Keli Gwyn
Putting Your Schedule on a Diet

If your calendar is so full you get a case of the jitters just looking at it, a reduction plan might be the answer.

In my previous posts, we explored the topic of overcommitment and examined a set of questions that can help us regain control of our schedules.

The questions helped us identify what we’re doing now, what our top priorities are, and how much time we’re allocating to them. For those of us who realized we need to devote more time to our most important tasks, the next step is identifying what we need to cut.

How to Choose What to Lose

One technique for identifying what stays and what goes is to grab some cards. Not playing cards, but 3×5 cards. On each card write one major activity, such as writing, blogging, or attending a regular meeting. Add an estimate of how many hours you need for each activity per week (or month if you schedule that way).

Lay the cards out in a row, and move them around until you have them arranged from the most important task to the least. Once you do, ask yourself if there are too many tasks for the time you have available. If so, decide which could go.

Some tasks will be vital, such as caring for your children, preparing meals, or going to your day job. Others will be optional, such as social networking, blogging, or pleasure reading. Could some be streamlined to take less time?

Remove cards one by one until those that are left represent the most important tasks, which can be accomplished in the time you have available.

Easing the Pain of Loss

Eliminating some tasks will be easy. They might be things we once enjoyed but no longer do. However, cutting activities we find pleasurable can be painful. What helps me is to remember three truths.

Less is more. Having fewer activities on my calendar gives me more breathing room. I’m more relaxed and more fun to be around when I have less on my schedule.

Saying “no” to one thing means saying “yes” to another. I might be losing one thing, but I’m gaining time to devote to something I’ve determined is more important.

Quality trumps quantity. By eliminating the excess, I’m not as scattered and can do a better job on the activities I undertake.

* * *

When I sat in McDonald’s with my analyst sister last week, she helped me determine two things to remove from my plate. The first is Toastmasters. While I thoroughly enjoy the meetings and the members of my local club, I haven’t the time needed to be an active member who gives speeches on a regular basis. I’ve asked to be put on inactive status.

The second decision is to focus my blogging efforts on this blog. I’m excited about what I have planned, but ending my blogging efforts at Romance Writers on the Journey is extremely difficult for me. I’ve spent three years interviewing not-yet-published and debut romance writers, and my guests have become treasured friends. My last interview will take place August 30th, after which the site will remain with the archived posts. Being the emotional person I am, I will no doubt shed tears when that final post goes up.

I’ve spent the past week reminding myself of the truths above. I’ll be getting much-needed breathing room, will be saying yes to more writing time and more time to devote to this blog, and will be able to do a better job on the tasks that are most important.

One thing that will remain constant is my connection with you. I value you and will do my best to interact with those who comment on my posts and to answer questions. I’ve been blessed by the generosity of so many, and my goal is to pay it forward, producing posts that are interesting and informative.

* * *

Have you had to cut something you thoroughly enjoyed from your schedule? If so, how did you deal with the resulting pain?

Keli Gwyn


  • What a splendid way to look wisely at one’s schedule to determine what activities to trim to add quality to one’s life. I’m trying to think of what I have cut or, more importantly, what I should cut. I have involuntarily eliminated working on my manuscript in favor of my blog. I must decide if this is the way it should be. Perhaps I need to cut something else and get my MS back into my schedule.

    I think you made a wise decision. Your life changed when your book sold. Adjustments had to be made. I am happy to know you will still be blogging right here! Blessings to you, Keli…

  • Awesome advice, Keli! I’m definitely doing this exercise. I already know one thing that could be cut way back, and that’s watching too much TV in the evening. I tend to watch one show that I’m really interested in, then I get sucked in to another and another… I’ve got to just cut it off after that half hour or hour.

    And I’m sad to hear you’ll be closing RWoJ. At the same time, I can see how it would take a lot of time from your schedule. That’s what made it such a successful site. But with your wise advice here, I’m excited to see what else you have in store.

    Have a great weekend! 🙂

  • Keli,
    That’s an interesting way to do it. My difficulty (don’t hate me) is in having too much time that I devote only to writing. I feel unbalanced. Maybe it’s because I’m on a deadline and fear not handing it the best every book written that I don’t allow myself to take time for other things.

  • territiffany says:

    It IS sad you are getting rid of that other blog– I was so honored that you interviewed me way back when. I have cut back on some of my posts but hope to stay more regular now that family left. Trying to decided what to do with my future in writing too:)

  • Wendy says:

    Yes, the connection will most certainly stay.

    I’m honored to be on schedule for Aug. 2!
    ~ Wendy

  • Giving up Toastmasters! Does this mean we won’t be having lunch together anymore? 🙁
    No more Romance Writers on a Journey interviews? That must have been a very tough decision. You are a brave woman, but that is what will make you a successful novelist. I have always admired your determined approach to your craft.

  • I feel like I always have to cut things that I love. Of course, I love a new “thing” every month. There’s just so much that I want to do and learn…just not enough hours to do it all.
    Have a great weekend, Keli!

  • Beth Vogt says:

    This blog series has been so insightful! And you’ve led the way in applying what you’re talking about. I’ve been slowly deleting commitments from my schedule, including a critique group I’ve belonged to for nine years!! It was painful, but a needed change as my focus narrows to a new area writing.
    Thanks for sharing your insights.

  • Jeanne Takenaka says:

    Thanks for the practical tips for “getting rid of time clutter.” I plan to apply some of them! I’m also going to have to read your archived blogs on this topic. I look forward to learning more from you. 🙂

  • Quality trumps Quantity. Well said. When I stepped out of the women’s ministry leadership role to help my husband and devote more time to the young adult ministry, I did some crying but I knew it was right. I had more time to pour in to the lives of the young women and I’ve seen some amazing transformations in their lives. I’m sorry to see the romance writer’s blog end as well and am thankful that you interviewed me. Have a great weekend, Keli!

  • Sherrinda says:

    Oh yes! This is great advice Keli! I’m definitely going to shuffle my “time cards” around. Like Sarah, TV sucks me in at night when I am tired and just want to relax. I do have a favorite show or two, but some nights…I just waste time.

    Your work with your interviews has been excellent and has made so many feel honored. It will be missed, but I’m sure this blog will hold just as much specialness! 🙂

  • Tana Adams says:

    This is great! I have a clear picture in my mind how to get the most out of my day, but it’s yet to unleash itself into my reality.

  • Keli, Romance Writer’s on The Journey is a wonderful blog and I’m so grateful for you hosting me once, but honestly, I always wondered how you had the time for it. When I did author interviews on mine I found it so time consuming even though it was very enriching at the same time. I finally stopped doing them as I just couldn’t get my writing time in while trying to keep up with it.

    Any cutting is difficult–I’ll be praying for as you wind down that blog!

  • Awesome post and advice, Keli! I love your suggestion of laying out the activity cards with allotted time on them (I feel certain this is yet another post I’ll be re-reading later on!). 🙂 I’m sure it is difficult giving up your other blog in August, but I’m very thankful you’ll be able to continue this one. ~ Thank you for taking time to share and do all that you do! 🙂

  • candidkerry says:


    What a blessing you’ve been to me in the few short months I’ve known you. You (and both of your blogs) have been chock full of helpful, insightful information about this tumultuous writing journey. I’m SO grateful for your heart for up-and-coming and newly-published writers.

    You’ve made a very wise decision and I’ll be praying for you as you bring this part of your blogging career to a close. I hope your days will be filled with words, and I look forward to reading your book next year!

    Thank you so much for all your dedication, hard work, humor, and wonderfully honest advice. You’re such a blessing.

    Take care and hugs,
    (Jeremiah 29:11 – He has wonderful plans for you.)

  • Anne Barton says:

    I love the picture you included with this post, Keli–too cute!

    I know Romance Writers on the Journey has been a labor of love for you, and it’s truly been an gift to all the wonderful novelists who’ve been able to share their stories there. Thanks for supporting so many writers both at RWotJ and here. We’ll have to celebrate the final post in a special way . . .

  • Jill Kemerer says:

    This comes at such a perfect time. I’ve been meaning to e-mail you (seriously, I had this same thought 3 times last week but the fam was on vacay!) about how impressed I am with the content of your author blog. I think it’s a wise decision to focus your energy here. Fellow writers will be blessed to read these posts. I know I am!

  • RWoJ has been such a rich experience for me. I loved discovering aspiring and emerging authors and learning about them, and I’m honoured to have been among those you’ve interviewed. So I’m terribly disappointed that it’s winding down.

    That said, there are always choices to make in life and priorities to be identified. You’ve shown a lot of wisdom in determining the best use of your time, and also set a good example for those of us whose calendars are always full. Blessings to you as you focus on your writing career. I’ll continue to enjoy reading what you have to share here.