself with certain things

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkate

Doing more with less: I'm on a pantry clean-out kick. No grocery store for me until all those aging boxes of couscous and off-brand pinto beans are cooked and eaten! More pantry space and more room in the grocery budget.

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

When I have very little time to get something important done, the adrenaline kicks in and I start moving in hyperspeed and churning out whatever it is I need to do.

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterD

With a new job and a long commute I've had to really change how I use my time. I've tried to prioritize my time. When I get home I'd rather hang out with my husband than cook so we make easy quick meals instead of the fancier stuff I used to make. Fancy stuff is now reserved for the weekends...

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

I really really really really want to win this phone. Last chance!

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSuzy Q

writing one MORE attempt here, acknowledging that there is LESS time to do so before the deadline...if I win the phone may I say I won a writing contest?? :)

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermywholelife

I do more with less by combining my errands into one drive and trip so I save gas. An example would be going to the store, post office and barbershop in one trip, rather than going at different times of the week. This way, I can do more with the money I have because of the less money I have to spend on gas! I'm doing more too by saving my driving time on the road!

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJearv

I've been doing more kitchen cleaning with less effort after buying a Roomba. It's a pet that cleans my home... awesome!

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

definitely can get more done in 2 weeks than 3-4. i'd love to be more productive and less procrastinator . hasnt happen yet.

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermarcia

i go to dollar store and buy things i need for party and everyday stuff .

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commentererica best

The more organized I get the less time and money it takes.

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy

Doing more with less could be decorating the christmas tree as a family. More work done in less time, and lots of family time together.

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDele O

Make "Today I will lists". Also, compile a list of dishes that taste great reheated to make for those days when cooking an elaborate meal is just not possible. Make it a few days ahead and stick it in the fridge, or go for a month ahead and stick it in the freezer.

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEV

More for less mean having an emergency kit in my car when I travel, and also carrying our own snacks and drinks so that we don't have to make expensive stops.

November 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSchmidty

It is matter of interest only. If you have a lot of concentration power and consistent habit of writing. You can do excellent writing job in few minutes.
Patience in behavior also increase your working ability.

December 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersilpada

For time-savers, money-savers et al. I streamline...always go to CVS for pharmacy items, go to same grocery store..I know the lay out object is to get in & out quickly..any on-line shopping, deal searching or coupon loading GO TO The best easy, one-stop money saving site.

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

It’s a film called Hungry for You and it’s in pre-production now. I play the lead vampire. I didn’t want to be a vampire but was forced into it so I’m struggling with my vampire powers and not wanting to turn the girl I love into a vampire. The script is really great and has a wonderful storyline. It’s been fun. The creator, Linda Andersson, has a really cool comic strip of Hungry for You that she is going to release soon. It’s sort of a teaser and a way to start the marketing for the project in a bigger level.

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