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Help yourself stay on task one step at a time.

January 12, 2020 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby, Writing tagged as ,
blurred January calendar in background, blog headline in teal and white Help Yourself Stay on Task One Step At A Time by Denise M. Colby

Do you ever find yourself having a difficult time staying on task? Do you get overwhelmed by all the to-do’s on your list? Do you ever second guess the processes you use or even the planner you use?

You are not alone!

I struggle with all of these. But I’ve found that in amongst the chaos, I seem to be making progress (see last month’s post – Reflecting on your Accomplishments), and I hope to provide encouragement and inspiration to help you keep working toward your goals and dreams for 2020.

January, every year, is a reset month.

Start over with new goals. Pick a new word. Word harder. Or differently. Or more. Or less. I love getting a chance to open a new calendar and a new planner and start over. But sometimes I wonder if the planner I’ve chosen is the one I should be using. Anyone else do that? 

I never realized I was such a commitmentphobe with planners until recently. See, I tended to second guess my choices every time I saw a new one or someone else using a different one (I had done this with writing processes too). I’ve had to have a major talk with myself. And accept the fact that there are TOO MANY choices out there and no one can use all of them. I have to just pick one and then dive in and use it.

It’s using it that makes the difference.

I also see a big theme in planners for setting routines. Track this. Track that. Be consistent. Blah, blah, blah. Yes, I agree. They are important. They help immensely. They are what help us accomplish all we want to accomplish. And for the most part, I’m all for them. I do like routines, but I hate the confines of them too.

See, sometimes I struggle with the little person inside of me that screams “i don’t wanna!”

I am a dependable worker. I meet deadlines, stay committed to tasks, and follow through. But I have a little rebellious streak in me that gets frustrated with following specific formulas. I tend to want to create my own. Do it my way. Then I end up frustrated with the results. And not just with planners. I find I do this with my writing habits too. 

Why do I do this? And what can I do to change that?

First, I realize that some of this is that I’m human. Some of it is my own version of saving funds (don’t want to waste money on something I’m not sure I will use), as well as wanting the perfect set-up, the perfect amount of time to work on it, and the perfect way of using it throughout the year.

But as I’m writing this, I realize we only know what we know at the time we are taking action. And as our knowledge grows, our needs change or how we do things will change. We need to be adaptable. Waiting for the perfect moment is the opposite.

As I grow in wisdom over the years (aka age), I find I don’t care about everything being perfect as I once did, I want to accomplish much in my lifetime, and I want to be purposeful in what I do (purposeful was my word in 2019 and it was a great word). I’m tired of waiting.

Now, I try to just jump in where I am and work with what I got. Progress is progress. I can always change things later. In some ways, this is a process. It’s the one I’m currently using. I won’t be married to the process for fifty years or maybe I still will, all that matters is right now. It’s a very freeing thought. One I am constantly still trying to adapt to.

So, if you are struggling with staying on task, routine, and/or schedule, here are some suggestions to help you get over that hurdle daily so you can meet your goals.

  • Set yearly goals, but don’t let the end part of those goals freeze you. Make sure that the goal has actionable steps that are small enough to make progress on daily and that you can measure. Work on one scene a day, or write 500 words, or spend (enter amount of time like 15 min here) in your MS. This will help you focus on things on a day to day basis.
  • To continue on with the above suggestion, break your todo’s into even smaller chunks and then work on them separately throughout the day as you have time. As much as I would love to have all day to work on things, I don’t get that opportunity. I’m finding five min here and there help me a lot. I spend many five minutes looking at my phone. I’m trying to use that time more productively.
  • Find some way to reward yourself. Be it stickers, coloring, chocolate. I find stickers and coloring are soothing for me and I’ve been adding them to my planner (took me a long time to get on the wasi tape bandwagon). I also place a sticker on a tracking sheet everytime I touch my MS. I find it very satisfying.
  • Work on your ms before checking email and your phone. Those many side visits to my phone seem to take more minutes away from the small amount I already have to work with. 
  • Cut yourself some slack. We beat ourselves up mentally and those tapes replay over and over. When you reset your calendar every week, month, and year, reset those tapes too. Forgive and show yourself some grace.
  • Have an accountability partner. Someone you can text daily or every Monday. What are your goals for the week? What did you accomplish last week? Knowing I have to communicate something helps me to stay focused.
  • Little bits of work eventually add up to bigger bits. Focus on the little bits.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful. I’m no expert. I’m in the middle of all this just like everyone else. But taking some time to learn about myself and why I do certain things and find out what I need to motivate and keep me focused, has helped me stay on task, which ultimately keeps me moving forward with my writing projects.

Blessings,

Denise

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Surprise!

November 10, 2019 by in category Charmed Writer by Tari Lynn Jewett tagged as , , , ,

I’ve wandered down the rows of bookshelves in libraries and bookstores so many times in my life, fantasizing about what it would feel like to see my book on one of those shelves, hold a book with my name on it in my hands, sign books for readers, and maybe, just maybe get fan letters.

Last year my first book was published, and this year it was released in print. I’m still excited to see my name on the front of the book…and inside. And, I’ve signed books. Yes, it’s true! I’ve signed dozens of books this year. But a couple of weeks ago, I got my first fan letter…from an unexpected reader.

#PleaseSayYes is book 1 in the 6 book #HermosaForTheHolidays series. It’s a sweet romcom. I wrote it for adults of all ages…think Hallmark movie. Sweet, light, hopefully a heartwarming read that might even make you laugh. And adults of all ages have read it, young single women, young mothers, a few men, and grandmothers into their 80’s have read this story, but what I didn’t expect was  kids reading the book after all it is a romance. I’ve had a review from a 12 year old, and my first fan letter was from a 9 year old girl. She wanted to share the book with her class.

So, of course, I’m sending her 6 books, so she can keep her copy. And what she doesn’t know, is that in the upcoming release of book 2 #SilverBracelets, she is a character in the story. I had so much fun including her, and I hope she enjoys it as much as I enjoyed receiving her letter.

One more fantasy to fulfill, to see my books in bookstores. I’m feeling pretty good about the dreams I’ve checked off, but I think the one I’ll treasure most is this letter from my young reader.

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WHO KNEW THAT A PAIR OF RED SHOES COULD…

December 20, 2018 by in category A Bit of Magic by Meriam Wilhelm tagged as , , , , , ,

Who knew that owning a pair of red shoes could create such magic – inspiring happiness, a feeling of gay abandon and a total  fashion reawakening.

But that’s just what they did!

My quickly approaching sixty-fifth birthday motivated me to take on several life changing challenges. Challenges designed to force me to try something new, tackle a problem or simply focus more energy on self-improvement. And silly me, in order to keep myself honest, I chose to share my journey with all of you in my blog,  Please Don’t Make Me Have To Learn How To Ride A Camel.

I set several personal goals to meet before lighting up my sixty-five B-Day candles and the clock has continued to click. My face gets red and my heart quickens with anxiety every time I think how soon April will be upon us. I’ve partially met some challenges, made progress on others, and with the purchase of my red shoes, I’ve completed two of the challenge, which included:

  1. Walk thirty minutes a day at least five days a week –  Doing better every week towards meeting this goal.
  2. Finish writing my book, The Witch of Bergen   80% done with the rewrites.
  3. Read Paul Arden’s best seller – It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be.  Ding, Ding, Ding!   Read  it and blogged about it last month!
  4.  Lose twenty pounds. Tortuously slowonly 4 pounds down.
  5.  Buy a pair of flashy red shoes. Ding, Ding, Ding! Did it! 

And what a thrill, this proved to be. As much as I longed to slip my feet into a pair of flashy Jimmy Choo’s, I just couldn’t muster the courage to spend $2,695.00 on a pair of red beaded stilettos. To be completely truthful, I’m not sure if I was more afraid of the price of the shoes or of tumbling off the glittering stilettos. Either way, I had to pass them by.

However, having taken on this challenge, I refused to back down. I didn’t give in and buy any old run-of-the-mill red pumps, nor did I give up and buy a pair of red Converse tennis shoes either. No way! I bought myself a pair of bright red boots. And to seal the deal, I wore them out to a formal Christmas dinner party and felt wonderful. Perhaps a bit over the top, but none the less eye catching, I danced around the room, kicking up my heels with my glass of Pinot Grigio in hand. Of course their bright color stood out against my black slacks and black velvet top, but what the heck – I took a chance and felt all the better for it.

And here’s the funny part, as I looked around the room, I recognized that I had become a member of the over sixty sisterhood of red shoes. I counted at least ten other women my age proudly sporting red footwear. High heels, low heels, sandals, tennis shoes and even a pair of red clogs all joined in celebrating the night with me and my boots.

Now the writer in me wanted to go around the room and ask why these women had chosen to wear red footwear, but the realist recognized it for what it was. We were all searching for a fun way to celebrate life… and that’s just what we did in our playful red footwear. I’m sure that there was more than one envious woman who left the party anxious to hurry out to buy their own red boots. How could they resist?

I’ve still got sixteen pounds to go, more time walking required and a book to finish editing before April comes. Fingers crossed, I’ll make it! In the mean time, I’m partying away in my red boots. You should try it too!

Happy Holidays to you all!

Meriam

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Searching For My Writing Juju

November 20, 2018 by in category A Bit of Magic by Meriam Wilhelm tagged as , ,

 

It was Sunday night before I knew it and I still hadn’t finished rewriting the next chapter of my book, nor my blog for a Slice of Orange. I was stuck, the clock was ticking and I had no one to blame but myself. I’d made too many alternate life choices this month when I should have been writing!
You might have seen my blog last month (Please Don’t Make Me Have To Learn How To Ride A Camel) where I shared with you that I’m turning sixty-five in a few months and I’ve set all these goals for myself. My conscience is killing me as I check back in with you.

Over the past month, not only have I not spent enough time writing, I’ve sadly made no noticeable downward movement on the bathroom scale. I have been walking as you can see from the attached picture. And walking on the beach requires a lot more hard work, although my FitBit refuses to take that into consideration. Traitor!

Tonight I discovered that one of the goals I’d made turned out to be a bit wonky. And although I could use it as a time consuming excuse for not writing… I won’t. I have to admit that I got swept up by the title of a book and made a big assumption. I thought that it sounded like a motivational piece that might help me to focus on personal self-improvement strategies. I said I was going to read Paul Arden’s best seller – It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be. And I did and I liked it. Only it wasn’t what I thought it would be. It was designed for readers who want to improve their status in the workplace. I’m retired.

But wait, having read it once – it’s short – I returned and read it a second time searching for nuggets of guidance that might prove helpful… and I found some.
Keying on Arden’s last truth – “Ambition trumps talent”, I humbly got back to work, ambitiously typing away on the keyboard to write this blog. I even finished editing the next chapter of my book tonight, pleased that I’d re-found a bit of my writing JuJu in a most unexpected place.

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Easy Goal Setting for Everyone by Kitty Bucholtz

January 18, 2017 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz, Writing: It's a Business tagged as , , , , ,
Welcome to 2017! 
It’s January, and you know what that means: time to plan your goals for the year. Right?
Don’t Be Discouraged!
Depending on how well last year’s goal setting went, this might be easier said than done. Maybe you’ve tried a lot of ways to plan and they haven’t turned out very well. The biggest thing to remember is to find a method that works for you.
I’ve been teaching a time management and goal setting class for the last eight or nine years (not this January, as I’m busy living and writing books in New Zealand!), and there are a couple of things I’ve found that seem to work for most people.
Write It Down
The first thing you need is a list. Write down every single goal you have for your life this year . . . personal, financial, spiritual, career or writing-related . . . anything at all, write it down. This is your Goals Master List.
It may take you a day or a week to get everything written down, but once you think you’ve got it all, go through and circle the five most important goals. These will be your Primary Goals for the year.
Now go through and underline the next five most important goals. These will be your Secondary Goals for the year.
Move Some Goals to Next Year
Look at the rest of the items on your Goals Master List. Does it seem like there is more than you can do this year? Let me give you a hint: the answer is almost always yes. If there is anything that you are willing to put off until next year, get another piece of paper and move these onto your 2018 Goals Master List.
Now you have your primary goals, your secondary goals, and your extra goals. The idea is that you will work on your five primary goals first, and when they are accomplished you will work on your secondary goals. Then, if you get all of your primary and secondary goals accomplished this year, you’ll work on your extra goals.
Rearrange Some Goals
If, when looking at your lists, you feel like this won’t work for you, then you probably need to move some of your goals around. That doesn’t mean adding more than five to the primary or secondary lists but simply exchanging one goal for another more important one.
Congratulations! You have your 2017 goals list!
Fewer Goals, Better Chance You’ll Achieve Them
Another way to do this, which arguably might be more achievable, is to look at your goals master list and choose no more than 7 to 10 goals for the whole year. That’s it. You can work at each of them a little at a time or work at one all the way through, it’s up to you. If you want, you can choose two or three extras that you will begin working on only when you finish the most important 7 to 10 goals.
Go back to your original goals master list and try the second method. Now, look at both final lists. Which one speaks to you more? Which one excites you more? That’s the one you should type up and print out.
Or if you’re feeling artistic, rewrite it with colored pencils and pens and stickers and make it beautiful.
A Daily Reminder to Keep You on Track
Post it on your wall, someplace where you’ll see it often, and make sure to look at it every day.
If you haven’t started your goal setting for this year, or if you feel overwhelmed by the thought of it or the thought of failing to achieve your goals, give this a try.
Then post a comment below or write me an email and let me know how it went. I know you can do this!

I’m super excited about 2017. It’s going to be a great year!

[Follow my post next week on Planning Your 2017 Calendar on Writer Entrepreneur Guides!]

Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss Lovesick, A Very Merry Superhero Wedding, and Unexpected Superhero are currently available on Amazon . The free short story Superhero in Disguise  and the new short story Welcome to Loon Lake are available wherever ebooks are sold. You can find out about her courses on self-publishing, marketing, and time management for writers at her website Writer Entrepreneur Guides.

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