It’s that time of the year, when the new year approaches and you find yourself sitting back and taking a look at what you want to accomplish in the twelve blank, fresh-and-new months ahead of you.
Except that I normally don’t feel this way until I’m actually IN the new year. Usually, right around this time, I’m coping with burnout from too much work and the stress of not being prepared for the coming holidays.
Not this year. Yes, I’ve been crazy-busy. No, I’m not at all prepared for the holidays. I mean, I’m not even fully unpacked yet! You’d think I’d be too overwhelmed right now to be planning for the new year, but surprisingly, I’ve been feeling energized lately. I’m not sure why.
And I’ve also been realizing the aptness of that old adage, “if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.”
Our whole recent decluttering experience has shown me something really big: what I want isn’t more “stuff”. What I want is more time to do the things I want to do.
I’ve always been extremely resistant to the idea of getting my life organized. Resistant to the idea of having a day planner and to-do lists. I felt it was my way of being free. After all, I still got all my work done. I’m very good at meeting deadlines, which is probably the main reason I’m so busy with work around now, when the textbook publishing industry is finishing up books for the next academic year. And I do it all with a minimum of scheduling and no lists to speak of.
Sometimes, when you know yourself well enough, saying, “No, that’s not for me” is a really good thing. But you know what? Sometimes, when you step back and take a look at the strength of your resistance, and the reasons you’re resistant, you finally see that you’re pushing away something that might actually help you to get where you want to go.
I think that’s the story around my resistance to more planning, to giving myself more direction.
2012 is a big year for me. There are a lot of changes coming up – not just with my lifestyle, but also with my work and my writing.
Not only am I in need of getting organized and productive – I WANT to do it.
Yes, the resistance is gone. (I think …)
All of which is my really long-winded way of saying, I’m ready to plan for 2012. And so I’ve been looking around at all the ways I can do this. My options?
1. A conventional planner. Like one of the datebooks you can get from Staples. Or something like the Daytimer system. Or, if I wanted to go whole-hog, a Filofax system. (Believe me, I spent quite a bit of time wandering around the Filofax site …)
2. A DIY planner. There are all the wonderful free printable planner options at DIY Planner – if you’ve been thinking about developing your own time management/productivity/planning system, this is the site to check out. There are loads and loads of printables for you to mix and match to fit your life.
As you can probably tell, the more I looked into things, the more I was leaning toward the DIY planner idea.
But something still didn’t feel quite right:
First, I don’t like writing in a binder.
Second, I need a LOT of flexibility.
Third, I love Moleskines and I want a planner system that lets me use a Moleskine.
Fourth, I have a pretty unique life. I have to fit in freelancing elements, book writing and marketing, homeschooling and blogging. Not to mention all the things I want to do, like more writing, art, puzzles (yes! puzzles!), meditation, and having daily adventures. All of that requires a lot of customizing.
Fifth, the system I use has to feel creative. I’m not going to be happy just ticking off items and scheduling things in.
So I’m brainstorming a system that is absolutely and completely designed for me. And I think I’ve come up with something that just might work. It involves a Moleskine. The discipline of weekly planning. And yes, even some of the elements of the wildly popular Getting Things Done.
And despite all of this, it lets me be highly creative.
Which is one of the things I want to make time for. Creativity.
So I’ve ordered my Moleskine (I wanted a grid one, and all of my blank ones are either lined or plain). It should come in a few days. And if I actually go through with creating this perfect organizational system for me, I’ll post about it, with pics – mainly, to keep me accountable.
It takes 30 days (well, some say 21, but I’ll go with 30 to be on the safe side) to form a new habit. Accountability has always been something that helps me stay the course.
So there you go. I’m planning for 2012.
What about you? What are your plans for the new year?
Yes, it’s true.
Big Move + Busy Work Season + NaNoWriMo = Total Chaos and Crazy Making
It’s not that I’m a glutton for punishment. The truth is, the past four or five months have been so chaotic, I haven’t really written much of anything.
And that, in itself, has been driving me crazy. Not writing often feels worse to me than a whole lot of stress does.
So with NaNoWriMo approaching, a part of me kept saying, “You know, Belle, if you could do NaNoWriMo this year, just do it and finish it … think of all that you could accomplish, writing-wise, in a normal not-crazy month …“
I decided to listen to this particular voice. So here I am, embarking on my fourth year of NaNoWriMo.
Save the Cat!
In the back of my mind I kept thinking, now would be such a good time to try out the index card method. So I kept a stack of index cards by me, but I didn’t really have a chance to sit down with them until yesterday.
And while I did end up with a handful of cards, the thing with the index card method is, you’re brainstorming, right? You need to end up with a jumble of cards, so you can sort and stack and discard as necessary.
That definitely wasn’t going to happen. I had about fifteen cards in all. Three of which were my main characters’ names.
So then I hit on another idea. One that has me very excited.
Save the Cat!, by Blake Snyder, is a great book for screenwriters, but the tips and tricks in it can be used for novel writing too (at least, that’s what I think).
At the last minute (it was, as I recall, pretty close to the stroke of midnight), I decided to download the Save the Cat beat sheet. If you haven’t had a chance to read the book yet, Tim Stout has posted an explanation of the beats here.
My Save the Cat NaNoWriMo Schedule
I then did some wizardly mathematical calculations, and figured out approximate word count points for each of the beats. I then transferred it to a blank November 2011 calendar:
You might have noticed that the last day of writing for me is scheduled for November 28. This is because I decided to calculate everything based on finishing my 50,000 words in twenty-five days.
I’ve crossed out November 6, 7, and 8 because November 7 is our move-in date (it was the earliest date we could book the service elevator!), and I wanted to be realistic and save those three days for packing, moving in, and unpacking.
The end result of my last minute panic about not being prepared for NaNoWriMo? I’ll still be winging it, like I have the past three NaNoWriMos, I will be doing it in a more structured way.
What about you? Are you NaNoWriMo-ing this year? Do you feel prepared, or did you have a last minute panic like I did?