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Pay Yourself First

If you’ve read any personal finance books, you’ve probably come across the phrase, “Pay yourself first.” The rationale behind this advice is that if you wait until all your bills have been paid (and you’ve done all your shopping) to put money into a savings or investment account, there may be nothing left. But if you “pay yourself”—meaning set money aside—first, you’ll be forced to find a way to pay those bills at the end of the month, even if it means cutting back on some expenses.

You need to do the same with your writing. If you wait until you’ve cleaned the house and paid the bills and Tweeted and Linked In and read the newspaper and done the laundry before you sit down and write, there won’t be any time left at the end of the day. But if you “pay yourself first”—or write for a few hours (even one hour) BEFORE you start on your endless To Do list, you’ll find a way to do the things that really matter (like eat and sleep) at the end of the day, and the rest—well, the rest just isn’t that important.

I was trying to think of what the ratio of writing time to social media time should be for a writer, and I came up with a 3:1 ratio. For every three hours you write, you should spend one hour blogging and on Facebook and Twitter. What about you? What do you think is the ideal ratio of writing to social media? And what is your actual ratio? Would you like to change it?

11 comments to Pay Yourself First

  • Yes, I would like to change my ratio. Embarrassingly, I think my ratio is the opposite, at 3:1. Yikes.

    Though, much of my blog/twitter time is spent at the day job. I'm not sure I could squeeze writing into the slips of time I use to check in with Twitter between tasks. I've never tried. Maybe I should?

  • I bet most of us need to change our ratios, margosita! I know mine rarely meets the 3:1 ratio either. And sure, why not try to write at work? It's worth a try.

  • I'd say I do more like 5:1, writing to social media blather. Mostly I write in the mornings, when everyone is out of the house, and then do my chitter-chattering in the afternoons. The kids are home from school then, but how hard is it to concentrate on writing 140 character nonsense while distracted? Not hard for me. (I specialize in nonsense.) Also, I decided long ago not to attempt to be a blogging hero. I only post once a week, which leaves me time to visit other blogs — like your lovely blog — and leave my pearls of wisdom. 🙂

  • Kristen – I switched to the once-a-week schedule after Anne Allen's "Slow Blogging" Manifesto, and I'm so much happier. I've been tweeting more and reading fewer blogs the past couple of weeks, but I love that I can spend more time checking out other people's posts and tweets this way. And kudos to you for your 5:1 ratio! Some days I write for 6 hours and hardly get online. Other days I'm online more than I write. Will have to keep working at that …

  • I like it! You're right. 3:1 is a lofty goal, but man it is soooooo not what I do right now. You've got me thinking.

  • Sierra, I know, it's tough, but the writing should come first or what's the point of the rest?

  • Oy… I'm probably at 1:1 right now, if I'm honest with myself, but I completely agree with you that that needs to change. Thanks for the reminder. Unplugging all last week (while I was on vacation) helped remind me too, because it's obvious that the world will keep turning. 😉

  • Ouch…if that's the case, then I think I need to write for about, oh, 10 or 12 hours *today.* I do have a serious problem with "socializing" and not writing. It's so difficult, really, to get your brain plugged into your *work* and not your Twitter. The old "Butt-In-Chair" concept doesn't really work in this techie-age: your butt IS in the chair…but where are those lil' fingers trolling off to?

    Good thoughts, Meghan, and a well put-together site, too, I must say. 🙂

  • Veronika, it' so true that we have to work really hard not to spend all our time online. I've mentioned before that I use MacFreedom. I just have to schedule certain blocks of time to write, turn on MacFreedom so I can't access the Internet, and go at it. I think scheduling the time is really really important.

  • #59 When you say “dumb and bad guys” of course you mean like Pelosi and Reid ?

  • Olivia

    If you wait until you’ve cleaned the house and paid the bills and Tweeted and Linked In and read the newspaper and done the laundry before you sit down and write, there won’t be any time left at the end of the day.