Hello World!

Word for the day: Busy: back to writing a novel again! 10/19/16

Household Tip: When you get the mail, take the time to handle it all right away. Yes, even filing what you want to keep. 10/20/16

Word for the Day: Weekend: Coming up. Let’s relax a little! 11/4/16

HOW TO HANDLE YOUR EMAIL INBOX

TIME MANAGEMENT: This week I have suggestions for being in charge of your email inbox.

I planned to put this up yesterday, but we had an electrical outage for most of the day, and I never got to it. So, a day late, here are my tips:

First thing you need to be able to do is know some tricks for using your email program. You should make folders or boxes (depending on your program’s terminology) and get your program to automatically filter incoming emails into those folders/boxes. If you don’t know how, I suggest you search in your browser for your particular program and follow those directions. For example, I made folders for different groups: for family members and friends, for news articles, and one for personal emails I plan to answer another day. I also make sub-folders for “keep” or things like people’s names, business names, etc. This leaves me with just a handful of emails in my main inbox. I quickly get rid of spam and other things I sometimes look at but don’t want to bother with right then, knowing they will show up over and over again, such as catalogs and newsletters with book sales. After doing those two steps, I am left with just a few things to handle, and that usually won’t take long. Then I go to each group and am able to read the emails in the order they came in and answer the ones I want to easily by simply hitting reply (as opposed to getting digests where you have to go through hoops to answer just one email). I also put the very few emails I want to keep for reference in subfolders in their categories. Next I check on other folders to find new emails and do whatever I want with them.

My goal is to have only a few left in my main inbox and none in my folders when I go to bed (zero would be even better, but some things just have to be handled later). And all my groups caught up, and one or two personal emails (I have a separate folder for “personal emails”) answered each day. Not saying I always reach that goal, but it helps more than not having any plan at all.

Anyone have other tips?

 Thursday Time Management Tip: Have a pile of paper needing attention? Every morning, pick one piece of it (no need to look through the pile, just grab something) and determine to deal with it that day.

Some papers will need a few days to resolve an issue—phone calls, emails, etc. Keep working on that paper until you are done. The next day after that, pick another one, and go! To get to the bottom of the pile, you have to deal with every paper that comes in every day. Best to do this as soon as you get the mail. Once in a great while, you will need to keep one for a period of time. Have a separate pile for those, and put the date it needs to be handled on your calendar. I hope this is helpful!

THAT OLD BUGABOO, PROCRASTINATION

 

 

 

 

Who has never procrastinated? It’s not always a bad thing, but most often, it is. Here are some ideas on how to cope:

PROCRASTINATION CAUSES AND TIPS FOR OVERCOMING:

  • Overwhelm (break the task down into small parts)
  • Task is unpleasant (hold your nose and get it done—probably best to tackle the whole thing at one time, if you can)
  • Space is too disorganized (take 15 minutes a day to deal with it)
  • Perfectionism (learn to tell yourself “good enough” when something is good enough. Being perfect is impossible)
  • Difficulty making decisions (not making a decision is a decision to keep the status quo. Is that what you really want?)

HABITS TO OVERCOME PROCRASTINATION:

  • Do your most important task first every day when your resistance is lowest. Later, it has built up because you keep thinking about it and putting it off.
  • Check in with a friend on progress (perhaps you both have a similar problem; discuss what you’ve accomplished or not)

MAKE A PLAN:

  • Use the five-minute rule. Tell yourself you’ll only work for five minutes on whatever-it-is. You can do five minutes! Usually that will be enough to make you continue
  • Schedule your day, daily
  • Try to stick to your plan as much as possible, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get to everything every day
  • If you work at home, tell your family what your plan is and ask them to help you make it work
  • Learn how to get rid of distractions (that would be another post, but examples are to turn off electronic devices, close your browser, and shut the door to your office, if you have one

Here’s an example of my own plan:

DAY OF WEEK TIME OF DAY ACTIION AMOUNT OF TIME
Monday 8:45 Exercise 10 min.
9 am Current writing project 1 hour
10:30 Exercise 10 min
1:30 Marketing 1 hour
300 Exercise 10 min.
3:15 Housework 30 min
4:00 Marketing/social media 1 hour
7:00 Short story brainstorm 1 hour
8:30 Marketing 1 hour
Tuesday 8:45 Exercise 10 min.
9 am Current writing project 1 hour
10:30 Exercise 10 min
1:30 Marketing 1 hour
3:00 Exercise 10 min.
3:15 Housework 30 min
4:00 Marketing/social media 1 hour
7:00 Short story brainstorm 1 hour
8:30 Marketing 1 hour
Wednesday 8:45 Exercise 10 min.
9 am Current writing project 1 hour
10:30 Exercise 10 min.
1:30 Marketing 1 hour

Sorry about the wonky chart formatting. Can’t get rid of it, so it’s the best I can do. I think it’s good enough!
For more in-depth ideas, check out Dr. Patrick Keelan

Use action plans to achieve your resolutions in the New Year…and at any other time

And there’s Lifehack:

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/29-ways-to-beat-procrastination-once-and-for-all.html

Procrastination is a problem for most of us at one time or another. Learn the reasons for yours and how best to deal with it. Good luck!

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SETTING UP YOUR WINDOWS DESKTOP

Screen shot of my desktop will not load into this post. Tried about a dozen times; no go. Anyway:

Did you know you can:

Quickly change the size of your icons?
•    Right click on an empty space on the Windows 10 desktop.
•    Select “View.”
•    Choose your size preference.
Place shortcut icons for documents, spreadsheets, and other files you’ve created onto your desktop?
•    Click Start or go to File Manager.
•    Choose Documents.
•    Browse for the document or file you want to make a desktop shortcut.
•    Right-click the name of the document, point to Send To, then click Desktop (Create shortcut).
•    A shortcut for that document or file will then appear on your desktop.
You can put things in your Start Menu so that some programs will be quickly ready to go when you choose their icons?
•    Go to your start menu.
•    Pick anything there you want to be able to get quickly from your desktop.
•    Choose pin to start menu. (I admit, this doesn’t always work for me, and I have no idea why. I think it mainly happens with programs that are not Windows programs.)
Do you know what the Task Manager can do for you and how to locate it?
•    Right click on your icon toolbar.
•    Choose Task Manager.
•    Highlight a program you want to stop running because it hung up.
•    Click on End Task.
Do you know how to uninstall programs you don’t use, especially those that do something annoying such as using pop-ups to tell you something “needed” to update them or whatever?
•    Go to your Start menu.
•    Type in Uninstall in the search bar.
•    Pick the program you want to use. (I put an icon for this function up on my desktop so I don’t have to go through all this each time)
•    Highlight the program you want to uninstall and allow the proram to do so.

Do you know that “right clicking” on things (icons, toolbars, the desktop itself) brings up menus that allow you to pick or change things so they’ll work better for you?

There are so many options, I suggest your try this yourself, especially when you want to do something in particular, but are not sure how to make it happen.

I hope this is helpful!

 

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CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY OR DO—YOU MAY END UP IN MY NEXT NOVEL

I never thought I used actual people in my short stories and novels, but a few readers claim to “recognize” someone. That always surprises me.

Then I decided to use one woman’s particular circumstances and ended up using some of her personality in the character in my novel, A Broken Life, and even her dog. She loved it. Thank goodness.

A friend gave me a tee shirt that said, “I’m A Writer. Everything you Say or Do may end up in my Novel.” Next thing I knew, people were staring at my chest, then smiling.

Anyway, finally, a stranger said, “So, I’m going to be in your next novel?”

“Yes,” I replied. “Thank you very much.”

She laughed. As she walked away, I asked, “What’s your name?”

She laughed harder. Thank goodness.

This led me to a hunt for other tee shirts for writers. They’re everywhere! Amazon. Café Press. Zazzle.

“I’m a writer. What’s your superpower?

“Save a writer. Buy a book.”

“I’m a writer. (No, really.)”

“Writer’s block. When your imaginary friends won’t talk to you.”

Anyway, putting real people you know in a novel can be explosive. Pat Conway said: “When The Great Santini came out, the book roared through my family like a nuclear device. My father hated it; my grandparents hated it; my aunts and uncles hated it; my cousins who adore my father thought I was a psychopath for writing it; and rumor has it that my mother gave it to the judge in her divorce case and said, “It’s all there. Everything you need to know.”

But what Anne Lamont said should probably be on a tee shirt you wear right after a new novel or short story comes out using real people as templates: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

So there.

What I really want is the mug that says, “Go away. I’m reading.”

 

 

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MY JUNE, 2017 PICK FOR BEST PRODUCT

I want to recommend a free program called “Pocket.” Because it’s one of my favorites, ever.

https://getpocket.com/about

Why I love it:

You see something on-line you want to read later, and Pocket grabs it for you so you can read it anywhere: on your phone, tablet, PC, laptop. I tried to capture their icon, but couldn’t find a way to do it. It’s a white arrow on a red shield. All you have to do is click on that shield on your brower’s toolbar and the article you want to read later is saved.

  • It does NOT include all the sidebars, ads, and other extraneous stuff, just the article.
  • If you want to see the whole article, it puts the link up in the right-hand corner when you open the article. That way you can go and share it on places like Facebook. And read comments, because it strips them, too.
  • You can change some settings. My favorite is one that has a black background with a white font. This cuts way down on screen glare!
  • You can change the font size.
  • It has a long list of “recommended” articles—probably those that get the most clicks.
  • You can sit in a more comfortable chair to read longer pieces.
  • You can delete them, make them a favorite. or archive them.

My only problem with it is that I save way too many article to read later, and that cuts into my novel reading. But I am able to keep up with the news, save how-to-write-better posts, and find quirky things to share on Facebook and Twitter.

https://getpocket.com/about

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LUCKY 7 QUICK CLEANING TIPS

1) QUICK DUSTING:

Use your hairdryer to “dust” lampshades and curtains.

2) CLOSETS:

Add hooks on the backs of closet and maybe even bedroom doors to hang up various items. For example, the one on the back of your bedroom door could hold your robe, either just overnight or all the time. You can hang scarves, handbags, and of course clothes, on the other hooks in closets. Or maybe an outfit you wear for certain occasions, such as gardening, cleaning house, or loungewear.

3) TILE FLOORS:

Use toothpaste to remove black scuffs.

4) DISPOSAL:

Run used coffee grounds through the disposal to eliminate odors.

5) COOKING:

Use time while waiting for the water to boil or something to cook a while before it needs stirring or other attention, to clean up—load the dishwasher, wipe counters, empty the trash, scrub the sink, straighten out items in a drawer, etc.

6) SHOWER AND TUB:

Use a squeegee to wipe down the glass and tile after every use. Train the rest of the family to do the same. Only takes a minute. Get one you can hang with a short handle, and have a dedicated hook for it.

7) REMOVE ONION, GARIC, FISH ODERS FROM YOUR HANDS:

If you have a stainless-steel sink, rub your hands over it when finished chopping onions or garlic, or handling fish. If you do not have a stainless-steel sink, there are “stainless steel chef soaps.” To use, handle it just as you would a regular bar of soap to wash your hands. Available at Amazon, of course.

http://amzn.to/2qxCO2g

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ORGANIZING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS

Starting right now, for every image you plan to keep, if it’s digital, name it with the date and the people and/or places in it and batch load them to DropBox, to another on-line back-up storage place, or to one of the sites listed below. If you have printed photos, put the names, place, and date on the back using a gel pen as soon as you have them in your hand. I can’t emphasize how important it is to put crucial information on each image or photo. I had to throw out some that dated back to the 1800s that my mother and aunt kept because I had no idea who the people were, so they were useless to me. The same will happen with digital ones if they are not correctly named.

Next, upload your photos to a place like:

  • FLICKR flickr.com Easy sharing from almost any mobile device
  • PHOTOBUCKET photobucket.com Scrapbook builder. Add music and slide shows
  • SNAPFISH snapfish.com Encourages you to order prints and personalized gifts. Has private “group rooms” for family and friends to see your photos and leave comments
  • SHUTTERFLY shutterfly.com You can upload photos and have them made into greeting cards or calendars. Sign up and get 50 4×6 free prints
  • SMUGMUG smugmug.com/ Yearly fee, seems reasonable for what they offer, which is a lot
  • GOOGLE PHOTOES google.com Automatically finds and stores all the photos on your PC and Android devices

I’ve mentioned just a few of the highlights from each site. Frankly, it makes me want to upload my photos to several different sites in get all the unique features. Uploading to any of these sites can act as your backup for photos, which is another reason to use more than one site, in case one goes out of business or suddenly fails for some reason.

Figure out how you want to store printed images. Scrapbook or boxes? You might want to have a system of boxes to temporally store them until you put them in a scrapbook. The boxes can be labeled, for example by person, place, or date in order to easily place them in the book later. You may also wish to get all your print photos digitized. I’ve noticed that the prices for doing this have come down a lot lately.

Ideally, and if I had to do it all over again, I would keep a diary (so easy to do now digitally) and put the pictures on the diary pages every day. Later this could be made into a bound book you can give to people in the photos and keep for yourself.

AFTER THE STORY IS RELEASED

In your notes file (I explain what I put in that file later), I recommend you immediately input these items for easy reference as soon as you can after release of your work (hint—copy this list directly into your notes file and fill in the needed info). (Another hint, put each item on a separate line so you can double or triple click to copy it when needed instead of using your mouse or touchpad to capture it):

First put in the final word count.

Kindle

  • Price
  • ASIN: number
  • Date published
  • URL, regular and one shortened

Paperback

  • Price
  • ISBN-13 number
  • ISBN-10 number
  • Date published
  • URL(s), regular and one shortened for each store

Hardcover

  • Price
  • ISBN-13 number
  • ISBN-10 number
  • Date published
  • URL(s), regular and one shortened for each store

Short Story

  • Name of the publication
  • Date published
  • URL, regular and one shortened
  • Amount earned

For All

  • Long description.
  • One paragraph description, no longer than 1,000 words.
  • Another 500-word description.
  • A short, snappy “elevator pitch” you can use for ads and brochures. Maybe make up more than one.

When all this is in one place and you ask for a review, do an ad, have a sale or anything that needs quick access to these items, you’ll always know where they are. You can easily copy and paste where needed.

After you do all this, be sure to update the information on your website about your new publication and announce it to all your social media.

I use a “notes” document for quick reference while writing each story or novel. It contains:

  • At the top, space to put in ideas I have as I go and places I want to make changes later.
  • For both short stories and novels, a character name chart with first and last names in different columns so I can sort by first letter to be sure I’m not using first letters too often, their descriptions, and other important info about them. I fill this chart in as I go.
  • A timeline chart for novels with: Chapter #, Day of week, Time of day, Location, and chapter Summery. I fill these columns in when I finish each chapter. This can also be used for longer short stories, especially if the timeline is important.
  • Maps and other visual aids.
  • Research (I don’t do a whole lot—if I did more, this would be in a separate file with document names for each category).

Doing all of this as you go will save you time in the long run. And the file will be all set up for you to add the details of the story’s publication.