Tag Archives: planning

Snapshot: April 14, 2015

Time: 3:44 pm

Feeling: Hot! It’s double digits out there today, which means it’s really hot inside (we’re in a condo apartment where all outside walls are windows).

Planning: I’m really pleased to report I’ve finally found a planner system that seems to be working for me. I ended up designing my own planner page using a spreadsheet. It’s great—has a time log/scheduling area that tracks from 6:00 am (not that I’ll ever get up that early but I can dream, right?) until 1:30 am. I could have made it go even later, but I’m trying to get to bed a little earlier so I’ve decided 1:30 am will be the latest (but I can change this if it doesn’t work—that’s the beauty of using your own planner template).

Planner.jpgMy planner, with printouts inside

Right now I’m using a combo time tracking/time scheduling technique that’s working really well for me. I only schedule in actual appointments but using the Passion Planner’s weekly pages I map out everything I want to accomplish each day which has made a huge difference. I can’t believe I never did this before. I would just keep everything in my head and while it worked in that I was never late meeting deadlines, it was also really stressful.

And now I am so aware of how much time I have each day to accomplish what needs to be done. Since the deadlines are now easy at the moment, it turns out I have a lot more time each day to work on my own personal things, like my writing, than I realized.

Reading: I’m currently reading David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. The first few pages took some getting used to, but it’s not as tough going as I’d expected. I’m also reading Good Omens which I’m really enjoying. Not that these are two books you can compare, as it would be like comparing apples and oranges. But if I had to pick one, I know which I’d pick!

Listening: I have two audiobooks on the go right now. I’m about a third of the way through David Rosenfelt’s Leader of the Pack, the tenth book in the Andy Carpenter series. It’s a fun, light read. I started this series in audio last year and have been slowly but surely working my way through them.

I’m also listening to Motive, the latest in the Alex Delaware series by Jonathan Kellerman. It’s been a long time since I last read an Alex Delaware book in print form. I think I’ve listened to the audio versions since around book 14 or 15. I really enjoy John Rubinstein’s narration, particularly the way he does Milo’s voice. I always know it’s Milo!

Writing: I’m struggling with the revisions for Waverley. It’s just overwhelming how much work needs to be done. At times I feel like I haven’t really told the story I want to tell. I started a writing journal yesterday and I’m hoping I’ll be able to use it to tackle the revisions.

Working: My deadlines are nice and steady both this week and next. I’m now consulting my planner for everything and seeing where a potential deadline might cause stress. When I see this happening, before I say yes I’ll talk with the editors about setting a different deadline and they usually have no problems, so that’s been good.

Creating: I got my first colouring book for adults! Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book arrived the other day. I couldn’t resist going out to Staples and stocking up on some supplies:


Looking forward to: I’ve got a lunch date with my older son tomorrow, shopping with my daughter on Friday and lunch with two of my friends on Sunday. My social calendar isn’t usually that full!

Planning for 2012


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?

Saving the Cat This NaNoWriMo

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!

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:

Photo 11-11-01 12 51 14 PM

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?