Monday, November 26, 2012

The Strange Phenomenon of Parkinson's Law



We’ve all heard variations of the phrase, “The task expands to fill the allotted time.” This is commonly known as Parkinson’s Law and is attributed to Cyril Northcote Parkinson as part of a humorous essay published in 1955.

The statement is self-explanatory, and I've seen it applied many times over. But when the rubber meets the road, ie. a DEADLINE, then Parkinson's Law is thrown out the window, isn't it? I've never really thought much about Parkinson's Law up until now because for years I've filled every minute of every day with work it seems.

28 years at the day job
18 years of writing
7 years working for AFCW

I juggled them all, in addition to a family and church. Until recently. A few weeks ago I turned in my corporate badge at the day job to concentrate on writing more and working for ACFW.

Each day is fresh and new, stretching before me with tons of potential. But when all is said and done, I review the day and feel I’ve wasted a great deal of my time. Granted, as I look back over the last few weeks, there are several important tasks that I've marked off my list, quite a few personal and family errands that I’d been putting off that have gotten done, and come to think of it, I completed several promotional pieces for my publisher and turned in edits.


But still, there's that niggling worry that I'm not doing enough with this blessing of time...

It’s like I know I have more time to get things done, so I take more time, and I ending up feeling like I’ve wasted my time. Such a scary thought for someone who has burned the candle at both ends for many, many years.

Here’s the thing for us writers though. All of these tasks, writing, editing, revising, promoting, blogging, answering email, social media, keeping up with the industry, and gasp, even reading, are important. The problem comes when we start one of these (like email) and it takes hours to empty our inbox. Or we’re trying to figure out how to start a newsletter, or we get stuck on a plotting problem and it ties us up for hours.

How do we fix this problem? If Parkinson’s Law says that the task expands to fill the allotted time, then it stands to reason that if we give ourselves 5 minutes to resolve that plotting issue, then we can get it done and move on to something else. Uh, not going to happen in this lifetime. So, we can throw that reasoning out the window. The reverse is not true of Parkinson’s Law.

So, what can I do with this feeling of time's awastin'?


I can organize my time and my peak energy level to gain the maximum benefit from both. Writing should be the most important part of my work day. So, I need to make sure my writing is a priority when I’m at my best. I also need to set a time limit for those things that can be timed instead of letting them take up so much of my day. 

And, deep breath...

I can learn to appreciate those days that I get a lot done and stop beating myself up on the days I don't.

And I can eat more chocolate...

What do you do to make the best use of your time?

For more information, visit Joel Falconer's blog post "How to use Parkinson's Law to your advantage" on this topic. His blog and some of the comments gave some helpful tips on managing time. 
Today’s prizes are an Official Pomodoro Technique Timer and CHOCOLATE: a Ferrero Rocher Diamond Gift Box.

And if all else fails, I'll just gaze at my new cover for Claiming Mariah, releasing January 2013! Don't you just love it?

Claiming Mariah ~ January 2013!!!


89 comments :

  1. I love clocks. I love chocolate.

    I LOVE THIS COVER! I don't even like horses and I love the cowboy and horse silhouette. This cover is gorgeous. :)

    Can't wait to read it!

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  2. Such an issue, Pam.
    Thanks for sharing this.

    Best thing I do for me is make lists. Otherwise I tend to drift from task to task. When I review my list, I can get focused and check them off.

    Beautiful cover, just beautiful. Know it'll be great! But of course, YOU wrote it!

    And Virginia - WHAT? Don't like horses??? How is this possible??? Come meet ours. They'll win your heart! :)

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  3. Just read this on Rachelle Gardner's blog.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tony-schwartz/work-life-balance-the-90_b_578671.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

    That maximum effectiveness is 90 minutes of work with breaks in between. I think I'll be trying that--so I could use the timer! :)

    And LOVE the cover, so pretty!

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  4. Um, well, I like them, but I don't want to own one. :)

    Just read this quote on Vince's blog the other day:

    “Writing is a performance art. It’s not about putting words on paper anymore than music is about putting notes on sheet music. It’s all about creating an experience in a reader’s mind. Always ask yourself as you write: ‘what is my reader experiencing at this point?’”

    Vince Mooney

    Isn't that great? As a (very) amatuer musician, this spoke to me...

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  5. I really get this. Like you, I juggled many things for many years. Now that I'm retired I find myself not accomplishing as much with my time as I should.

    I do set daily writing goals, and I'm another list maker. Checking off even the smallest task gives me a feeling of accomplishment.

    The coffee pot is set to brew. (With that checked off my list, I've got a good start to the day.)



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  6. Perfect post for this time of year when there is so much to do.

    And that cover, it is beautiful, I guess I will gaze at it again, just for a minute.

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  7. Mary Virginia, I agree that cover is two-thumbs-up gorgeous!

    Self-discipline.

    Be the turtle and plod every day. That gets me 3 to 4 books done per year....

    Self-discipline beats talent 100% in the Ruthy-Book-On-Writing.

    And MVCM, I love that quote from Vince... that defines "Evocative", doesn't it????

    What is your work evoking?

    What emotions are piling up?

    And if they're piling high, how will you break that tension, pull the plug and switch to laughter?

    Vince, as always, is stinkin' smart.

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  8. I had never heard of Parkinson's Law but I am a firm believer!

    Oh, Pam, the cover is lovely!
    as for Mary Virginia Ginny publicly admitting she doesn't like horses... I am going to try to forget that. I will put it out of my mind by telling myself I must write 5000 words today. (okay, she likes horses...or so she says as she back-pedals up hill...)

    Good thing I had a chocolate cookie at dawn.

    thanks Pam!!!

    Vince - I'm off to create an experience for my reader. Thank you for that and for Ginny's share.

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  9. Pam, what a beautiful cover!

    I'm all about chocolate. It makes everything better.

    I do make lists, and if I can ignore the Internet, I'm much more efficient.

    Thanks for sharing today.

    Jackie L.

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  10. Pam, I so know what you are talking about. The same thing happened to me when I retired from teaching. I thought for sure with 40 plus more hours per week, I'd get so much more done and as it turned out-it seemed I got less done.

    My theory on this is that for those years we were working and doing all the other things, we were going 90 miles per hour.

    BUt we weren't made to go 90 miles per hour. (Well some of us are. I have a friend who really does and I think maybe Ruthy qualifies in that category)

    But when we cut out the day job, we can and do slow down to the speed God planned for us. Therefore we don't get as much done, but we are more normal and have time to actually sit and commune with HIM.

    So don't beat yourself up. Sit quiet in the morning and ask for guidance on what really should get done this day. It takes away the guilt for not accomplishing all you did when you were a crazy woman speeding at 90 miles per hour.

    ANd Ruthy is right. Just plod along with those daily goals and things do get done.

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  11. Oh yes, LOVE the cover. You must sit and admire that. smile

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  12. Hi Pam,

    I never heard of the term Parkinson's Law but I get the theory. Since I still work my day job, it happens to me some evenings and on the weekends. Those days it really helps me to have a to-do list.

    Great cover.

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  13. Good morning, I have never heard of "Parkinson's Law" but how true it is, time slips by much too fast for me...
    I feel you may be a little too hard on yourself-time is not meant to be crowded into a day and "filled to the top brimming over" there should be moments to savor "the good stuff around us" so do what you can and forget about the rest...
    I love the cover of this book-a rugged cowboy with rugged mountains. would be nice if you threw this book in with the timer and chocolate for a win....
    enjoyed your comments and all the time I am reading my mind keeps thinking too of "Murphy's Law" I know of that one...

    Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

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  14. i dislike clocks. i love chocolate. i absolutely ADORE your book cover. very lovely.

    i'm so guilty of wasting time. i'm with Ruthy - discipline is key. unfortunately, i'm not as disciplined as i need to be (but getting better - with the Lord's help).

    thanks for the proverbial kick in the pants information.

    ps. like horses, but from afar. guess i'm too city-fied *sigh*

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  15. Pam, I LOVE YOUR COVER! I'm looking forward to reading this one!

    what a great post. As a SAHM with a number of family, school, and church obligations, I feel like I accomplish so little on the days when I am actually home. I used to use a timer on tasks, and I think it's time to get back to that.

    FYI: Do you know the Pomodoro method? I read a blog by Michael Hyatt ages ago about it.

    And the link Melissa shared from Rachelle Gardner is a good one. :)

    Happy writing today!

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  16. Oh Pam. Your cover is absolutely gorgeous. Love it! And chocolate isn't bad either.

    Horses are wonderful creatures. I haven't ridden in years, but I still remember the exhilarating and somewhat scary feeling.

    Time management? Um...Yeah. Recently I started making a list of goals for the day. If I complete two out of ten, I consider it a good day. :)

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  17. Pam, I empathize with your struggle. I like Sandra's take on it. We do need time to commune with God and follow His leading. We also need to refill our creative tanks. Whether we're a tortoise or a hare, each of us has an unique path in our writing journey.

    Love, love, love Claiming Mariah's cover!!! Can't wait to read it!

    Janet

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  18. That is a really wonderful cover, Pam!!!
    What do I do to make the most of my time? I try to have some structure to my day. As soon as I get my kids off to school, I either have quiet time reading the Bible and praying, or I turn on my computer and check emails. Yes, and I check facebook and Seekerville too. Unless I'm really trying to finish edits or a first draft. But then I try to write, because I feel if I can get in 1,000 words before lunch time, I might be able to get in another 1,000 words before my kids get home.

    I also try to save my errands until I have at least two places to go. In other words, I group my errands together. And if I'm really struggling to get words down, I go to a coffee shop or restaurant or library and I won't let myself leave until I have 1,000 words, or close to it.

    When I'm editing, I am more likely to stay focused. Which is what I need to be doing now. Thanks for the reminder to stay efficient with my time, Pam!

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  19. Oh, and I also set goals, and it helps to have accountability partners! I am much more efficient if I know someone is going to ask me how many words I wrote that day!

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  20. Hi Pam!

    Love the cover. Love chocolate.

    Hate clocks.

    But one thing I learned to do when I was homeschooling was to write out a schedule.

    The most important thing about scheduling is to make each task a priority during its scheduled time, but mentally put it aside the rest of the time.

    Right now I'm in the time I've scheduled for "social media". In a few minutes I'll make a cup of tea and sit myself down for an hour to get my daily word count in.

    The rest of the day's tasks follow right along...

    ...unless I have a deadline, or have to run an errand, or someone's car breaks down...

    Schedules need to be flexible, too :)

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  21. I love the cover! I tells me everything I need, to know I'd love the book :) I've never head of Parkinson's Law before. Very interesting post.

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  22. Good morning Seekerville! I'm a little late for you folks on the east coast, or...maybe some of you (Virginia, Helen? lol) are on the west coast and was burning the midnight oil.

    Actually, I couldn't sleep and stayed up until 2am getting some work done. If some of you received and email from me in the middle of the night...yep, I was working. lol

    Redeeming the time, and all that.

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  23. Virginia, don't you just love that cover? I gasped out loud when I saw it. I love the composition, the profile of the heroine so that you get just enough of an idea of what she looks like, but can still picture a specific someone in your head. Oh, and I was in the final revision stage when I saw the cover, so I was able to weave in just a few references to her thick mane of hair.

    Love, love, LOVE it!!! :)

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  24. KC, your tip on lists just might be what I need.

    I'm a master list maker. I was a purchasing manager in my day job and had to juggle a lot of stuff.

    Lists weren't just my friend, they were my very lifeline.

    The problem with my list at home is that it's on my computer. I use my inbox to keep a list of things to do. The subject says...

    ********Stuff to Do...*********

    So original, right?

    This email gets updated and resent to myself every day or so when new tasks are added, others are completed. And there are sections:

    URGENT tasks at the top
    My personal writing tasks
    ACFW
    Family

    This list is vital so that I don't forget something in the long-term, but for that daily, hour-to-hour task, I need to transfer those to PAPER.

    At work, I sat in the same desk all day with my folders, papers, files, etc. all around me. My list was on my desk when I walked in and turned on the light every morning.

    At home I have an office, but prefer working in the den, and in the summer, I'll enjoy working outside on the porch. So, my list isn't front and center all the time.

    Gotta work on that. Thanks for the tip!

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  25. Melissa, thanks for the link to the Tony Swartz post. That is spot on! Been there, done that for years, and he is so right. It's worth reading....But not just reading, but acting on!!!

    A few weeks ago, I actually walked the 1/2 mile to my mailbox and left my cell-phone at HOME!

    Now that's radical!

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  26. Pam that is such a beautiful cover!

    So wonderful.

    I am the worst at procrastinating. It's why I started, many years ago, setting daily goals for myself. And, for the most part (let's don't talk about this Thanksgiving break, k?) I get them done.

    But I hear about people like...don't they say Karen Kingsbury writes 10,000 words a day EVERYDAY?! Has anyone heard something like that?
    Can you imagine? A full length book every two weeks (if you take the weekends off!)
    Can you imagine consistant production like that?

    Just imagine all we could do. All the experimenting we could do.

    I'm working on my wip AND a novella due January 1. I've set the wip aside after trying to really push hard on it during November, to finish the novella, which is finished but it needs polish.

    Anyway, I just need to keep at it, keep finishing things.
    Parkinson's Law is absolutely the truth, at least for me.

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  27. Sometimes things really do pile up and I'll make a To Do List.
    When I find myself overwhelmed I just work harder, work longer, dig deeper, stop doing the fun distracting things and focus, apply myself PUSH TO CHECK THINGS OFF ONE BY ONE!

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  28. Just finished reading Tony's blog (and it's Schwartz. Sorry about the typo). The 90 minute cycle isn't new to me, but getting into the habit is what's hard.

    Gotta work harder at not working harder!

    Helen, I wonder if we are actually accomplishing much more than we think, but we still feel like we need to be doing something in order to feel as productive as before?

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  29. Pam, that is an A W E S O M E cover!!! I want her hair. :)

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  30. Mary C, this is a busy time of year. I think last week's relaxed schedule with my son home from college, people in and out, family get-togethers, all contributed to my panic over not using my time wisely.

    Debra, I didn't know it was called Parkinson's Law either until I looked it up. It was just a saying I'd heard all my life. But certain things can take up my entire day if I let them.

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  31. Sandra, your comment made me tear up! Thank you, dear friend, for such wisdom. This is a keeper!

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  32. Pol: I would be more than happy to add a copy of Claiming Mariah to the prize today. Thanks for the suggestion.

    BUT it won't be available until January, and then only in ebook form. So, if today's winner would like an eCopy of Claiming Mariah, and doesn't mind waiting until January, I'll definitely include it. :)

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  33. Deb, I love horses that I can trust, if that makes sense. I've owned a few that I knew what they were going to do and when. I don't like surprises on a horse because generally, I'm sitting half-asleep in the saddle soaking up the sun.

    I don't have a horse of my own right now, and the ones we have are feeling a bit frisky because dh and my son haven't had time to ride them.

    Tricity is a sweet little mare that I'd like to ride, but she's young and would probably buck me off if I tried. In the spring, I'm hoping to get back to riding (after a long hiatus!), but only after my son lets Tricity work out the kinks.

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  34. Jeanne, I know the Pomodoro method, and I have the tomato timer, but I haven't actually put it into practice.

    This might sound weird, but I'm just now at the stage in my life where I can even think about organizing my time.

    Before writing (BW), in my twenties, I worked outside the home and had small kids. Dh, the kids and I went places, spent time together (even if it was just a trip to to the stockyard or to look at a bull 3 hours away).

    After writing (AW), I still worked outside the home and tacked more dream work on the ends of the day job.

    The best way to describe the last 15-20 years is that 90-mile-an-hour scenario Sandra commented on above! lol

    But I'm going to work out a system for the future. Another thing that might be a good idea is journal my daily accomplishments.

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  35. Oooh, your cover is amazingly gorgeous!!! I love it too. Very pretty.
    And no more day job?? That must be so weird for you! lol I hope you love it though and enjoy it. :-)

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  36. Bridgett, I applaud you! Two out of ten isn't bad, girl!

    Thanks Janet. I'll get my "sea-legs" eventually. I guess I just want to develop good habits from the get-go, you know?

    Breaking news: there's a bird on the back porch, chirping away. Very distracting!

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  37. Am I the only one glad the kids are back in school and hubby is back to work???

    I think I've heard of Parkinsons Law and it makes sense.

    For me, writing at least an hour a day works best, but broken down.
    20 min. writing followed by 10 min. housecleaning/chores. Do this 3 times and it's amazing how much writing and chores get done. Then if I'm on a roll, I go back and do more. I stay at home and it's easy to put off writing since I have all the time in the world.

    Love, love, love your cover, Pam.
    Connie Queen

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  38. Pam, I'm not on either coast, but smack dab in the heartland of Missouri.

    You may have a point about feeling like we need to be doing something in order to feel as productive as before.

    Retirement has been kind of a funny change for me. I've always been a hurry-up-get-things-done type. Always the first to have required paperwork handed in, etc.

    Now I'm a plodder. I don't do those high daily word counts like I read about others doing, but I'm CONSISTENT. Every day I crank out 2-4 pages. That rate, with editing time between, will result in 2 books a year.

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  39. Great cover, Pam!

    You probably are still recovering for rushing around non-stop for years! But you're right about not being as focused and time oriented when you have a lot of time. I agree you get done what you have to do in the amount of time you have.

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  40. Beautiful Cover, Pam

    and thanks for the post.

    I like to make lists. I don't ever look at them, but they help put my thoughts in order. HAHA

    Actually I have been known to cross some of the items off form time to time.

    I remember waiting till the last day to finish a book report, certain that the Parkinson's law would indeed kick in. It worked so well back when, I wait til the last minute to do my books now.

    NOT.

    In truth, I remember staying up until near dawn to get a certain book report done. I decided it was far easier to start early and take little steps toward the finish, the whole pour it on on the final lap had me nodding off all day in class.

    :-)

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  41. Melanie, I adore structure. But apparently, other people in my life don't. What's up with that?

    And I would be more than happy not to have to run errands more than once a week. I'm a homebody at heart.

    Jan, schedules need to be flexible, yes, but there comes a point that they are so flexible, they completely fall apart. And if they are expected to be flexible on a daily basis, there is no schedule.

    Maybe that's my problem. I'm too rigid, and when my schedule/structure is interrupted, I'm all out of sorts.

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  42. Jessica, no more day job, but I'm still very active in ACFW, so instead of 2 1/2 jobs, I now only have 1 1/2 jobs. I love it, just haven't quite gotten myself organized yet.

    Connie, I think the 20 minute plan is similar to the Pomorodoro technique. So, I've got to decide which works best for me. The 20 minute technique or the 90 minute one. Problem is, I need enough uninterrupted days to practice so I can SEE which works best!

    Today doesn't count: I knew Seekerville was going to be busy today! :)

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  43. Helen, it is something to ponder, isn't it?

    Tina, I've been known to finish a task at the last minute (uh, this blog, for instance), because 1) it was due 2) the adrenaline rush made it happen. Or...maybe it was just due and I knew I had to get it done.

    But... I'm much happier and less stressed those times I finish something ahead of time. It's a worthy goal to strive for.

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  44. Oooooooo, I love the cover, Pam!

    I have no idea what I do with my time. I have been having trouble with the story I'm working on. More so in the beginning than the end, but I started rewarding myself for every 500 words. *g* I pulled off a few 4k days that way. I was hoping for more today, but I have to go to the store or the family will starve. ;)

    Looking forward to Mariah's story. I can't wait to add it to my collection.

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  45. Pam, I LOVE your new cover!! I want to gaze at it too! :)

    I'm trying to rearrange my days to have writing time at my peak and with the least interruptions. I'm saving promo stuff for afternoons once the kids get home. :)

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  46. Pam, how to make good use of every free minute is the struggle faced by many of us who work from home.

    Some days I feel so unproductive, yet I've worked seemingly nonstop.

    Focusing on one task until it's done helps. And staying off the Net until the work is done helps as well.

    Love your new cover. Gorgeous!

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  47. Hi Pam:

    Thanks goodness I waited until I had accomplished many things at work before I visited the Seekers today. Right now I have fireworks going off in my head thinking about the consequences and alternatives to what you wrote. I call it creative but intrusive philosophy.

    Your cover won me over in seconds. But I didn’t see the heroine or the cowboy or even the horse. I saw the landscape. To someone who loves the southwest and the southwest genre that artwork is more of a dreamscape than anything else. It’s majestic. It’s the west. I could just hear a song whistling past my ears as I contemplated my ride to the end of the river: “And they called the wind Mariah.” That cover says freedom and it makes a strong invitation to a great reading experience.

    A True Instantiation of Parkinson’s Law

    On my first day on a Teamster union job, working on the missile sites in Tucson, the senior union man came over to have a talk with me. “It all pays the same, so don’t hurry. It’s okay to look busy but just spread the work out.”

    Setting Priorities Can Make Avoiding Them Easier

    “Life’s not about setting priorities. Priorities have a way of setting us. Life is really about selecting the most morally acceptable alternative to doing what we know we really should be doing but don't feel like doing.”

    Mooney’s Law: “The introduction of labor saving devices will always cause more additional work than they eliminate.”

    Mooney’s Corollary To Parkinson’s Law:

    “It’s not the task that expands to fill the allotted time. It’s the point at which we claim the task is done that expands.”

    I could go on but I have to stop. I have too many ideas crowding my mind demanding attention. I’ll be back after I deal with these intruders.

    Even the mere idea of saving time takes up time.

    Vince

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  48. Pam, that is a great cover! I love it! IMO there is no better way to spend the day than consuming chocolate. :-P

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  49. I'm with Tina. I absolutely love to make lists and plan out my day but never look at them. I always think I have more time than I do, anyway!
    Due to not having a car at the mo, I've cut back on a lot of things and have more time to write as a result. (No more nipping up to church for an evening of bowls with the elderly gents, etc & I don't think I'm missed!) I'm a bus commuter to work anyway, but I now find my evenings and weekends are so much more free, no temptation to nip up the road to the supermarket! - and its a great feeling I have to say.

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  50. Congrats on the fabulous cover, Pam!

    Love the title too!

    Cheers,
    Sue

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  51. Pam, congratulations on this beautiful cover! You hit the jackpot!

    This is a very timely subject for me since I have been cyber shopping most of the morning. :(

    Please enter me.

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  52. Beautiful cover, Pam---WOW! ~ And...a very TIMELY post, I might add (pun intended). I can so identify with that niggling guilt over not getting enough done. For years I was super busy, and look back now and don't know how I did it all (besides the fact I was younger then, LOL). But I agree that we need to celebrate the days when we DO accomplish a lot, and not be too hard on ourselves when we don't (sometimes easier said than done for me*sigh*). I also need to use my "most energetic time" during the day for writing, rather than cleaning the litter boxes when I've got that energy, LOL. Blessings, Patti Jo

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  53. Christina, you had to mention starvation, didn't you? I was hoping to avoid the topic of GROCERY SHOPPING.

    Missy, we will make a pact! We will write in the mornings before the world intrudes.

    Ps...we're getting a nice, slow drizzle this afternoon. Makes me want to cuddle up on the couch with a blanket and a good book and a cappucino. Yum!

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  54. Vince, I'm so glad you made it to Seekerville today! Last night as I was putting the finishing touches on this post, I was already hoping you'd be able to stop by and share your philosophical wisdom.

    And here you are!! Yay!!!

    First, that's the way I felt about the Claiming Mariah cover. I love your word for it: a dreamscape. Such a beautiful way to describe it!

    Vince said: Even the mere idea of saving time takes up time.

    Exactly! I've spent most of the weekend and today attempting to corral this beast.

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  55. Renee, so glad you like the cover too!

    Joanne, that's the good part about living out in the country. I'm not real tempted to run to the store or to town. But now that I'm home more, I'm cooking more, so I'm having to plan meals further in advance if I don't want to have to drive 10 miles for something needed in a recipe. It's a trade-off for being at home that I'm willing to make though!

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  56. Thanks Susan!

    Donna, I cyber shopped last year until I dropped. Haven't done any yet this year, but I definitely need to. ASAP.

    No time yet!

    Lack of time is the bane of my existence.

    Sigh.

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  57. Patti Jo, I hear you. Yes, we were a bit younger when we accomplished so much, weren't we?

    I'm loving this season in my life. I just don't want to get lazy and blow it.

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  58. Vince, your brilliance on labor-saving devices was similar to one my father-in-law loved:

    "Women want step-saver kitchens so they have time to go to the gym."

    :)

    We are our own enigma, LOL!

    My turtle plodding works well for me, daily goals, accomplished in the middle of the night.

    No excuses.

    No prisoners.

    (Death is allowed to interrupt. Pretty much anything else can be planned for ahead of time... I'm just sayin'...)

    The other thing I do that helps is I pre-plan my scenes mentally so I usually know exactly what I'm going to write when I wake up in the morning... And if I don't, I kill someone. Or have a face-off with a mother.... Mother-go-'rounds are always an eye-opener!

    And Vince, I'm remembering your advice on courting procedures! :) I've gotta give these heroes a reason for us to love, love, love them!

    Otherwise they're too stinkin' real.

    ;)

    That stirs things up!

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  59. Gorgeous, gorgeous cover, Pam! And congratulations on your freedom from the "day job" so you can concentrate on writing and ACFW!

    It's so true, though--once we really are our own bosses, self-discipline becomes paramount. Too easy to rationalize not doing something we just aren't in the mood for, like when writing inspiration doesn't strike like the lightning bolt we desperately need to get us started.

    As for prime writing time, I learned a few years ago that if I use the morning hours to take care of busy work (emails, household chores, errands, and such), it frees my mind to focus on the actual writing when I sit down at my computer after lunch. Afternoons: writing. Mornings: everything else. Most days it works.

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  60. Did someone mention chocolate?

    There are times when I will take a vaction just to have a writing day and will not make it to the coffee shop until mid-morning, despite my pesonal goal to get there much earlier. I lways view that as me wasting time, even though I get several hours of writing in.

    Sometimes, when I set aside a time during the day to write and I know that's all I have, I get a lot crammed into that snippet of time.

    Virginia, it's possible to like horses and not be a horse person. Is this how it is for you?

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  61. I only know that when I was working full time I thought about how great it would be to be home writing. When I'd get home I'd be exhausted.

    When I get a job again... I will really miss the freedom. Yes, it's true. I enjoy my naps on demand!

    But I'm used to being pushed by what I had to accomplish each day and I like that feeling best.

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  62. Hi Pam:

    I’m delighted you liked my dreamscape description. How could you not look out from that high point of view and see the whole world spread out there before you and not dream?

    Your cover made me instantly think of three excellent western books I just loved at first sight by Kaki Warner: “Pieces of Sky”, “Open Country”, “Chasing the Sun”. I loved “Pieces of Sky” and it went on to win a RITA. I bought that book because of the cover.

    I can’t wait to get your new book on my Kindle!

    Vince

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  63. Hi Ruth:

    Wow: what your husband wrote, “"Women want step-saver kitchens so they have time to go to the gym." is saleable. I think there are features in Woman’s World that pay for those one liners. Try it. They also pay for cute kid stories and sayings. I’m sure you have an abundance of those.

    As for being a plodding plotter it is said that ‘by their fruits they shall be known’ and your wondrous output validates whatever methods you are using. BTW: “His Mistletoe Family” is so unique I’m having to use Yankee baseball analogies to drive home my points! (I’m not referencing this year.) I think you’ll like it. : )

    You wrote:

    “And Vince, I'm remembering your advice on courting procedures! :) I've gotta give these heroes a reason for us to love, love, love them!”

    I found that a good way to be romantic is to listen, listen, listen and then follow up on the most trivial comments the heroine has made. If she says she misses the candy she had as a kid but is only available in West Virginia, have the hero give her a bag of that candy instead of flowers on their next date.

    One of the biggest complains women have is “He just doesn’t listen”. If the man really listens, he really seems to care and caring comes out as being romantic most of the time.

    I have a guiding rule on relationships:

    “The big things you have to do. It’s the small things that determine your sincerity.”

    I got my 'work' work done, so now I can go back to work on my long delayed reviews.

    Vince

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  64. Hi Virginia:

    Thanks for quoting me! It has put me in a quotatious state of mind. I’ve always loved famous quotations ever since I was a child. I used to read books on great quotations. I have developed a motto over the years that goes something like this:

    “Think in such a way that whatever you choose to say will be a candidate to someday become a famous quotation.”

    I think doing this can give a writer an entirely different point of view on how to express yourself.

    Congrats on your early finish to NaNo. Great news on getting started on book two. What do they say: “Well begun is half done”. : )

    I am writing a new first chapter to last year’s NaNo novel. Contest judges want me to make the heroine more sympathetic and introduce her first in the story. So I am going to have her open the door to the mountain cabin only to be looking into the eyes of a 500 pound black bear and her cub. Now she needs the hero! I hope I can do this revision in the time left.

    I also bought another copy of your book “Season of Joy” -- this one for my Kindle. My Harlequin ebook copy can only be read at my computer a few minutes a day when I can fit some reading time in. I’m just going to start all over again and read the story straight through the right way on my nice large print Kindle. I start tonight! (This will also let me be a verified reviewer on Amazon.)

    Vince

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  65. Great blog and amazing cover!!!!!!!! That must be such a thrill when you see what your baby is going to look like!

    I work two jobs -- three if you count the fact that my day job has me bouncing between two schools so I work 6 days a week plus one evening and I bus everywhere. Some days I feel like I spend more time getting to and from work than actually working. So, I'm not organized at all but determined that not one day slips by without something written down, even if I only have half an hour at the end of the day. I make myself write and even when it's truly awful there's always some glimmer of plot detail that comes out. That's what I cling to -- that I'm getting somewhere bit by bit. :-)

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  66. Love your cover! Ah, to quit the day job. Five years and 9 months and I'll be joining you.

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  67. I'm baaaack! My mother-in-law made soup and invited us over. Yummy!

    Myra, you're schedule is the exact opposite of what seems to work for me. Mornings seem to be my most productive time.

    Walt, some of my most productive days have been when dh and I were on vacation. Being a rancher, he enjoys spending time at stockyards across the country. I'm good with that. I just take my laptop, hole up in the buyer's lounge (trust me, it sounds a lot cushier than it is), find a plug-in and write away. It works real well because he'll stay put for several hours. I've got a safe place for my laptop, coffee, and mostly quiet except for the ring of the auctioneer in the background. I can usually tune him out though. :)



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  68. I love, love, love your cover, Pam! So different than Stealing Jake...and I loved that one, too : )

    My tasks expand to fill the allotted time only because my mind tends to run wild, run free. Making good use of time available is something I need to schedule ahead of time for my days off.

    Except over holidays.

    Scheduling ANYTHING over holidays is a bust.

    Thanks for including the links, Pam. I need help : )

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  69. Vince, oooh, that new opening scene sounds like a SCREAM! :)

    Kav, your work schedule would make anybody cringe! God bless you, lady!

    Terri, there you go, counting down the days. Honestly, I've been dreaming of doing this for years, but am such a careful sort that I didn't know if I'd ever have the guts to do it. Well, circumstances nudged me to choose or I'm not sure if I would have ever quit. So far I have complete peace about my decision.

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  70. Audra, holidays are pretty much a bust here too. I always have good intentions, but they never panned out quite like I intended, other than getting my GH entries in on time. I always managed to do that.

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  71. im late commenting as I have been in the city trying to overheat myself watching the sport I love the most (yet wonders why I suffer so much for it).
    Oh dont enter me firstly its to far and secondly I really dont like those chocolates (they have nuts in them).

    Love the cover of your book. Oh and I hadn't heard the saying before.

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  72. Pam, it's been one of THOSE days. I'm just getting back here. But I forgot to tell you how excited I am for you that you have the opportunity to devote more prime time to writing. God will show you what your groove looks like as you experiment. I am already looking forward to your future books. :) Good night.

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  73. Jenny, glad to see you made it home from the city! Soccer?

    Jeanne, thanks lady. You're right. It's all in God's hands, isn't it. Have a wonderful night!

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  74. HI pam no cricket.
    im a fanatic. although left early yesterday cos I couldn't take the heat anymore was so hot and feeling ill, also I had reacted to the sunscreen and the arms are still hurting.

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  75. The cover is gorgeous & you've just got to love chocolate.

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  76. I could use a lovely timer, and I never say no to chocolate. I read a blog by Rachelle Gardner recently about doing 90 minute segments of high energy output then taking a break. I've found it works.

    Ginger
    Ginger dot solomon at gmail dot com

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  77. Yikes, Jenny! Hope you're feeling better...and bopping my head...I knew you were a fan of cricket, but at the moment, I couldn't think of it. God bless you!

    Mary, thanks for stopping by. You can never go wrong with chocolate, can you?

    Ginger, someone commented on the 90 minute principal and I read the blog too. I'm definitely going to get some kind of system going...and soon!

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  78. Yes, Pam...looking at the beautiful cover is a good way to spend time! i found that when i had a job off of the farm, i did get more done..now i can procrastinate. Of course, since i have a review blog and review for numerous authors and publishers, i read and that is so NOT a waste. And waiting for your new novel to come out is not a waste either. Thanks for the post.

    marianneDOTwanhamATgmailDOTcom

    reviewingnovelsonline.blogspot.ca

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  79. Love to win the timer and especially the chocolates!!!YUMMY!!!the cover is beautiful!

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  80. Gorgeous cover!!! Congrats!

    I find when I write with a timer set I get a lot more done. Especially if I intersperse it with doing something else (like laundry, house cleaning, etc.). That way, I can honor my husband by working around the house AND get some writing done. A feeling of accomplishment is all tied into your expectations. If you expect too much from your days, you'll never be satisfied.

    Can't wait to win the timer and chocolate!

    God bless,
    -Lisa

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  81. I have tried many plans for getting the most out of my writing time. I tried to do it first thing in the morning, but all the other tasks on my "to do" list kept distracting me. So now, I get the basics done in the morning, then plan MY hour for 1:00 to 2:00 to write and plot. So far, this works the best for me. And chocolate! Love the cover of your book!

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  82. Marianne, I totally agree. Reading is not a waste of time.

    Readers unite!

    Thanks for stopping by, Sheila, Lisa, and Sherida! Make sure you check the WE for the winners.

    Looks like that Ferrero Rocher chocolate is a hit! I might have to order a box for myself. :)

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  83. You Cover is Beautiful! I can't wait to read it!
    Crystal

    Mindaf @ AOL.com

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  84. PAMMY ... I am SOOO sorry I am late, but I absolutely LOVE your new cover, my friend -- GORGEOUS!! Can't wait to read it!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  85. Though I'm late in replying, I must say I read this post at the perfect time. Exactly what I needed. :)

    If it's not too late, I'd like to be entered to win the timer and chocolate. Everything is better with Ferrero!

    Also, I LOVE the Claiming Mariah cover!

    nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

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  86. The cover is beautiful. Thanks for having the giveaway.

    harnessrose(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  87. It sounds like you are having a lot of fun writing your books!And you have a good choice in your cover. Congratulations!
    Jan

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  88. Crystal, C.E., HarnessROSE, and Janet, thank you so much for stopping by.

    Writing books is the best job in the world!!! :)

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