Tag Archives: organization

Settling In

I am finally—FINALLY!—feeling settled in. I moved into my new place at the end of January, and since then it’s been a madhouse of unpacking and keeping on top of my work deadlines, which have not slowed down at all. They’ve actually expanded, because on top of everything else I’ve been branching out and diversifying my services.

The first few days after the move were more on the depressing side—lack of sleep, coupled with the mess of tons of boxes. My new place is much smaller compared to my past homes, and with the clutter of so many boxes (because … books, right?) it was tough to even find a pathway from the living room to the kitchen!

But I persevered, and unpacked. And unpacked some more. And then some more.

The end result? I’ve decided a minimalist lifestyle is very much to my liking. I ended up giving away boxes and boxes of books, and I’ve also come up with a couple of new rules for myself:

  1. For every print book I buy, I must giveaway TWO from my shelves.
  2. Every month I will go through my bookshelves and pick books to donate or give away.

I ended up getting my living/dining room (it’s all one and the same, rather small, space) cleaned up, and I love it! But I will need to keep my eye on clutter, because I’ve noticed the moment I start heaping books and papers on my coffee table or the dining room table, the place doesn’t feel quite so cozy any more.

On top of that, I managed the feat of clearing/unpacking the living room by lugging all unpacked boxes up to my bedroom/office. These are the “difficult” boxes, filled with papers and miscellaneous things for which I have absolutely no room, so the plan is to slowly go through them one by one, while at the same time brainstorming and implementing some sort of filing system that will accommodate what I need it to accommodate. Plus there will be a whole lot of shredding going on …

And what I am I looking forward to?

  • The implementation of new habits and routines
  • Getting back to reading
  • Getting back to writing
  • Getting back to blogging

Most of all, I’m eager to start blogging about my reading again. And to kick things off, here’s what’s on my currently reading list right now:

Elegance

Elegance, by Kathleen Tessaro. This is a reread for me, one of the books on my comfort reading list. This may seem like a strange choice for those of you who know me and my reading tastes, as it’s neither mystery, sci-fi or fantasy, but aside from these genres, I also adore transformation/Cinderella stories. Since there is, unfortunately, no readily available genre of “transformation/Cinderella stories”, when I do find one I love, it usually ends up in my comfort reading list.

life-changing magic of tidying-up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. According to my Kobo, I’ve read about 60% of this book. It’s been helping me a lot. Not that I’ve actually been holding things in my hands and asking myself, “Does this spark joy?” (I find this doesn’t work very well with books, because I tend to say, “Yes!” to each one, read or unread). But somehow, just reading this book has made it easier for me to declutter. Things don’t feel as precious anymore, and I’m finding there’s nothing like that feeling of “letting one more thing go”.

Have any of you read Kondo’s latest, Spark Joy? I’m on hold for this one at the library, and I’m expecting great things from it.

miracle morning

The Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod. I haven’t started this one yet, but I’ve heard so many good things about it. And I’m definitely in need of a new morning routine, one that will help me build fun, happy and productive days.

(Trying To) Conquer the Busy

I’m a bit of a planner nut—but I’m a planner nut who’s currently without a planner right now. And boy, do I ever need one!

I had one that was sort of working for me, a mashup of the Passion Planner (I used the free downloads) and some other bits and pieces of printables I found in various places online.

But then the summer happened. As many of you know, it’s been quite the summer for me. Big changes, endings, and new beginnings.

It’s been a lot to take in. And I’ve been doing it without the aid of a planner.

(Thank you, Google Calendar, for at least keeping me steady on my feet when it comes to deadlines!)

I’m moving at the end of the month, I’m trying to make full use of my coworking space, my son turns 12 this year so the homeschooling has to be turned up a notch, there’s work of course (plus I’ve expanded from indexing into editing), I’m starting to cook again, and then there are also all the things that have to be taken care of when a marriage breaks down, even if you are going to try and live under the same roof so you can co-parent.

It all adds up to a lot of busy. An awful lot of busy.

Despite all the busyness, I’ve come to this realization: I really have to sit down and set aside some time to put together a system that will work for all the things I have on the go right now. Because honestly, I have days where I feel like I’m drowning in “stuff I have to do/what have I forgotten to do/OMG how could I have forgotten THAT?”

It’s been all shapes of crazy, that’s for sure. So much so, last week when I was at the dollar store picking up index cards (hello, NaNoWriMo, here I come!) I also picked up a chunky little to-do list book.

Because it was braindump to-do list time. I tend to do these only when I get overly overwhelmed (which is a bit more intensity than just plain overwhelmed). And it was so nice getting all that stuff out of my head onto paper. I even felt lighter.

Now at least I’m not as worried about forgetting things. But I do need to transfer things over from the braindump to-do list onto regular planning/agenda pages.

Any suggestions out there? What are you using and loving? I need something that will accommodate my daily to-dos as well as keep me on track and motivated to work on all the projects I have. If it gives me space to track how I’m spending my time, even better. And a week at a glance for the Sundays would be awesome.

Snapshot: March 24, 2015

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.

Spring Tide

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.

Lumberjanes

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.

Getting organized with the Passion Planner (I hope)

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).

passion planner 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?

Dealing with Digital Clutter

 

Dealing with digital clutterPhoto credit: Pixabay

I spent so much of December thinking about my goals and decluttering so many aspects of my life. But I realized today, there’s one area of my life I hadn’t given much thought to: digital clutter.

I came to this realization this morning when I looked at my phone and saw this:

Mail icon

The thing is, you see, I’d cleared out my inbox maybe four or five days ago (confession: I used the handy dandy “mark all as read” button). So how did the number of unread emails climb back into the three-digit territory?

Actually, I do know how. Now it’s really just a matter of dealing with it.

Anyway, it got me thinking about all of the other digital collections I have, and the rather messy state most of them are in.

Email

Decluttering my email will be my top priority, as I use it all the time. It’s going to be a hefty job, though, because in the past I’ve often decided to “get organized” and as a result have a gazillion labels which I probably don’t need, plus a ton of filters that are fine, only I’m probably better off unsubscribing to things rather than filtering them. I found this system particularly interesting, and will probably be incorporating some form of it with my email.

Evernote

My Evernote account is another disaster area. I started off with too many notebooks, and then I read about a system that used only a few notebooks and lots of different tags, which I decided to implement. And then a little down the road I read of a different system which said to use one main notebook, the “inbox” and I thought, oh, what a truly splendid idea, so I implemented that system instead. Of course, the crux of that system is that you need to go into Evernote regularly and sort through all the stuff you’ve added. Which I obviously have not been doing. And the situation now? Everything is in my Inbox notebook but hardly anything is tagged. Plus I have tags like “book” and “books” and need to sort that kind of thing out.

Pocket

I love my Pocket app. I use it all the time, so much so that Pocket sent me a nice little email at the end of the year letting me know I’d won the honour of being in their Top 5% of Pocket readers. And they even did up a nice Webpage of my stats here. But the thing about all my activity on Pocket? I have a wonderful archive of articles I’ve read – and nothing is tagged! I typically just send stuff to Pocket, and then when I’m reading, I kind of read from newest to oldest of the unread, and that’s about it. It would be nice if I at least tagged the articles in my archive …

Google Drive

The main Google Drive account I use actually isn’t so bad, mainly because I don’t have that many things in it. But I have another account which has used up almost all the space Google’s given me, probably because I used to use it to store my old iPhone photos. I’d upload them without much thought, either, so there are photos being stored that shouldn’t even be stored, such as blurred patches of ground and other camera mishaps. And I didn’t know then what I know now, that you can upload your photos to your Google+ account, and as long as they’re under a certain size, they don’t count against any of your Google Drive storage space!

Dropbox

I started backing up work files to Dropbox for “just in case”, but until recently I didn’t really have any particular system. I did the same with my writing files – but not all my writing files – and again, I kind of just uploaded rather haphazardly rather than using a particular, well-thought-out folder system. I have no clue why I did this, as I’m pretty good with the file system on my hard drive. But anyway, things are a real mess here. Luckily, organizing Dropbox is something that can be done through Windows Explorer, so I don’t anticipate things being too difficult. And I don’t have to tag anything, which is very nice. One very odd thing, though – I use the Carousel app to automatically save my iPhone photos to Dropbox (a necessity, because I only have 16G on my phone) but sometimes, I can’t find them on Dropbox. I’m hoping decluttering will help me solve that particular problem.

So these are my digital “problem areas” when it comes to decluttering.  How organized are you, digitally? Do you have some digital decluttering to do this year?

The Procrastination Queen Gives Herself a Pat on the Back

image

Yes, I’m wearing my crown proudly.

I am definitely the Procrastination Queen.

And that pat on the back is very well-deserved, if I do say so myself.

About six months ago, give or take a month or two, I announced here that I was going to be giving MsBookish.com a makeover.

“Yes, yes, yes,” I said gleefully, “a whole new look, major cleanup, and those tags and categories? I’m going to be cleaning them up, too. Sparkling clean. When? Why, soon! Very, very soon, dahlings!”

So it’s now the beginning of July, and I can finally say, I did it!

MsBookish.com now sports an awesome new WordPress theme, Thesis, suitably dressed up with the most delightful new header designed by my dear friend Chrissie – that link is to her book blog, Book Addict Reviews.

If you were to walk into my house, you’d find yourself surrounded by much the same colors as grace this blog now, so to say it feels like home is not an exaggeration.

And my new tagline is a better reflection of what I’m blogging these days, I think.

After the major overhaul yesterday, I spent a bit of time tweaking things here and there, and then, for most of today, I rolled up my sleeves and bit the bullet: first I waded into my tags and trimmed them back, got rid of singulars where there were also plurals, eliminated caps unless necessary (it appears I have a habit of using singulars and plurals indiscriminantly, and capitalizing everything in sight when it comes to tags), and then I plunged into my posts and pared down my categories.

Nice and trim, don’t you think? An almost (almost!) spare list.

It took a while, but I finally finished, and now I’m sporting those great “it’s all done!” feelings that come when a long-put-off job finally does get done.

It feels good.

And now I can settle back and enjoy this beautiful Canada Day long weekend!

One Challenge of Writing By the Seat Of Your Pants

Today’s word count: 2,502 words

NANTUCKET total word count: 65,141 words

I do like writing without really knowing where the story’s going. I really do. But I’m starting to realize I need to do something to get a handle on my various characters in NANTUCKET, keep track somehow of everything they’re each doing.

I’ve got characters still stuck way back at the beginning of the story. I know what they’re meant to do next, I just haven’t written about it yet. But the rest of the story’s progressing along, so now their “next” is everyone else’s “a long time ago”.

I’m thinking of making rows and columns on a long sheet of paper, putting all my main characters down one row, and using post-its to indicate each scene they’ve had major action in so far. And maybe, if the thought has occurred to me, different colored post-its to indicate where they’re supposed to be going next, and when exactly that is in the whole scheme of things.

I wonder how writers who juggle a bunch of different plot lines keep themselves organized in terms of who’s doing what and when, and whether they actually did get around to getting their characters to do the what at the right when.

Anyone have any ideas for getting better organized?