Monday, July 22, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 30: Getting Back on Track

My one goal last week was to work on minimizing distractions.  Honestly, I don't know how I did at that.  I feel like by the end of the week, I had completely forgotten about that goal.

One thing I tried to focus on last week though was the importance of things that inherently aren't productive.  My mom visited on Tuesday, and we went to lunch and spent the afternoon together.  On Wednesday I rode and then we went to a concert with Zac's mom and sister.  So both days were highly unproductive, but spending time with family is valuable in other ways.

Thursday I got a lot of writing done on my novel, making up for multiple days of not writing, but then the weekend was so busy I never got anything more done on it.  On Friday I volunteered at the museum, and on both Saturday and Sunday I had friends bring their kids to ride my horses.  It was an exhausting weekend, but rescheduling wasn't an option in either case, so I sucked it up and did it.

This week I want to remind myself of my major long term goals:

  1. To keep working on my novels, publish, and develop my career as an author
  2. To clean up my house and make the doll spaces more usable
  3. To get back to working on dolls, both my own and my clients'

I have gotten off track from these long term goals quite a bit, so my goals for the week are pretty simple:

  1. Work on minimizing distractions
  2. Get back on track with my long term goals

Getting distracted is a pretty major problem for me and I'd like to find a way to combat it, whether it's by learning the will power to ignore things like Facebook, or by finding some tools to help me.  And I feel like I need to start working on getting back on track just in general.  I did make some headway last week with a few little tasks like responding to emails I'd been putting off for some time, but this week I need to get back to writing regularly and also start working on doll stuff again.

It should be a less hectic week, though, so hopefully things will settle down enough that I can get a handle on my goals again.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Amazon Prime Day Deals for Readers

It's Prime Day!  It's funny how Prime Day has become almost a holiday of sorts.  Other retailers are starting to have sales on Prime Day, too, I guess cashing in on the people waiting to spend money as soon as everything goes on sale.  I was checking Prime Day deals late last night, and have seen many already go back to regular price.

Please note that I do get a small commission for any purchases made via my links!

I was hoping for more writing tools to be on sale for Prime Day, but at the very least I'm happy to see the Kindles on sale.  The Kindle Scribe, which I have and love, is $259.99, 30% off.  Note that that's the version with the smallest amount of storage and the premium pen; the ones with upgraded storage are either not on sale, or already went back to normal price.  There is one 64GB Scribe bundle still on sale for Prime Day, though; the price of $324 is 38% off and includes the premium pen and a cover.  That's the Scribe I have and I highly recommend it!

There are also two smaller Kindles on sale:

There's also a Fire tablet on sale for $74.99, 46% off, but for me that's too much distraction when I want to read.

I was really glad to see the Kindles on sale.  My husband decided to upgrade his very old refurbished Kindle.  We both have the same kind, that we got during a sale a few years ago.  They've done us well, but compared to my Scribe they're slow and the screen lighting isn't as crisp.

I'll keep looking and see if I see any deals writers would benefit from, but so far the Kindle deals are the best deals I've seen for literary-minded folks.

Editing to add:  I found a TON of Prime Deals on Kindle, plus you get triple points today and tomorrow for all Kindle book purchases!  Click here for easy access to Prime Day Kindle book deals.

Monday, July 15, 2024

Weekly Goals, Weekly 29: Changes Are Hard

Last week was something of a mixed bag.  I had a super productive day on Monday, possibly because I was feeling energized by the book I was reading.  I got several small tasks done, some of which had been on my to-do list for quite some time, as well as some larger tasks.

Tuesday and Wednesday continued fairly productively.  I worked on stuff that mattered to me.  I got lots of writing done and kept up on some things that needed doing.

Thursday is where everything started to fall apart.  I picked up the dog we were dog sitting for the weekend, wrote a blog post, got a little writing done.

By Friday, I was fully in a slump.  I didn't get much of anything done.  Saturday we ran some errands and yesterday we visited a vintage store run by a doll friend on the way to help my mom with some things, so neither day was truly unproductive, but I haven't worked on writing since Thursday so I feel like it was unproductive.

On Friday, I was chalking it up somewhat to the difficulty of reframing my priorities.  In some ways, allowing myself to do what matters most to me allowed me to do nothing for a little bit.  You could probably argue that after house sitting and running the table at Fan Expo, my body was telling me that I needed to rest, and resting for the sake of resting is definitely something the author of Four Thousand Weeks talks about.

But I'm hoping to get back on track this week.

I've been thinking about my long term goals, and how my weekly goals don't necessarily always match up.  Part of that has been how busy we got, of course.  But part of it was also that I'd gotten out of the habit of working on certain projects.

I have three major, long term goals:

  1. To keep working on my novels, publish, and develop my career as an author
  2. To clean up my house and make the doll spaces more usable
  3. To get back to working on dolls, both my own and my clients'

Truthfully, three major goals are a lot to juggle.  I need to be aware of the juggling that having multiple major goals will entail.

One thing I need to think about is an idea that Four Thousand Weeks proposes: that when you're working toward a major goal, it may be helpful to temporarily shelve everything else and focus just on that task or project.  I think I may need to do that with cleaning up the house and working on the doll room, but the question is, how much to shelve?  I don't necessarily want to put off writing every day, and of course there are a lot of necessary tasks that I can't put off.

What it comes down to is that I need to eliminate distractions such as social media, which tend to suck me in and keep me scrolling, wasting time that I could otherwise be using on either writing or working on the doll room.

So this week's goal is actually going to be something entirely different:

  1. Work on minimizing distractions

Of course, I have secondary goals, things I want to work on in that time I'm taking back from my distractions: in this case, writing and working on the doll room.  But I want to keep minimizing distractions as my main goal, because I don't want to lose sight of that as I go throughout my week.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Four Thousand Weeks: A Review and a Reset

In my post about my goals for this week, I blogged about a book I was reading at the time, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals.

Well, I finally finished the book, and I have lots of thoughts.

The book has had an immediate impact on how I view my time and my to-do list.  On Monday when I planned out my week, I took a bunch of unimportant tasks off my calendar, where they'd been languishing for weeks and sometimes months, rolled over from week to week as they remained unfinished.  It felt good to recognize that I probably would never get to them, and that that was okay, because they weren't all that important to do.

Perversely, I got a ton done on Monday, probably at least partly because I was feeling energized by this new way of looking at things.  There were also a lot of things I had to get done, after 10 days of house sitting and 4 days of Fan Expo.  Basically, I'd had two weeks' worth of stuff to put away and two weeks' worth of basic tasks to catch up on.

Today, I'm finding that my desire for productivity is shot, perhaps because Four Thousand Weeks has given me permission to focus on what matters to me.  Turns out that eliminates quite a few things from my task list, and all I want to do now is read, write, and do doll stuff.

I suppose the fact that writing makes the short list should tell me something, though.

As I mentioned in Monday's post, the message of Four Thousand Weeks is that we have a limited amount of time, and there is no possible way we can ever hope to accomplish everything.  Rather than how the productivity self-help industry has focused on finding ways for us to get progressively more and more done, Four Thousand Weeks coaches you to forget about trying to do everything, and instead focus on doing what matters most to us.

In other words, quit trying to fit it all in and feeling guilty when we can't.  Instead, give ourselves permission to not accomplish everything.

One of the things the book talks about is the idea of limiting yourself to only three to-do items at a time.  I've always thought that was ridiculous because who has only three items on their list?!  Of course, as someone who is self-employed, I have work items on my list, whereas someone with a traditional job probably wouldn't.  But still!

The way the book discusses it, though, I started thinking: how about only having three active projects on my list at a time?  I've definitely noticed that I do better if I keep my weekly goals to just three, when I write that post every week.  So maybe limiting my big projects to three would be helpful.

But then in the appendix, the author suggests keeping two to-do lists: one with active items that you limit to only ten, and another with all the things you hope to do, with the understanding that you will not get through all of those.  And every time you accomplish one of the ten things, you can cross that off and move something else over.

He also suggested keeping a third list, a "Done" list, which I like for the purpose of reminding myself that I have been doing things.  Too often I look at the things I didn't accomplish and feel like a failure, no matter how much I actually did accomplish.

A final note: One of the things the book addresses quite a bit is distractions that keep us from doing things we need to do, or rather, that enable us to procrastinate on things we should be doing.  Social media is, of course, at the top of that list.  While there's no way I can eliminate social media from my life entirely, as it does serve some very real purposes for me, I definitely should look at how to limit its ability to distract me when I'm doing something important.

After pondering Four Thousand Weeks and the meaning of life all week, I feel like I'm even more lost as ever, although maybe that's just my new hierarchy of priorities taking shape.  Or, perhaps, it's me trying to figure out what I actually need to do (clearing the clutter in the kitchen, for instance), and how to balance those with the things that matter to me (just reading, writing, and dolls, really).

In any case, I'll accept my current feeling of aimlessness as growing pangs and part of the process of resetting my priorities, if it will eventually lead to more satisfaction with what I do and less guilt over what I don't.

Monday, July 08, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 28: Changing My Outlook

I'm currently reading a book called Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals.  As the subtitle suggests, the book is about how limited our time is, and is a counter to the obsession with productivity.  It's making me rethink how I'm planning my goals every week.

I'll write a full review when I'm finished reading, but for now, suffice it to say that I'm reassessing how I manage my time.

Last week, of course, was absurdly busy, partly due to house sitting and partly because of Fan Expo Denver..  I posted my goals post for the week late, and also posted about our table for the Denver region of NaNoWriMo at Fan Expo.

While the con was busy, it was also a lot of fun.  We had two panels where we talked about NaNoWriMo and writing novels, and the rest of the time my husband and I traded off working the table with one of our other local organizers.  I'm super jazzed about working on my novel after all that, and looking forward to the weekly year-round write-in tomorrow, since we had a few people at the con who expressed interest in coming.

This week will be my first "regular" week in about three weeks, and maybe my first week without as many distractions in a long time: My husband started his new job today, and will be in the office four days a week for the first couple weeks (three days a week after that).  It'll be an adjustment and I do miss him being home, but I think I may find that not having him here will enable me to get more done.

I'm trying not to focus too much on rigid productivity, though, and instead consider the value of the things I'm trying to make time for.  One of the most important points of this book is that no matter how productive we are, we'll never have time for everything, so it's important to choose instead what we value most and make sure we do those things.

With that in mind, and noting that I'm not done with the book yet and haven't decide for sure how it will apply to my daily outlook, my goals for the week are as follows:

  1. Work on my novel every day
  2. Finish unpacking and cleaning up from the last two weeks
  3. Reassess what's most important to me and rethink my goals

This morning, I went through a bunch of my tasks that I've been rolling over each week for weeks, sometimes for months.  The number of tasks was getting out of hand!  I deleted anything that wasn't super important to me or that had been there for far too long.  The important things that were left, I tried to make some time for, in both this week's schedule and next week's.  There are some tasks that I deleted that will probably get recreated at some point, but ideally when I have more time to do them, as they aren't things I'm likely to forget about.  Having so much tasks to roll over each week was stressing me out, as it made me focus on all the things I couldn't accomplish.

I'm trying to remember, as I go into this week, that my time is finite, and there's only so much I can do with it.  Nothing is served by me feeling guilty for not having accomplished things I think I should have; most of the time, I legitimately didn't have time for it, and I know that.  Things like deleting less important tasks and rolling over less every week will help me not feel so guilty about things beyond my control.

Thursday, July 04, 2024

Celebrating NaNoWriMo at Fan Expo Denver

Hello from Fan Expo Denver!

As we do most years, the Denver region of NaNoWriMo has a community table at the expo, plus two panels about NaNoWriMo: one tomorrow about the Young Writers program, and an intro to NaNoWriMo on Sunday.

It's a great time to reach out to the community.  We get a lot of people walking by who are interested in writing or who have kids who are interested in writing, but have no idea what NaNoWriMo is.  We do also get people coming by who recognize the name or who have participated in NaNoWriMo before.  Occasionally we even see familiar faces, participants we know from our local events.

The table is a lot of sitting around though, because most people trolling the vendor hall are looking for things to buy.  Possibly my favorite (even though it's a little anxiety-inducing) is the panels, because we get to talk about our experiences doing NaNoWriMo.  We usually do a short intro and then just take questions from the audience.  It's fun and we joke around a lot, in between the more serious answers.

I hope if you're in Denver, you'll stop by our community table to say hi or come join us for our panels!

Weekly Goals, Week 27: Crazy Week #2

I said last week was going to be crazy, and I wasn't wrong.

As expected, we spent most of our time driving back and forth between the two houses and spending a few hours one place, and a few hours at the other.  I got largely nothing productive done at all, other than working on my novel.

I did make my word count goal for Camp Sandwich, which I'll write about more in a future post.

This week started out the same way, of course, which is the biggest reason why I'm finally writing this post on Thursday.  My husband's parents got home yesterday, so we spent last night in our own house, no more driving back and forth... just in time for Fan Expo to start today.

Fan Expo is the next four days, today through Sunday, and we're here until evening every day, so I don't expect much productivity this week either.  Hopefully I'll get some writing done at Fan Expo (where I'm blogging from now).

So my goal list for the remainder of this week is just:

  1. Work on my novel every day.

Literally, that's the best I think I can manage to do right now.  But next week will be better!


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