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reclaiming my time


In 2017, Representative Maxine Waters blew up the internet with the phrase “reclaiming my time.”

This week I’ve reclaimed my time in a revolutionary way.

Over the weekend I listened to Brooke Castillo’s podcast episode Monday Hour One – her teaching on time management – and it blew my freaking mind.

The hilarious thing is that I’ve heard her teaching on this before –  more than once. I’ve implemented it – more than once. And I went into the podcast thinking, condescendingly, I’ve tried this and it just didn’t work for me

Which only goes to show that we can deceive ourselves so mightily. Because our brains want to remain the same! 

I’m going to explain the basic premise of Monday Hour One. It’s going to sound really simple. So simple it couldn’t possibly work

But if you’ve ever had trouble managing your time, I invite you to TRY IT.

Don’t immediately shut down possibility by thinking, “Oh, that wouldn’t work for me because  I’m a mom … I have a boss … I’m not in control of my time …

Step one. Get a notebook and a pen and write down every task that you need to get done this week. Include rote things like reading emails, weekly team meetings, eating lunch. Include self-care and pleasure in this list

Step two. Assign each task a time limit. This is the amount of time that you are committing to completing that task. When that time is up, you may spend no more time on it. If your brain is thinking, But I don’t know how much time X thing is going to take, go listen to Brooke’s podcast.

Step three. Schedule every single item on your calendar. Including your lunch break. Including 30 minutes a day to process email. (Side note: the shift from “checking” email to “processing” email is blowing my mind.)

Step four. When your calendar says that you’re supposed to be doing X task, do it.

Crucial distinction: don’t schedule time to “work on” something. This is where I was getting stuck before.

For example:

I was scheduling two or three hours a week to “work on” edits for my book, Catchlight. I felt like I was barely scratching the surface of what needed to be done.

So with this revolution of reclaiming my time, I sat down during my Monday morning Writing Circle Live and made a list of all the edits that still needed to be made. 

It looked like this: 

  • Revisit prison scene
  • Weave in Jonah’s Phish obsession
  • Decide whether to keep or remove sex scene in childhood bedroom {juicy, right?!}
  • Cut J/T subplot
  • Make dialogue changes per Chris’s notes
  • Rewrite opening scene
  • Double-check days during the week of the funeral scene
  • Make change to the ending that Chris and I discussed
  • Full read-through with an eye to trim

Then I decided how long I would spend on each of these edits.

My brain wanted to tell me that I had no idea how long it would take to rewrite the opening scene. I decided to give myself half an hour. 

My brain wanted to tell me that I had no idea how long it would take to do a full read-through of the book with an eye to trimming some sections. I decided to give myself five hours.


On Wednesday morning I was working through a handful of these edits at Starbucks. I noticed myself start to get distracted – I was cutting the J/T subplot and then wondering if I should combine that chapter with another chapter. I spent several minutes scanning through the previous chapters to see if there was room to condense, when I caught myself. 

I could look at how those chapters read together during my full read-through. 

That was not the task I had set myself.

So I redirected myself, finished what I’d intended to do, and moved on to my next work item.


This week I accomplished more in 3 partial days (working from 9-3 because Jacqueline is still sick) than I normally do in 4 9-5 days.

Are you ready to reclaim your time? Listen to the Monday Hour One podcast here

February 21, 2020

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