GET MORE THINGS DONE

In today’s hectic world, we really need to work at making our life the best it can be. Here are a few thoughts about that.

First, no matter how blah you feel, get up, dress up and show up. (Unless you’re really ill, then take care of yourself.)

Think about these top five ways to have a happy (or happier) life:

5. Take care of your finances

4. Make your environment as beautiful and neat as you can

3. Do all you can to be healthy (this includes spiritual things)

2. Love what you do

1. Love who you’re with

 

Run over them in your mind as each day progresses. Make sure you tend to all that need tending to.

If you have trouble with any of them, research about how to make things better. There are hundreds of books and millions of web links to help you out. If they don’t do it, get professional help.

It’s the only life we know for sure we’ll ever have. It’s up to us to make the most of it.

HOW MANY IS TOO MANY?

How many activities are you trying to balance every day in your life?

I once listed what I think are the most important ones we need to tend to or work on every day. Here they are:

Personal—health, grooming, education, just taking good care of ourselves.

Family—same here—take care of their health, education, and their other needs that they need you for. These will differ depending on each person—spouse, children, parents, even friends.

Career or other Main Interest—this is self-explanatory, except if you’re retired. Then you should think about doing something fulfilling with your time, not just fritter it away. Travel, volunteering, part-time work, engrossing hobbies can all be considered.

Financial—tend to your finances every day, and you’ll be in good shape financially!

Spiritual needs—again, self-explanatory.

These are not in any particular order, except the first one should be top priority because if you aren’t at your best, whatever that can be, then the rest is much harder to do. After that, they are, I believe, all of equal importance. All are connected. If your career is going well, you’ll be a happier person for your family to live with. If your finances are a mess, it impacts everything else. If your family doesn’t receive enough of your time, everyone, including you, losses. And if you don’t have a strong moral code, have beliefs that sustain you, then you will run into trouble when the going gets rough, and it will. We all know, it will.

When you break it down to these five important aspects of everyone’s life, it’s easier to see what needs to be done each and every day. Some days you’ll need to spend more time on one thing than another. And other days, it will reverse. But it wouldn’t hurt to spend a few minutes at the beginning of your day to consider each one and decide the most important thing you can do that day to tend to those needs. And at the end of the day, do a mental recap, or write in your journal what you accomplished. Then you can nod your head and say you had a good day, or you can decide how you can make tomorrow even better.

WORD BY WORD

If you write 1,000 words a day it can equal a lot a year. Here’s how:

SIX DAYS A WEEK

If you write 1,000 words a day for six days a week for one year, you will have 313,000 words written by the end of the year.  Divide by four, and you will have four 78,250-word books in rough draft.

Your novel or nonfiction book may need to be a few thousand words more than that, but you can, no doubt, squeeze those words in before the end of the year.

Write a short story every month. = 12/year by writing 1,000/words or less one day a week.

Write an article every month. = 12/year when you have some extra time

At the end of one year you could have three novels, one non-fiction book, twelve short stories and twelve articles written.  This means that you have to do only two things:  Write 1,000 words a day, and edit 1,000 words a day, Monday through Friday, plus write and edit 1,000 words for your short story quota (could do 500 words in one story, and 500 in another, for example) every Saturday, and squeeze in that article when the mood strikes, but aim for one a month.

RADIATE

 FIVE DAYS A WEEK

If you write 1,000 words/day, five days a week, you will have 261,000 words at the end of one year.  Divide by four, and you have exactly enough for four 65,250-word books.  Make one or two a bit shorter, and you can squeeze in a two-week vacation.

If you get most everything you write published, each will help sell the others.  Someone may read your nonfiction book and find out you wrote a mystery, so will try that out, or vice versa.  Someone may read a couple of your short stories or articles, see your bio, and decide to try one or more of your books.

The trickiest part is to keep up the pace and to make sure that if you edit out a whole chuck of one of your pieces that you also write enough words in that day to make up the deleted words.

Make up a chart for tracking how much you actually accomplish every day in a spreadsheet, and you will be amazed at how much you have done in just half a year.

Excuse me while I work on my second 500 words for the day. (But no, although I wish I could meet this goal, I haven’t yet. But there’s still time.)

 

 

OVERWHELMED AND PROCRASTINATING?

The feeling of being overwhelmed is often the cause of procrastination. It definitely is for me. Feeling as if I simply cannot get the job done is the main cause, maybe the only cause, of my procrastination, because I get lots done. But I’m often berating myself for leaving some things, always the same things, undone.

One example is email. And I’m getting a handle on it now by slicing and dicing it into manageable chunks. You can use this system for most things, so let’s go step by step with what I’ve been up to.

First, you have to know how to use your tools. In this case, your email program. I know mine pretty well by now—I’ve been using Eudora since the last century. One of the most important things I know is how to make mailboxes. Other programs might call them folders. This is where you can put emails by group, just as you file papers. Next, you need to know how to filter messages. I do that for some friends, family, lists/groups and certain businesses. In Eudora, the mailbox name gets bolded when there’s anything unread in there, so I always know where I have new mail.

Now my inbox looks a lot less full (overwhelming), thus a lot more manageable. So, when I check mail, I first go through my inbox and delete every piece of spam I get. If any stray messages are in there, I slide them over into the correct mailbox. Now I have the email I really should attend to right away in front of me. The others can be read and answered, if needed, in their own time.

I also don’t answer every email right away. If I do, many people will then answer me right back, and I could spend all day with seven or eight emails, reading, then answering. If not urgent, wait at least a few days, a week or ten days may be better to answer friends’ emails. Back in the old days, people didn’t get those instant responses, and we’re probably even more busy now. Check the date every morning, and anything older than the week or ten days you’ve set for yourself is the one that needs to be answered right away.

How can we apply this process to other to-dos that overwhelm us? Cut them down to size, into pieces. I do this with housework. I do a couple of things every day. One day it might be laundry and ironing. Another day it’s cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms. One day I vacuum and dry mop, etc. Getting too much regular mail, as well as email? Spend fifteen minutes a day with it after dinner, handling it as quickly as you can. Throw away the junk, unread. File things right away that need filing and pay bills. Make a pile for reading, take it with you to your chair to read during commercials or in other stray moments. Planning for a party or big event? Do one chore a day, making a plan in advance so you know how many days you’ll need, adding a couple for a cushion.

This system defeats boredom and makes you feel in control. It changes what you say to yourself about what you need to do. Instead of, “I need to clean the whole house today,” you say, “I only need to dust and vacuum today.” Instead of saying, “I need to straighten out my closet today,” say, “I’ll work for half an hour on straightening out my closet, then quit for the day, and do the same tomorrow.” And so on. Try it, and let me know how it works for you.

HOW TO GET BOTH THE BIG AND THE SMALL THINGS DONE

Some things you want to do take a long time to finish. Others only take a few minutes or so. How to balance that? Here’s an idea.

First, have two lists of what you want to do every day. One list for big projects and one for small to-dos.

Then start your day by working for one hour straight on a long project. After an hour, if you’ve been sitting down, get up and do some of the smaller projects around your space. This will rest your mind and your eyes and stretch your body. If there is nothing you can think of to do for about ten minutes while standing, do some stretching exercises. You can do many things standing that you often do sitting. Make phone calls, sort the mail, file, and of course, if you’re keeping house, any chore will fill the time. Sit down for another, now fifty minutes, and work, then get up again for ten.  I do it this way because it’s easier to keep track of using “on the hour” time than trying to remember, was it ten minutes past or twenty minutes of the hour, or . . .? If you’ve been standing for an hour, take a break and do sitting-down chores for ten minutes.

If you can’t think of anything to do for those ten minutes or run out of chores by the end of the day after sitting for hours, well, then, dance.

 

 

 

DOING THE HARDEST THING

Most of us have things that we just don’t like to do for one reason or another. Depending on what those things are, we can blow them off most of the time (is it absolutely necessary for you to write a holiday newsletter every year?) or we absolutely have to do them (sorry, the kitchen has to be cleaned on a regular basis).

And it may be that you can blow it off, but you’re really rather do whatever-it-is because it will move your most-favored goals forward. Your most-favored goals are those that you have at the top of your goal list. You have a goal list, right? And you have put it in order of priority. If not, stop a few minutes and do that, now.

What has been proven the best way to move your most-favored goals ahead? Do whatever-it-is first. At the start of your day. Your resistance is lower then, but your motivation is highest. This is when you have the most optimism for getting things done. And once you do this a few times, you’ll realize that it makes the rest of your day so much better. You can pat yourself on the back for getting that chore out of the way and over with.

This is a particularly important thing to do when it involves your most important goals in life. That’s why so many people who exercise regularly (even those who don’t particularly enjoy exercising) do it first thing in the morning. This is why so many creative people get up before the rest of their family to create their art. This is how the best businesspeople get the best results. And this is how many great housekeepers keep the house spotless—tackle that dirty oven or cluttered, needs-cleaning refrigerator first thing.

Try it for three weeks (the time it usually takes to form a new habit) and see if it works for you.