on time management + the best-laid schemes

“Am I being led by love or pushed by fear?” – Emily P. Freeman

With the help of my Lara Casey / Cultivate What Matters Powersheets, I have been identifying big goals and little goals every month to help make sure I’m answering that question right.

While it’s good to see a framework of how I want my month to look and what I want to accomplish, if we’re honest, my to-dos have been pushed to the next month more often than not. One of the reasons is because we’re just getting into a good school rhythm around here. (Yes, I realize that it’s November!)

So one of my November goals was to design and implement a massive overhaul of my daily routine, which I did the first day of the month…

…and promptly went down with high fever and strep throat that picked off one family member at a time. Good perspective building from the get-go, I tell you 🙂

Please bear in mind that I will never abide by a hard-and-fast schedule. If one of my friends is having a day and suggests setting our minions loose at Chick Fil A for an hour or two, who am I to argue? If my toddler didn’t sleep well and needs to take an earlier nap? Picking up dish soap and chicken cutlets can wait.

It’s more of an evaluation of:

  • What will help me and the people I’m in charge of grow and move forward this month?
  • What’s been slipping through the cracks too much lately?
  • What excess and unnecessary can I remove?
  • Where is there white space in my days that can make the important things happen?

Would you believe me if I told you I’m NOT a natural planner? It’s true. My mind is actually quite the hot mess of need cilantro and schedule dentist appointment and maybe this could happen in chapter 2? at any given time. I didn’t start setting goals or keeping a planner until college when I had three jobs, 18 credit hours, intramural sports, a really fun friend group, and a very real, very intense fear of missing out. It was kind of necessary.

The truth is: If I don’t make a list or give myself a big-picture, I spend a lot of time procrastinating or overthinking what needs to be done next. That’s my human nature and the tendency I’ve learned to adapt. 

But as much as I believe in managing the work, the chores, the appointments, and tasks, I think it’s equally important to create margin for rest and play. That doesn’t come naturally to me, either. I tend to feel guilty and stressed about taking time to rest and play when there are things I need to be getting done. What I’ve learned at the ripe age of 32, though? Guilt and stress only breed burnout and indecision. And I am actually less likely to move and make progress when I’m frozen in burnout and indecision. It’s kind of like starting off too fast in a race and finishing more slowly than you would have at a manageable pace. Or getting a speeding ticket and arriving late to your destination anyway.

So this month, I’m focusing on revamping my routine, finishing projects that have been vacillating for months, being intentional about family time instead of multitasking, keeping a daily gratitude log on my Facebook for perspective, working ON my business instead of just working in it, and recharging well (with things that actually fill me up instead of just shutting down in front of Netflix).

Are you a natural planner? Have you revamped your routine lately?

june update + july goals

Table talk (1)

Now that’s July is halfway finished (WHAT?), here’s how I did on my June goals:

  • Read/outline the craft book Story Trumps Structure by Steven James. Does it count that I started it? Barely.
  • Study a few comp titles for my new project. Yes.
  • Develop a tentative outline for the new project. Done!
  • Complete any final edits on Book 3 + proposal. Done!
  • Journal/art journal 2-3 times a week. Nope.
  • Sweat at least once a day. (And hydrate accordingly.) I actually did a lot better on this than I thought I would! I completed the Betty Rocker 30-Day Challenge, often working out twice a day, and only missed five days of sweat 🙂 I think I’ll count it though, since it’s 100 degrees here and impossible not to sweat!
  • Revamp Sunday night meal planning and prep process. It happened one week. Moving that goal to this month.
  • Declutter my closet, armoire, and kitchen. I decluttered my closet, and it feels amazing!
  • Create a loose content calendar based on topics for the blog. Yes.
  • Make a landing page for services I offer bloggers and podcasters. I started it, but it’s still in draft mode.
  • Possibly a promo for bloggers/podcasters? I did a conference promo instead! This one will have to wait until after edits are sent in.
  • Take regular walk breaks during long stretches of work. Oh goodness. Moving that to this month!
  • Redesign my invoice template. Yes!

Not too shabby, especially since my plans for a quiet summer were foiled by a new book contract. (Seriously. All the praise hands for this divine interruption!) Here’s what I’d like to accomplish for the rest of July:

Here’s what I’d like to accomplish for the rest of July:

Writing Goals:

  • Work through the craft book Story Trumps Structure by Steven James.
  • Complete 75% of edits for my debut novel due 8/15.
  • Write 5-10K on my novella.

Personal Goals:

  • Create morning and evening routines (including #morningmiles!)
  • Revamp Sunday night meal planning and prep process.
  • Weed out my armoire + organize groups of my cleaning supplies into transportable caddies.
  • Institute a regular cleaning schedule (and stick to it).
  • Celebrate the selah.
  • Guard what comes out of my mouth.

Work Goals:

  • Finish landing page for services I offer bloggers and podcasters
  • Take regular walk breaks during long stretches of work
  • Invite some amazing people I have in mind to join this blog for Table Talk and refine that format 🙂

That’s it — for starters. There are still ~3 weeks to accomplish a LOT!

What are you working toward this month?

 

june 2016 goals

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I can’t believe 2016 is almost halfway finished! It’s been a year so far, y’all. A good one.

Here are some of the goals I have to make life happier + easier during June.

Writing Goals:

  • Read/outline the craft book Story Trumps Structure by Steven James.
  • Study a few comp titles for my new project.
  • Develop a tentative outline for the new project and/or Book 4 if inspiration strikes.
  • Complete any final edits on Book 3 + proposal.

Personal Goals:

  • Journal/art journal 2-3 times a week.
  • Sweat at least once a day. (And hydrate accordingly.)
  • Revamp Sunday night meal planning and prep process.
  • Declutter my closet, armoire, and kitchen.

Work Goals:

  • Create a loose content calendar based on topics for the blog.
  • Make a landing page for services I offer bloggers and podcasters.
  • Possibly a promo for bloggers/podcasters?
  • Take regular walk breaks during long stretches of work.
  • Redesign my invoice template.

That’s the gist of it!  I know it won’t go 100% according to plan, but I personally do best and accomplish things when I lay out my intentions.

What are your goals for this summer? How are you making them happen?

{#workspacewednesday} what multitasking looks like today

It’s 11:32 on Wednesday morning, and I thought I’d share a glimpse of my workspace, complete with bags of tricolor potatoes in the background. Because this is as crazy as it gets, and I love it.

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You may think this seems like a weird place to work, but it’s actually very normal and efficient 🙂 I’m currently working at my kitchen counter because this is what I have going on during my baby’s nap:

  • Finalizing a vocab quiz from Storm Siren for the teen I tutor later today + making a literary devices handout
  • Supervising my daughter’s coloring/handwriting practice (i.e. various trips into the next room to see what she’s up to)
  • Breaking down workload in my bullet journal for a few new editing projects I’m excited about
  • Listening to the new Elise Gets Crafty podcast
  • Brewing a mug of tea
  • Humming “If I Were a Rich Man” because a random instrumental motif in my daughter’s show got it in my head
  • Unloading the dishwasher while I wait for my tea
  • Planning my dinner menu because my sweet friend Paige is coming over tonight!

So that’s what my workspace looks like this morning! I’m going to clean while my podcast goes, writing down any ideas/reminders/groceries I need as I remember, and then pack up the kids and embark on our next adventures of the day. (That’s code for making errands as fun as possible for all parties involved.) This is real life, and even though it isn’t easy all the time, I like it!

What are you up to today? What does your workspace look like?

{friday mixing bowl} neighbor’s table, harry potter, valentine’s cookies and more!

{friday}

Hello, loves! Happy Friday! It was a full and busy week around these parts. Full and happy 🙂

– This week, I’m currently: –

working on…

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…a full tank. I had forgotten how much the simple relocation to a coffee shop can work wonders for the work-at-home blahs. My husband took over bedtime duty this week so I could escape, fluffy hair and all, to my favorite coffee shop. I was a happy worker bee this week!

giving up…

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Facebook for Lent. I deleted it off my phone, set up a block on my browser, and hopefully I can use that time for prayer and more constructive things. Can I tell you how many times I have scrolled all over my phone looking for it almost unconsciously? I seriously didn’t even know what I was looking for. And my browser plug-in tells me that I have tried to click there no less than 30 times already. It’s sad, but true and going to change 🙂

reading…

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Does my own book count? Because I have read the book I’m revising twice this month! It’s in my critique partner’s hands now. ((Cue all the nail biting and all the hallelujahs.)) Almost ready to press send 🙂

PS: Shameless plug to pre-order said critique partner’s romantic comedy coming in two months! She has seriously ruined me for all other romantic comedy — she’s that good!

geeking out over…

neighborstable

credit: Sarah Harmeyer // Neighbor’s Table

Neighbor’s Table. SERIOUSLY, y’all. Ever since I saw the show Parenthood, I have craved a huge farm table in my backyard with twinkle lights and people I love gathered around it. I was listening to the latest Simple Show podcast from Tsh, who interviewed a girl who started a love mission for that very thing. Her dad builds farm tables with the specific purpose of gathering people — so many different stories and backgrounds and experiences around the table sharing a meal. THIS IS MY LOVE LANGUAGE, you guys. Right here. I am definitely going to see how I can get involved, but I’m so glad I found this!

pre-ordering…


Whaaaaaat? A new Harry Potter book!? For real? Well, technically it’s a screenplay and 30 pages long, but if it tells me what happens next, I’m all over that!

making…

 

credit: Pioneer Woman Food & Friends

these chocolate sugar cookies from Pioneer Woman Food & Friends for Valentine’s Day! I love that they are cut-out cookies but you don’t have to roll out any dough. My daughter is going to freak when she finds out what we’re up to later tonight!

– link love –

LifeisRosier / Via etsy.com
 

– in case you missed it –

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  • This week, I shared one of my favorite songs lately with the reminder of how much you’re loved. Powerful lyrics as always from Kim Walker-Smith and Jesus Culture in “Unstoppable Love”!
  • It’s my turn at The Writer’s Alley on Tuesday, and I’m hosting lovely pre-published author Teresa Tysinger!
  • I’m going to be announcing a special on Genesis entries next week, so keep your eyes peeled! (Not literally. That’s gross.)

What filled up your week? Any special plans for Valentine’s Day?

my survival plan for 2015

I wasn’t going to do a Word of the Year.

Even though I did one in 2014, putting 365 days in a neatly wrapped box seems limiting. Daunting, even. Life is full of so many different, constantly changing, unexpected, beautiful experiences. And to be honest, I mostly don’t like the feeling that the #oneword idea is just a social media gimmick 🙂

But as I thought about what 2015 would look like for me, the word SURVIVE kept coming to mind. Adjusting to life as a work-at-home mama of two littles. A perpetual planner and administrator with a huge dream and no idea of what my daily schedule will look like.

Well, SURVIVE, I see your uneasy intimidation and raise you a swift kick in the jewels.

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Yep. I’m not just going to survive in 2015; I’m going to thrive.

2015 won’t be represented by one word for me, but an entire lifestyle. I want to enjoy mothering a baby — this little boy for whom we’ve waited and prayed for so long — even more than I did the last time. I want to be intentional about my faith and life and work and writing in ways that maximize their potential to make me come alive and enable me to give best to those around me.

What does this look like? I’m not sure exactly. But here are a few ideas when it comes to work and writing:

  • Read at least one book a month with a goal of 15 in 2015. I think my total was, like, 5 in 2014, and that’s not okay. Books are just part of who I am. My brain needs the exercise. My fingertips need to feel the grain of pages.
  • Write in short increments every weekday with the end goal of finishing Jake and Adriana’s story. First draft and edits. I normally write about 1.5 books a year, and I’m confident I could do that even with the changes 2015 will bring. But I’d be content with one book. One ridiculously good one 🙂
  • Work a month ahead of time. It should come as no surprise to you that I’ve separated my regular work and writing-business tasks into things that can be done in advance + things that require daily or weekly maintenance. I’d like to get the majority of the next month’s work- and writing-related blog posts finished one weekend at the end of every month and then complete weekly tasks at the beginning of each week. This system is more sustainable and conducive to protecting creativity. Days will be freer for writing, spending time with my family, other creative endeavors, and more life-giving things!
  • Anticipate how I can spend my time most effectively to make sure everything gets accomplished, but realize that things aren’t in my own control but God’s. Or at least they should be. It’s absolutely best that way.
  • Don’t overthink things. My SisterChucks (writing sisters) and I have a motto and promise to each other not to overthink things. So I want to work on diverting unproductive thoughts before they can consume, sabotage, and steal my joy.
  • Enjoy. Above all enjoy it. To thrive in the John 10:10 “rich and satisfying life” God intended when He gave me freedom — even in moments the thief intends to “steal, kill, and destroy”.

Do you have any 2015 goals or big events coming up this year? Tell me what you hope your year will look like.

a peek inside my planner + time management tips

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In a former life, I was an office manager in charge of organizing around 120-140 new projects a month and dividing responsibilities among multiple employees in the most efficient manner. So, I guess you could say I like organizing. Just a little.

I’m not exactly Type A for most things. In fact, I bet my husband is somewhere laughing right about now. But bright color coding and lists are my jive. As a reformed overachiever, I still typically balance a lot of things on my plate and want to be sure my priorities are in the right place and goals get accomplished.

Last year, I found the perfect planner to support my love of lists and intentional living: the Blue Sky 10 x 8″ Weekly/Monthly Planner, especially when teamed with designer Dabney Lee.  If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you got a front-row seat to my #plannernerd panic when June came to an end and they still hadn’t released their new July-June planners. It wasn’t pretty. But what IS pretty is my the planner I finally ordered.
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Here’s a peek inside and some organizational tips. Because we’re friends like that.

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Each month, I write out the bigger commitments and events I know about ahead of time as I go. Things I probably should remember but never would be able to keep track of on my own with Mom Brain.

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There’s also a really cool feature next to each monthly calendar: lists for To Do, To Call, and To Buy. I typically use the To Do for monthly goals, ranging from personal to professional to writing goals. Do I want to write 25K words this month? Up my running mileage? Read a craft book? Go on a date night every week with my husband? Grow out my fingernails? What fun things can I do with my daughter this month? Since I have a secret aversion to talking on the phone, To Call is for blog posts I want to write. To Buy changes every month, but I’d imagine it would also make a good place for monthly budgeting goals or tracking expenses!

Now (*rubs hands together*) for my favorite part of this planner. The weekly spread!

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Every week, I look at my monthly calendar and write down any events. Then I make a list of weekly goals on the far right Notes column. This includes meals I want to cook, work projects that are due, scenes I want to write in my manuscript, what days I’m going to blog, and various and sundry things like house projects. Then I spread them out across the week in the daily list section. I also look at the workout class schedule at my gym and write down any classes I’d like to take.

My weeks rarely go according to plan because that’s just life. But mapping out my week helps me make sense of the craziness, accomplish more, and not let anything super important slip through the cracks.

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Each day in the planner is like a to-do list. I LOVE the vertical format. I try to make a list of things I’d like to accomplish based on what commitments I have. This helps me budget my tasks wisely. For example, if I know I have a meeting one night, I can plan a crockpot meal so I don’t have to scramble. If I have two work projects due on the same day, I can budget my word count goals so I can still get my writing done with just less volume that day. If I want to cook at home more since the amount we’ve eaten out lately is atrocious, I can write down the meals I’d like us to have that week, make one grocery list, and plan accordingly based on what our week looks like.

I’m pretty good about sticking to my planner, but I could be better about prioritizing some things. {*cough* following my gym schedule!} My approach is to be ambitious when planning my goals but to give myself plenty of grace and wiggle room. And having a safe place to put ideas is also a really good thing!

As far as planning/time management goes, I’m a firm believer in this:

  1. You can accomplish anything that’s really important to you! Most of the time, when people say “I don’t have time,” realistically they should be saying “I’m not willing to make time.”
  2. No one person can do everything. And that’s okay. It’s important to be flexible and budget in lots of wiggle room, or else you might go crazy. Just ask College Laurie about this.
  3. People are more important than getting everything done. Sometimes throwing the schedule aside and investing in someone else is the absolute best thing you can do.
  4. There is a motivating satisfaction in crossing something off of your [preferably color-coded :)] to-do list.

Do you use a planner to manage your time? And more importantly, will anyone besides me fess up to adding things you’ve already finished on your to-do list just so you can cross them off? 

Psst: Be on the lookout for one of these in a giveaway next week! Don’t think for a second I could keep this goodness to myself!