Thursday, January 3, 2013
Do We Need Bigger and Better?
Hey great New Year’s Eve party in Seekerville, eh? I still can’t believe the fun lasted 27 hours supervised, and then comments continued to flow into New Year’s Day. Wow. You guys are awesome!! The Seekers had a grand time and appreciated the help from our courageous friends who volunteered to host and serve throughout the day and night. I wonder if Tina is still sleeping…our chief party planner and pompom shaker. I don’t think she slept in two days. Isn’t she incredible?
It was a great time had by all. Plans are underway for 2014…
Once again this year, we talked about our One Words for the upcoming year. SIMPLIFY, FASTER, PEACE, to name a few.
My word for the year is: MANAGEMENT
There are many ways to approach this word.
Some adopt the Divide and Conquer Method which is good for paring down big jobs into bite-sized pieces and completing work in small bits.
Others might consider Sorting, Labeling and Filing a good way to keep tasks under control. There’s nothing like grouping similar tasks together and attacking the lot as a whole.
Those are well and good for the management of projects that have some sort of organizational scheme to begin with.
Unfortunately, my organizational skills being what they are, I must go a step beyond the normal and dip into the realm of Assess and Toss, otherwise known as Get Rid Of What’s Not Important. I’ve thrown away lots of paper these past few weeks, but hey, I categorize that under maintenance, not management : ) I came up with a few legitimate chaos creators to conquer:
My son’s coonhound and I have a lot in common. Hank sees a squirrel, he barks. He sees two squirrels, he barks twice as loudly. The squirrels split and go in opposite directions, Hank races back and forth across the deck determined to keep both critters under his watchful vigilance.
The same can be said for Audra. I sit down at my desk to write. I hear the Internet calling my name. Okay, I’ll check email just for a second. I make mental note of emails I need to respond to and start to return to my Scrivener program when BAM! I see an advertising email from Michael’s hobby stores teasing me with 50% off in the subject line. Just a quick peek, right? They might be selling something I need. I check out the site and try to return to Scrivener and my story. BUT WAIT! Do I see another promotional ad just a couple of lines away from the Michaels? And another one a few more lines further down? Oooo, I can resist, I tell myself. I must not open-open-open.
NO, I CAN’T. I’M NOT THAT STRONG! And there goes precious writing time down the email tubes. Grrrr, I’m so weak.
SOLUTION: I’ve unsubscribed from every tempting advertising promotion on my email list. I started doing this two weeks ago and still find renegade ads that pop up. If I need something, I’ll go snoop it out rather than waiting for it to find me. My husband and our budget appreciate it, too : )
Make a To Do List
I have no problem with To-Do lists that are tied to my day job. At work, I have a calendar desk pad and I scribble down deadlines. This works well because I pretty much need all the worksurface my office affords for projects so all my piles collect atop my filing cabinets. On my green square of paper pad I have a grand view of all my upcoming commitments and gauge time accordingly.
At home, my office is the catchall of the Harders’ household. Yes, stacks of stuff come and get comfy. I found myself making to-do lists on sticky notes, scrap envelopes, the back of discarded manuscript pages. Try as I might, it was a losing battle to make sure I remembered what needed to be done and when. THEN one day -- for lack of nowhere better to put it – I stuck a sticky note on my wall calendar, on the day the work was due. There is was, on my wall, out of danger of being buried alive, a reminder to make a dentist appointment. This is not your cue to laugh, though I won’t frown if a stray giggle escapes. It had never occurred to me to stick my stickies on my calendar hanging on the wall up above all the clutter!
SOLUTION: my To-Do list has become a series of flags on my Victorian era calendar. I can’t help but see them. The hot pink flags remind me of appointments and dates; the neon green flags gauge my writing deadlines. It’s not detailed, but it keeps my mind on task and prompts me to remember the reason I’m in my office in the first place…to write!
Stop Multi-tasking and Start doing ONE THING really well
Have you seen the AT&T commercials where a man is sitting at a table with a few young children asking them if faster is better, or bigger is better, or more is better, etc? He asks a simple question and the kids are all over the answer. They scramble, in their own elementary school way, to find an answer to the age-old question: How to do it all, and do it faster, and better than anyone else.
Our culture is wearing itself out trying to cover all the bases – and other bases that have nothing to do with them, too. I know there are people who CAN do multiple things at one time, complete their projects on time, and still have the capacity to take on more.
Sadly, I’m not one of those peeps. When I’m home and it’s time to write creatively, I need to focus on one thing, writing. If I’m thinking about compiling taxes, I won’t be able to write. If I’m thinking about helping my husband with his duck call website – or my own website! – I won’t be able to write. I had to come to terms with the tasks in my life and serving the people important to me, namely, my family.
SOLUTION: Over this past December, I tackled this problem. I didn’t write a fictional word from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. I concentrated on developing helpful habits without the pressure of writing goals.
This was very therapeutic. Try it sometime.
Through much trial and error, I discovered my internal editor and creative muse worked well in the evenings after spending time with my husband and the kids. I leave the bills, taxes, website stuff and all other mental clutter for the weekend. Right now, this seems to be working great, but the concept is in its infancy. I’m massaging my mindset as I go. The bottom line though comes down to making me as efficient as possible for the time I have available.
Distractions are the kiss of death for me. They had to go. I’m feeling very Amish, well, as Amish as a writer with multiple computers and printers in the house can be : ) I’m a work in progress. Balance is a fine line, but with the finesse of management skills – and God’s blessing on my work – I’ll be putting the finishing touches on that historical romance in no time flat : ) Ahhhh, did I mention I’m a hopeless dreamer, too?
Chime in, don’t be shy. I’m always looking for ways to keep my blinders firmly in place. What kind of helpful hints will you share? I’ll be giving away one $15 gift certificate to winner’s choice of Amazon, B&N or Christianbook dot com. Winner announced in the Saturday Weekend Edition, so be sure and check back.