The best laid plans …

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We might get grapes this year. The vine seems to like its new home, although I think it could do with a bigger pot.

On Friday I made very grand plans in order to get ahead with my work … but then everything went pear-shaped when I tried downloading a new file to work on from my job board.

Google insisted that Chrome needed to run the “remove software” tool in order for this file to download correctly, as I kept getting a “network failure” error message. So, trusting Chrome quite implicitly – for me – I did it. It took a while, which took a chunk out of a working slot, and when complete it prompted a reboot.

Oh, how I wish I’d just settled for the chunk taken from one working slot … When I did the reboot the pc got itself into a loop, saying it was looking for an operating system … Yup, the “software removal tool” had removed all of Windows.

Now, I’ve not done a system recovery disk, mostly because it always asks for a disk and I never had a disk big enough – apparently. Instead I opted for backing up critical data, which includes any system downloads.

However, the only option I had on Friday was a full factory reset … (groan!) Although it wasn’t so bad as we only got the computer in November and I am getting into the habit of backing up that thar critical data (heap big thanks to that man who drummed this into me).

So that took several hours out of my day, which in fact was pretty much the entire afternoon in the end. Fortunately, my last critical data backup was just over a week ago too, so any files I hadn’t saved to memory stick were still in emails or on the job board.

I reported the bug to the job board owner, as it’s the third time a file has been corrupted by them now. And, of course, they blamed my virus software. But I’m quite cute with viruses now (except for dodgy Chrome software removal tools, obviously, although that will never happen again), my virus/malware/spyware software is bang up to date, and I’m anal about deleting duplicate files and running scans. I also pointed out to them that this has only happened since they recently merged with another, far inferior (in my opinion) job board site.

Thanks to the mobile phone I was able to send an apologetic email to the client and ask him to send me another version of the file, which he did immediately. And I’ve just grabbed and saved that new file now, so it’s nice and safe (and clearly nothing to do with my virus software!).

So there’s a new job added to this week that I hoped would be cleared by the end of last week, but it’s only a small file, so shouldn’t take too much time.

Friday evening we did the shopping and nipped over to deliver greetings cards to all three kids. It was the twins’ birthday on Saturday and it’s son #1’s birthday tomorrow (same day as my brother!). Then we got a takeaway for tea and chilled in front of the telly.

We had a do-diddle-day on Saturday. We got up when we liked and did pretty much what we liked all day. It was a glorious day, which meant shorts on. And we spent the entire day in the garden, playing with the dog, wearing him out, the poet painted and finished a picture, and I read. We listened to a cricket roadshow on the radio, then we had a barbecue for tea (cheeseburgers, chicken/mushroom/pepper kebabs, sweet potato wedges) and watched another film on the telly.

Sunday was a busy day as my dad had asked the poet if he’d like to take him to Alrewas again this year. It was an extra visit to Brum, and they had a nice time while I stayed with my mom (we had a larf), but it meant a total of 6 hours of driving for the poet (I did offer to drive back …), so he was shattered by the time we got home again. And we had another evening in front of the telly.

This week, then, is another full and normal week for me. I’ve already put 2 washloads through and am about to hang the second out on the line, I’ve done gig list admin, and I’ve done the daily competitions – and I’m over an hour ahead! Then I have a full 2 hours of writing and a full 2 hours of editing. Tomorrow is more of the same, but with surfing for work having 2 hours allocated to it too.

I’d best go hang that washing out so I can crack on with the writing work. 🙂

Statistics

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The poet hates gardening, but his hanging baskets are thriving at the moment.

So I was still feeling a bit sorry for myself when the poet started to spout statistics at me, reminding me that in order to win it, you need first to be in it. He pointed out that as I’ve been so busy editing and proofreading other people’s work I’ve not really had much time to write any new work of my own, and all the stuff I’ve been submitting is stuff that was written a while ago – in the main.

When he started to ask me for figures, I decided to check my record. And he’s right. Not only have I not been writing very much new material recently, I’ve also not really been submitting very much either.

When I checked my record of submissions, I worked out that in the past 24-month period I’ve actually had a success rate of 26.6%. Some were fillers written and submitted on the spot, and pretty much instantly accepted; some were older stories still doing the rounds, although there are also 3 brand new stories in there since January of this year. I did it over 24 months because, as he says, I’ve hardly submitted anything recently so that’s the latest I have to go on.

I suppose, then, that 27% isn’t really a very poor return. It’s more than a quarter. But I am keen to change the ratio of work in favour of my own in the coming months.

Back on the wagon, then …

We went fishing on Wednesday evening. The poet had a chance to join a match and we’d already spent several hours there on Saturday in quite pleasant surroundings so I wasn’t adverse to doing the same again. I took some work with me, and some reading, and we both actually had quite a successful time. I managed to write a 50-word flash-fiction story and almost 700 words of stream of consciousness; he just missed out on a prize by coming 5th – not bad when he was up against around a dozen anglers who regularly fish the lake.

It wasn’t a flash in the pan either, or not so far. Yesterday I ticked all of the jobs on my list and in the middle of it all managed:

  • 677 words on CATCH THE RAINBOW
  • an hour of study work (fiction writing course)
  • 21 hard copy pages edited

Today I sneak in a swift editing job – just one chapter revisited of a book I edited last week – and hope to do more work on CATCH THE RAINBOW. And all those books on the Kindle? Weeded down to:

  • 5 mystery magazines – 2 x Ellery Queen; 2 x Alfred Hitchcock; 1 x Sherlock Holmes (market study)
  • 7 how-to-write books, complete with exercises (kick up the bum + exercising the writing muscle)
  • 3 collections of short stories – Arthur Conan Doyle; Teresa Ashby; Della Galton (market study)
  • 1 non-fiction book on the IRA (research)
  • 3 novels – Peter May; Robert Tressell; Jack Higgins (R, R & R – rest, relaxation & research)

I’ve just added another freebie on habits, but I’ve not looked yet to see if it’s a keeper, a saver or a deleter. But there’s plenty for me to dip into there, and the how-to-writes and the fiction writing course are keeping the ideas coming.

What’s on your Kindle/TBR pile this weekend? Y’all have a goodun!

Famous last words ( *** list alert ***)

ahmmSo on Monday I bragged about us both shaking off our colds … and then yesterday I was hit by a relapse that completely knocked me out and back into bed. Talk about famous last words.

I’m still not right today, but the time in bed gave me lots of navel-gazing opportunity in a bid to banish those crows of doubt that have been circling recently.

I think I’ve given myself the kick up the bum I needed, but time will tell. But there’s no diary of a scaredy cat this week as, well, I’ve not done a lot …

… other than the following:

  • bought 3 new magazines (digital versions) I’ve always wanted to target with short fiction (including the one in the picture) – market study
  • loaded older versions of previously bought same magazines (all to Kindle Home) – market study
  • loaded previously bought collections of short stories by Della Galton and Teresa Ashby to Kindle Home (1 each) – market study
  • loaded a total of 18 how-to-write books to Kindle Home for browsing and dipping into
  • loaded a further book to Kindle Home on getting organised, 1 on habit-forming, and another 2 for idea-brainstorming (I do love my Kindle …)
  • researched and bookmarked 22 websites that buy short material from freelance writers
  • subscribed to Duotrope
  • submitted 2 short stories to UK markets this morning
  • submitted 3 short stories to Duotrope listings this morning

I’m also aiming at splitting the diary into:

  • am – my writing work (including market study/research)
  • pm – editing/proofreading work (including surfing job boards and other work-finding and administration activities)

More bed-based work yesterday included synchronising all the bookmarks on all of my wi-fi devices so that I don’t have to keep sending myself links. And I did a lot of reading.

I need to concentrate on my own writing again, whether that be novels, books, articles, short stories or fillers. I’m less likely to spend much time on article-writing, unless it’s a reader’s true experience (RTE) I can rattle off or something I don’t need to personally research very much.

And I need an injection of confidence.

And the opposite of a lazy pill …

How do you kick yourself up the bum to get you working again?

Kicking the Cosmos up the bum

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The Nevis Range (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I’ve been giving the Cosmos a good kick up the bum. It’s been AGES since I sold a book or had a story accepted or won a competition, and just recently it’s ignoring all requests for Holly to learn how to use the cat flap too.

The crows of doubt did start to creep in, but then I gave myself a good kick up the bum too. I need to seriously revisit the law of attraction, so if anyone has any suggestions of books to read, please do so. Ta. 🙂

On Friday I went to the dentist and I have to go again in a few weeks, to have a filling. 😦 It was followed by an early trip to the hairdresser in case they could fit me in ahead of my appointment, but they couldn’t. Friday was not the most successful of days, but at least I have a full week ahead of me this week.

Saturday morning we went to the supermarket to do our weekly shop. We/I normally go on a Thursday, but neither of us really felt like it last Thursday, so we went on Saturday instead. When we got back, we packed the car and went to a local fishery for the afternoon. We were toying with going to one of the local music festivals, but we both wanted to sit quiet. So he did on the water bank, fishing, and I did in the warm, comfy car, reading.

Sunday was a very busy day. It was Father’s Day, so off we toddled in the morning to see the poet’s dad, and then we drove down to Birmingham to see my dad. We saw our mothers too! 🙂 Then, when we left, it was back up the motorway to see both sons, as they wanted to see their dad on Father’s Day too, and it gave us the chance to see son #2’s new house too.

By the time we got home, at gone 7pm, we were ready to drop. But, fortunately, the poet had left a beef casserole in the slow cooker, and we ate that in front of the telly.

This morning we’re both still shaking off last week’s colds, but I’m delighted to say the time management is still working. I’ve already ticked off several jobs this morning before starting the blog, which I was due to start at 11am and I was 10 minutes early. 😀

For the rest of today I have 2 hours of writing time and 2 hours of editing time. But the way this post is going, I’ll get extra writing time. Result.

I’m not sure yet what I’ll be working on, writing-wise. As I said, the crows of doubt have been circling and I think I need to do something that’s likely to sell, just to give myself a bit of a boost. But I’ll let you know.

For the rest of the week it’s pretty much more of the same, but with a couple of hours study time thrown in for good measure.

What’s in your schedule this week?

A write-off

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Falls of Falloch, Loch Lomond (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Not anything in particular, like a car or something like that. But the week. This week has pretty much been a write-off.

Well, it started very well, with me getting through lots and lots of work on Monday. I did everything on my list. Monday was a Very Good day.

So was Tuesday. On Tuesday I had my first jolly-day in a long, long time. And it was good and interesting and inspiring and motivating, and all the things a jolly-day should be. However, I was exhausted Tuesday evening, following some slightly stressy driving on 2 new motorways I’m not used to at fairly busy times, but it was another good day.

On Wednesday, the entire morning was spent changing contact details with a lot of finance people – and there are still a few left (tax office, pension company) – the DVLA, and other bitty places, like loyalty card details in stores. I also changed the name from Parkin to Wordsworth with Microsoft as my tracked changes were still coming up by Diane Parkin. And I sorted out my Outlook to receive emails from the new email address. I’m getting far too much spam on the new address and I don’t know (a) how that happened so quickly, and (b) why the spam filters aren’t picking them up and spitting them out. That’s something I still need to look into.

Wednesday afternoon it all started to go downhill. I’d had nagging “shivers” since Sunday, I’d been shattered Tuesday evening, and now a nagging “bit of a throat” was starting to creep in. And with the poet already fending off tonsillitis, what’s the betting he’d shared his germs with me – as ever? (He’s so generous.) I packed up work early and went to the garden centre to get bedding plants, canes, a nozzle for the hose, compost, a new toy for the dog and some herbs. When the poet got home he planted everything up (he hates gardening …) while I made tea.

When I woke up on Thursday I was ordered to stay in bed – I must have looked awful. So I did. And that was Thursday, pretty much, apart from a FB conversation with a friend helping her to pop her Kindle cherry. After a day’s work, the poet came home and did all of my chores before doing some of his own. He emptied the dishwasher and filled it up again, fetched washing in from the line and put it all away, and he did the poo patrol. Then he cut the grass, watered the plants, and made tea. (Did I mention he hates gardening?) He also did the gig list. By the end of the evening he was exhausted too!

But there went pretty much the rest of this week’s best-laid plans. I have time this morning to catch up on a few computer-related things, and the diary (hurrah!), but this afternoon I’m at the dentist (boo!), at the hairdresser, and then we have this week’s shopping to do as we didn’t go last night.

I am feeling better, though, so maybe the rest did me some good. We’ve both still got niggles, but we’re better than we were.

Over the weekend we have Barnsley Live that we’re thinking of tomorrow, or we may get bundled up and I’ll sit in the car while he sits on a water bank fishing. But there’s rain forecast, so we haven’t decided yet. Sunday is Father’s Day, so we’re off to see both of our fathers.

Hopefully next week will be better. Have a great weekend.

Time management works

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Tobermory (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The weekend was hectic.

On Friday I spent much of the day completing electronic edits for a client job. I finished at about 6pm, sent it off, and by 7:45pm he’d paid me. This is excellent. After a busy week, though, I was quite tired, but at least I’d accomplished everything I’d set out to. Or almost everything.

Because I wanted to get that in before the deadline (Saturday), it meant I’d sacrificed my writing time. So first chance on Saturday I caught up a little on that, while the poet continued with a painting he’s started. I don’t often work at the weekends, but this was an exception.

I finally managed an hour of yoga, and B&Q called (for the third time), closing the complaint and offering to send us a gift card.

We also had a mad tidy-up session, which included changing the spare bed and clearing all the clutter from the spare room, as we were off to collect son #1 + g/f at 4pm. On the way home from collecting them, we stopped off at Yo Yo Noodle for tea, which is one of my favourite places but one they’d not even heard of.

When we got home and they’d settled in, we went for a walk up to the lake and back. Then off we went to the Gonzo Comedy Club in Holmfirth. This was our second time, but the first time they’d really been to a comedy show. We had a nice time, but one of the acts had a bit of a stumble from a not-very-well-highlighted step in the darkened room. Our table was right on this step and we’d already struggled to get in on that side. But in the dark, the poor chap didn’t see it, and he fell through the audience, taking 2 drinks with him, before landing heavily on the stage area.

I have to say he rescued the situation very well and turned the crowd right around, but it was at the sacrifice of his usual routine. So now we’d like to see him again to see what he should have done. We were very impressed with his attitude, but the club might like to address that hidden step issue.

By the time we’d got back and had a chat with a few drinks it was very, very late. But son #2 was up bright and early Sunday morning and walking the dog to the Co-op. Rufus, of course, had to shout to everyone that he was going for a walk, but he apparently calmed down by the time they reached the main road. The poet made us all a cooked breakfast, and then we took them home again. It was nice to have them with us and to meet his girlfriend for the first time.

Sunday afternoon we stopped off on the way home to buy a coffee table for the living room (aka an “occasional” table), and then we chilled for the rest of the day, even going to bed very, very early.

This morning I decided on my “one job I want to do today” thing and was at my desk at 9:30am again. First job was gig list work (after first “housework” chores of “empty dishwasher” and “fill washing machine”), and as the gig list didn’t take very long, I was able to start “daily competitions” earlier. Another time management tip I’m adopting is “start the next job as soon as you’ve finished the previous one”, rather than wait until the allocated time.

Then, because I also completed that job relatively early (despite catching up after the weekend), I was able to respond to a client query that came in over the weekend regarding the work I sent back to him on Friday. This was the one job I wanted to complete that wasn’t already on the list. But another was to stick to the list, which I seem to be doing.

My next job started bang on time, at 11am (“blog” 😉 ), and as it’s shorter than I thought it would be, I can see me having a cup of tea at 11:30am before starting the next job, “writing time (2 hours)” – hurrah! Then this afternoon I start the next client job – another 2 hours.

I have to say, the tips I’m reading in GET EVERYTHING DONE by Mark Forster are certainly working. And I’m trying to squeeze in either a whole chapter or at least half of one every day.

Right, there’s another job jobbed early. 😀 I can see I might be revisiting the schedule again once I’ve worked with it for a while.

How was your weekend?

So how am I doing? (*** list alert ***)

So on Tuesday I started a new time management routine, just to see if it worked or not. And so far, it seems to be. I’m getting more done and spending more time on things that matter and less time on things that don’t.

Let’s take today, for example. Here’s how today’s diary usually would have looked:

8:00 housework
9:00 BREAKFAST
10:00 daily competitions
11:00 blog
12:00 writing work
1:00 DINNER
2:00 study skills (edit book) (2 hours)
(2:30 dentist – boo!)
3:00 invoices, admin, pc mtce
5:00 housework
6:00 TEA

It’s still in hour-long segments and yesterday I found out I had a dentist appointment at 2:30 … yes, really. My own writing work only had one hour allocated to it, and the book that’s due to be finished today only had 2 hours allocated to it – which doesn’t allow for hiccups like power cuts or the internet falling over (as I have to submit via the job board), and I lost a day’s work on it Tuesday when lots of new furniture arrived. Also, I have no invoices to raise this week (boo!) and pc mtce can be done while I’m doing something else, as it’s backing up critical data and can be done in the background.

So I had a think, and prioritised a bit, and postponed the dentist to next Friday. And here’s how it looks now:

8:30 housework – washing (laundry)
9:00 BREAKFAST
9:30 daily competitions
10:00 blog
11:00 writing work (2 hours!)
1:00 DINNER
2:00 study skills (edit book) (3½ hours) PLUS pc mtce
5:30 TEA

Not only does my day start 30 minutes later, by the way. It also finishes 30 minutes earlier. Yet I’ve managed to schedule in 2 hours for my own writing work, which could be cut down to 1 hour if I feel the book needs more time – but at least I still have a writing session booked in – and the book job that’s due in today has 3½ hours allocated to it. If that job gets finished early, then I can do any outstanding admin (aka filing …) or housework. But it can also run over and the poet will sort tea if necessary.

Oh yes, and I didn’t get the rubber (eraser) out once this week, once I’d settled on the schedule.

With this new system, which I’m still testing, I’ve managed to give myself 2 hours of writing time every day next week*. Plus client work gets 2 hours every day Monday to Thursday*. AND I’ve managed to fit in an hour of study (aka personal development) on Wednesday and on Thursday. So there are 2 hours I wouldn’t normally be spending on my own work. Friday afternoon will consist of errands next week (dentist + hair appointment), otherwise I’d still have 2 hours of client time then too.

I have yet to see where yoga and dog walking will fit in, although walking the dog isn’t such a necessity these days as we have such a big garden. But I think we do need to fit it in somewhere, and not just at weekends and on holidays. And we do walk the dog to the lake after the poet has finished work whenever we feel like it.

The old first 30 minutes of the day (8:00 – 8:30) are the poet getting ready for work, so I’ve knocked that off my diary. I’m still having 60 minutes for dinner at the moment, because he comes home for his dinner now and he has 45 minutes. Maybe that’s where the dog walk will come in.

BUT I’m very pleased with it and, more importantly, I’ve been able to work on CATCH THE RAINBOW every day, which is a habit I really want to get into. And you can see what I have planned for today without me having to repeat it. 😉 (Although, I may swap the writing time and client time around to ensure I meet the deadline, but I’ll still have and take my writing time, even if it is only an hour.)

So, that aside, I still need to apply it to weekends as we have another very busy one coming up.

This evening, if we feel like it (the poet has tonsillitis threatening), we might go to see a band. Tomorrow, son #1 is bringing his girlfriend to meet us and we’re going to Holmfirth too, for something to eat and to take in a comedy show. Sunday morning there’s a farmers’ market in Wentworth, but that depends on what time we have to take son #1 + g/f back to the station.

I still have a very busy day, and so I’m going to clear orf now. Y’all have a good weekend. 😀

* Apart from Tuesday. I think I have a day off on Tuesday.

B&Q Update

The CEO office called on Monday and again this morning. The customer service department also emailed yesterday. The CEO office will be calling again on Saturday.

The Cortonwood store that wouldn’t allow the dog, after previously allowing him for the past 4 years, has admitted dogs aren’t allowed but that there are NO signs anywhere that say “guide dogs only”, despite “Sharon” arguing the toss that there *are* signs. I guess she won’t be doing that again in a hurry.

The CEO office has been absolutely brilliant and kept us in touch throughout their investigation.

Time management (*** list alert ***)

get everything doneAs most of you know, diary work is one of my most favourite of activities. This is because seeing a full diary means I have plenty of work in and gaps identify gaps in the work. I’ve always filled in my diary with a pencil, as this can easily be rubbed out if (a) a job is cancelled, (b) priorities change, or (bad) (c) I just don’t get around to doing it. I’d rather rub out a job and write what I actually did than put a cross next to it. However, now I’m wondering if pencil isn’t the best thing as it’s actually too easy to just rub something out I didn’t feel like doing today.

I’ve always been very organised in my approach to work. When I was a very busy and prolific freelancer, back in the day, I needed to be organised. And that organisation included all of the mundane work too, such as admin, pc maintenance, finance work, filing … (which, actually, often gets rubbed out and left), and so on. But I’ve also been an absolutely superb procrastinator.

Emails, daily competitions, Facebook, surfing the internet, playing games – all come very easily to me regardless of whether or not my diary is chock-solid-full. But rubbing yet another job out because I’ve not got around to it, for whatever reason, isn’t very good feng shui for the soul, if you get my drift. And it can have a debilitating effect on motivation.

The diary was my best ever work tool. It enabled me to list work that needs doing, and then tick it as I went along doing it – ticks are ace motivators. And adding “fun” tasks meant I did them for that time only, moved on, but still remained happy. When I got really good at it, I started to allocate time slots to specific tasks. But I want to stop using that rubber (eraser). I want more ticks and more output. I work in a lovely environment, with a gorgeous view, comfortable ergonomic furniture, the latest technology, and a very supportive and enthusiastic partner, who also just happens to be my number one fan.

But something needs to change.

I’m editing a book for a client at the moment on revision and study skills, and on Monday I got to the part where he recommended a time management book: GET EVERYTHING DONE, AND STILL HAVE TIME TO PLAY by Mark Forster. So, being the great procrastinator that I am, I went to have a look. And I liked what I saw. And so I bought it. And I read the introduction, at the end of which is the author’s very first exercise, which I’m going to précis here (and I’m not doing him out of any book sales, this exercise is clearly available via the “look inside” function on Amazon) (and, anyway, there’s loads more juicy material in there for you to discover for yourselves).

He calls it an exercise in mental strength. Basically, at the end of each day you choose just one task to do tomorrow. Then tomorrow, even if you do nothing else, you do this one thing. If you don’t do it, then it’s too difficult, and you need to choose something easier; if you do manage it, then you can choose something similar at the end of that day, and so on, increasing the difficulty as you go. Then, when you find you’re completing every single task quite competently, you add another to it, giving yourself 2 tasks to complete the following day. And so on, until you’re setting 3 tasks, and 4 tasks, and so on, until you’re just doing stuff anyway and no longer need to do this (unless, of course, you find setting tasks in this manner gets things successfully done).

So, on Monday evening, I decided that if I didn’t manage anything else from my to do list on Tuesday, I’d empty all the bins in the house and leave those to soak that needed it. (You can apply it to any task, not just work or writing. So I applied it to a household chore.) It was bin day anyway, and I always do put the bin out. But I don’t necessarily go around the house emptying all of the wastepaper bins, usually it’s just the kitchen bin. And I certainly don’t wash them.

And when I’d done that task, I set myself another: wash all the pillow-ticks and the mattress protector in preparation for a new bed we were getting delivered. And hang it on the line to dry.

So, here is how my diary looked yesterday, Tuesday (*** list alert ***):

8:00 housework
9:00 BREAKFAST
10:00 daily competitions
11:00 job boards (2 hours)
1:00 DINNER
2:00 writing work
3:00 study skills (edit book) (2 hours)
5:00 housework – grey bin
6:00 TEA

Meals are very important to me, so I make sure they’re in capitals. 🙂

Now, this list of jobs would normally have a list of ticks beside it and any details of what I actually did. But with furniture arriving (2 settees and a bed), and with me wanting to assemble said furniture if necessary before the poet came home (so we still had the evening together), already the rubber had come out. However, it was still a very busy day and I still got a very lot done. Here’s the revised list by the end of the day:

8:00 housework – change beds, wash pillow-ticks and mattress cover, hang washing out, bins
 9:00 BREAKFAST
10:00 daily competitions (+ much procrastination once complete)
 11:00 job boards = 3 jobs pitched (2 hours, but much procrastination once done)
1:00 DINNER
2:00 furniture delivery – entertain delivery men, arrange furniture, vacuum carpet
3:00 assemble new bed, make bed (2 hours)
5:00 housework – grey bin (the poet took it out)
6:00 TEA – poet treated me to KFC for working so hard ♥

So, this morning I decided to do it again. I decided that by 9am I would have done some household chore – this time, empty dishwasher. And in my breakfast hour, I would indeed have breakfast, read a chapter of the time management book, get washed and dressed, be at my desk by 10am.

Here’s how today’s diary looked (bear with me):

8:00 housework
9:00 BREAKFAST
10:00 daily competitions
11:00 blog
12:00 writing work
1:00 DINNER
2:00 writing work
3:00 study skills (edit book) (2 hours)
5:00 housework – grey bin (fetch it in)
6:00 TEA

But with me choosing another task to complete as soon as I completed the previous one, I was actually at my desk by 9:30 and able to bring everything forward a little. Here’s how it looks now:

8:00 housework – empty dishwasher
9:00 BREAKFAST
9:30 daily competitions
10:00 blog
11:00
12:00 writing work
1:00 DINNER
2:00 writing work
3:00 study skills (edit book) (2 hours)
5:00 housework – grey bin (fetch it in)
6:00 TEA

I have a whole hour that’s blank!

Now then, from just 2 extracts from my diary you can see how I structure and balance work, household chores and “fun” tasks to keep me motivated. But you can also see what’s first to fall to the wayside if anything else comes along – writing work and paid work. But today, I’ve completed 2 tasks in half the time I set for them – 30 minutes instead of 60 minutes. And I’ve given myself a whole new hour to play with.

In future, I can probably allocate just 30 minutes to each of “breakfast” (which also includes other activities such as reading) and “daily competitions” (although a Monday may still need the full hour as I’ve the weekend to catch up on). And I won’t sacrifice the “warm-up” things I do at the computer, such as the competitions and write the blog.

So, what to do with that extra hour? And can I also shorten “dinner” to 30 minutes?

There are 2 things I’ve really wanted to do, that I used to do, but that I’ve not done for ages. Years, in fact. One is walk the dog daily; the other is yoga. I could use one of those 30-minute slots for the dog walk, but while the yoga would start at less than 30 minutes, it gradually needs to build up to 60 minutes, but not every day. Another thing I could use the time for, either daily or in between yoga workout days, is self-improvement – study, reading, learning a new skill. Or I could spend more time on the guaranteed paid work or on the writing work.

“Writing work” can consist of anything – novel writing, short story writing, article writing, filler writing, market study, brainstorming ideas, reading (books on the subject I’m writing about, or the era, or the genre, or books on writing), research, editing, proofreading, thinking, lying back and gazing through the window … (honest, us writers are working really very hard when we do that). But it needs to be a priority.

So, while I wonder what to do with these extra time-slots, my question today is this: what would you do with yours?