The ‘f’ words…

This week’s Mindset Monday is all about the ‘f’ words… Focus and Finish. I have issues with both of them. There are sooooo many shiny things…soooo many trails to be explored and who can’t jump down the rabbit hole?
These two words are so important so lacking in my life.

And while I will always have to explore the trails and peek into the rabbit holes, I also know if I’m going to get my VA business off the ground I need to restrict this. I need to…
FOCUS.

If I want the writing career of my dreams, then I need to FINISH some of these books I have in my que.

For all you type A personalities none of this will make sense because you live those ‘f’ words easily. Since I’m a type ‘Y’ person- why is that squirrel in the tree? Why isn’t that doughnut in my stomach? Why is there a search for pink fuzzy socks being recommended for me? Most people are happy never knowing why but for those of us that struggle with the ‘f’ words, these and so many more ‘y’s cloud my day.
Time management is one of the 10 vision goals. This means replacing the ‘y’ words with ‘f’ words. How have I started to do this?

1. I set defined time blocks. Not I’ll write from 1 to 3. That is way to broad and way to much time for me. Now I write in my planner. 1 to 1:45 write on current WIP. 1:45 to 2 – find pics for blog post/wip or anything else I need. I give myself 15 minutes of ‘y’ time for every hour block. While all you ‘A’ people are WHAT!!!! Wasting 15 minutes. But my focus requires it.

2. There is no real trick for Finish besides willpower. I refuse to let myself start anything until the project I’m scheduled to work on is completed. I made a master writing list at the beginning of the year.
And when you Finish you get bright shiny covers like this….

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My new obsession (which isn’t that new)

My newest obsession which is really a spin-off of an old obsession – time management – is decorating my planner. For….y…e…a…r…s, I’ve struggled to find the ideal planner. I have purchased enough planners throughout the years, that I think I have broken some laws and yet nothing seemed to work. Or last. I would soon grow bored with them. I’d spot a newer shiner version and wham, I’d be transferring ALL my data over. Then a couple of months later, I’d spy one that I thought I’d like better. That would fit my life better. I was like a gerbil in a wheel chasing the prefect chocolate cake doughnut…

THEN….came 2016. My focus of the year is to ‘reinvent’ myself. For the last couple of years I have been trying to force myself into a cookie cutter. It’s not worked well for me. As a part of me being me, I looked at what ((I)) wanted in a planner… not what others did.

I don’t need a planner with hourly blocks, my day just doesn’t flow like that. My crazy day job is…well…crazy. What I need is a place to track daily writing goals, weekly deadlines, and commitments. A place to log appointments. And somewhere to track to bills, spending, and other boring life details. I needed a planner that was shiny – all the  time.

Here is what I came up with 🙂 Every Sunday, I decorate the week with a theme that varies. On the pages themselves write the books I plan on reading that week (this helps me stay focus and not waste time drooling on the my stack of TBR). Set goals. Put in appointments. List journal topics.

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This week

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Last week it was all about life

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Another example

 

 

I have found that by combining the ‘boring’ this is what I need to do with the creative part of my brain I’m three months in and I’m still loving it. While I know this won’t work for everyone, actually it probably won’t work for anyone but me. But isn’t that the point of a planner – it works for YOU.

So what makes your planner prefect for YOU?

Make Time Tuesday

I’m sure everyone has heard the saying, take time to smell the flowers. It’s good advice but the trick is deciding what ‘your’ flowers are. What might be a flower to you is a weed to me. Confused? Most people are by my logic 😛 For example, a flower for my sister-in-law is cleaning. It soothes and relaxes her to dust, vacuum, and mop floors. For me it rates up there with having bamboo shoots shoved under my fingernails. I’m also not a big fan of watching movies or television.

Make Time to sail away from life

Make Time to sail away from life

I enjoy reading but for it to be a full bloom flower, I need to at the beach or in my family room in front of the fire. One of my favorite flower activities is crocheting/needle work. I have a personal goal of making a baby blanket a month for Linus project and try to do a second one for the area community groups.
Another flower activity is card making. LOVE IT. I do all my holiday, birthday, and thinking of you cards. Here is a site I participate in their weekly challenge if any of you are fellow card makers.

The thing with my top three flower activities are they are ‘solo’ smelling activities. When I’m working the crazy day job, it’s okay, but when I’m off in the summer and writing all day that is a lot of alone time. Which I don’t mind BUT I tend to become very hermit like. If I don’t make a mindful effort, I’ll even go grocery shopping at 2:17 am just to avoid people ;-p This stresses my hubby and a few of my friends, they worry I’ll retreat to some North Michigan cave and when I’m found I’ll be surrounded by empty doughnut bags, mounds of crocheted baby blankets, and thousands of cards.
I know the key to life is balance. I think my seclusion during the three month summer break is my recouping time for the all the people interaction I have during the crazy day jobs months. I interact with people ALL day… parents, fellow staff, administration, and students (my favorite group by FAR).
What are some of the favorite flowers in your life? Do you try to balance them

Is It a Time Thing or a Me Thing?

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2015 is rolling on and I must say already it is better than 2014 – far better which was the goal. There are 3 key reasons…

(1) removing the negativity
(2) striving to make writing a habit
(3) improving my “me management”.

I realized I don’t have a problem with time management. My problem is with “me management.” And I here to say time management is easy, “me management” not so much.

Sometimes you have to climb fences and ice mountains to get to the calm waters...

Sometimes you have to climb fences and ice mountains to get to the sunny calm waters…


What is the difference?

Time management is putting all of your appointments and writing blocks on your calendar. See as easy as eating a doughnut.

“Me management” on the other hand is the part where you actually write during those blocks. Getting myself to actually get words on the page is “me management,” not time management. I have no problem blocking the time – just actually doing it.

It’s easy to blame ‘life’ on my lack “me management.” I mean after all we need clean socks. The dust bunnies need evicting before they become jack rabbits. The list goes on. While I do have laundry, dust bunny eviction, and other household things on my schedule, I ‘feel’ bad if I’m writing and every pair of my husband’s socks aren’t clean. Okay not really but when the characters aren’t doing what I want, the muse is giving me the silence treatment, or I just don’t want to write, these are great excuses or aka lack of “me management.”

Now from time to time, life really does throat punch my schedule and there truly is no time write BUT not as often as I like to claim.

So what about you do you have a time management problem or a “me management” problem or either?

Motivation Monday

As I stated one of the main reasons 2014 sucked troll toes is because I let negativity come in and set up camp. There were several ‘life habits’ that allowed negativity to become such a crippling force but one of the majors ones was the lack of the time management or ‘me’ management.

All my kiddos have officially moved out so besides the occasional visit and my grandson’s overnight stay, I’m an empty nester. So I have all the time in the world right to write, right? Well that’s what I thought so I dumped all my ‘tools of the trade’ for getting a 36 hour day to fit into 24.

One of the things I dumped was menu planning. I was no longer feeding the masses so why did I need to do this? Hubby and I could eat what we pleased as long as it was allowed on the diet train. The result of this new found freedom? I went the grocery store every night on my way home from the crazy day or at least every other day. MAJOR TIME SUCK.

So I’m back to menu planning. Not only will it save me time, it will save me money, we will eat healthier, and will save countless hours. Since our ‘diet’ has changed, I needed to make new ones this weekend. AND I did!!! Go me!!!

The question not to be asking at 5 pm while strolling down the aisles of the grocery store...

The question not to be asking at 5 pm while strolling down the aisles of the grocery store…

My menu planning system is a rotating menu system. I make 6 weeks that I rotate for six months (I change with the seasons – we love chili in the fall/winter not so much in the summer). I don’t necessarily follow the week order – in other words there is no ‘always week 2 menu’. I have two days in the 6 weeks for trying new recipes, if I don’t have any then we eat out 😉

So how do I create my rotating menus???? I know the suspense is killing you 😛

First I create a list of recipes

I start with your tried and true family favorites. I divide them into 3 groups – chicken, beef, and meatless so when go to assign them I can rotate through the list and don’t end up with an entire week of meatless dishes.

Using this list put together as many menus as it allows
Each menu should include the full grocery list. I include all three meals and snacks that way there is no confusion about what to eat during the week (and no time suck trips to the store). I have my grocery list divided by week but I also have a 6 week master so if chicken is on sale I know how much I need for the entire rotation.

Keep your weekly schedule in mind when pick that week’s menu.
I make a couple of the weeks that are mostly crock-pot and one skillet meals for those crazy weeks with deadlines.

It was funny as I did my 6 weeks of menus and grocery list, I was amazed at how easy it was and how much time and money I will save. Then I could only ask myself, why had I stopped?

If you have any questions on menu planning, thoughts, or ideas, I’d love to hear them.

Motivation Monday – or maybe not

queen-of-procrastinationI’m the self declared Queen of Procrastination complete with a cardboard crown that sits on my computer. Truly, I excel at it. I can even surprise myself the amount of time I can devote to this.  The key to really be good at procrastination is you have to have an arsenal – things I ‘do’ to protect my title. I’m not a television watcher, I do usually have it on but rarely do I really pay attention. So this isn’t a procrastination tool for me. My number weapon is the internet. Oh the hours, I can spend and have nothing to show for it. I cruise cooking sites, money saving sites, and a number of blogs I visit regularly. And let’s not forget twitter and facebook.

 As the pressures of balancing a day job and a writing career increases, I’ve decided that maybe I need to store my crown in the closet for awhile. So for this week, I’m going to limit myself on my internet use. While I enjoy cooking sites and ‘justify’ the time spent as ‘research’ for my books in reality, I don’t need hours a week. The same with money saving sites, these could easily be weekly visits. I don’t have small kids so rarely do I learn any new saving ‘tricks.’  The blogs I visit, I’ve decide to assign them days.  I can go back and catch up. And for the biggies – twitter and facebook. I’m limiting myself to three times a day for a limited amount of time.

 I’d love to hear what some of your favorite procrastination tools are and how do you combat them?