Monday, September 18, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 17

I can't believe what a cluster last week ended up being.  Some of it's sensitive so I don't want to get into  all of it, but suffice it to say that my husband's cold was only the first interruption of the week.  Car problems and a rather stressful situation with one of my Facebook groups took care of the rest.

This week is already off to a rip-roaring start, too.  I have a lot on my list to do for the week, but today didn't go as planned.  Tomorrow won't either, since I have to run an unexpected errand, and then I have a (planned) visit from my mom in the evening.  I have planned "interruptions" pretty much every day this week, actually, which is going to leave little time to get things done.

One of the "interruptions" is a big deal and an accomplishment, if it goes well, so I can't feel bad about that.  I'm just frustrated with the lack of time to work on things I'd like to work on.

I'll do my best though, and probably spend some time trying to catch up on stuff around the house on the weekend.  Here's last week's rundown, and the plan for this week.

Doll stringing ebook: I did move this to Wednesday, and I'm glad I did as there was no way it would have gotten done today.  I'm hoping to get back on track so that I won't push it back again.

Ruby Ransome: Once again, I opted to shift this back another week.  I have too much to do this week.  I am reminding myself that I told myself last week that was okay!

Blogging and website maintenance: I didn't get much done here, on social media either.  Just two blog posts last week.  I have ideas for some reels, but I haven't had a chance to film them yet.

Other projects: Not much happened with my organization project last week.  Even the weekend ended up being too full to work on anything.  Hopefully I can make up for that this week.  I'm trying to leave the weekend open for it.

On the horizon: I meant to reach out to my various contacts about starting to make plans for NaNoWriMo, but it didn't happen last week.  It's on the docket for this week.  It's too early to be making most plans yet, but there are a few things that should get on the calendar sooner rather than later.

Some weeks I feel pretty good about things, and other weeks I feel like I'm caught in a riptide and I need to focus on keeping my head above water before I can even think about trying to go anywhere else.  Last week was one of the latter, and this week may not be much better.  Hopefully by the end of the week all the "interruptions" will be over with and I can spend some time over the weekend on my projects.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Sick Days When You Work from Home

Well, it seems we may have brought "con crud" home with us from the Fall Show.  My husband woke up with a slightly sore throat yesterday, which progressed into some congestion throughout the day.  He took medicine before bed, and today I can hear him coughing and fighting congestion while he works.

As for me, I was hoping I would avoid it, but I woke up with the faintest of sore throats this morning.  Any other time I would have assumed it was allergies, but with Zac sick I am playing it safe.  I skipped my ride with my leaser today as I didn't want to expose her to it, and I'm contemplating skipping my dad's appointment tomorrow at the cancer center.  If I am potentially carrying something, the last thing I want to do is to take it to a bunch of chemo patients.

Listening to my husband hack and cough while he works made me think of how sick days have changed.  It used to be that people were expected to largely work through being sick, so hacking and coughing at one's desk wasn't really that surprising a thing.  Then covid put the fear of illness into everyone, and people were expected to stay at home.  But at the same time, the world was shifting to a more virtual workplace in response to covid concerns, so it became a matter of "Don't be selfish and expose other people, but also make sure you do this work as we still need it done."

In a lot of ways, I think this has eroded people's sick days.  While now it's more expected to stay home if you're ill, it's like the corporate world thinks you can still rest while working from home.  So even though your body needs real rest to get better, you're expected to spend your rest time working from home.

Of course, my husband is in a similar boat as I am.  He's a contract-to-hire employee, so until they hire him on as a full time employee with benefits, he has no sick days.  If he has to take a day off, he loses the income for that day, which motivates him to work through the illness.

The same goes for me when I'm sick, although as a freelancer and a self-employed person, I get paid a little differently (by what I accomplish, rather than hourly).  And honestly, that difference often means that I'm not motivated to work, unless I have a pressing deadline that can't be postponed, because I tend not to be very focused when I'm sick.

Speaking of my focus, that has been suffering today too, I'm afraid.  I was hoping to be productive while "stuck" at home from my canceled ride, but instead I haven't accomplished much that I had intended to do.  I don't know if it's because I'm getting sick, but I haven't had any energy or motivation today.  Sometimes I feel fine, and other times I think that maybe I'm feeling a little bit off.  I guess only time will tell.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 16

I can't believe I've been doing these progress posts for almost four months now.  Looking back on the first ever weekly progress post, I realized a lot of my current projects were on my list even then.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  The cleaning and organizing overhaul is a massive project and one that I don't work on equally every day or even every week, so that's why it's still on my list.  Plus, I have made progress over the past three and a half months; I just have to look around my living room to see how much.

But there are other projects that I feel bad about not having accomplished anything on yet, mostly those projects waiting in the wings for me to finish other things and get back to work on them.  These are projects such as my doll stringing ebook and my novel, things I promise each week I'll get back to work on, but that keep getting pushed back.

Is it a race, though?  Do I have to do them right now?  When I stop and think about it, I don't really have to get right to work on them.  I'm working on other things that are more important at the moment.

Last week didn't see a lot of progress on any projects, though.  I worked on a project for one of the Facebook groups that I run, and got my exhibit ready for the Fall Show.  That was, unfortunately, the bulk of what I accomplished last week.

This week I'm hoping to get more done with my organization project, and maybe get a couple of large items listed for sale to clear some space.

Doll stringing ebook: I scheduled this for next Monday, and that's still the case.  I'm going to try not to have to move it again because I need to get that project done.

Ruby Ransome: I shifted this back another week.  Honestly, at this point maybe I won't get to it until closer to NaNoWriMo, or even until NaNoWriMo, and that's okay.  I just want to make sure I get my organization project done before NaNoWriMo, so that I can focus on NaNo in November.

Blogging and website maintenance: You can see that last week was a little challenging for me, as I didn't get any other blog work done.  I did get some quick content (reels) at the Fall Show over the weekend, and have some more content planned for this week.  I think I'm also going to change the title of this category, or maybe I need to separate out social media into its own category.  I'll have to think on that.

Other projects: I didn't get much done on my organization project last week, but I'm hoping to catch up in a major way this week.  I have lots of ideas for what I want to do next, but there is of course always more to do.

On the horizon: NaNoWirMo is coming up and I need to start looking at plans.  At this stage, I probably just need to reach out to the coffee shop that usually hosts our kickoff party and some of our write-ins and make sure they're on board for this year.  Not a lot else needs to be planned yet, but pretty soon we'll be planning write-ins and other small events, so I'll start reaching out to other businesses soon too.

I love when the start to a week feels so promising, like there's a lot to do and I'm full of hope that I can get it all done.  That being said, today's plans have already gone astray, so we'll see what the week has in store for me!

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 15

I'm really enjoying how things are shaping up around the house.  We got a lot more done this past week, especially over the holiday weekend, and it's so satisfying every time something else takes shape.  Unfortunately, we also had to give up some of our time over the weekend to dealing with car maintenance, and I babysat for most of yesterday as well.

I also got some work done blogging last week, but most of what I did was organizing and such around the house.  I've pretty much given up on doing the super ambitious content push.  I'm just going to try to do some videos as time allows.  This week I expect will be pretty quick without a lot of opportunities for much, since it's a short week due to the holiday, plus I'm losing so much of the week due to obligations outside the house.

Doll stringing ebook: I'm putting this back on the to-do list, but scheduling it out for the week after next.  This week is a hot mess already, and next week I want to try to get around to doing some content.

Ruby Ransome: I had planned on getting back to work on my novel this week, but with the short week and the myriad other demands on my time, I'm actually going to put that off until next week.

Blogging and website maintenance: I'm still working on ramping up my work in this category.  I blogged exactly twice last week, though, so this area definitely needs work, and across my other websites and blogs as well.  My social media participation slowed down a little last week too, so it was just a slow week overall for everything but my organization projects and a couple other things.  I'm hoping to do a little better this coming week (what there is of it).

Other projects: I worked some more on the copy, flyers, and social media content for the museum's doll event coming up in October, and I think that's more or less done now.  I had to finalize it before the museum's Fall Show this coming weekend, so they could make flyers for the show.  And of course I've been working on cleaning and organizing, and making good progress on that.  Lots more to do this week and next, too!

On the horizon: I picked up my business cards to display at the Fall Show, and now I really need to work on planning my exhibit.  I have some ideas of how I want to set it up, so this week I'll work on that.  Friday is setup day, and I'll probably set up mostly in the afternoon.  I'm also volunteering at the show on Sunday, so I expect a fair bit of my weekend will be taken up with this show.  Unfortunately that does mean I may not have another weekend to spend on cleaning and organizing until the following weekend!

This weekend is going to be over before I know it, and without much time to get things done, between the holiday, today being mostly over already, car issues, a farrier appointment for the horses, and the Fall Show Friday through Sunday.  I think it's fair not to have many ambitions for this week, and just try to get through it with my to-do list more or less intact.  I'll work more on getting things done next week.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

The Satisfaction of a Job Well Done

I wrote a while back about how I've had the itch to write ever since I stopped freelancing.  I haven't gone this long without regularly writing something in more than 20 years.  Blogging helps but isn't enough.

I realized last night that one thing I've been missing is the feeling of a job well done.  I don't think I've gotten that feeling in a while.  My freelance work was mostly pretty hum-drum: I was proud of it, but I wasn't popping with pride, if you know what I mean.  It was also fast turnover, so I rarely felt much time to feel proud of it.  I got it done and got it out the door.

For the last week and change, I've been working on a flyer and copy for the museum's upcoming Halloween doll event.  I just finished a round of quick revisions after reviewing comments from the museum's director, and made a second version that will work better for sharing on Instagram.  I'm proud of the work, not just the copy but also the visual concept and presentation of the materials.  It feels good.

Obviously I need more of this in my life.  Right now, I'm working on an epic plan to clean up and reorganize my house so that it reflects my goals, hobbies, and business plans.  But once that's done, I need to think heavily on where I want to go with my writing business.  Am I done freelancing and writing marketing copy, aside from what I do for the museum?  Am I going to focus primarily on my fiction and doll-related writing projects from now on?  Or do I want to build a more focused writing business where I do more professional marketing copy with a little design thrown in?

I'm not ready to make that call quite yet, but as I enjoy my work for the museum, it's something I'm thinking about.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 14

This past week has reminded me of how energizing productivity can be.  When you get things done, even if it's not everything you'd planned, you feel motivated to do more.

I'm feeling especially motivated by everything I've gotten done because we've been doing big things with the house organization, and as a result I can really see everything we've accomplished.  It's a good feeling!

That being said, last week was a trying week.  On Friday I spent my day dealing with two plugged drains and a leaking disposal.  I really thought I'd be spending the weekend replacing the disposal.  Fortunately that didn't turn out to be the case, as once the kitchen drain was cleared, the disposal stopped leaking.  I'm sure it's only a matter of time before those leaks get bad enough to be a problem even without a sink full of water, especially since that disposal has been jamming on us periodically over the last year or two.  But I'll take the reprieve and be glad of it for now!

As you can imagine, the home maintenance work threw a wrench in my plans later on in the week, but truth be told my week had already gone astray.  Here's the rundown.

Doll stringing ebook: Still putting this off, although I need to put it back on my to-do list soon, since it's becoming evident that I won't accomplish all the content I was hoping to do.

Ruby Ransome: I'm still putting off working on the novel as well, but I did spend time last week on a training NaNoWriMo headquarters asked Municipal Liaisons to do.  I can't believe NaNoWriMo is coming up so fast!  Only two months before the madness begins!

Blogging and website maintenance: I am pleased to have gotten some other blogging than just this weekly post done last week, even though I didn't get around to doing the massive content push I've been intending to do for my doll business.  I do still want to do a little of that, so I hope to get started on it this week, but I no longer have the Herculean expectations I originally had for myself.  I'm also planning to continue the other blog posts, both here and on my other blogs.

Other projects: I've been working a lot on organizing this past week, and I'm happy to say that it's paying off.  The living room is beginning to look how I want it and I'm getting doll displays put up where I want them too.  As things get organized and put away, I can start producing content as well as getting organized to start selling again.  We got some more of it done this evening, and I have more projects planned for the rest of the week and especially the weekend, as my husband will have a four-day weekend due to the holiday on Monday.

On the horizon: The museum's Fall Show is looming closer!  I did get business cards ordered, and just in the nick of time: I should be getting them early next week, and then the show is that weekend.  I still need to plan that exhibit and possibly get some dolls ready for it too.  I am on the fence about this "collab" opportunity, as I suspect they were just trying to recruit new users for their site, and not actually looking for a real collab opportunity with me.  I'm wondering if it's worth my time to investigate further, or if I should just drop it now.

Due to my husband's short week, my week will probably be a little short as well, as I don't try to do a lot of work when he's off.  I'm okay with that, though, as I seem to get more done with the cleaning and organization projects when he's helping!

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Unpaid Work Has Value Too

A couple days ago I posted about how much volunteer work I do.  In fact, most of what I do right now is volunteering, in both official and unofficial capacities.

It makes it a little hard sometimes to feel like I'm accomplishing much.  Productivity is a major value in our culture, but for the most part productivity also tends to be viewed in terms of money.  So the same assumption that housewives "don't work" tends to make those of us who freelance or volunteer (or both) feel like we don't accomplish enough.

When I really think about it, though, I am most proud of the things I do that I don't get paid for.  

As a volunteer Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo, I encourage people to pursue their goals, contribute to a strong local writer community, and spread literacy like some kind of fiction-loving Tinkerbell.  ("Trust me, what this stuff does is way better than flying.")

As a volunteer board member with the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys, I am helping to preserve past generations' playthings for future generations.  Volunteering my time to write their event copy and design flyers means exploring and honing new skills for me as a writer.  And as a volunteer doll event planner, I get to share the love and knowledge of these things with others, and often help to build a foundation for future collectors, too.

And that's just the official stuff.  One of the things I feel best about, and on a daily basis, is the time I spend on Facebook helping people.  The insulin pump support group is, of course, a tremendous help for people, but I like to think I'm doing good by helping people with their dolls, too.  (Not to mention all the social media exposure helps me too by making a name for myself online.)

Despite how proud I am of these things, I still struggle sometimes with feeling like I don't get enough done.  Thankfully I have a supportive husband to remind me of the value of what I do whenever I start feeling inadequate.

What are you proud of that doesn't earn money?  Do you struggle to feel productive when you do things that don't actively earn (or save) you money?

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Volunteer Work

Last Saturday night, I was babysitting.  While the kids were watching a movie, I started working on the marketing materials for a doll event I am helping to organize at the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys.  One of the kids came over to check on me and asked what I was doing.

"I'm designing a flyer to promote a doll event for the museum," I explained.

"Wait, where do you work?" he wanted to know.

I tried to explain volunteering versus working, but I don't think he understood.  Of course, as a kid he probably doesn't yet have a full understanding of doing work for money, and that different jobs pay different amounts... while others pay nothing.

I've been thinking a lot about this lately, and not only since that conversation with the kiddo on Saturday.  I actually do a lot of volunteer work, if I stop and think about it.  I serve on the board for the museum as well as organizing, helping with, and sometimes running doll events.  Writing copy for the museum is often part of that.

I am also active in the doll communities online, helping people in Facebook groups and on Instagram, and creating content that I don't get paid for... yet, I suppose, if I want to be optimistic.  I also run a support group for users of the specific type of insulin pump I'm on, and I do a lot of moderation and answering questions every day for that as well.

And of course, I've been a longtime volunteer with National Novel Writing Month.  I've been volunteering my time as a Municipal Liaison (basically regional coordinator) for NaNoWriMo since 2015, which means planning and running events, moderating our regional forum, helping participants when needed, and occasionally volunteering my time outside of regular NaNoWriMo season, such as when we score a community table or hold panels at Fan Expo in the summer.

I'm busy, very busy, and most of it is (or at least feels) meaningful for me, even though very little of what I've mentioned above pays.  I am trying to build a doll business, which will hopefully generate some income, and of course I could go back to freelancing at any time.  Certainly I could use my volunteer work writing copy for the museum as recent professional experience, and my longtime volunteer commitment to NaNoWriMo makes for a nice resume item as well.

In fact, that's a tip that's often given to newbie writers: Rather than working for bargain basement rates at content factories, volunteer your time writing copy for a nonprofit you'd like to support.  You'll have quality clips that you can use when seeking paying work, and you'll be able to feel good about having volunteered your time for a cause you believe in.

I'm not doing this for clips at this point in my career, of course; I'm not even sure if I'm going to continue freelancing, or if instead I'll change the focus of my career.  But I do feel good about following my passions, whether I'm being paid for my work or not.  I'm fortunate to be able to do so, of course, that my husband's income is enough to support both of us, with a little help from me here and there.  Hopefully in time my businesses will be profitable again, but in the meantime I'm glad to be able to pursue what I love.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 13

Last week did not go as planned.

First of all, the content push has not happened.  At all.  I'm okay with it, since I am relatively happy with what did get done, but it's still worth noting.

I did get a good amount of work done on the household cleanup and reorganization project, though a lot of that was on the weekend, when I had my husband's help.  I also had a surprise planning meeting for the next doll event at the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys, where I volunteer my time on the board and planning events.  After the meeting I spent some time writing marketing copy for the event and designing a flyer for social media.

I'm hoping to get some work done this week on the content push, but I'm no longer feeling like it's as necessary to do a huge push and get everything I'd planned out in a span of just a few weeks.  Looking back, that was probably a pretty ludicrous way to approach it.  Plus, I still have more to do in my reorganization project, which needs to come first if I'm to make space for working on dolls, taking pictures, and filming content.

This next week I'm making a more relaxed effort to get to the content, but it won't be until a little later in the week.  There are some organizational things I want to finish up first.  And of course, it's already late in the day on Tuesday, so you can tell my week has already not gotten off to a very quick start.

Doll stringing ebook: I'm still putting this off for a few weeks while I finish up the organization and work (a little less hard) on the content push.

Ruby Ransome: I'm still putting this off for a few weeks as well.  As an aside, though, NaNoWriMo prompted its MLs to pre-order stickers for our regions already.  It was a shocking reminder of how quickly November is coming!

Blogging and website maintenance: I do hope to be producing some content over the next week, so that'll mean at least a couple blog posts.  I also realized this blog is getting kinda boring with nothing but weekly rundowns, so I'm planning on adding at least one other post each week.

Other projects: I worked on organizing over the weekend and I'm quite pleased with the progress.  I have plenty more to do in the coming week, but I'm happy to see more work spaces emerging.  Eventually I'd like to move my office space back upstairs to my desk, but that is a while out, so for now I want to make the kitchen a little more usable as a temporary work space for writing, as well as my main work space for working on dolls and producing content. 

On the horizon: I still need to plan out my exhibit for the museum's Fall Show, plus I have this new doll event to help plan.  Hopefully the bulk of the content writing for it is done.  I was also asked to work with a collectibles sales site where I could sell dolls and other things, so I need to look into the feasibility of that.  They may have just been looking to market their site to new sellers, but it appears to be a more content-driven sales platform, so I'm intrigued enough to at least look into it and find out more about any collab they might have had in mind.

It's funny how on paper this doesn't sound like very much, but in practice my days are pretty full and I'm often frustrated by not having as much time as I would need to do everything I want to do.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Imposter Syndrome

Lately my blog has become nothing but accountability and progress posts, and while I like the fact that those posts are helping me to see what I accomplish (or don't) every week, I have other things to say, too.

Right now I want to talk about imposter syndrome, a term I only learned in the last few years, but I (and I suspect many other writers) have struggled on and off with for years.

Monday, I was with my dad at a chemo appointment when another elderly gentleman asked us what we did on our computers during my dad's treatments.  I answered that I was a writer, but quickly followed it up with "but what I'm doing right now is..." and then provided a lengthy explanation of a diabetic support group I moderate.

Wow.  I wasn't comfortable saying I was a writer.  That was a revelation.

I've been mulling it over ever since, and one of the conclusions I've come to is that I have been accustomed to "hiding" behind my freelancing.  A lot of writers hesitate to call themselves such until they've actually published something.  Sometimes they have a hard time calling themselves a writer even once they've published, if (say) they self-publish or publish with a small publishing house, or if their book doesn't do very well.

This is an inner struggle I haven't had to deal with in over 18 years, because I have been a writer.  I was a technical writer, and then a freelance writer.  I was selling my work to pay my bills, ergo, I was a writer.

And now I'm not... not selling my work, that is.

So clearly, my current status, whether it turns out to be a temporary hiatus from freelancing or a more permanent career change, has affected how I view myself.  I'm no longer freelancing, so I hesitated to call myself a writer.

A lot of writers struggle with imposter syndrome.  I didn't even know what that meant until a few years ago, but I would have told you I never had any issues with calling myself a writer.  However, looking back, I was always quick to explain I was "just a freelancer" if someone then asked me what I've published.

I feel like now I'm having to learn what other writers already knew: that it's hard to call yourself a writer when you feel like you haven't earned the right to call yourself.  That it's hard to consider simply writing as earning the right, when so much of that identity in our culture revolves around actually publishing.  And not just publishing, but being successful.

I don't want to be one of those writers who struggles with self-doubt.  I don't want to hold myself to such high standards that I always fall short.

And just like that, it seems we've come full circle.  Suddenly we're talking about the same thing that has me writing progress posts every week: A desire not to be so hard on myself all the time.  Rather than always seeing what I don't do, I want to learn to focus on what I do, whether that is acknowledging the work I do, or calling myself a writer.

Tonight, I am a writer.  Tomorrow, I hope I will find the courage to say the same.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 12

This week I'm actually posting on Monday, so already, a win!  (At least, I choose to see it as such.)

Last week didn't finish too badly.  We got a lot of cleaning and organization done, and got the new couch into the living room and set up.  All of the cleaning and organization that I didn't do last year when my horse was sick is coming back to bite me now that I'm finally trying to get caught up on it, as there is a LOT that still needs to be done.  But we did get a lot done, so I'm happy with our progress.

I also mentioned in last week's post that I was filming with a local doll shop.  That went well and the video should be going live soon.

This week I am planning on catching up on some content I've been planning for my doll business: how to videos, blog posts, and Instagram posts.  Originally I was planning on getting started today, but I still have more to organization to do so I'll probably get started on the content tomorrow instead.

This week's rundown should be pretty quick:

Doll stringing ebook: I've put this off for a few weeks so that I can work on this content push.

Ruby Ransome: I'm putting this off for a few weeks as well.

Blogging and website maintenance: As I mentioned, I'm planning on doing a major content push over the next couple of weeks.  As part of that, I'll be doing a bunch of blog posts on my doll blog.

Other projects: I do have more to work on this week for my organization project, primarily finishing organizing the living room, but also hanging some shelves in a few other rooms.  Once the living room is done I still have more to do in the rest of the house, too.

On the horizon: Last week I mentioned that I'll be doing a display for the local doll museum's show next month.  I do need to get to work planning that, and I'll also be working on another doll event for the museum in October.

The content push is going to be a substantial amount of work.  I'm hoping I have it in me to buckle down and work hard on this, but I'm also reminding myself that I don't have to if it's too much, or I can dial it back and take my time.  I have a lot of videos I've been meaning to do, but that doesn't mean they all have to be done in the next few weeks.  So this coming week will be a little bit of finishing up my organization project in the living room, and then feeling out my schedule as far as the content goes.

We'll see how this goes!

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 11.666

Well.  Last week did not go as planned, and this week has not gone as planned either (hence why I'm writing this on Thursday night).  But I will try to catch up.

Last week I had big plans to get lots of stuff done.  I was going to clean and organize, take pictures for my ebook, work on my novel, and work on my blogs and social media content.  But then early in the week we saw a couch that would work perfectly to replace our old couch and allow us to have guests over.  The priority of the weekly quickly turned into getting the living room ready for a new couch.

That project consumed me last week, and while it meant shuffling off everything else, I'm not sorry because the end result is going to be getting our living room cleaned and organized so much sooner than we had planned.  We moved the old couch out on Tuesday and have been working on getting the living room ready for the new couch.

But this reminds me that I wanted to tell you the story of my week to better explain how quickly things go awry in my life.  Sunday night I made plans for the week.  Monday my mom called to say she was going to visit on Wednesday so we could finally see Barbie.  Tuesday a local doll store I regularly collaborate with asked if I could film on Thursday.  Wednesday a family I babysit for asked if I could dog sit Thursday through Sunday.  Today (Thursday) while I was filming they said they didn't need it after all (a relief, but still, a significant change of plans).  And through all of this there has been a sick horse at the barn that we've been helping with.

Needless to say, not much has gotten done on the living room thus far, but I'm hoping to salvage some of my time this weekend.  Next week I'm planning on launching a big content push on my websites, YouTube channel, and Instagram accounts, so I need to get the organization stuff squared away as much as possible in the next three days.

I'll do a quick rundown of last week (before it gets totally out of my head) and what I want to accomplish with the scant remainder of this week, just to keep myself on track.

Doll stringing ebook: I didn't get to this last week and I know at this point that I won't be getting to it this week either.  It's not a big part of my content push next week so I will probably put this off for a couple weeks.

Ruby Ransome: Same thing: hasn't happened yet.  I will be deferring this a couple of weeks as well, as I expect my content push next week to take up most of my time.

Blogging and website maintenance: I worked a little on planning out my content push last week, but then all those plans went south when this week's plans went awry, as described above.  I haven't had much time to work on said content this week, but I'm planning on devoting most of next week to it.

Other projects: The scope of this project has changed a little, since I'm now focusing on the living room instead of the kitchen and other more frequented doll spaces, but it all eventually leads to the same goal so that's okay.  With the remainder of this week (and weekend), I'm planning to finish organizing the living room, get the new couch set up, and finish organizing in the kitchen too.  Once both of these rooms are done, the bulk of my doll spaces will be finished, particularly the spaces I need to use the most for photography, content creation, and repairs.

On the horizon: This week, this category seems to be pertinent as well.  I've been asked to create a display at the doll museum's show in early September, so I need to plan my display and get several things (such as ordering my new business cards) in order before then.

While the surprise living room shake-up totally derailed several weeks' worth of plans, I'm not sorry.  It's been a powerful incentive to get certain things done.  I just hope that I can stay on track now!

Monday, July 31, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 10

I did a little better with my productivity last week, compared to the week before.  I got a little more done than the previous week, although my time was limited as I'd expected.  (I also stayed up late almost every night to read, finishing multiple books over the course of the week, which didn't help my morning productivity any.)

As planned, I prioritized cleaning and organizing.  I made a lot of progress, but unfortunately it's not really quantifiable progress, and I'm not done yet, so it's hard to feel like I accomplished enough last week.  I can, however, say that I spend a whole eight hours on it, and I can see the improvements, so I guess that's something.  I do still have a lot more I want to do this coming week, however.

There's one other thing I've been spending a lot of weekend time on, which is displacing other work-type activities that would normally overflow into the weekends: I've been cleaning up and organizing my tack locker at the barn.  Last weekend I cleaned and reorganized all of my grooming supplies and tack and took down all the hooks in the locker in preparation for reorganizing everything.  This weekend I mounted saddle racks in the locker, and this week I'm planning on mounting a shelf and new hooks.  I've had the help of my leaser and her two daughters, who were earning some rides on my horses by helping with the project.  (Last weekend they washed all of my brushes and buckets, and this weekend they field washed my horses' blankets so I can repair them and put them away until winter; next weekend they're going to help with tacking cleaning and oiling.)

It's not necessarily working toward my primarily and professional goals, but it's still a goal I've had that was largely forgotten when my horse was sick and needed so much attention last year, so I'm glad to be working on it.

As for my primary goals, though, here's the rundown:

Doll stringing ebook: This didn't happen again, but I have it rescheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.  If I can finish the reorganization of my primarily doll repair and photography spaces today, I'll be able to take the pictures I need for the ebook, and after that I just need to revise the instructions and put a few other finishing touches on it.

Ruby Ransome: I deferred this a week until August 1st, but that's tomorrow.  I'm using the evening time where I would normally plan to work on my novel as cleaning and organization overflow, in case this afternoon doesn't go as planned.

Blogging and website maintenance: I didn't do too badly on this last week, as I got some blogging done and some updates on Instagram.  I have more to do this coming week, but again, a good portion of it hinges on getting my cleaning and organization done, as those are my photography and filming spaces.

Other projects: I got a fair amount done on my cleaning and organization project this week, but I still have more to do this week.  Most of it is scheduled for later today, so that I can take pictures and video later in the week, including pictures for the ebook.  I'm also planning to work on my doll room organization a little, so that ultimately I can start photographing and listing my extra inventory for sale again.

It's likely to be a very full week, but hopefully I can accomplish what I need to do.  The cleaning and organization in particular is very important, since that needs to be done before I can move on to a variety of other things.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 9

Last week, man... Last week was a hot mess.  It felt like everything conspired to keep me from what I was intending to work on.

Realistically, I knew about a lot of it in advance.  I had a farrier appointment for my horses, my dad had a procedure I needed to drive him to and from (and waited with him beforehand and while he was in surgery), and (on a happier note) I had a ride scheduled with a friend on Friday.

Looking back at last week's post, I guess I did expect my time during the week to be limited.  My goal was to try to focus on my cleanup and organization project, which I did get a little done on, but not as much as I had hoped!

This coming week will be a little limited too.  This afternoon I am actually writing this post from the cancer center at the hospital; my dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and today is his first chemo treatment, so I wanted to be here with him.  As a result, today's productivity will be limited, as I can only work on my computer and my focus will be a little iffy.  I also have a ride and potentially a quick farrier appointment (to fix a shoe that's coming off already) later in the week, but I've scheduled a lot around those things, as there is a lot I've been putting off that I want to get done this week.  We'll see how that goes.

Here's the rundown.

Doll stringing ebook: I'm glad I didn't put pressure on myself to work on this last week, as I would just have felt bad when I didn't accomplish anything.  I do have this scheduled for later this week, but on a quieter day so that it's hopefully more likely to happen.

Ruby Ransome: I've officially decided to defer this to August.  That's only a week away, but I have a feeling this week would be better spent prioritizing a few other things.

Blogging and website maintenance: Other than the weekly blog post, I didn't get much else done with my blogs and websites last week.  I probably need to start working more with affiliate links soon, but I'm not going to worry about it this coming week.  I did get some work done on social media posts and reels for promoting my doll business.

Other projects: I did have a little more work for the museum last week, such as an emergency board meeting to approve some work, and some time I spent brainstorming with another volunteer for future events.  I also did get a little work done on the cleaning and organizing, including some time I think I forgot to track in Toggl, but I still have plenty more that needs to get done, hopefully this week!

With so much going on this week, I am going to prioritize finishing the cleanup in a few high priority areas.  Once that's done, I need to do some doll repair, photography (for the doll stringing ebook), and filming (for my websites and social media), so I really need those spaces clean for that.

Hopefully the more relaxed schedule this week will make it a little easier to manage my time!

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 8

This week has started out like a herd of cats, which is why it's Tuesday and I'm just now writing this.

Last week I talked about how the holiday week had made productivity a little difficult, but I was still pleased with what I'd gotten done, and had big plans for the week.  And you know, my Toggl report for the week does show a pretty productive week.  Early in the week, I blogged, worked on Instagram posts for my doll business, and turned my business logo for the doll business into a watermark for photos and videos (something I'm pretty pleased with).  Later in the week, most of my time was consumed with dog sitting and prepping for a doll museum event on the weekend that I was helping with.

I'd had too much planned though, so some things got shuffled off to this week, and I've already kicked off the week by deferring much of yesterday's stuff to later in the week as well.  It's at least partly a busyness hangover from the weekend, but I'm trying to put myself back to work today so I can salvage the rest of the week.

I already know Thursday won't be super productive, as I'm taking my dad to a minor outpatient surgery in the morning and expect to be told to stay with him for at least the rest of the day.  But with any luck I can get a few important things done with the remaining two and a half days this week (the rest of today, Wednesday, and Friday).

Here's the rundown.

Doll stringing ebook: This did get deferred again, and I'm considering reevaluating my week and pushing this to next week.  Maybe I'll have more of a chance to work on it if I schedule it for early in the week.

Ruby Ransome: At this point I'm acknowledging to myself that I'm not going to succeed at Camp NaNoWriMo this July.  I'm considering deferring work on my novel to August so that I can focus right now on getting caught up on some things I need to do around the house and for my doll business.

Blogging and website maintenance: I'm pleased with the work I did on my blogs and websites, as well as my social media.  Social media especially is important for my doll business.  I'm lumping the work on my logo and watermark into this category, since it was primarily created for my social media pictures and video, and social media is more or less an extension of my websites.

Other projects: As expected, the museum event prep and the event itself took up a large chunk of my time last week as well as over the weekend.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to as much of the cleaning and organizing as I'd wanted, so for now I'm deferring my writing projects so I can focus and get this done.  It's really keeping me from moving forward on some of my most important (and income-generating) projects.

Since I'm expecting my availability to be more limited this week, it'll be important to prioritize as much as possible.  For right now I'm prioritizing my cleanup and organization project and not much else, in the hopes of finally making some much-needed progress!

Monday, July 10, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 7

As expected, last week was a bit of a cluster.  Between my husband being off on Monday, the holiday Tuesday, and then the mad scramble to try to make a regular week out of three days, I didn't get everything done I'd wanted.  Plus we started house/dog sitting for my husband's parents on Wednesday, so I am returning home every day to feed the cats.  To top it all off, I picked up another dog on Thursday, one who can't be left alone very easily, so either one of us had to be at my in-laws' house or we had to take the dog with us all weekend.

Despite the challenges, I'm pretty happy with what I got done last week.  It hasn't been mentioned before in my weekly blog posts, but one of the items languishing on my to-do list has been revamping my logo for my doll business, Against Doll Odds.  I wanted to finish working on the logo so that I could redesign my business cards and create some other printed materials.  I worked on that for a long time, and while I'm not ready to place my orders yet, I have finished designs for new business cards, hang tags for dolls I work on, and stickers.

Here is the rest of the rundown for last week, and my goals for the coming week:

Doll stringing ebook: As expected, with the short week I didn't get anything done on this last week.  I had mentioned last week how this kept getting shifted back, week after week, so I was going to try to do it earlier in the week this week. It is currently scheduled for Wednesday, which isn't as early as I'd originally planned, but can't be helped.

Ruby Ransome: I was planning on restarting work on Ruby Ransome last week for Camp NaNoWriMo, but with all the busyness Monday and Tuesday, and the chaos of the rest of the week, it didn't happen.  I'm hoping to get started this week, even if I don't get as much done as I had planned this month.

New novel idea: I'm going to drop this off the list as I'm setting it aside for now.  I'll pick it back up once the draft for Ruby is finished.

Blogging and website maintenance: I did schedule blogging time on my calendar last week, but most of it got pushed aside when the shortened week got too busy too fast.  This is when I'm really glad for this exercise of blogging about my goals and progress every week, though, because writing this post reminded me that I wanted to work on some new posts with affiliate links.  I'm scheduling a little blogging on my calendar to work on that.

Other projects: With the holiday week and the house/dog sitting, I didn't get much time to work on cleaning and organizing this past week.  This needs to be a priority this week because it is interfering with my ability to take pictures and work on dolls, so I currently have it scheduled for today (though today is quickly slipping away from me).  Hopefully once I get it all clean and organized, I can keep it that way, too.

Other projects also include some doll work, filming, and also prepping for an event at the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys this weekend (I'm on the museum board and often volunteer to help put together events).  So I know that will take up some of my time as well, during the week as well as on the weekend.  I also need to get to work on selling things, as I've been talking about for a few weeks now; I know I don't have time this week, so I'm going to tentatively schedule it for next week.

Funny how being an adult means that I'm weirdly pleased I have a full week ahead of me to work on all of this, instead of a partial week interrupted by a holiday.  I do have a lot I want to accomplish, so hopefully I can get a fair bit of it done!

Monday, July 03, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 6

So much happened this last week that it feels like more than a week has passed since my last weekly blog post.  It's a good thing, as last week was a pretty productive week, but it was also obscenely busy, right through the weekend.  Today is a bit of a reprieve, but then the rest of this week is going to be busy as well.

Before the madness begins, here's a quick rundown of what I accomplished from last week and what I'm planning for this week:

Doll stringing ebook: I am noticing that this is getting shifted back, week after week.  I do need to work on it, as I want to get the ebook finished and back up for sale.  Unfortunately this week is going to be extra difficult so I don't think I'll be able to work on it until next week.  I'm scheduling some time for it earlier in the week, rather than putting it last as I have been every week.

Ruby Ransome: Last week didn't go as planned, and I didn't get to work on this after all.  I plan to start tonight, since this is now Camp NaNoWriMo and I want to take this month's challenge more seriously.

New novel idea: Still keeping this on the list for later.  I thought of an idea last night for a future Ruby series installment, too, so I need to sketch that out a little as well.

Blogging and website maintenance: This is the area where I feel like I made the most progress in the past week, and my Toggl report confirms my suspicions.  I worked a lot on my websites and blogs in the past week.  On Monday when I was procrastinating doing something else (ha), I reapplied to the Amazon Affiliate program, and spent some time changing my ad notices on all my websites, creating new posts, and going back through old posts and updating old links.  I worked on it a little throughout the week, too, and as a result was more prolific on my blogs than I have been in a while.  It was a good feeling, as I have missed blogging on the daily, plus there is the potential for this to bring in some additional income.

In the coming week I intend to work on it some more.  There are a few other posts and pages that I need to write or finish adding affiliate links to, plus I have some new post ideas that I'd like to spend some time on.  This brings up an interesting observation, though: I rarely schedule blogging time on my calendar.  I need to start doing that.

Other projects: Last week I made cleaning and organizing my doll spaces a priority for the week, and I actually did get a lot done.  I didn't get some other things done that had to come after the cleaning and organizing, but that's okay.  I still have more to do, and with the lack of time this coming week, I'm uncertain how much time I'll have to spend on it.  But I'll try to work on it as much as possible, since photographing and selling depends a lot these spaces being clean and organized well enough to use.

The week promises to make finding enough time pretty difficult, between the holiday tomorrow, house sitting for my husband's parents starting Wednesday, and dog sitting for another family starting Thursday.  Hopefully I'll be able to carve out some time to accomplish at least the most important things.  I think my priorities this week will be cleaning/organizing, blog/website work, and of course, working on my novel for Camp NaNoWriMo.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Surface Go 3 Update and Review

Please note that this post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commissions from sales made through these links.

A couple of months ago, I posted about a last-minute decision to get a Surface Go 3 as a second computer.  I had a few different reasons for the purchase, the biggest one being that I was going on a trip and didn't feel comfortable taking my regular laptop (my lifeline, basically) on the trip with me.  So I got a mini computer, basically, that I could load all the important stuff onto, and just took that.

I posted a review of the Surface Go 3 after the trip, but I'd only been using the laptop for a short time at that point, so I wanted to post about it again now that I'm more familiar with it.

As it turned out, buying the Surface Go was a really good decision that I've been very happy with.  As its name suggests, it has been a perfect "go computer" that I can take with me while leaving my important work machine at home.  It's not as powerful and has nowhere near as much storage, and I had to leave "S mode" to install non-Windows apps (like Scrivener and Plottr).  But I keep most of my work in the cloud to switch easily between the two computers anyway, and breaking it out of S mode doesn't seem to have harmed it any.

One of the things I like best about it is that I don't always feel like I have to carry it in a laptop bag or backpack.  I got a really nice drop-proof case for it, basically an Otter Box for a Surface, so I just carry it with me by itself.

I wasn't sure I would use it much once I got home for a trip, though I liked the idea of having a backup computer.  As a writer, I've always found that computers tend to die at the worst times, and my main computer is admittedly getting older.  It's nearly three years old now!  So having a backup is a good idea.

But more importantly, I've been able to take the little Surface places I wouldn't want to take my regular laptop, and with an ease I wouldn't normally have.  It's easy to carry with me, and I don't worry about losing everything should the computer be damaged or lost or stolen.  I can tuck it beneath the seat in the car instead of carrying it with me everywhere, and no one knows it is there.  It makes it easy to take it with me when I want to work somewhere else: in the car, at a restaurant, or even just in bed.

It's not good for my main laptop to be plugged in all the time, so I need to start using it unplugged more often.  But I am very much enjoying the flexibility of the little Surface Go, and I love the security of having a backup machine!

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Camp NaNoWriMo Looms

A couple days ago I got a reminder that Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up.  As if I could forget!  As I've mentioned in my weekly accountability and progress posts, I've been trying to get going on my novel again so I would be ready for Camp NaNo.

Ready or not, though, here it comes!  Camp starts on Saturday, July 1st... ironically, the day we'll be at Fan Expo in Denver.  At the Expo this year, we have both a community table for the Denver region of NaNoWriMo, and a panel on Saturday that will provide an overview of writing a novel during National Novel Writing Month.

It's hard to believe it's already less than a week away from the Fan Expo and the start of NaNoWriMo.  I had planned on using June to help me get a jump on my goal of finishing the draft by the end of July, but now it's looking like I probably won't have it finished until a little later this summer.  I think I'm probably a good two months from finishing the draft, and then I'll still need to do at least one more round of revisions.

I haven't done a full 50,000 word challenge in the summer since they started letting you pick your own goal for Camp, and I'm not sure I want to put that much pressure on myself.  I've always found it's a little hard to write 50,000 words in the summer months, probably partly because there's more going on in the summer, but also partly because I don't have all the write-ins and other events to help carry me through.  But I'm contemplating setting at least a similar goal for the month of July, just because I want to get as far as possible in the draft before month's end.

We'll see.  I'm hoping that as I get back to work on the novel this week, I'll get a feel for how much I can write a day if I'm confining my writing to just an hour or two, probably at the end of the day.  I don't think I can spare as much time as I would normally devote to it during November.

What about you?  Do you participate in Camp NaNo?  What's your goal for the month?

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Advertising Update

A little while back I was kicked off the Amazon Affiliate program for not making the required three sales in the first 180 days from my application.  I later found out I did make one sale, though, so I decided to make a plan and try again.

This has been on my to-do list and mentioned in my weekly accountability and progress posts, but I kept putting it off.  Yesterday as I was procrastinating on other things, I decided to do something about that affiliate program, so I reapplied and started updating links on my blogs.

I probably have some more links to update, but more importantly, I have a plan for staying in the program this time.

I've updated all my advertising notices on my websites to acknowledge that I'm now advertising with Amazon Affiliate links again, and replaced some of the links and notices in my blog posts.

I promise not to make any intrusive product posts, and please know that any recommendations are real.  I'm just hoping to make a little money on the recommendations I would share anyway!

Monday, June 26, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 5

In some ways I'm feeling like it's more discouraging tracking this, since I'm seeing how I shift stuff back, week to week to week.  In other ways it's helpful because I'm making myself pay more attention to things I do accomplish.  It also is helping me to note where I should be balancing my schedule a little better, giving a little more attention to things that bring me immediate income.

If I keep feeling like it's not helpful, I may not continue tracking my weekly activities, but for now I think there's promise, even if I do end up commenting every week how things got shifted back again.

Last week was another rough one, as it was hard to keep everything as planned.  I got an unexpected notice that I was getting my software upgrade for my insulin pump, so I had to do the online training and then go through the process of upgrading.  That took a lot of time that was originally slated for other things, but of course the pump upgrade was a priority!

Doll stringing ebook: I had shifted this back to this week in order to prioritize income-generating projects, but then didn't get much done on those either.  Currently I'm planning on putting in some time on this later this week.

Ruby Ransome: This got shifted back again, unfortunately, and I didn't work on it at all last week.  I'm going to try to get going on it this week, since it's the last week before Camp NaNoWriMo.  It'll help me to get going for Camp if I familiarize myself with my novel again first.

New novel idea: Still keeping this on the list for later.

Blogging and website maintenance: Once again, I am glad I am tracking this, as a glance at my Toggl report for the week reminds me that the week wasn't totally wasted.  I have been keeping up on website and blog updates reasonably well, and working on other content.  I do need to look into reapplying for an Amazon affiliate account as I have some new reviews and other similar things to post, and I'd like links for those when I do.

Other projects: I was able to work a little more on reorganizing doll spaces, and I'm realizing that income or not, that needs to be a priority right now.  There's not much else I feel I can do until that's done.  I have a ton of reselling to do, but until I'm organized, I can't easily find what I want to photograph OR easily set up to photograph any of it.  So organizing and cleaning up some of my work areas will be a priority this week.

Unfortunately, it's going to be a difficult week to find time for these things.  I'm basically on call while my mom deals with some health things, for one thing; plus we have plans with my husband's family this week.  So I've already lost a couple of evenings (which is when I get a lot of stuff done) in addition to the uncertainty of possibly needing to be there for my mom at any time, on short notice.  And on top of it all, Friday will be a non-work day due to a doll event going on, and most if not all of this weekend will be taken up with working the NaNoWriMo community table at Fan Expo.

So without further ado, I'd better get to work, since it's going to be tough enough as it is to find time for everything this week.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 4

It's hard to believe this is the fourth week I've done this series of blog posts.  Time passes so quickly, especially when you're super busy and never seem to have enough time for everything you want to do.

Last week was somewhat doomed from the time that I made my Week 3 post on Monday.  I posted several times about how my plans for the week continued to change down to the minute (see Doing the Mid-Week Mangle and Weather vs. Motivation).  I wish I could say it was just last week, but the truth is, many of my weeks are like that and it's why I find it hard to accomplish everything I set out to do.

I have to acknowledge that I did get some important things done last week, though.  My work collaborating with the local doll shop and filming segments with them is nothing to sneeze at.  And I did benefit from my decision to work on some things over the weekend.

Here's the breakdown from last week, and projections for the coming week:

Doll stringing ebook: I had planned on working on this last week, but it didn't happen.  Currently it's scheduled for this week, but it is admittedly lower on the list of priorities.  Remember last week, when I realized I needed to prioritize immediately income-generating projects?  See "Other projects."

Ruby Ransome: I didn't work on my novel at all last week, and while I'm disappointed, I'm reminding myself that it was the plan to shift it off until this week.  I am, however, planning on getting back to work on it this week.

New novel idea: Still keeping this on the list for later.

Blogging and website maintenance: This is where I'm really glad I'm doing this accountability posting, as I would have forgotten about having accomplished something on my list otherwise.  Last week I succeeded in writing up the page of my website, and got it done by deadline (before the video went live).  I still need to look into the Amazon affiliate program again.

Other projects: I got some work done on organizing my doll spaces over the weekend, but didn't yet do the filming and photography I had planned.  That's scheduled for this week now, and I've added to what I want to film and photograph, as well.  I also have plans to start photographing and listing some of my reselling inventory this week.  As I mentioned last week, I need to focus at least some of my time on work that directly replaces my freelance income.  Not all of my projects can be long games; I need some more immediate sources of income.

Overall I have a very full week planned, so there's less down time than I'd like.  I don't like seeing this because the fuller my schedule is, the more I know I'm setting myself up for failure.  Unfortunately I'm not sure what else to do sometimes than to just schedule it and hope for the best!  I have so much I want to do... and so much that doesn't get done every week as a result.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Weather vs. Motivation

I can't believe Friday is already here!  This week flew by, probably partly because of how busy it was, and how much it kept changing.

It's kind of a dreary, lazy Friday, though, and I'm not sure how much I'll be getting done today.  It's the kind of day where I just want to curl up with a book or my computer, and not necessarily run around working on house projects... which is what I should be doing.  I did run a couple of errands earlier, but now that I'm home, my motivation is sapped.

Does anyone else find their motivation either boosted or undermined by weather?  I'm a Colorado girl through and through, so I find it really difficult to focus on dreary days.  I'm so accustomed to all that sunshine, all the time.  On sunny days I feel much more energized.  Dark, cloudy days and that soundtrack of rain on the roof just make me want to sleep or read or snuggle up in a blanket.

I don't want to get nothing done today, though, so this is how I've been approaching the day:

  • Revising expectations.  Okay, I know I'm not going to get a lot done today.  I'm just going to have to acknowledge that and change my plans accordingly.  I figure I won't get everything I'd planned done regardless, so being hard on myself will accomplish nothing.  Worse, it may demotivate me further.
  • Prioritizing.  When I realized how much I was dragging, I quickly cut a few less important things from my list.  No sense in cluttering up the list and making myself feel worse.  Looking at a busy to-do list is the equivalent of a writer staring at a blank page.  It makes it that much harder to get started.
  • Reducing scale.  Once I triaged my to-do list for the day, I've been trying to think of bite-size things I can do.  One of my most effective techniques for getting things done when I don't feel like it is to set out to do just one task, or just a few minutes' worth of work.  Usually by the time I've finished that task or time frame, I've thought of something else I want to do, and I keep going.  And even if I don't, hey, I've still accomplished more than I would have done otherwise.
  • Rescheduling.  I've already pretty much decided that this weekend is going to be used as overflow for what I wanted to get done and didn't.  The things I was originally planning to do this week have been shifted to next weekend, and a few things I was going to do on the weekend I just postponed to next weekend.  Fortunately it sounds like the weather this weekend should be good, so hopefully my motivation will be too!
Do you find that weather impacts your motivation?  How do you deal with it?

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Doing the Mid-Week Mangle

I'm at that point in my week where my plans for the week are completely mangled, and I'm in a panic trying to figure out how to cram everything in that I wanted to get done and haven't.

I knew it was going to happen.  When I posted my outlook for the week Monday evening, my carefully organized schedule and color-coded calendar (I'm not kidding) were already getting derailed.  I shifted everything to accommodate the new plan.  And again.  And again.

I'm here to say that it didn't work, everything is falling apart, and nothing I planned is getting done.

Today feels especially like a failure, I guess, because I didn't really get anything work-like done at all (except for this blog post, which is a dubious win).  It was somewhat expected, as I had my weekly ride with a friend in the morning, and had a scheduled opportunity to preview a doll sale before the actual sale starts.  But I had still been hoping to get a few other things done in smaller chunks.

What I did do (just now) was to triage my to-do list yet again, to see what I can salvage of the week.  Fortunately tomorrow should be a much more manageable day, with more time at home and fewer (knock on wood) potential distractions.

How do you manage it when things come up that require you to reschedule everything else?  I don't want to be so rigid that I can never adapt as needed, but at the same time, I need to figure out how to keep my schedule from getting out of my control!

Monday, June 12, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 3

This last week has been a whirlwind and this week is already shaping up to be one too, which is why I'm finally getting around to writing this post in the evening.  It's like my schedule and plans are changing day by day, sometimes even hour by hour, and I have to keep changing around everything else to accommodate it.

I had plans for today that were all derailed when I went to drop off some equipment at our local doll shop for an event later this month, got stuck in about an hour of unexpected traffic, and then ended up hanging around the doll shop for a while and making plans to go back tomorrow and film.

Sometimes I don't even know how this happens to me, but I just roll with it!

When I got home, I triaged my to-do list, identified the most important stuff to finish this evening, and reworked my plan for tomorrow and the rest of the week to reschedule all the stuff that is getting bumped from today and tomorrow.

I also had a realization since I wrote week 2's post that with freelancing no longer taking up space on my calendar, I need to dedicate at least part of every week on activities that replace that income.  I haven't been focusing on it as much as I should have, and it's beginning to show.  Granted, I hope that some of this work will eventually bring in income, but I need to also devote some time to more immediate sources of income. Right now that's doll repair and resale, while the writing (and the building of my doll professional brand) is the long game.

Here is the most recent plan for the coming week:

Doll stringing ebook: I was about to bemoan the fact that I'd shifted this off yet another week, but then I reread what I wrote last week and realized that no, that was according to plan.  I really did plan to put it off until this week.  Note to self: Don't feel guilty.  It was the plan.

Ruby Ransome: I had a placeholder in my calendar to resume work on my novel this week, but after today and tomorrow were changed so abruptly, I'm second guessing this.  I moved my placeholder to next Monday, assuming that shifting everything down a couple of days is going to require me to give up my noveling time this week.

New novel idea: Keeping this on the list, as I do want to flesh the idea out a little more before I save it for later.

Blogging and website maintenance: I didn't finish the resource page to go with the film quite yet, so I'm going to try to do that this evening (that being one of the priorities I identified when I triaged today's to-do list).  I'm still planning on looking into having a second go at the Amazon affiliate program, but that will likely be a task for next week.  I've also been planning on taking some new photos for my website for quite some time, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.  I decided I really ought to do that tomorrow, to have it all live when the video I filmed last week airs on Wednesday.

Other projects: I got a little filming and photography done last week, but not as much as I wanted, so that's still on the docket for later this week, as well as some doll repair I've been putting off.

It's somewhat jarring to have my week scrambled already on Monday, but I'm hoping my new plan for the week sticks, and I get some good work done!

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2023

I totally forgot, when I wrote my post for the week, that Camp NaNoWriMo would be coming up again in July.

I didn't participate at all in the April session of Camp.  In fact, April was almost over before I knew it, thanks to the scramble to get ready for the doll show.

The April session of Camp is always hard for me.  I think it's because there always seems to be a lot else going on in April, between the annual doll show, taxes, and my birthday in late April.  Last year my horse Panama got sick in April, too, so there was that to navigate as well.

I do plan on doing Camp this July, however.  I have to decide whether I'm going to use the opportunity to finish my draft of Ruby, or work on the new novel idea I had recently.  I think I'm better off working on Ruby, honestly, and using the new novel idea as something I can work on after finishing the draft (as I subscribe to the Stephen King method of revisions that says to let it sit for a little bit before going back to it).

Camp NaNoWriMo offers more flexible project goals than November, which means I'll have the ability to do what works for me.  I think I'd really like to have the draft finished by the end of July, so I might need to see where I'm at on June 30th and estimate my word count goal from there.  In general the novel is taking longer to get where it's going this time around, which is fine (it was too short and not fleshed out well enough before) but also means I am not as close to the end as I'd like right now.  If I had to guess, I'd say I'm about a third of the way into it, which means I may have more than a month's worth of writing to do unless I'm planning on being super prolific in July.

I guess that means I definitely need to get back to work on the novel next week as I mentioned in my accountability and progress posts!

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

The Importance of Down Time

I'm writing this on Tuesday, after finishing my accountability and progress post for the week.  I'm blogging because 1) website updates and maintenance are valid activities that need to be done, and 2) I'm realizing that I desperately need some down time today.

The aftermath of filming with the local doll shop on Monday hit me like a load of bricks.  I've filmed with them a handful of times now, and I love it, but I'm also a writer and I love my down time too.  Filming is a lot of stimulation.  I get totally caught up in it at the time, but I think it takes a while for my brain to come down from the high.  For hours afterward, I am a buzzing, overthinking, emotionally drained mess.  The overthinking is deafening.

And then I crash.

I slept hard and deep Monday night, and slept much longer than my usual.  Although I usually don't remember my dreams at all, I remembered enough when I woke up to know that I did dream, and that they were LOUD.  I felt like my dreams had been they'd been yelling at me for hours.  It was a similar feeling to how I felt after hours of my brain buzzing following filming on Monday.

And yes, even after all of this, I still love filming, and I will still do it again.  I just hope eventually I'll get used to the high and be able to manage the aftermath a little more effectively.

Today, Tuesday, I'm managing it by giving myself permission for some down time.  It is going to mess up the plans I just blogged about for the week, since I'm not getting done what I was planning to get done this afternoon, but I'll reschedule and it'll be fine.

Right now, I need a little quiet time where I can write and be in my own head while everything slows down a little, back to a manageable level.

While filming is the most dramatic example, there are other things that cause this kind of overstimulation crash for me.  Big events and intense periods of busyness also do it.  I struggle with giving myself permission for down time, as I think many of us do, but I think it's important to push back against the guilt.  Down time is something we all need.  While some people can tolerate more of it than others, we can't be running at full throttle all the time.

So if you're struggling right now, maybe scrolling social media or searching the internet while you procrastinate, this is the permission you're seeking.

It's okay to need to go at a slower pace for a little bit.  Down time is necessary and good for all of us.  If you feel guilty, remind yourself that you shouldn't feel guilty for listening to your needs.  If you really can't shake that need to be productive, you can find something that still needs to be done, but fits the criteria for "down time."

Enjoy that down time, be sure you get what you need from it, and come back feeling refreshed when it's time to work again.

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 2

This is my second week of my accountability and progress posts, but it'll be my first week reviewing the previous week's accomplishments.  I'm writing this on Tuesday this week, but normally I'll write it on Monday because I want to start off every week by reviewing the previous week and simultaneously looking ahead to the upcoming week.  It just didn't work out this week because of how busy my Monday was (or last week either because that Monday was a holiday).

The past week, including yesterday, can pretty much all be summed up with the word YIKES.

Last week, my husband Zac was supposed to be flying home late Monday night from visiting his sister.  Unfortunately his flight was delayed and he flew in mid afternoon on Tuesday.  Tuesday was supposed to be one of my only dedicated work days, so it severely messed up my day, and ultimately, my week.

As a result, the appointment I had to film with a local doll shop on Thursday was pushed back to Monday, which is why yesterday was so busy.

Following the same format from week 1 in order to track specific projects, here is this week's rundown.

Doll stringing ebook: Originally I had a couple of two-hour time slots blocked off for taking photos and working on the copy last Friday, but as anticipated it didn't happen.  And as it turns out, I have added some new projects to my calendar for this week, so I've shifted this off to next week.

Ruby Ransome: Still on hiatus, although I still have my placeholder in my calendar for next week to remind me to start work on it again.

New novel idea: Nothing done on this in the past week, although I still want to polish up the plot a little more before I lose my train of thought on this.

Blogging and website maintenance: I didn't have a chance to look into the Amazon affiliate program again last week, but I'll try to get to it this week.  I also need to do some work on my doll site to go along with the filming I did yesterday, as I'm creating a list of resources to go along with the video when it releases.

Other projects: I had a bunch of filming and photography things I wanted to do last week (these being for my own channels, not the local doll shop filming that I did yesterday), but the dreary weather and all the rain made it difficult to accomplish anything outdoors or even that needed good light indoors.  It seems this week will offer better weather, so I've rescheduled my filming and photography for this week.  There is some new stuff I want to film too so hopefully I'm not overloading myself.

I think the theme of this week is going to be catching up on what didn't get done last week, after the travel debacle eliminated one of my best working days during the week.  Now that filming with the local doll shop is over, I'm hoping to be able to devote more time to my own projects this week.  I don't have as much scheduled this week that will interfere, either, so with any luck this will be a more productive week!

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 1

My last post talked a lot about how I'm trying to adapt to a lack of deadlines, now that I'm working on my own projects and not freelancing anymore.

I'd like to begin a series of accountability and progress posts, where I start each week by talking about what I've accomplished the previous week and what I hope to accomplish in the coming week.

My goals for this series of posts is two-fold.  One, I want to start each week out by reviewing what I've gotten done.  It's partly to maintain some positivity and reframe my thinking when I'm feeling like I'm lazy or not good enough.  It's also partly to help me track where I'm at in my projects.

Two, I want to start each week by reviewing what I want to accomplish next.  It'll be a good way to treat the week like a blank slate, and think about what I want to get done.  I already do this a little by planning out my week on Sunday nights in my Google calendar, but I'm hoping blogging about it Monday morning will help me prep mentally for the week's work.

I have a few ongoing projects I'll be tracking each week:

Doll stringing ebook: I haven't worked on it in about three weeks, but I currently have finished most of the sections I wanted to rewrite.  I have one more section and then I need to retake the pictures, as I may be revising the instructions based on the pictures I take.  I have two 2-hour blocks of time reserved for this, but they're both on Friday, at the end of a very busy week, and admittedly the second one isn't very realistic as I have myself working on the ebook late on a Friday night.  I'm going to give myself some grace if I don't get to it this week, although maybe at minimum I can rewrite that final section.

Ruby Ransome: Ruby has been on hiatus since December at this point, and I have a lot else I need to get done right now, so I anticipate it being a little longer before I can pick this up again.  I don't want to leave it too long, though, so I'm going to put a placeholder in my calendar in two weeks to remind me to work on it again.

New novel idea: I spent a fair amount of time a week or so ago plotting out a new novel idea I had.  I had an idea and it started fleshing itself out in my head right away, so I of course took it to Plottr and started writing everything down!  I don't know yet if I want to take a longer break from Ruby to write it, or plan on writing it after I finish my current draft of Ruby, but I do want to polish up the plot a little.  I don't have it on the schedule right now because it's less important.

Blogging and website maintenance: I do want to keep this listed as an active project, because it takes work to maintain a blog and a website, and I do have things I need to do with mine.  This week I need to take a new look at the Amazon affiliate program as it might be worth trying again at some point.  I got a (very small) commission recently from a sale I had apparently made back when my account was still active, and it got me to thinking about whether I could give the program another go.

Other projects: I really debated over whether to include other projects in this list.  I wasn't going to do anything that wasn't writing-related, but then I realized how much of my time right now is spent on other things, and decided I'd better at least make a mention of what else I'm working on.  The main thing taking up my attention right now is a necessary cleaning and reorganizing of my doll spaces in my house.  I really need to work on cleaning up my spaces, organizing my collection, and staking out places to work on dolls, take pictures, etc.  This week I'm also going to be doing (hopefully) a lot of filming and photography for doll-related things.  I'm not going to focus much on these types of projects in these posts, but since I have a lot of non-writing things I am trying to get done, I decided to make a general category for them.

That's where I'm at with all my current projects, and where I'll hopefully be headed this week and onward.  I'll touch base again at the start of next week, and we'll see if this whole accountability thing can help me stay motivated!

Monday, May 29, 2023

Motivation and Time Management When There Are No Deadlines

In my last post, I talked about taking a hiatus from freelancing and my plans to work on my own writing projects.  That was almost three weeks ago, so I thought I'd look at where I've come since then.

Spoiler alert: It's not far.

I'm finding that one of the toughest things to manage is ensuring I make the time to get things done when I don't have deadlines to make me do it.  I'm not even great at meeting deadlines, admittedly, as I tend to do things at the last minute and I don't always leave enough time to complete the work.  But I at least do try to do the work before the deadline.

My habit with my own projects is to push things back to the next day, day after day after day, when it becomes obvious I haven't left enough time in the day to do them.  I'm not great at managing my time, and I have really too many things to do, which makes managing my time even harder.

On the flip side, when I do get motivated to do something, I tend to work on it for hours without losing focus.  I just wish I could harness that motivation and focus the rest of the time.

So as you might imagine from this lead-in, I haven't gotten a lot done on my own projects.  I've worked on some of my writing projects here and there, but a lot of my time lately has been spent procrastinating on a house cleanup and reorganization project that I really want to do, and feel like I can't do anything else until I get it done, but which is also completely and totally overwhelming me to the point where I shut down and browse Facebook instead.  No, I'm not proud of it.  Yes, it happens anyway.

I am reasonably sure that I can do better, but it's going to take some time.  Some things that I'm trying to help with this include:

  • Taking a good, hard look at my to-do list: When I have too much on my plate, it gets extra overwhelming, and makes it harder to focus on any one thing.  When I'm trying to decide what to work on, I get paralyzed by worrying about what I should be doing first, and end up doing nothing at all.  I'm trying to be realistic and eliminate tasks that aren't important or that I know I won't do, instead of rescheduling them each week.
  • Scheduling out tasks (instead of making a to-do list): I've been using my calendar instead of a to-do list, and I find it's more effective as it forces me to be more realistic about how much time I have in a day.  Sometimes I still underestimate how long things will take, but I'm getting better at this.
  • Doing a little instead of doing nothing: When I find it really hard to get started on something, sometimes I'll try to do just a small part of it.  Sometimes this helps me get some small part of it done that was acting as a mental block and preventing me from doing the rest, the idea being that it'll be easier to pick up again later even if I need a brain break after getting it done.  Other times doing a few things gets me motivated and I end up getting more done than just the small part I'd originally set out to do.
The hardest part of all of this is remembering not to be unfair to myself.  I have a tendency to think of myself as lazy and to blame myself for not getting enough done, even when I did get things done.  The reality is that my daily expectations for myself are usually far more optimistic than what I can realistically manage, and then I feel bad for not accomplishing all of it.  Feeling like I'm lazy tends to demotivate me, which exacerbates the problem.  I'm trying to be better about this, but it's still a work in progress.

I think I'm going to start a series of posts tracking what I accomplish each week, both to remind myself of what I am getting done, and to stay accountable for what I want to get done.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Taking a Hiatus from Writing to... Write?

I'm on a hiatus from freelancing.

It was pretty much inevitable due to how my clients slowly dwindled throughout last year, and since my horse was sick, I had no time to market to find replacements.  I was down to one regular client, but I had an issue with the freelance platform, so I've been essentially client-less for just over a month now.

I've toyed with the idea of using this as an opportunity to change the focus of my writing business.  I've also been using the time for other projects, like working on my novel and updating a doll stringing ebook that I sell.


But I've been surprised by how much I want to write.  I'm getting random cravings to write something, anything.  I think it's because this is actually the least writing I've done since starting my career.

I started freelancing almost exactly 18 years ago.  It was in about March of 2005 that I wrote my first article for my first client.  And I'd already been working as a technical writer since December of 2004.

This is the first time in all that time that I haven't had at least one client.

Having time to write for myself, wanting to write for myself, is something I'm unaccustomed to, and I'm liking how it feels.  I've enjoyed working on my ebook project, which I sometime get sucked into for hours at a time.  I'm updating the writing as well as the visual layout, and it's addicting to get everything looking and sounding just right.

It's very different from my freelance work, though, which was 1) primarily very short projects and 2) always on deadline.  I'm not sure if I should set myself a deadline (or if I'd even respect one set by myself), or if I should just make a goal to work on the ebook for X amount of hours a day or week.

It's also complicated by the fact that I have a lot else going on: babysitting, my doll repair/resale business, my doll room overhaul project, a ton of project dolls and other things to get caught up on, my volunteer work at the local doll museum, my horses to take care of, and other normal daily human adulting things like helping my parents.

Sometimes (often) I fall into the common habit of feeling like I'm lazy because I don't get everything done.  Then I look at a list like that one and realize that actually I just have a lot on my plate, so it's no wonder I don't always get to everything I want to do.

So maybe it's just as well that I am not freelancing right now.  With any luck, it'll give me a chance to work on these various personal writing projects that I haven't had time for in a very long time.

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Traveling with the Surface Go 3

Please note that this post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commissions from sales made through these links.

I'm home from my trip now, and as it turned out, the Surface Go 3 was the absolute perfect travel computer.

My review is as follows:

  • Size: The small size of the Surface Go 3 (10.5") made it easy to take with me.  I put it in my regular backpack with a laptop sleeve for the trip, but it easily would have gone into a messenger bag or large purse.  I've also carried it by itself since getting back.  The bump-proof case I got for it helps me feel more secure doing that.  I felt like the small size also made it easier to pull it out of my bag at security in the airport.
  • Weight: The Surface Go weighs just over a pound, although the case and keyboard increase that weight a little.  Even with those accessories, it's pretty lightweight, and was super comfortable to carry with me everywhere.
  • Case: I bought the SUPCASE, which is similar to the case I used to have for my old Surface.  The naked Surface just feels like it would be too easy to slip out of your hands while moving or carrying it, so I like the grippier feeling of a case.  Plus the case is supposed to provide some protection again bumps and drops.  I also like the separate kickstand, as the stand on the Surface is difficult to pull out and I would be worried about it breaking with a lot of use.  There's a pen holder too, but I don't have a pen right now (though I wonder if I could steal the one from my old Surface Pro...).
  • Keyboard: I initially bought an aftermarket keyboard, but had to get a Microsoft branded type cover because the off brand one was too big to work with the case.  The MS keyboard works perfectly, so it's worth the additional cost (although I bought it for less than the standard price on Amazon).  The keyboard is small but I'm still able to type reasonably well, although if I had larger hands that probably would not be so much the case.  Keyboards typically rank high on list of priorities for writers, so you'll understand what I mean when I say that the keyboard has a nice clicky feel to it.
  • Speed: Initially I thought the computer was going to be a little on the slow side, which was okay with me since it was just for travel, but it turned out not to be as slow as I'd thought it would be.  It was fast enough for most things I wanted to use it for.  For the most part I used it for Facebook, Google Drive/Docs, Google Calendar, Toggl, and Canva, and it worked well for all of that.  There was a little lag time on occasion, but not so bad that it got in the way of what I wanted to do.

Now that I'm home again, I'm thinking about what I want to continue using the computer for.  The issue is that I have a perfectly good laptop at home, with more storage, memory, and processing speed than the Surface Go.  And since it's not good for laptops to be plugged in all the time, I do try to take it with me to work on occasion, whether that is taking it to bed, to the couch, when I babysit, or when I have to charge my car - any time I have some time to kill.

So I don't necessarily want to make the Surface Go my only travel machine, but I do want to use it on occasion too so that the battery doesn't go bad from being in storage too much of the time.  Having a backup and travel computer is a good thing, but juggling the two of them will make things a little more complicated!


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