Do you ever think about the many costs of being disorganized? Here are quite a few. There are probably some I’ve missed.


  • Uncashed checks.
  • Unclaimed insurance payments.
  • Unused coupons.
  • Late fees on bills.
  • Late fees for conference registrations.
  • Missed errors on your bank statements you forgot to look over.
  • Rebates not sent for on time.
  • Business expenses not claimed for company reimbursement.
  • Business expenses not reimbursed by company not taken as a tax deduction.
  • Money spent for a storage unit.
  • Losing track of items and having to buy replacements.


  • Looking for lost items.
  • Being interrupted and then getting back on task.
  • No systems for handling mail and email.
  • Sifting through items to find the one you want—too much clutter.


  • Stress when you can’t find something while searching.
  • Time lost for inability to find things after you find it (if you do).
  • A feeling of being overwhelmed.
  • A feeling that others will judge you for being disorganized.
  • Uneasiness when people drop in on you.
  • Depression.


  • Old friends drop off when you miss one too many meetups or are continuously late.
  • You don’t invite people into your office or over to your house because of the clutter.
  • Your loved ones complain.
  • A loved one stops interacting with you through divorce or just distancing him or herself.

Now flip all the above to see how correcting the behavior will benefit you. You can have more time to relax and enjoy life, and you can feel better about yourself if you’re organized.


Here are what I’ve found to be the best keyboard shortcuts. Do you have a favorite that’s not listed?

Control-S = Save. Recommend you do that at least after every page you type or about every five minutes. Make it a habit.

Control-A = Select the whole document to make changes or copy it.

Control-Z – Undo, undoes the last character you typed or other actions taken, such as hitting the tab key.

Control-Y = In case you do too many undoes in a row, you can get whatever it was back again.

Control-C = Copy and Control-P = Paste

Control+ = Zoom in—you can hit the + sign several times to make the font as large as you need. This works in your browser and probably in your email program—you know, when you get one of those emails with a tiny, tiny font. To make the text smaller again, hit Control- (minus) as many times as needed.

Then there’s Control-B for Bold, Control-I for Italics, and Control-U for Underline. (After you’ve highlighted the text you want formatted or before you start typing new characters.)

For many more that most people won’t use, but where you might find one that you’d use a lot, go here:

Have fun clicking!



Seen on writer’s lists I’ve been on online and am still on. Yes, this is sort of a rant. Or maybe more than sort of.

  • Your signature line is longer than any of the emails you send to the list.
  • You only come on to announce that you’ve been published.  And you also have a long signature line. Or none at all (see below).
  • You’re a writer, but you don’t sign your emails.  How is anyone supposed to remember you?  Your email address may give us a hint, but not always.
  • How does this work exactly?  You’re trying to email someone privately who is on a list you’re on, but your email won’t go through.  So, you go on the list and ask the other person to contact you.  If you couldn’t get through before, how on earth do you think you’re going to after they contact you? 
  • Or, you lost all your addresses when you had a computer crash.  You didn’t back up your address book, of course, so now you go to the lists every time you need an address. 
  • Your emails are usually full of typos and spelling/grammar errors.  Why would you think this was okay? (I admit I make mistakes on lists—everyone does– but certainly my posts are not full of them.)
  • You use two names, and you use them indiscriminately.  No one is sure who you really are, and most don’t care.
  • You only come on to rant and complain about the list.  You hardly ever contribute, but you know best how it should run.
  • You’re the king or queen of one-liners.  You never have much to say, and it really, really shows.

And you may be wondering why you’re not getting very far in this writing biz.  Any of these hit their mark? Too harsh? Maybe, but apparently no one has told some of the writers who are doing these things that there’s a better way. I hope this helps.




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.


I write “by the seat of my pants.” If I outline, which I dislike doing in the first place, I lose interest in writing the story–it’s like reading a book for the second time immediately after you just read it for the first time.


But I’ve found out after writing several novels, that there are some tricks that can help me with both character AND plot.

So, what I do now is think of several characters and start writing. After one or two chapters, I probably know what they do for a living, what they look like and some tiny bit about their personalities.

But I need more. I need to know their secrets. The sooner I know their secrets, the more I can ratchet up the conflict and tension for them. Because of course, they don’t want anyone else to know their secrets, so they’ll often do things than are unreasonable to keep them.


Each character also needs to be motivated by something. And then I have the fun of putting obstacles in her way to creative tension and conflict here, too.

So, two important ways to help yourself have interesting characters your readers will care about is to give each one (even many of the minor characters) a secret or two, and something they want badly.  If could be that what they want badly is to hide their secret.

It’s up to you when to divulge the secrets. Often it’s best to wait awhile to do that, but other times it’s good for the reader to know almost right away because it explains why the character acts as she does. And it’s always delicious, isn’t it, to be in on other people’s secrets?


Okay, the title had to be a bit amusing because the rest is so serious. But oh, so important.

1.     Get Properly Trained. You’ll get more work done in less time and with a lot less hassle. Also learn how to find help using the help buttons on your programs and on-line when you run into difficulties after you get trained. Learn the language and acronyms. There are oodles of courses on-line, at community centers and colleges, and even individual tutors. If all else fails, ask your grandchild for help. Okay, I’m only half-way serious about that.

2.     Back It Up. I only put this second because you need to know how to do effective backups before you can follow this advice. But it’s a major, major priority.

3.     Be secure. Know how to protect yourself from computer viruses and other malware. Don’t open questionable emails, don’t go to questionable websites, use good passwords, etc.


4.     Fix Problems Immediately. Small problems can become major in the blink of an eye. Pay attention to that warning message. Get a new keyboard when the one you’re using is sticking, or get it repaired. Screen flickering? That might mean it’s going to die any minute. The potential for losing your day’s work or worse if you don’t back-up regularly is very real. Don’t let it happen to you.

5.     Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute. When you’re working on something that’s due soon, get it done, get it saved, get it printed, if necessary. Technology always fails at the wrong moment. Actually, there’s never a right moment.

6.     Know When to Get an Expert. Give yourself just so much time to fix a problem whether it’s a machine or software one. After that, find an expert—live or on-line. Your time is valuable, and stress doesn’t help the situation.

7.    Don’t be the very first to upgrade to anything. Wait for others to try it out and see how it goes. This is for major upgrades, not those small updates programs and computers need every so often. It’s always wise to check on-line before upgrading or updating. Look for trusted sites that warn of bogus or questionable ways to change something on your computer. Look for cautions about security holes. Wait to see if the new phone or operating systems works well for others. At first there are usually a few bugs that have to be worked out even after they go to market. 

All these suggestions can save your career and your sanity. Have I left out anything you consider mandatory? Please leave a comment if you can think of something.


For a more productive day. Some of this is a repeat, but I think it’s worth saying it a bit differently so it can sink in.

When you first settle down to work, decide what your top priorities are for the day and decide when you’re going to do them. Make a to-do list in order or list them on your calendar.

What you want to do in the moment is often different from what you’d hoped to accomplish that  day. Stopping every hour to think about what you’re doing will help keep you on track.

Before dinner, assess your day. What went right? What do you wish you’d accomplished and didn’t, and why not? What can you do tomorrow to make it a better day than today was?

Fine tune: Only decide what you want to do each morning in order to be happy about it when you look back. After lunch, decide what you want to do in the afternoon so it will be a great one. Same after dinner. What will make it a memorable or productive evening?

Example: If you’re a writer or work at home, decide how much you’re going to write (words or timeframe) in the morning. Maybe morning is also the time you exercise. Get those two things done before lunch, and you have a great start. Afternoon—is this the time you’ll do housework, catch on email and phone calls? List what chores and emails you want to work on. After dinner, decide whether you’re going to do a few more work-related things or chores, or if you’re going to watch a movie you’ve been putting off, or a TV show, or dip into that book you got from the library. Try to leave at least the last two or three hours before you go to bed for relaxation, doing something you love to do so you end the day in a great frame of mind and relaxed.