Once you wrap your head around the idea that time-management is really self-management, time management isn’t something outside of yourself, but an internal part of your very being.

If you procrastinate or waste time, you are not managing yourself and your life as well as you could be.

Instead of asking yourself what is often suggested by time management gurus: what’s the best use of my time right now, ask yourself: what’s the best thing I can do for myself right now?

This works together with thinking about your future self. If you do what’s in your self-interest for getting things done, your future self will thank you. Everything will fall into place. You will begin to automatically do the most important things when you are at your peak during the day or evening. And you will get the more mundane, easier-on-the-brain things done at other times. You will no longer procrastinate or waste time because you realize it’s not going to get you where you want to be.

Instead of thinking about the things you have to do as being “tasks” or even “chores,” think of them as being part of who you are and who you want to become.

To accomplish this, you need to plan your life so that it gives you joy, so that almost everything you do makes you happy to be doing it, and gives you a sense of satisfaction when you’re finished.  Sometimes this will require an attitude adjustment. Maybe scrubbing the bathroom isn’t your idea of something that will make you happy, but if you think about how it will help you live in a healthy environment and gets you moving around (especially is you have a sit-down job), you may find yourself tackling the chore with a little more appreciation for the benefits of doing it, or even happiness that it’s giving you a break from something else when you need one. Not to mention you will be happier when it’s all done.

Just one example of how you can manage yourself in a better, happier, more productive way. Go through all the tasks you have listed on your to-do list and find a way to translate them from chores to happy pieces that make up your life.

Call it Life Management.


What’s wrong with this sentence? (In previous sentences in the article quoted from, it is explained the writer is talking about great white sharks.)

“Researchers at OCEARCH, which captured, tagged and released the sharks aboard their 126-foot former Bering Sea crabber have found that the sharks swim south much faster than once thought.”

My mind immediately saw those sharks released on the former crabber. I pictured them flailing around on the deck. Then when I looked at the sentence again, I thought it was too long and complicated. I also realized that the researchers did not capture the sharks while the sharks were aboard their boat. Next I caught on that since it was the researchers who captured, tagged and released the sharks, the word “which” following “Researchers at OCEARCH” is incorrect. “Which” should have been “who.” It was the researchers who captured the sharks, not the organization they work for. Not to mention the missing comma after the word “crabber” and the needed Oxford comma. All problems could have been fixed by taking apart the sentence and rearranging everything so it both made sense and was easier to read. Making it two sentences would have helped immensely.

I do not claim to be an expert on grammar, and I’m only pointing out things that I’m sure were wrong. But if I’m mistaken about any of my points, I wish some of the experts out there would let me know. I know that learning does not end until the moment we die. I’m here to learn.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many errors in one sentence in a newspaper article, but I have to wonder. If you don’t believe me, it was here (unless they since corrected it):


I am so flabbergasted, I am now speechless, a rare event for me.


Vision boards have become more popular since Pinterest joined  the cyberworld. One of the most popular “boards” on there is for future brides to gather together everything they come across they might decide to use in their own weddings. Writers are using them to find pictures of what they envision their characters to look like. People plan their vacations.

Imagine doing this for your whole life! What aspects of your life haven’t you obtained yet would give you the most joy? Find a picture to represent it, pin it up near your desk on a corkboard, and you will be inspired to work toward that vision.

Want to vacation in Hawaii? Put up some pictures of where you want to go while visiting. Planning a party? Dreaming of a beach house? Or just an uncluttered living room? Your novel a bestseller?* With photoshopping programs, the internet and your printer, what you can see in your mind can become a concrete picture to put up where you will see it often.  You can use glossy brochure paper to print your dreamscapes. And of course, you can use Pinterest for this idea, as well. But you won’t see the images as often, probably, as when you pin them where you come across them whenever you’re in the area where you’ve put them in your home or office.

You need a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. What better way to see your vision that to put it right in front of you to look at every day?

*Find a list of NY Times bestsellers on-line, delete the first one, insert your title and name. Or, if you have an image of your cover, take a picture of the rack at the grocery checkout counter where they place the current paperback bestseller, delete one of the covers, and paste yours into the space.


If you ever took a journalism class, you know the basics of writing nonfiction for newspapers and magazines. However, these basic tools can also help you hone your fiction into tight, sharp writing that is both clear and complete.

The basics are: Who, what, where, when, why, and how. Every journalism student has to memorize those words. Usually in that order. Sometimes one or more can be left out, but it should be a conscious decision with a good reason. The other day, for example, our local newspaper had an article about making the city greener, and explained about an organization giving away free trees in a few days. They did the who—the name of the organization. The what–a giveaway of three trees to anyone who showed up, The when–the date, The why–to make the city green. And the how–go and get the trees. They left out one vital fact, however. The where. No address, no clue about the location of the giveaway. So, both the reporter and the editor missed something really important. Oddly enough, they reported on the event after it was over (I believe this is yearly and they always give away the trees in the same location), told how many trees were given away, and—you guessed it, the location where it all took place. In this case, NOT better late than never.

The reader of fiction almost always needs all these elements, too, for the story to make sense. Leave one vital part out, and you’ve lost her. A good rule of thumb is to be sure you have them all there when you are finished with all your edits. Because you may have put them all in when you wrote the piece (or you may not have), and you may take something out that was really needed, or miss that something was left out in the first place. But if you look one last time for each element, you should be fine.

Have you gone back over a story and found you left out something vital? Let us know in the comments.


Okay, I have to admit, this idea is not unique (well, realistically, there are no new ideas—only different ways of presenting and wording them). A writer named Gretchen Rubin came up with this plan, and I thought it was interesting. For more details, go here:


Twelve seems like a lot to remember. Ten may be stretching it, too. But I’m just noodling with this idea, and thought I’d put it out there.

In a nutshell, these commandments should be about things we want to remind ourselves to pay attention to, that need improvement, or will make us happier people. For example, maybe you believe you complain too much, so one of your commandments could be “Complain not.” Perhaps you don’t count your blessings enough. That’s an easy one, “Count your blessings.” Maybe you’re a couch potato and know it would be better if you go up at least every hour and moved around for five or ten minutes. “Move you booty” would work for that, wouldn’t it? If you eat too much, “No snacking after dinner” might work.

I think you get the idea. These “commandments” are your rules to remember when you are tending toward an action that gets in the way of your happiness or well-being or is interfering with your goals in life or with your relationships with other people.

I’m not saying this will work for everyone, or even anyone. I’ve never tried it. I just thought it was an interesting idea, so I’m throwing it out there. Of course, I’m going to try it myself. Maybe start with five. I’m not sure I’d remember ten. After I get those five down pat, can add one at a time to the list.

If anyone tries this, please let me know how it worked.


Some things I learned while editing my latest mystery novel might help make the process go more smoothly for you.

Nail the weather (season especially) and the setting before doing anything else. The weather didn’t play a big part in my latest novel, so I only mentioned it once in awhile. The problem was it was fall at the beginning of the novel, and only about ten days later, it was winter. I’d forgotten which it was! Not huge because the weather didn’t have a large impact on the story, but I just know some readers would notice.

Try not to have your main character have two of anything to keep track of. My PI drives two cars–one, nondescript, for business, one, sporty, for pleasure. But it got mixed up in there when she loaned her business car to her aunt. I didn’t keep good track of what she was driving, and now I will have to search the whole document and be sure it’s the right car!

Pick your character’s names with care and try not to change them. Yes, the search feature will work here, but if you use certain names, the universal search and replace will put them inside words or at the beginning or ending, making for strange new combinations. Easier not to have to correct that.

Use the page break feature in your word processor at the end of each chapter. Then each chapter will start on a new page–nice.

Read the ending–last quarter or the third–several times. You’ve probably read the beginning over and over again, but as you get further in, you will probably read the later stuff less. Make sure everything makes sense at the end.

Print it out. I bought a ream of cheap paper and printed the whole manuscript in draft mode, single spaced. Next I corrected everything with a red pen, then printed it on the back of the first printing, after making a red slash through the other pages so if I dropped them in a heap, I’d know which pages were the newest ones.

While editing, have lots of room for three piles of paper and for a notepad. You have what you’re reading in your first pile, what needs fixing in another pile, and what’s okay in a third pile. Make notes as you go through–during the first run-through you will probably find several things that need fixing on pages you’ve already edited, so you will have to go back and find the spot(s) where you need to make adjustments. But don’t try to do it during the run-through itself. It gets too confusing.

Plan for large blocks of time with few or no distractions.

Take your time. After the first run-through, let it sit awhile and mull things over. You may need to do this more than twice–I ended up doing three print-outs, read-throughs and edits. Each edit took me part of a week, but I didn’t begin on the next one until the following week. I think this time is needed, especially if you don’t outline, to be sure all the pieces are in place, all questions answered, all details correct.

Then have someone else, preferably a professional editor, go through it for you. Only then can you be pretty sure that everything is just right. But don’t be surprised that mistakes will still be found. Hopefully they will be so minor, hardly anyone will notice.

I’m sure I’ve missed some things others may have run across while editing a whole novel. I’d love to hear them so next time, it might go even smoother for me!


Who knew? Who knew there was a month dedicated to time management? It makes sense to have it in the second month of the year because this is the time those wonderful resolutions begin to weaken.

How was your January? Did you make some plans on how to spend your time to reach your goals for the year?

Here’s a quick recap on how best to manage your time.

  • List your goals.
  • Order the goals in importance, giving them A, B, C, and D ratings.
  • Plan to do your most important goals early is the day unless you’re a night person. Otherwise, plan your evening hours.
  • If you complete your A goals, move to B, then C. Decide if you really, really need to do most of the C and D ones.
  • If you have a sit-down job, resolve to get out of the chair at least every hour and move around for about ten minutes. If you stand a lot, take some sitting breaks regularly during the day.
  • Keep track of your time. You need to know how long things take in order to do a good job of planning in the future.
  • At the end of the day, pat yourself on the back when you accomplish all your A goals, put your feet up and read a good book. Or watch TV if you absolutely have to. <grin>

And basically, that’s it. My job is now done. But most likely I’ll be back with more tips as the year goes by. You are warned.


I believe in notebooks. They can be journaling books, binders, fancy notebooks from the bookstore or office supply place, small note pads or whatever you like. Some should be small enough to keep beside you when you are reading and writing. Binders can hold information you’ve printed out from on-line or pulled from magazines.

Each one should have its own purpose. One for reading. One for writing. One for marketing. One for your recipes, etc. You might have one for each book you write with research, lists, notes, anything to do with that book.

But most important for a writer is to have one for reading and one for writing.

Why for reading? Because as you read, you should note down anything you find interesting or important. You might even have one for fiction and one for non-fiction. For example, for fiction, put down the date you read it, title, author, perhaps year it was published and by whom. Write down the main characters’ names, quote lines you liked, and when you’re finished reading, write down a quick plot summary. Note whether you liked the book or not, maybe even giving it a star rating. After you’ve done this for about a year, you can see what you liked most in plots, characters, and the writing itself if you’ve written down great lines. This will help you with your own writing and to pick out future reading. For non-fiction, simply fill in the title/author/etc., then jot down every highlight—the things you find most interesting and want to remember. Of course, if you own the book, you can also simply mark it up and put it in your bookshelves. Perhaps even dedicate shelves to those books you have marked up.

For writing? Every time you read a great article or book, be sure to write down the important things, things that you think you need to remember or need to keep in mind when you write. You’ll find yourself reading over this notebook every so often. I recommend you do so before you start writing each novel. You can also mark up these books you own, too, of course.

Notes and notebooks are your friends.