I’ve been blessed beyond measure in so many ways, one of which is the lessons I’ve learned in life. I learned one such lesson the day this photo was taken. Hubby, the kids, and a few other family members (including my sister-in-law), were at our pond, fishing one Saturday, and wearing play clothes. Note that in the pic, I am not wearing play clothes. Why? I was working that day. My “Corporate America” position included meetings, 65-hour weeks, two beepers, and a private plane. (Well, I never actually rode in the plane, but I did pick up the Big Boss from the airport a few times.)
I popped by the house for a few minutes, realized everyone was at the pond, and hurried down there to say hello. My SIL snapped this picture. The actual lesson came the day she handed it to me — in a frame titled, “Priorities.” Uh-oh. Shortly after that, I got a “mommy-friendly” job — office manager at our church. It’s still a busy job, but since I quit the corporate job, I’ve never had to tell my family, “Sorry. I have to work.”
Being a busy person, like most of us are, requires one to make many choices. In other words, set priorities. Once I realized that my career is only a means that allows me to enjoy my passions, my life changed.
A lot of people say to me, “You’re so busy. How do you get it all done?”
Actually, I don’t “get it all done,” but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post! I do make lots of choices, though, about what I want and should do. First, I had to identify what I really wanted in life — my main passions: my family, my church family/spiritual life, my hobbies/interests (writing, traveling, photography, hobby farming, basketball), and my community (I serve on two boards). I also run a home-based business that combines a critique/consulting service for writers as well as online marketing strategies and website development (which includes my instructional blog “On Blogging Well“). How do I “do it”?
- I almost never watch TV. Maybe a Razorback game from time to time, but seriously, even if Hubby or the kids turn it on, I stay out of the den.
- I don’t require much sleep. I usually go to bed about midnight and am up and at my desk before 6.
- My kids are in college now. (Son lives at home but works second shift.)
- My husband works second shift.
- I keep my weekends free for family time and schedule my projects (blog posts, website updates, tweets, and anything else I can put a date/time stamp on) during my early morning/late night alone time while it’s just me and the dog at home.
- I forcus on a goal. Right now I want to retire from my day job and work solely from home, so I’m concentrating on online marketing strategies that will enable me to do that fairly soon.
- I’m very selective about what I write. For example, fiction takes a tremendous amount of time, so I’ve put my novel WIPs on hold until I can write full time. Then I’ll mingle it amongst my blogging, ebook writing, and other “quicker” projects. But, I keep notebooks handy and jot down ideas as they come so I won’t forget them.
- I use online productivity tools, such as TweetDeck and Google Homepage. (I read about two dozen blogs with my morning coffee — or rather, I scan the headlines and first sentence on the Google Homepage and if I think it’s something I need to finish, I’ll grab my “blog notes” notebook, open the file and take notes.)
- Since I’m involved in networking online, Twitter has become a necessity. However, some of the best tools can also be time-tickers, so I have to be careful with it. (You can read how I tame the Twitter Beast in 20 minutes a day HERE.)
- Another productivity thing that has helped is getting a phone with email & Internet access. When I’m in line at the bank or grocery store (if I’m not talking to someone!), I check my email & Twitter and answer as many as I can while waiting.
- Handling email is a biggie for someone with a tendency to get sidetracked easily. I get about 300 emails a day, not counting spam, so it can get crazy. I set up a L-O-N-G string of folders in my email client and I only stop to check my email about once per hour. (I use Gmail, which has the best spam filter I’ve seen). When an email is from, say, from a writing group I’m in or a blog I subscribe to, I immediately move it into the proper folder and read it when I take a reading break. If it’s a “to-do” item, I mark it with a star and leave it in the in-box. When I complete the task, I remove the star and archive the email. I almost never delete emails and being able to search through the archives has saved me many, many times.
- And, no, I’m NOT organized! (Uh, look at the pictures, LOL!) In fact, I’m a maverick who hates structure, although I developed a few loose “systems” that work for me.
Look at my home desk. To the right are a stack of notebooks. I use one per project – for each novel WIP, blog, course (I’m taking three right now), or general notes. This keeps all the info I need at my fingertips. If you’ll look at my office desk (above), you’ll see a line of sticky notes. For each thing I’m asked to do, I make a quick sticky note and plaster it to my computer screen. Once I’m done, I throw it away. Before I leave every day, I make sure none of the remaining notes need completed that day. Kind of messy, but it works for me. I also bought a laptop and work when I travel, which is as often as possible since going to new places and taking pictures are my favorite pastimes.
I also have to be aware of my weaknesses, the biggest of which is that I love new toys and am easily distracted by them. For me, a toy can be a new gadet, computer program, or even a new project. I’ve been trying hard to think projects through to the end to see if it will truly help me attain my next goal or if it is just another thing to get me sidetracked. If it’s the latter, I pout and put it back in the toy box for another day.