Friday, April 17, 2015

The Organized Writer

Hello, everyone! Julie Jarnagin here. 

We all have seasons in our lives when we’re B-U-S-Y, and I’m there right now. I have a one-year-old boy and a six-year-old boy, a full-time job in marketing, and book deadlines. On top of that, my husband and I decided to put our house on the market and build a new one. Next on our list of things to do is to get our heads checked out because I think we’ve lost our minds. 


But we’ve all been there--when we feel like there just isn’t enough time in the day.
I’ve always loved learning about time management and productivity (it’s one of my many nerdy quirks), and during this time in my life, I’ve been able to really put the things I’ve learned to the test. 


Here are some of my favorite tips, the ones that have really worked, for getting more done.  

1.    Establish good habits

We don’t realize it, but a lot of what we do each day is determined by our habits. When you woke up this morning, what did you do first? Shower, brush your teeth, put on your shoes? Did you put on the right shoe or left shoe first? We do all these things without even thinking about them. Have you ever taken a wrong turn because you were on auto-pilot and headed down the road to your house or to work by mistake?


Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Wouldn’t it be great if we could simply train ourselves to do the things that are most important to us--be healthier, write that book, get organized. But changing our habits or creating new habits is hard! Just ask anyone who made a New Year’s Resolution this year. 


One of my favorite tools for managing my time is using mini habits. What are mini habits? They’re tiny daily goals that can help us establish positive routines in our lives. Here are a few of my current mini habits. 


*    Make our bed
*    Write ten minutes each day
*    Read one chapter of the Bible
*    Drink a large glass of water first thing in the morning

They sound easy, right? That’s the reason behind them! They’re supposed to be small enough to not be intimidating. I don’t have to get my entire book edited today. I just have to work on it for ten minutes. But do you know what usually happens? Once I get started, I end up spending way more time than ten minutes on it.

And after I made my bed this morning, I figured I might as well pick up the dirty socks too. Do you see how they work? I definitely need to write more than ten minutes per day to meet my June deadline and I always drink more than one glass of water per day, but these mini habits get my day started right. If I have a busy day, I may actually only finish ten minutes, and that’s enough to keep my momentum going for the next day. Does ten minutes sound like a lot to you? Start with only three minutes.

Some other mini habits you could try are:

*    Do 10 push ups (or sit ups or jumping jacks) each day
*    Walk around the block
*    Read a craft book for 10 minutes a day
*    Choose one thing in your home to give away each day
*    Write down the things you eat each day

That last point leads us to #2 on our list.

2. Write it down

I love a good to-do list, or any list for that matter, but this is about more than writing down your grocery list. Only about 3% of adults have clear, written goals. This means 97% of us are walking around with no goals, even though it’s scientifically proven that we would accomplish more if they were written down. There’s just something powerful about putting it on paper.
But it’s not only your goals that you should write down. Track your progress toward those goals on paper. A recent study showed that people who kept a food journal lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t. Again--there’s power in writing things down. 


If you’re like me and you geek out on this stuff, you may be tempted to make a big fancy spreadsheet with way too many columns. Don’t! Keep it simple. A list of goals taped to your desk and a notebook beside your computer where you track your daily word count or time spent with your rear end in the chair will do the trick. 


3.    Do the hard stuff first


There’s a great book by Brian Tracy titled Eat that Frog. In the book Tracy explains that your "frog" is your biggest, most important task. It’s that thing on your list that you know is a priority in your life but you still seem to procrastinate on it. 


We know we should write that synopsis or finish that proposal the agent requested at conference, but it just seems too big and scary. What if it isn’t good enough? It’s easier to check social media or put in another load of laundry. Resist the temptation to begin with the small things first. When you sit down to write, “eat that frog!”

If you’d like to get more productivity and time management tips sent right to your inbox, sign up for my Girls’ Guide to Getting More Done Newsletter 

 
So what’s your best tip for getting it all done? And if you had to choose one mini habit to start today, what would it be? 




Julie Jarnagin is a multi-published author of inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and two young sons who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. www.JulieJarnagin.com

 






 The first book in the Taste of Texas series, The Art of Falling, is available for pre-order on iBooks https://itun.es/us/RP0S5.l and will be released on April 21.
 
Heather Tornsten needs a man…a celebrity, more specifically, for a fundraising gala for the Dallas art museum, where she works. And what better headliner than bull rider Wyatt Lawrence? Although why people idolize grown men who make their living falling off animals, she’ll never understand.

When his mom was diagnosed with cancer, Wyatt determined to focus on doing what she wants—like visiting some art museum. But when his mom teams up with Heather Tornsten to get him involved in a fundraiser, he knows he’s been set up. The more involved he gets with the pretty events coordinator, the more he realizes falling off a bull is far safer. Because falling for Heather–who has made it clear that she won’t risk her heart on any man who courts danger–might break a whole lot more than his bones.






In addition to our #LibraryMade drawing today, Seekerville is giving away an ecopy of Brian Tracy's Eat That Frog to one commenter. Let us know you want it! Winners announced in the Weekend Edition!

107 comments :

  1. Write ten minutes each day.

    That's the one that gobsmacked me.

    I really should be sleeping but the opportunity to be first on comments was too tempting...zzzzzz

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  2. Welcome Julie! I am a Frog Eater. LOVE BRIAN TRACY!!!

    And love mini habits. Where did you find that one?

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  3. BTW, your cover is gorgeous! Did you have a hand in the design process?

    Tell us what's next for you.

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  4. Loved that post, though my "frog" may be a large goal, some things can't be rushed. Thanks, Julie for an inspiring post. And I'll be looking for your books!

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  5. Hi Julie! I'm up late and wanted to read your post. I dream of being organized and not procrastinating. Actually I'm always working on that goal. Someday l'll make it.

    Your mini habits are wonderful. I'm going to try for writing 10 minutes each day.

    BTW I've signed up for your Girl's Guide to Getting More Done.

    Congratulations on your book. I know the last one of yours I read was great.

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  6. Oh, and put me in the hat for Eat That Frog.

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  7. I love this because I'm a big believer in doing it. Setting mini goals, making lists and rewarding myself when goals are reached.

    Learning to turn little things into good habits is clutch! It goes right to the "Ask the busy person to do one more thing" because they'll get it done.

    Love it, Julie! Crazy fun cover! And building a house, oh my stars, a daily enterprise to make sure they do things right. Best of luck with that!!!

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  8. I am such a procrastinator! I so need that book. I have good intentions but they get derailed so easily... Thank you for the motivation and advice :)

    Please put my name in the hat for the frog book and library pouch!

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  9. Coffee is served on the sunny veranda! Mini-cakes, Danish, and strawberry/cream stuffed croissants are available for your continental-style dining pleasure!

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  10. Terri Weldon, go for it! Try these little tips... mini-steps, darling, Julie's got it working!

    BABY STEPS ALL THE WAY!!!

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  11. A sunny veranda sounds divine, Ruthy. Do you have any french vanilla creamer for my coffee? Of course you do. You always think of everything, and I'll take one of those no-calorie strawberry/cream stuffed croissants.

    BTW Julie, I love your tips. Setting a word goal every day keeps me on track. I even have a simple little spreadsheet where I post my daily goal, daily words written, and the total. I started small--500 words a day, then upped it to 1,000, which seems to be the sweet spot for me. Usually, I exceed that, but then I feel so good about myself.

    God bless you for taking care of two little ones while you're building a house. That's why we do those things when we're young. At my age, I'd go screaming into the night.

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  12. Not to belabor the FROG...or anything, but most people don't get it. It's not about procrastinating. Most writers do not procrastinate. You have to be highly self motivated to write with no paycheck in sight.

    But the FROG is about organizing your to do list when it is impossibly, overwhelmingly TOO DARN LONG!

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  13. Thank you, Julie. Time management is one of my hobbies. I've backed off from it the past few years because I realized I was multi-tasking TOO much and missing some opportunities that may never come again. Also, I kept losing my keys and I set my favorite purse on fire because I forgot to turn off the stove. It was time to let go of the multi-tasking!!! But I still practice time management. Time is a gift and we need to make the most of it.
    Kathy Bailey

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  14. Hi Deb! You must be a night owl. I'm more of an early bird. Writing ten minutes a day helped me so much around the holidays. Some days I would only get ten minutes, and some days I would surprise myself and get a good day of writing in.

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  15. Hi Tina! I so glad to be here! Thank you for having me. I discovered mini habits one day when reading a productivity blog. I believe it all began with a book by Stephen Guise.
    And thank you! Lacy Williams who started Redbud Press designed the cover. She's so talented.

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  16. Oh, and what's next for me...the novella is released Tuesday, then the first novel in the Taste the Texas Series titled Kiss the Cowboy will be released on May 19. I'm currently working on the second book in the series. It has been a blast to write these books!

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  17. Thanks, Marianne. That's true. Some goals definitely take time. As long as we stick with them, we'll get there!

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  18. Thanks, Terri! Great to see you here. You ARE up late. I usually don't make it past 10:30!

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  19. Thanks, Ruth. They were going to frame the house today, but it's going to rain all day! I didn't talk about rewards today but that's a great one too!

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  20. Hi, Heidi! I'm a recovering procrastinator. I've always struggled with it, which is why I've had to work to learn this stuff.

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  21. Ruth - I could definitely use a coffee and a croissant this morning. Yum!

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  22. Barbara - That's a great daily word goal! I may go screaming into the night by the time this house gets built. LOL!

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  23. Tina - Yes! Our lists are too long, and our brains have a natural tendency to look first for the things that take less effort. We have to train ourselves to spend time on the things that are most important.

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  24. Kathy - "Time is a gift and we need to make the most of it." So true. I love this.

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  25. Julie, welcome to Seekerville! What a full plate you have. I needed another cup of coffee just to finish reading your to-do list, LOL!

    Organization is something I covet but tends to remain just outside my grasp. I've signed up for your newsletter. I'm praying it helps refocus this muddled mind!!

    As far as mini habit go, my New Year's Resolution was to throw something away each day. So far, so good.

    Thanks for joining us today!!

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  26. That's a great one, Audra! One thing per day adds up!

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  27. Welcome to Seekerville, Julie. Thanks for your helpful post! With your busy life, you're a poster child for organization.

    I'm a list maker and love to cross off tasks. I have a solid routine for starting my day, but I'm not good at recording time spent. Or the food eaten. Keeping track of time is my new goal from reading your post.

    The mini habit I need and struggle with is getting up from the computer and moving around. Sitting is too easy. LOL

    Your book looks and sounds great!

    Janet

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  28. Just what I needed to hear this morning. :-) For me, the frog isn't necessarily my biggest, most important task -- it's the one I just don't want to do. So I wake up with every intention of doing it, but then I start bargaining with myself. "I'll do it after..." fill in the blank. And I feel very self-righteous because I actually have a plan. (rolling eyes.) And I keep it up until about three in the afternnon. And then I say to myself, "It's too late. I'll do it first thing tomorrow." Only tomorrow comes and...well, you can figure out the rest. See -- I need help! LOL Off to actually do that thing I don't want to do. Now.

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  29. Julie, isn't it exciting building a new house? Hope things go smoothly and quickly for you.
    Thank you for a wonderful post! I love mini goal setting and mini daily habits.

    I know that my bible study comes first.
    I make my bed. :-)
    I go to the bathroom first thing and I bend and place my palms on the floor. I figure the first morning I can't do it—it's time to push a little harder. :-)

    I go on Seekerville.
    I write.
    By this time it's 8:00 o'clock. :-)

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  30. I did the dreaded thing! Yes, it was accomplished in that short of time. Why have I been putting it off? Silly me. I've wasted more energy justifying not doing it then just doing it. Hoorah! I feel like I've moved a mountain and the day has barely begun. Thanks for the motivation!

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  31. Janet - Isn't crossing things off your list the best feeling! Have you ever added something to your list that you just did so that you can cross it off? Ha!

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  32. Kav - I definitely have those things too! I have a lot of phone calls to make at work and I used to always put those off and put those off. Then when I'd finally do them, I'd realize they weren't so bad after all. I think the anticipation of the thing we want to do is worse than actually doing them!

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  33. Mary - Sounds like you have a great morning routine! I actually just drove by the house after I dropped my son off at kindergarten and they're working on it in the rain! It really has been a great process so far.

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  34. Julie, welcome! This is EXACTLY what I needed today! I really appreciate your tips.

    Now I need to obey them and eat that frog (reworking a proposal synopsis to reflect changes I made in the chapters). :)

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  35. Also meant to say your book sounds so fun!

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  36. This post was right on time for me! It was like you wrote that paragraph about Eat That Frog for me. I mean, I'm certainly not on social media avoiding the proposal I have to turn in May 1st *coughs delicately* *looks innocent*

    I think the tips you shared will get me on track with this project that currently seems overwhelming. And I'll definitely sign up for your newsletter. Please enter me in the drawing.

    P.S. Your book sounds wonderful. Can't wait to get my hands on it!

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  37. I want your coffee this morning, Ruthy! I ran out of creamer and had to use the powder stuff. :)

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  38. I eat everything except the frog, which makes me think I am productive...then in the middle of the night I remember the frog! Love this blog and your mini-habits. I've added walking on the treadmill each day and writing down everything I eat. Love lists...and love scratching through the items I have accomplished.

    But I still have the frog! :)

    Using my new Samsung tablet. Hope it loads!

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  39. Wow, Julie, what great advice here--thank you!

    Mini-habits--love it! I've tried to develop a few of those lately, particularly getting up from my writing chair regularly to do five minutes of moving around. I keep some hand weights on a bookshelf to work on upper body strength, and I have one of those weighted hula hoops. Exercising for five minutes here and there throughout the day is MUCH more palatable for me than a 30-minute sweat routine!

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  40. I don't exactly make a list, unless you count putting it on a calendar. And this is no ordinary calendar. It comes w/cute little pics and bright colors to motivate me. I know it takes a little time to create my calendar, but I tend to actually look once it's complete.

    I have Eat the Frog! Love that book.

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  41. Thanks, Missy. Good luck with your proposal. You can do it!!!

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  42. Hi, MzZeyZey. So glad it helped! Big projects can definitely seem overwhelming for all of us. Breaking it down into smaller, more manageable, chunks will help. And getting started each day is usually the hardest part.

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  43. Debby - If we're avoiding something, it's soooooo easy to get distracted!

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  44. Julie, I do that all the time!!! LOL Not sure what that says about us. We must love instant gratification. I consider myself organized but I can procrastinate, especially with eating that frog.

    You've been an encouragement.

    Janet

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  45. Myra - "Getting up from my writing chair regularly to do five minutes of moving around" - That's a great idea! I love it!

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  46. Connie - A cute calendar is a great motivation. I think you're wise to find something that works for you and to stick with it!

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  47. Janet - I've done it too! :) Right after I had my youngest, my husband laughed because he saw "shower" on my to-do list. He doesn't understand that when you have a new baby showering is a big accomplishment. Ha!

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  48. Great post, Julie! And great ideas, too! Best wishes with your new series! I love it!

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  49. Thanks for reading it, Janet! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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  50. Oh, so timely for me, Julie. When I was little girl and hated math, my mom would say her Okie version of "eat that frog": "Do the hardest thing first. Everything else will be gravy." Until lately, I've lived by that and it really works. Now I MUST get back to eating that darn frog--which means rewriting this chapter TODAY!

    Thanks for the swift kick in the pants!

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  51. Great post, Julie. Love the idea of mini goals. They sounds doable. For someone like me who tends to make a production of any task on my list, this one tip alone could make a BIG difference for me. I'm gonna try it.

    Please don't enter me in the drawing for Eat That Frog! I have a print copy, and it just moved to the top of my TBR mountain.

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  52. :) Sounds like a wise mom, Linda. I need to use that one on my six-year-old.

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  53. Thanks for stopping by, Keli! I hope it works well for you.

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  54. I need to set some mini goals for myself! I'm a college student, working, etc. Always busy! Thanks for the great tips, Julie!

    I'd love to be tossed into the drawing, too :)

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  55. See? Again, I'm convinced we MUST be related!! I'm an organization nut, too! I love your tips, especially about habits. So good! Try to hang in there with all the craziness in your life!

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  56. Such great advice, Julie. I had started this at the beginning of the year, but I've fallen off the wagon. I must climb back on if I ever hope to finish this book.

    I think you're right--we put off the big things because of all the "what ifs." But the biggest what if is: What if I don't achieve God's will for me because I was afraid? That's the one I'm working on remembering.

    And yes, I'd love that book. I think I need a little encouragement to eat my frog.

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  57. Hi Julie!
    So fun to see you here! (Julie is one of my extra-special critique parnters!)

    What a great post! I have so many bad habits I need to break, so I should start by instituting good MINI habits! I love that idea.

    My biggest problem is plunking down at the computer to write and telling myself I'll exercise in half an hour. Yeah, that never happens! So I'm trying to train myself to exercise first. 'Trying' being the key word here!

    So happy to see your books coming out! They are so much fun! Everyone be sure and mark your calendars to get a copy!!

    Have a super day!

    Cheers,
    Sue

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  58. Mini habits -- so do-able. Thank you!

    I already accomplished one of the things I added to my to-do list this morning ... ordered The Art of Falling via iBooks. The blurb sounds like it will be a fun read, especially since I love the DFW museums.

    Nancy C

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  59. I remember those days, Sarah. In college you always feel like there's more to do -- more studying, more reading, more everything!

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  60. I love lists, too. Except most times I write the list and forget to look at it!!

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  61. Thanks, Jill! Maybe long lost cousins. Ha! I hope you got your Slurpee yesterday. ;)

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  62. Robin - "But the biggest what if is: What if I don't achieve God's will for me because I was afraid? That's the one I'm working on remembering." Yes! There's so much more to it than just procrastination. This is a good reminder that the first place we should start is with prayer!

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  63. Great to see you here, Susan! My books wouldn't be what they are without my wonderful critique partner!

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  64. Awesome! Thanks, Nancy! This made my day. :)

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  65. Thanks for stopping by, Bethanne!

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  66. Good afternoon, Julie! Just signed up for your newsletter. If there's any way to get more done in a day, I want to hear about it. :-) I homeschool my six children, and my husband is today finishing the final grade and seed of the yard of the home he built for us. Whew! Time for a nap! Love the blurb of your book! Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!

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  67. Thanks, Meghan! Wow! Sounds like you definitely stay busy. I bet you could give me some great tips.

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  68. hi again Julie.
    I am NOT a night owl, you just caught me on a volleyball league night. Last night was wayyyyyyyyy past my bedtime.

    I'm going to work on those mini-habits. Awesome concept there.

    I think I need the Eat That Frog book. Of course, I'm all in on any book to be had here at Seekerville because I know they're always well worth the time to read.

    Blessings on your house building adventure!!!!

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    1. Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is also a good one.

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  69. Mini-habits! Love it.

    I am SO rocking this today.

    I made my bed. Whoot!

    The rest, not so much... lol

    Now I'm getting on the treadmill and reading/plotting at the same time. That should count as mini-mulit-tasking.

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    1. Ha! I like it! My husband actually made the bed today so I got to mark it off my list without even doing it! :)

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  70. Laughing with Linda Goodnight as I rewrite a chapter!

    Birds of a feather mess up together!

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  71. Thanks for the heads up on those books!! I'm also a self help book-application. Cheaper than therapy.

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    1. I know! I love them. There are so many good ideas out there.

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    2. On my phone addict came out as application. Lololol

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  72. Julie, You have a lot of great information here. I definitely need to apply this all to my life! I've also noticed that when I am doing good with the whole list-making, time-management thing that I am more "in the moment" and "present," because I'm not trying to multi-task and do fourteen things at once. Lately I haven't been doing that great with all of this, and your post was the perfect reminder. Thanks!

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    1. So true, Martha. Especially with little ones at home, I need to focus on being on the moment with them.

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  73. HI, Julie!
    This is so great! I especially love the idea of establishing mini-habits. Congrats on your upcoming release!

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  74. I'm dying that Pam made her bed.

    LAUGHING!!!!!

    I am a bed maker. The room looks so much better if the bed is made!

    We're such a bunch of nut jobs!

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  75. Ruth - LOL. Writers are definitely a fun interesting bunch. ;)

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  76. I could have sworn I stopped by here this morning, but my day has been so "off" I must have read and forgotten to comment. :)

    I loved your post, and I love organizational stuff too. Your tips are great. I love the idea of creating mini-habits. I think I need to get back to the basics of organizing so that my time is better spent during the days. I've allowed too many distractions and excuses to slip into my thinking and keep me from productivity.

    Of course having a snow day (long story) today, didn't help.

    Loved your post, Julie. I look forward to checking out that book. :)

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  77. Hi, Jeanne! Dealing with distractions is so tough these days because they're everywhere. Thanks for stopping by!

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  78. Please enter me in the drawing for Eat That Frog. I enjoy time management books. My biggest tip is to make lists. I don't get much done without them. The mini habit that would be good for me is to write 10 minutes a day.

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  79. Julie, you have been super awesome guest blogger.

    I will cook the frog for you because I'm that impressed!

    Frog legs for all!!!

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  80. Ha, Ruthy, you Frog-scorner, you!!!!

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  81. LOL. Thanks! Sounds delicious. :) It has been wonderful to be here. You guys are so kind and welcoming.

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  82. I really need Eat That Frog. I'm so not organized. Although, I like all the cool organizational tools like post-it notes, cubbies, paper clips, binders...and the list goes on.

    I really loved the idea of mini habits. I'm going to make my own list and get started developing those good, mini habits immediately. I'm also subscribing to your newsletter.

    Thanks for the post, Julie.

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  83. Goodness, all these new faces today. Julie did you lure out the lurkers or bring a fan club??

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  84. I vote we give away a few copies of With This Kiss too!!

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  85. Dear Julie, Thanks for the motivational pep talk on the importance of organization and habits. A speaker at my local chapter said if you need to put brushing your teeth on your to-do list, go ahead. A lot of times with people, it's positive mini-steps that convince them they can get a lot done. And you certainly have your hands full with two little ones and building a house.

    My best tip would be to keep the to-do lists over the course of a couple of months. That way you can cheer on what you got done and find out what your "frog" is.

    Please enter me in the drawings.

    Thanks.

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  86. Hi Julie, My one thing I'd do is retire from the day job, but since that's a couple of years away, I make lists and stick to them. I'm not saying I'm inflexible, but don't touch my list!!

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  87. LOLOL, Sharon. Not touching your lists!

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  88. Thanks for subscribing, Rhonda! Aren't post-it notes the best!

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  89. Tina - I've definitely seen a few familiar faces from my local Oklahoma City ACFW group and some of my critique partners. I love how supportive writers are! Thanks, ladies!

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  90. Smart women bring their own cheering squad. You are smart woman, lol.

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  91. Tanya - Great points! You definitely need to know what your "frog" is before you can eat it.

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  92. Great post, Julie, as usual. You always amaze me with the number of things you do and do them well.

    Good luck with the house building. The DH and I are thinking about it as well.

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  93. Hi, Julie! I need to start eating my "frogs" first thing. That sense of accomplishment would drive productivity for the rest of the day.

    Love the mini habits. Two I'd like to adopt are the 10 mins of writing every day and 10 jumping jacks a day. Cool!

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  94. Thanks, ladies! So glad you stopped by.

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