Time management: a new way of doing things around here

Let’s see, it’s already January 19 and I’m just now getting around to mapping out my year. But in my defense, it’s only because I had to finish up a three-credit-hour course in Science methods which I did in two weeks. Talk about noodle brain! But I did it, and now I can move on to other things! Yay! (God is so good to help me! The glory goes to Him!) Anyway, I thought I’d share a bit about what I’m doing in terms of compartmentalizing my life. From what I read, I work more like a guy than a gal. I’m very compartmentalized. Guys can do that better than gals. Gals tend to keep a lot of their mental compartments open all at the same time. I think that’s because they have to when rearing children. They have to be able to nurse the baby, make supper, fish the toddler out of the toilet, call the plumber and switch the laundry all at once. If they compartmentalized everything, something would go wrong. Supper would get burnt while switching laundry and the baby would end up in the toilet and the toddler in the oven or some such thing. Now, I’ll admit, I had to do a lot of the many-things-at-once sort of thing when my kids were small, but I was never very good at it. A lot of suppers got burnt. I’ve always been someone who likes needs to focus on one thing at a time. And I think that’s why I get so much done. It doesn’t seem like one would, but it works for me. Always has. This is how compartmentalizing works.   Picture your brain with a lot of drawers. You only open one drawer at a time. For example, when I’m working on my novel, I only open the novel drawer. I do not allow myself to open any other drawers because to do so means my focus is split. I don’t crack open those drawers even a little bitty bit. This is easier for me than it is for a lot of my female friends. But it works for me. (I also shop like a guy. Grab it. Bag it. Boom. I’m out of there. My husband, on the other hand? Total opposite!)   (Naturally, I’m speaking in general terms, here. I do not mean to imply that all guys and all gals shop or focus the same all the time. Well, actually, I am, but thought I’d put that disclaimer out there to keep the trolls off my back. Seriously, though, Mr. Himself and I are clearly examples that generalizations don’t always apply.) Here’s one way I’m trying to compartmentalize this month....

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Time — it’s not what you think!

Today I’m blogging on my teaching portfolio website. Please check it out and let me know what you think! I have some happy news to share there.  Yes, I have a life outside of writing. Believe it or not. I’d like to think it makes me a better writer. Mostly, though, I think it makes me tired. That one time when I had an actual whole week to do nothing but write, I found it grueling. It was just plain hard. But I did enjoy it. Parkinson’s Law is true — work expands to fill the time available for its completion. And speaking of time, did you know that it’s a physical property? I’m fascinated with this concept. Here’s a video that explains it better than I can. What’s your favorite way to spend time? Please tweet: Past, present and future: a stubborn...

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How I Get It All Done (Sorta)

Like you, I’m insanely busy. Sometimes I feel as if I don’t even have time to breathe. This can make writing hard. Not only for finding time to write, but having the mental clarity to write. It doesn’t get easier as we get older. We need a lot more brain support in terms of exercise, nutrition and supplements. I was sharp as a tack until I turned 40 and then I realized how fallible and fragile this thing called life is. And I don’t know who told me parenting adult children was easy, but I have a hunch they didn’t have adult children. Most of you know that I’m a full-time pastor/pastor’s wife, full-time college student and “full-time” writer. That is, I spend at least four hours a day on my writing career. (Often, I spend much more than that.) As a pastor I spend at least 40 (ahem, to 60) hours and my college homework gets squeezed in there in between it all. On top of that I’m a Mom, grandma, wife, daughter-in-law to my mother-in-law who lives with us and has Alzheimer’s. My candles are pretty much melted. If I don’t keep track of my tasks, they don’t get done. Here’s how I do it. My first favorite item is my physical planner notebook, The Planner Pad. I love this planner because it not only gives me a full calendar view but also lets me plan by the week and day. Now, I also use a digital planning system as well, but it’s different than this planner, and I’ll get to it later. This physical planner helps me write out my week by hand in order to internalize it. Here is a pic of my calendar page for the month of September 2015 (it’s not nearly as pretty as the video). And here’s the “funnel” pages I use each week to categorize and prioritize my activities. This is the one for this week. It will fill up more as the week goes along. Now, if you watch the following video, you’ll see I don’t use the funnel pages correctly. For some reason I want to put my specific times on the middle part of my page instead of at the bottom. What you’re supposed to do is break down the tasks in the middle of the page and then schedule specific times for them at the bottom. I tend to just schedule appointments at specific times on the middle of the page. Our lives are so interrupted that I get discouraged if I write something like, “blog from 9 AM – 10 AM.” No sooner will I write that than someone in this house or at the church...

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What’s on Your Writing Desk?

In the coming weeks, I’ll feature an author’s writing desk/den/cave/lair on my blog. I’m super excited about this! I love peeking into writer’s spaces to see where they tune into their inspiration. Some spaces are more glamorous than others. And I think it’s fun to see how other people do it. As for me, I have a room called an “office,” but right now it’s a storage closet. <sigh> So I’m hoping to be inspired to dig it out again as I feature other authors on my blog. If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have already realized how obsessed I am with home office spaces.  My ultimate dream is to have my own “she-shed” as a writing space. I keep trying to talk Mr. Himself into it, but he’s dragging his feet because he likes having me around. It’s nice to be wanted. Still, I like the idea of hiding. Until that day when he can part with me, I write pretty much like this: As you can see, I have a full range of office staff to help me. Fur and skin people are constantly at my service to advise me and help with editing. <cough, cough> They work long hours, well into the evening, too. (Click the images twice and once again to enlarge and see full photo.) Spook is editor in charge of Lap Warming Editor Spook and Sister Janelle Spook takes over my laptop when he gets impatient with my comma placements or lack thereof Jake is editor in charge of dog snorts and playing fetch Spook using the hand over hand editing method Jake thinks if he sits on my head I’ll get the hang of dog grammar by osmosis Jake telling me it’s quitting time Jake’s always looking over my shoulder. I usually outlast the staff. They sleep on the job most of the time. If you have an office space, writing lair, or desk you’d like to share with my readers, download the guidelines below and contribute! I’ll feature one office space per week. You don’t have to be a writer or published author to share! I can’t wait to see where you go for inspiration. What’s On Your Desk Blog Guidelines Tweet this: What’s on your writing desk?...

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L, M, N, are probably not going to get me noticed in search engines. O Well.

When my computer crashed, I missed the weeks of L, M, N in our A to Z blog hop. Horrors! And now it’s already time for the letter O! So here goes. L is for lazy. I had a very lazy Christmas holiday. I slept tons. I mean, I never knew it was humanly possible to sleep as much as I did and still be alive and breathing. If there’s such a thing as Christmas Coma, I invented it. I was utterly and completely exhausted. For this reason, I’m sure God had a plan for my computer crashing and burning. And I’m grateful. My life is a steamroller of expectations and responsibilities. It’s something I’m working on changing. M is for movies. I was going to watch a bunch of them over the holiday, but L for Lazy interfered with that. N is for noshing: I did far too much of that this holiday and while I don’t really know how much weight I gained, I know that I did gain a few pounds simply because of the way my clothes feel. (The scale is broken. And I hear you laughing. No, I didn’t break it. “Not me” broke it. “Not me” also starts with the letter N.) Now my stomach feels all rumbly and icky and while I promised to detox from sugar after the holidays were over, I’ve yet to make the complete and final leap. (See letter L.) Finally we come to this week, which is brought to you by the letter O. O is for “O Well.” I’ve been using this phrase a lot lately. Living three weeks without a computer taught me a few things about submitting my day to the Lord and going with the flow. Admittedly, I have had more opportunities to learn how to go with the flow as the mother of twins with autism and the caregiver of a mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s. (Did I forget to mention the son with bipolar and the husband with ADD?)  Going with the flow should have been something I mastered long, long ago. But there’s still that rebel inside of me that wants what I want when I want, how I want. There’s that ornery little imp that kicks and screams and throws a fit if things don’t go her way. Instead of throwing up her arms and saying, “O well, that must mean God wants me to _________.” She stomps her foot and says, “Fine. Then I’m going to play 55,000+ games of Words with Friends and pin 783,278+ pins on Pinterest via my phone.” O Well would lead me down the path the Lord has lit for me to walk. As in,...

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5 ways I get it all done

People often say to me, “I don’t know how you get it all done!” And truthfully, I don’t really. Having it all and doing it all is a myth. But what I do accomplish is because I have priorities and a constant plan. As a pastor’s wife in full-time ministry with my husband, a full-time college student, CASA volunteer,Prison Fellowship volunteer, and substitute teacher, my writing time is limited and precious. If I don’t make time for it, it simply doesn’t happen. If you want to write, then you must make time to write, because life won’t make time for you. Here are my 5 main time-management tips: 1. My daily 7.  I keep and follow a list of  7 main tasks a day (this is not the same is priorities). I keep this list in my planner and on the whiteboard in my office so everyone can see them: 1. Bible 2. Pray 3. Write/work on Work in Progress (WIP) 4. Study — either for college courses or classes I teach 5. Blog 6. Emails 7. Social Media/Platform building Reading my bible and praying are two things I really depend on. I just feel less anxious and more focused if I start my day this way. When I don’t, I’m all scattered the rest of the day. I may glance at my emails to see if there’s anything pressing, but I don’t answer most of them until after I spend time working on whatever project is yelling the loudest. I picture putting the 7 daily tasks I want to accomplish an imaginary task jar first. If I don’t, put them in first, the jar gets full of all the other little stuff and the big rocks won’t fit: Keeping these seven tasks as the biggest “rocks” of my day allows me to fill in the empty spaces with other things that are necessary but not as time-investing, such as household chores, phone calls, etc. Everything else are pebbles, sand or water that I pour into the jar over the seven big rocks. Granted, life isn’t perfect and there are days I have to stray from the plan, but by having these Daily 7 as my ideal daily goals helps me stay focused and get more done. 2. I sometimes write during 2nd/3rd shift hours. If I get the chance and my schedule allows for it, I stay up until 4 AM and write. I usually try to do this two days in a row if I can. Admittedly, this only happens a few times a month but it helps a lot. Writing 2nd/3rd shift keeps me from being interrupted with phone calls and family matters. It gives me...

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