I captured my first try at scheduling my day in my “A Day in the Life” post last week—a big fail on the one hand, because I was totally off my planned schedule, but on the other hand, a win in that I stayed aware of my time the entire day.
Staying aware of my time is something that tends to get away from me, especially now when I’m not plunged into back-to-back deadlines (well, this week I am, but not week by week by week like I am during my busy period).
Since that day, I’ve been religiously scheduling the following day—every night before I go to bed, I sit at my desk, armed with my highlighters and carefully charting out the next day in my planner. And every day, I fail to follow my careful schedule. Sigh.
I don’t think I’m planner-challenged (at least, the evidence isn’t all in yet!). But I do think I don’t know how long it takes me to do things, and that, perhaps, is a skill I should acquire. And once I’ve acquired that skill, I can maybe tackle the whole scheduling my day thing again and see how it goes.
I’d actually been planning to try a week of tracking my time after I read Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours earlier this year. And then I never got around to it because January and part of February were so deadline-driven, my weekly schedule looked like this: WAKE UP. WORK. SLEEP. REPEAT. Nothing much to track, really.
So I’m going to spend this week tracking my time in my Passion Planner—so it will be a little like a diary of sorts. I have three more deadlines (one tomorrow, one on Thursday that looks like it might shift and one on Friday) so it’s not a normal non-busy week for me, but still, I’d like to see where I’m putting my time!
Have you ever tracked your time during your day? Any surprises? And are you a whiz at scheduling your days? Any tips would be appreciated!
What’s that quote again? “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” That was me yesterday.
Being the master procrastinator that I am, I’d set aside Saturday night as Bloggiesta time. My plan was to roll up my sleeves at around 7 pm and start working through my Bloggiesta to-do list. I’d be finished by around 11:00 pm, I figured.
Unfortunately, MsBookish had other plans. It started in the morning when I couldn’t log in to my dashboard. My webhost fixed it, but then when it came time for me to roll up my Bloggiesta sleeves, everything was down.
It took a while for them to fix things the second time around, but they did (I like them a lot, by the way, because so far they have always been very responsive when sucky website things happen).
Now, the reason I’d set aside Saturday night to work on Bloggiesta stuff was because starting today, I have to buckle down and work on work stuff. I have four deadlines this coming week, and I knew I wouldn’t have have the nice big chunk of time necessary for my Bloggiesta to-do after Saturday night.
So what did I do when I found out I couldn’t work on Bloggiesta stuff? Did I instead pull out one of my deadlines and start plugging away at it, so that theoretically I could then do Bloggiesta stuff today (assuming everything was fixed)?
No, I did not. I spent the night waiting and checking my email for site updates. And playing Kairosoft’s Magazine Mogul on my Kobo. (I love (and have) all of Kairosoft’s games …) This is the kind of thing I do when I’m stressed or tired or procrastinating.
So here I am on this sunny early spring morning, writing what should have been my Bloggiesta wrap-up post. The way it looks now, I probably won’t get to my Bloggiesta to-do until next weekend.
And a PS: for everyone who tried to comment with a link to their posts on my Bloggiesta challenge post, I’m extending the time to enter the challenge and giveaway by two days, to Wednesday, April 1 (the draw will be made on April 2), to make up for the page being down on Saturday evening..
So, how did your Saturday night go? Much better than mine, I hope!
If I was knee deep in indexing deadlines, this would be a short post that would read something like this:
10:00 am – 3:00 am Work on index. (With a bleary shot of my desk.)
But I’m not knee deep in deadlines—yay! Here’s what my Tuesday this week looked like (warning: it’s on the boring side). I decided to use Tuesday for my Day in the Life because on Tuesdays (along with Thursdays and Saturdays) I’m in charge of getting Dylan to dance class, so at least I do step outside to break up the monotony of the day.
Darn! I meant to wake up earlier. I just started using the Passion Planner and today is the first time I’ve tried scheduling things into my day. As in, first time ever. And I’m already off track.
8:35 to 10:00 am
Coffee (coconut flavoured!) and tea (green!) in bed, brought to me by the book-reading demon.
Dylan, who has finished his math earlier in the morning with the book-reading demon, comes and sits with me in bed to do his English, French and science work. The book-reading demon leaves to teach classes.
In between helping Dylan out with the more challenging bits and checking the work he’s finished, I check email, catch up on Twitter and read posts in various Facebook groups. When Dylan’s finished, we do one of the Smiling Mind meditations together. Today he’s doing the movement meditation, which gets him all giggly. (I forgot to take a picture of any of this.)
Meditation and A Course in Miracles, which I started reading eleven days ago. I’m not understanding much of what I’m reading at all, I’m afraid.
Make Dylan lunch. Today it’s pasta with homemade Bugs ‘n’ Cheese sauce (the Bugs ‘n’ Cheese dish from Boston Pizza is his favourite meal, so the book-reading demon worked out something similar that includes lots of cauliflower in it). Dylan loves it.
Have my breakfast: banana and a glass of kefir.
11:30 am– 2:00 pm
Really bad pictures of my workspace. The sun was just pouring in and I couldn’t get a good picture from any angle.
I’m already an hour and a half behind. So much for scheduling my day! I settle in to work on the articles I have due this week. I have research to do before I can write each article. This part gets a little boring, as the topics aren’t particularly interesting ones (I’m writing about S corporations and LLCs), but once I have the research done the writing is enjoyable.
I also have lunch at my desk. Sad but true: I do find myself eating at my desk a lot. Today it’s mini fish sliders with mango slaw and lemony sour cream, leftovers from a meal we made from the Eat St. cookbook—it’s filled with food truck recipes and every recipe we’ve made so far (and we’ve made several of them) has been really delicious.
I don’t spend the entire time working, though. Dylan’s schedule is pretty structured in that he has set activities he does every week day, and on Tuesday afternoons that’s DEAR time (Drop Everything and Read), piano practice, some electronics time and some non-electronics time—sketching, LEGO and working on one of his projects. So I do a lot of coordinating of activities and, when he’s taking a break, I usually have to stop working, because he likes to talk his way through his breaks.
2:10 pm – 2:45 pm
And speaking of breaks, it’s time for mine! Having ginger tea and reading the Swedish mystery Spring Tide. Dylan practices piano while I’m doing this. Lots of talking in between the pieces he plays.
2:45 pm – 4:00 pm
Back to work. I am way behind schedule. According to my planner, I’m supposed to be finished with the articles and working on my middle grade manuscript right now, but that obviously isn’t going to happen. I keep plugging away at the work stuff.
4:00 pm – 4:10 pm
A short break to make Dylan a grilled cheese sandwich. He has hip hop tonight, so he’ll need the energy. (I guess I should have taken a picture of him eating his sandwich.)
4:10 pm – 5:15 pm
Keep working until the last possible minute before we have to leave. Two articles done, two more to go.
5:15 pm – 8:00 pm
Take Dylan to his hip hop class. I wait at a nearby Starbucks while he’s in class. Often I read, but tonight I’m on my phone, catching up on emails, Twitter and Flipboard. On our way home, we pick up subs from Subway for dinner.
8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Eat sub. Read book. Try to relax but feel guilty about not working.
9:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Clean the kitchen, while listening to Veronica Mars: The Ten Thousand Dollar Tan Line. Dylan gets ready for bed. When he’s done, I tuck him in.
10:00 pm – 10:45 pm
Write tomorrow’s blog post, What I’ve learned from nearly four months of blogging. The book-reading demon gets home.
10:45 pm – 11:00 pm
Debate with myself about the merits of pulling out the third article assignment and getting some work done. Decide not to. Rustle up a snack, pour myself a glass of wine.
11:00 pm – 1:00 am
Read! And then off to bed.
I’m linking this post up at Trish’s A Day in the Life event. Visit for more fun reads about A Day in the Life of other bloggers!
I don’t dare to do a count, but the current state of my TBR is, well, pretty bad. These days, not only do I have a physical TBR:
One of my TBR stacks
I also have an ebooks TBR, an audiobook TBR and a Scribd TBR. Not to mention the library holds I pick up every week.
When your TBR piles are so big you know you don’t have much of a chance of getting through them all unless you swear off adding new books to your to-read lists for the next ten years or so (and I know lots of you know exactly what I’m talking about here), what do you when you feel the urge to reread a book?
Every now and then, this happens to me. Despite all these new, unread books beckoning to me, calling out my name, almost but not quite reaching out to wrap their bookish arms around me, I suddenly think of a much loved older read and I want nothing more than to cuddle up in my reading chair, snacks at hand, and re-read to my heart’s content.
Sometimes I give in. And sometimes I resist. But it’s always such a dilemma every time this happens.
And that urge to reread? Anything can trigger it. Here are some books I’ve found myself wanting to reread over the past three months or so, and the reasons why they came to mind:
Emily of New Moon, by L.M. Montgomery. Because I was on Twitter the other night when the #womeninfiction hashtag came up and I immediately thought of Emily.
Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen. Because I always want to re-read Pride & Prejudice, at least a few times every year. Despite this, it’s been nearly ten years since my last re-read of it.
Make Way for Lucia (The Mapp and Lucia books), by E.F. Benson. Because I received an email a while ago from author Guy Fraser-Sampson who has written some sequels to the Mapp and Lucia books (and this reminds me, I never emailed him back—this was way back when I was at inbox 1000 and non-essential emails were getting lost all over the place). What really bugs me, though, is I went hunting for my copy of Make Way for Lucia and couldn’t find it. And I suspect it accidentally got placed in the books-to-give-away pile when we made our big move to the city four years ago.
Any of the Bill Bryson travel books (I have all of them). Because I read this post from the Guardian Books blog about Bryson’s forthcoming new release, The Road to Little Dribbling, and suddenly I wanted to sit with one of his books and spend the night smiling and laughing with his words.
The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford. Because I read an article about this book recently (I can’t remember where or even what the article was about specifically) and this happens to be one of the few classics (that’s not a play) that I really enjoyed when I was in school.
So there you go. My ongoing rereading dilemma. Out of all these books I’ve just mentioned, I know I’m going to do a reread of Where’d You Go, Bernadette in audio (I put a hold on it at the library as soon as I heard how good the audio is), and I am *this* close to rummaging around for the first Emily book. And the others? They’re still tugging at my heart.
What about you? Do you like to re-read books? Do you ever feel that re-reading dilemma?
Up until December of last year, I wasn’t the most faithful of bloggers. When I first started MsBookish back in November of 2008, I did blog somewhat regularly, but as time passed, I stopped being consistent.
For much of last year, my blogging was quite sporadic—to give you an idea, in 2014 I posted seven times in January, twice in February, once in March, once in April, eight times in May, four times in June, three times in July, once in August, no posts in September, once in October and no posts in November. So, 28 times from January to November.
And then I made an important decision—I committed to 365 Days of Blogging beginning December 1 of 2014.
This wasn’t something I had to do. It was something I wanted to do—I wanted to do it, because aside from work deadlines, I’m not exactly the most committed or dedicated person. And, well, I wanted to see if I could make that type of commitment.
It’s been almost four months now, and I have managed to blog every day (except for Christmas Day, which I decided to take off from blogging).
And I’ve learned some surprising things, which I will now pass on to anyone who might be interested.
It’s much easier to blog every day than it is to blog sporadically.
I think Gretchen Rubin has mentioned this too. I would never have given it much credence, except now I’m doing it, and I know it’s true.
You know that feeling when you haven’t blogged for a while, and you get an idea for a post but you feel kind of weird and all guilted-out about it and so you don’t? And the longer it’s been since the last time you blogged, the harder it gets to write that new post? Yes, been there, done that.
When you blog consistently, you don’t feel that way. And honestly, I don’t even think it’s about blogging every day. What makes the difference is committing to a schedule, even if it’s only once a week. It’s that commitment that makes a difference. Or at least, it has for me.
Your posts feel less precious.
Losing that sense of preciousness has been an extremely powerful experience. I find I’m no longer attached to the words I write the way I used to be. I don’t agonize over whether I said something clearly enough, whether I was witty, whether I was interesting. My words are no longer my darlings. So I bang out a post that kind of sucks? It’s not worth caring about, because I’m just going to be writing another one tomorrow.
It’s a great feeling. It lets me be me, however I happen to be feeling on any given day.
You stop worrying (so much) about getting comments.
When I was blogging more sporadically, sometimes I’d get a ton of comments on a post. Because eventually all your blogging buddies get a chance to come by and leave their thoughts on that post, since it’s been hanging around in the “most recent post” top spot for weeks.
But when you write a post every day, you know no-one is going to read every single post you write. And you know no-one is going to comment on every post you make. And for some reason, knowing that makes those anxious thoughts ease up. Life (and blogging) become that little bit easier.
You get more ideas for posts.
I prepped for my 365 Days of Blogging by creating a blog post ideas stash (you can read more about generating your own ideas stash here), but the funny thing is, I haven’t had to use very many ideas from my stash. It turns out the more I blog, the more blog post ideas I get. I’m not sure why, but it’s a good thing. So it’s like some sort of wonderful cycle: when you blog more you get more blog ideas so you can blog more so …
After three months and 24 days of daily blogging (not counting Christmas Day), this is what I’ve learned so far. Will I continue blogging daily come December 1, 2015? Probably not, but I definitely won’t leave my blogging up to chance or whims. I’ll definitely be committing to a blogging schedule, and I’ll stick to it.
Time: 12:06 a.m.
Feeling: Really embarrassed. In my last post I talked about hoping to get organized with the Passion Planner, as I was feeling really overwhelmed with things. Well, earlier today (yesterday, actually, since it’s just past midnight) I forgot I had scheduled a get-to-know-you meeting with someone I met through an introduction on LinkedIn. I was having dinner out with my two older kids when I got a message from her asking if I wanted to reschedule, as she didn’t see me anywhere at our scheduled meeting place. I felt so bad—I am usually so good with appointments.
I’m not normally a scattered person but I’ve been feeling really disorganized lately, and this is the kind of thing that happens when I do feel scattered. Hopefully the new planner will get me organized. And luckily she wasn’t upset and we’ve rescheduled for this Friday.
Eating: The kids and I had abalone, sliced pork and preserved egg congee, fried dough fritters (to go with the congee), rice noodle rolls with shrimp and the BBQ meat plate with duck, pork and chicken.
Drinking: A glass of Malbec.
Reading: I’m about halfway through Spring Tide, by Cilla and Rolf Börjlind. It’s an interesting read, although I keep thinking something’s getting lost in the translation from Swedish. It’s an interesting read, though, and I’m pretty sure there will be lots of twists to come.
I’m also about two-thirds through Pet Sematary, and it’s getting intense. I hope to finish it by the end of this week. Quite a few people have finished it for the #gangstercats readalong, so I’m playing a bit of catch-up.
Saturday afternoon was a bit of a comics afternoon for me. I am really loving Lumberjanes. It’s such a smart, fun comic. While I was reading issue 6, my son read over my shoulder, and now he wants to read the earlier issues!
Listening: I’m still listening to Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. I haven’t had much time for audiobooks lately (so yes, the place isn’t anywhere near clean!) but I’ve been enjoying listening to fifteen minutes or so every night before I go to bed.
Writing: I haven’t done any fiction writing the past few days, but I’m hoping this will change as I’m now actually scheduling things in the Passion Planner. I did finish a blog post for comics month at Book Bloggers International on Sunday which was really fun to write.
Working: I’ve had a nice break but now things are heating up again. I’ve got several articles due this week and next, plus a couple of indexes as well. I’m hoping the switch to the new planner will help me feel less overwhelmed and maybe even finish up some deadlines early.
Twitter chat: Had a really nice time at yesterday’s Bloggiesta Twitter chat, where we talked about “people”—the themes for the Twitter chats match the name of Bloggiesta’s mascot, PEDRO: People, E-presence, Display, Reviews and Organize. I won’t be able to make tomorrow’s chat as I’ll be heading back from Dylan’s hip hop class at the time, but I’m hoping to make at least one more chat this week. There’s a lovely recap of today’s chat here.
Looking forward to: A week that’s scheduled! I’m really hoping the Passion Planner works for me. I’ve never actually scheduled my time before, but I’m liking how each day looks when it’s planned out.
I really need to get organized.
When my assignments were mainly indexing ones, throwing up my deadlines onto Google Calendar more or less did the trick. I always knew what was coming due and how many days I’d need to make sure I met the deadline. I could hold the coming week’s to-dos in my head quite easily.
But now that I’ve “opened up to life”, so to speak, there are so many more things to keep track of. Things are getting busy again, but this time around it’s not just the indexes. While I’ve got indexing deadlines coming up, I also have several freelance article deadlines due over the next two weeks, too (eight of them, to be exact). Then there are the things I’ll be doing in the marketing position I’m going to be taking on, plus all the blogging events that are coming up (Readalongs! The Readathon! Bloggiesta Twitter chats!).
Not to mention my own personal writing projects. I’m enrolled in Kelley Armstrong’s Dark Fantasy summer course at U of T this summer, and I need to have the first 20 pages of my dark fantasy WIP ready for the class, as it has a workshopping component. I also have work to critique for my writing buddy Memory, and occasionally for the members of my online writing group, Suey, Tif and Kathy. Plus I have a new middle grade crit partner, Lisen – we’re exchanging 25 pages of our middle grade manuscripts each week.
Eek! Just writing out those two paragraphs sent me into overwhelm. I can’t keep track of everything with just Google Calendar. I need to plan my days out now, because there are just too many things to juggle in my mind. The problem? I haven’t used a planner or an agenda for ages, other than my Bullet Journal, which I mainly use to house my thoughts and various “collections” of ideas.
I need something heavy-duty. So I’m giving the Passion Planner a try. A few friends on Facebook have been talking about it, and it seems like the right kind of planner to juggle both work and passion project stuff. My life is basically divided between these two types of to-dos, and I like the idea of an all-in-one that can keep me organized while still making the non-work stuff as much of a priority (this is something I’ve not been very good at doing).
It’s too late to get a physical copy of the 2015 planner, but you can download either the 2015 Passion Planner PDFs for free (you just need to tweet about it to get access) or an undated version, also for free (no tweet necessary). I opted for the dated version since, knowing me, having to fill in the date would be just one more obstacle to actually using the planner.
Don’t you love how colourful it is? I’ve never had any luck with previous planners, but I’m hoping this one is different enough that it will “stick” and get me organized. There’s even a space for a gratitude list. (I haven’t been doing so well keeping up with my Happiness Jar, I’m afraid.)
My plan is to fill it out for this week and see how it goes. Because I really really need to get organized!
What about you? Do you have an organization/planning method you use and would recommend?
It’s Bloggiesta time again, and here’s my challenge to you: Create your own treasure trove of blog post ideas!
Why create a stash of blog post ideas?
Since then, I’ve dipped into my stash occasionally, and I also spend some time every week adding new blog post ideas to it. Now that I’m into the daily blogging habit, I do find it’s not as much of a problem coming up with a blog post idea as it used to be when I was blogging more sporadically, but there have definitely been some days when the idea well has run dry and I’m so glad I have my ideas stash to dive into!
“But I can barely think of one idea, let alone a whole treasure trove of them!”
You can trust me on this one: once you get your idea wheels turning, it becomes easier and easier. You start looking at everything with new eyes—and you’ll find blog post ideas lurking in all corners of your life. Really, you will!
But getting started is probably the hardest part. So here are a few idea jumpstarting methods to get you started.
Sit down with a blank piece of paper and jot down every single blog post idea that comes to your mind. The important thing is not to judge any of it. If you’re thinking to yourself, “I like oranges … maybe I could write a post about how much I like oranges …” put it on the list! With the brainstorming method, the point isn’t to have every idea you come up with be a really really good blog post idea. What you want is to generate a creative flow of ideas, and the way to get that is through quantity.
Once you’ve got a good list going, you can put your judgment cap back on. Sort through the ideas, and transfer the good ideas to your blog post ideas stash (this can be an electronic document or a notebook—digital or analog, use whatever works for you.)
Here are some of the ideas from my blog post ideas stash that I came up with while brainstorming:
Yet Another Time Suck (about the Facebook groups app. Which I spend way too much time on!)
The Benefit of Having Book Goals (about how having a book goal has reduced the number of books I DNF)
One important tip: Be sure to include a description of what your idea means to you. I have this jotted down in my notebook: Road to productivity: the envelope. And I have NO clue what I meant by this!
Other Headlines and Post Titles
Do you keep track of your favourite blogs on Feedly or Bloglovin or something similar? Open up your feed reader of choice and start scanning all the post titles. Or pop onto Twitter or Facebook and see what headlines and post titles catch your eye. It doesn’t even have to be an article you want to read—you’re mainly looking for interesting words or topics, or interesting types of posts. And, for you book bloggers out there, it doesn’t have to be a book-related article or post. In fact, this works really well with headlines and post titles that aren’t book-related.
Now for the fun part! Go through each headline or title on your list, and try to rework it into a post you’d like to write. Use each headline or title as a starting point, and see where it takes you. The goal with this exercise isn’t to come up with a similar idea—it’s about using an existing headline or title as a jumping off point to come up with your own idea.
Here’s an example. Opening up my Feedly just now, I came across this post from Brit & Co: Disney Princess Weddings IRL: 14 Cinderella-Inspired Ideas. Now, I’m not a particularly romantic kind of person, but I have a soft spot for Cinderella stories. So working off this title, I might add the following ideas to my blog posts notebook:
7 Books I Love That Have a Cinderella Theme
It’s About the Underdog! Why I Love Cinderella Stories So Much
If I was a romance reader, I might jot down 5 Great Wedding Scenes I’ve Read, or something like that. These are just off the top of my head, but you get the idea.
Write About/Respond to Another Article or Post
I use this method to add to my blog posts ideas stash all the time. I’ll come across an article or post about a subject that I’d like to write about or respond to, and I’ll add it to my ideas stash. In some cases, I’ll accumulate a set of links about one particular topic, and I’ll use those as the basis for a blog post.
For example, I had jotted down these two links in my ideas stash:
On marginalia http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2015/01/marginalia/
I ended up using these links, plus a few more I found once I started writing, to write this post on marginalia.
Use a Blog Topics Generator
Here’s a fun one! Try out this blog topic generator at Hubspot. I entered “books”, “Cinderella” and “oranges” and got this:
One winner will receive his or her choice of any one 5X7 Art Card from my friend Judy Clement Wall’s Etsy store. Here are some samples of Judy’s Art Cards:
Another two winners will receive prize packages of five books/reading-related postcards, selected randomly from my postcard collection.
So, Are YOU Ready to Take This Challenge?
Here’s what you need to do. Come up with at last twelve new blog post ideas to start off your ideas stash. Once you’ve done this, write a post about your idea-generating experiences—talk about anything you like, such as how you came up with your ideas, what you’re using to keep track of your ideas, if you think this is something you’re going to keep doing. Maybe even share some of the ideas you’ve come up with, if you’d like! To be entered into the draw for the prizes, come back to this post and comment with a link to your post.
I will put the names of all participants into a hat and draw the three winners
on March 30 on April 2 so you have until April 1 to post your links to enter the giveaway (I’m extending the time to compensate for my site being down for much of Saturday evening) – I’ll contact winners for their addresses via the email address they use in the comment form.
Have fun, everyone!