Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright 2016. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuck

How to Write a Blog Post in an Hour or Less

It used to take me about 15 minutes to write a blog posts, but they were shorter than they are now. I’ve decided to write longer articles from here on out, for the most part. There will still be a few short ones here-and-there, but I want to add as much as I can to help everyone out more.

I still generally only spend 20 to 30 minutes on the actual writing part, but that is because I do some things to prepare.

Today I’d like to share my process with you.

I have an idea notebook

It’s just a journal where I write my ideas and notes for each site I own. I separate it out in sections with sticky tabs, and write the name of each site on a tab. Every time I get an idea for an article, or any other type of idea for the site or blog, I write it down in the corresponding section in this journal.

This keeps all my ideas in one place, meaning I’m not wasting time searching for notes I’ve misplaced.

Photographs need to be ready

I make sure to take any photographs before I plan to write the articles. This way I can upload them to WordPress, slap on a title, and add the copyright information and a link to one of my online stores.

By doing this, I don’t have to worry about photographs while I’m writing.

Getting ready to write

When I know I’m going to spend some time writing articles, I take the idea notebook and look at the topics I’ve written down for the site(s) or Blog(s) I’ll be writing for that day or, as is usually the case, that weekend. (I usually do this on Thursday because I’m looking for writing ideas to use during my weekend hours at work. I work at the front desk at an inn, and often have downtime. I work 32 hours in a three-day stretch, so I need to be sure I have plenty to do when I’m not busy checking people in and out and taking phone calls.)

I take out a piece of paper and pen, and write down the topics I want to write about from the sections in the notebook. At this time, I spend a moment taking quick notes of anything significant I can think of. This way, I’m not wasting time when it comes to writing.

I put this paper, along with my calendars, in my backpack with anything else I’ll be bringing with me, so I’ll have it on hand when I’m ready to write.

I have a one-sheet yearly calendar for each site. These calendars help me to keep track, at a glance, of how many articles I’ve completed and scheduled for each place. I simply circle the date when each article will go live, on the corresponding calendar.

When I’m ready to write

Because I usually do my article writing at work, I do so during down time. Things must be able to proceed quickly. My list of ideas and notes is kept at my desk, as are my calendars and a pen, to make it easy to start typing when I have a few moments.

I open up the site administration area, and start a new blog post. The first thing I do when I get in there is set the feature image, then I write the article using my list and notes. I don’t worry too much about spelling and whatnot at this point, I simply need to get the words typed. When that is done, I add categories and tags, and then an excerpt.

This process takes 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the length of the article.

Finishing up the article

When I’m ready to edit, the first thing I do is click on the spell check icon. Then I read. Spell check programs aren’t always 100% correct, after all. Whether this check brings up mistakes or not, I read every sentence, sometimes changing up sentence or paragraph structure to make things sound better. I might delete something, or even add a sentence here and there. Whatever I determine is needed. But I read the whole thing.

Once the editing process is done, which takes under 10 minutes, I schedule the article to post on a specific date, circle that date on the corresponding calendar, and cross the article off my list.

And I’m done. In less than 40 minutes my article is schedule to post. It takes longer if I don’t go through the prep stages in advance.

This organization really helps with time management.

What process works best for you? How long does it take?

Shannon L. Buck




How Downtime can Help You to Succeed

Downtime. That illusive thing we all say we are going to have in our life, but many of us forget about because we are so busy with life and work that we do not know how to slow down until we fall into bed at night, exhausted. Many of us never take downtime. We just let it linger in front of us, knowing we need it but not able to get there; to experience it.

But we need downtime.

We need to take time for ourselves. We need to spend time with family and friends. It can’t always be about work, sometimes it has to be about us. We need to sleep in on occasion, spend a morning in bed, do some therapeutic journaling, meditate and do yoga, or go for a leisurely walk. We have to spend time with family, having barbecues and spending days at the beach. And we need to hang out with our friends; fishing, hiking, or just sitting around talking.

Relaxation is important, as is doing fun things and being around others.

How can we free up space in our schedules for downtime?

First, we must make downtime a priority. Starting right now, get out the calendar and decide what day(s) you will have your downtime. I suggest two days a week, in a row. At least to start.

Why two day’s in a row? Because if we only have one day, or a part of one day, we will work on cleaning the house or running errands. This is not downtime, and shouldn’t be treated as such. So we take two days off in a row, stopping work around four in the afternoon the day before to do the chores and run those errands.

Make these regular days off, and schedule them for each week.

Then go back through the calendar and give yourself a personal day every two or three months. This could be a mid-week day you take for yourself, or you could add it on to one of your weekends for a three-day stretch.

Going through the calendar again, mark off any holidays you feel you need to take. And then decide on two one-week vacations or one two-week vacations, if you can afford to. Or at least a one-week vacation.

How do we take downtime?

As an example, mark on your calendar that work will stop on Friday afternoon at four o’clock. At that time, go about running the errands that you’ll need to do before Monday, then bring home some take out from a favorite restaurant or something to put on the grill. After dinner, have everyone in your house help with the chores so those will be out-of-the-way for the weekend. Remember to empty the dishwasher so you can refill it throughout the weekend.

On Saturday morning you might want to sleep late, relaxing with a tea on the back deck after waking. Maybe you’ll have breakfast as a family, then go out for a walk. Or maybe yoga is more your style. The point is to take it slow. You want some time to yourself, but also time with your family.

After lunch, maybe you and your family would like to take in a movie or go fishing. Something fun, but somewhat relaxing. On the other-hand, you might be itching to go sailing or maybe you want to throw a barbecue for your entire family.

You might do something else together the second day, or maybe go shopping with friends instead.

Want to spend a day alone? Wake up, enjoy your tea while writing in your journal. Take a smoothie out the back deck and enjoy the weather, then pack a lunch and go for a hike. When you return, watch a favorite movie or read a book. Relax for a while. Enjoy the peace.

The point is that you are taking time away from work and spending it with people you love, even if that person is you!

How can downtime help you to succeed?

First, taking regular downtime helps to clear your mind. I don’t know about you, but my brain sometimes feels so full of differing thoughts and ideas that I can have a hard time concentrating on what I need to get done. A walk through the neighborhood or on the bike paths can help me to clear the clutter, allowing my mind to take a break so I can be more productive later on.

Second, this downtime helps with creativity. When I’m feeling stuck, I go for a walk to clear my mind and all of a sudden I have all these new ideas popping into my head. It is great! (I’m wondering if there is an app for my phone that will allow me to speak into it so I don’t have to stop to type things into the notes. If you know of anything, please let me know!)

Third, my walks aid me in organizing my thoughts, so I can more clearly move on with a project.

Fourth, active downtime helps to get or keep you in shape. This means you’ll have more energy.

No time for downtime?

I hear ya! I go through these periods myself where I’m so busy with my day job at the inn and a writing project that I’m at things all day and half the night, sometimes for weeks. I try not to make a habit of this, but sometimes an important project will necessitate the extra time.

What I try to do is take a morning or an evening off every two or three days. If I don’t, then I know I’ll ware myself out. This happened just recently, and it forced me to take two whole days off just to rest. I did minimal cleaning those two days, made sure I fed myself and stayed hydrated, and started re-watching Revolution. I had made myself sick, and needed to take care of myself.

What project am I working on that I wasn’t allowing for real days off? The first drafts of three novelettes. I’m about half way through the third, and have been working on them since before the new year. The last few weeks I’d been on a real writing streak, finishing book two and starting book three. My body reminded me I needed some time off, and I took it.

What benefits do you notice with downtime? Or what struggles do you find you’re going through trying to plan for some downtime?

Enjoy your day!




Here’s What Happens When You Stay Focused

I’ll be the first to admit that staying focused is not always easy. I joke that I must have adult ADD, because my mind is so all over the place. It feels like I have a million thoughts a day, and I can easily jump from one activity to another, and another, and another… all day long. I don’t know that I have adult ADD. This is just what I imagine it must be like. I have to really try hard to accomplish any amount of focus for more than a few minutes, and it can be exhausting at times.

Even when I’m able to stay focused, for the most part, all kinds of thoughts enter my head. I keep a pad of paper nearby to jot down notes so I can quickly get back to what I was doing. Even this can be difficult, because sometimes the idea necessitates a good amount of note-taking.

I’m Learning: Take Notes Quickly & Get Back to Work

I have my own form of short hand that I use during these note-taking sessions. Sometimes I need to write just a sentence or two, or a few keywords. But when I have to take actual notes, this short-hand means it doesn’t take as long.

Then I force myself to get right back on track. Otherwise, I might not get back to what I was doing for days or weeks, or even months. (Yikes!)

Sadly, if I don’t note ideas well enough, I will forget where I was going with something. If I don’t note it at all, I will forget.

Best Places for Focus

Depending on the time of year, I write at different places. At home, at my other job, at the cafe down the street, or outside at the park or in the gardens. These places each have their benefits.

Recently I’ve been working on a series of three fiction stories, and have been doing so at Aroma Joe’s. For some reason, even with the background music and how loud it is in general in the afternoons, I get a ton written while I’m there. I usually write for a good 2 1/2 hours, three days a week.

I write blog posts and articles while at my other job, and tend to get three or four done per shift unless we are very busy or someone is working with me. As a matter-of-fact, I’m working a sixteen hour shift today, and this is my third post so far. I’ve also done some self-promotion, and played Mahjong. There is plenty of downtime until the season picks up again.

I love to write outside as well, and can do so for a couple of hours at a time when sitting outside in a park or at the gardens, listening to the people around me.

Not Enough Focus at Home

At home, I have a bit more difficulty concentrating. But that is where all my stuff is, and my noisy neighbors, so I guess I find it all little distracting. I tend to do the things that don’t take long while I’m there, so I have frequent brakes.

I’m not the most focused at home, that’s for sure, but I still manage to get things done.

What Happens When You Stay Focused?

You get. Things. Done. Many, many things. More than you even thought possible. You get that series of stories written in five months. You get ahead on blog posts so you can have more time to spend with your family during summer vacation. And you get all your blogging and other tasks done for the year by November, so you can actually enjoy the holiday season.

You are able to finish what you start, and you feel good about yourself and your place in the whole scheme of things because you are accomplishing things. You are making progress.

You also meet your goals more quickly; and more fully.

I’m so happy for you.

Shannon L. Buck




Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, Copyright 2016. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuck

5 Minutes to a Better Morning: Planning & Setting Up the Night Before

Do you know you’re going to be rushed in the morning? Are you not good at getting started in the morning because when have to plan your day first? Or, do you need to feel like you’re ahead the game before you even start?

There are a number of reasons you may choose to plan and set up for your work day the night before.

Pros and Cons of Planning & Setting Up the Night Before

There are many pros to this practice, including:

  • Being more organized.
  • Being able to start your day more quickly, without feeling bogged down by the smaller things.
  • Idea generation in the evening, once you know what your plans are.
  • More ideas in the morning before you even get started.
  • You know whether or not you have everything necessary to start your day; and you can run out and get supplies the evening before if necessary.
  • Feeling less stressed in the morning.
  • Feeling less rushed in the morning.

As with any situation, there are also cons. These include:

  • Loss of spontaneity during the beginning of your day, and maybe throughout, depending on how much you planned and set up for.
  • May not be at your most creative in the morning, because everything has been planned out.

Planning for the Next Day

Planning the night before will be different for each person, and you should certainly do so in a way that works best for you. Some will use Post-Its, others index cards. Many of will have a planner to write tasks into, and others might have a simple to-do list either in paper form or by using todoist.com. Still others might list out the tasks on a dry-erase board, to be easily wiped off when each task is complete.

Whatever your style, spend a few minutes at the end of your writing/work day listing the three most important things you need to accomplish the next day. Then decide in what order it is most important to complete each task, numbering them accordingly.

Setting Up for the Next Day

The first step in setting up for the next day is to pick up from the current day. Take a moment to clear unnecessary items from your work space. Not a major cleaning or anything, but just file the few papers you have out, and clear off the desk.

Then take out your to-do list (the short three item list) and decide what tools and materials you’ll need to have on your desk to complete them the next day. Setting these items up now should take no longer than a minute.

You’re all set for tomorrow. You know what you need to get done, and in what order.

Bonus Tip #1: Keeping an Extra Task List

Once the items on your list are complete, if there is time, you can consider plucking away at your list of things you’d like to do. I keep an ongoing list of small tasks that take less than half-an-hour, with many that will only take about five minutes. This list is kept on my desk and, when I have a day that I finish the important things early, I do some of the things on this other list.

Be sure to cross items off as you complete them.

Bonus Tip #2: An Idea Notebook

This is one of my favorite things. I keep it nearby so I can make notes whenever an idea pops into my head, which often happens after I’ve planned for the next day, or after waking the next day.

My notebook is divided into sections, with a tab for each blog. This way, I can put each idea where it rightfully belongs. I get my new blog post and ebook ideas this way.

Organize Your Space and Stuff by Shannon L. Buck Organize Your Space and Stuff provides take-aways such as ideas for organizing projects and record keeping, as well as keeping track of successes. https://www.amazon.com/Organize-Your-Space-Stuff-Freelance-ebook/dp/B01BIEZYHK/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8Did you enjoy today’s post? Check out my ebook Organize Your Space and Stuff for even more ideas on how to get things done.

Organize Your Space and Stuff is a compilation of many articles from How to Live the Freelance Life. Each article has been expanded on for this book, with updates on how things have changed, and action steps to guide you in setting up and keeping up with your office or office space.

A bonus section at the back of this eBook gives the reader creative projects that will aid in furthering their career and brightening their day. These projects are not to be missed. They are fun!

Organize Your Space and Stuff provides take-aways such as ideas for organizing projects and record keeping, as well as keeping track of successes. Organizing the way you do business does not have to be difficult. The eBook offers advice from someone who has tried many things, before beginning to get it right. It also offers recommendations for having a ‘greener’ office environment, and advice for keeping what you need on-hand, so it is available when needed.

Shannon L. Buck




Screenshot by Shannon L. Buck, https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Shannon+L.+Buck&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Shannon+L.+Buck&sort=relevancerank

Organize: Create Processes

I’m still at it. Organizing my time and my surroundings, not to mention my processes. I’m doing all this to meet my goals for my theme of the year: Organize.

There are processes we use in building our careers. They may be different depending on the exact nature of what we are doing, but there are always processes.

I started thinking about the processes I use after reading something by Leonie Dawson. She had written about how having processes all typed out and ready for those working with you to look at can help speed up work. Each person wont have to figure out what to do in a situation if the instructions are right there, saving time.

The saved time might be used for other important tasks or, when added up over the year, allow for a day off to make time for yourself, family, or friends.

Having the processes typed and handy means that you’ll be able to quickly find directions for doing things that don’t come up often. If something doesn’t come up often, you might not remember how to do it the next time around.

Screenshot by Shannon L. Buck, https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Shannon+L.+Buck&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Shannon+L.+Buck&sort=relevancerank

The above is a simple process for linking a picture to an outside location. This is something I do often, but someone who is helping me out when I’m unable to do the work might not know how to do this.

If that is the case, the person helping me out will be able to quickly access the directions and finish the job.

Screenshot by Shannon L. Buck, copyright February 1, 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuck

This is a screenshot of my document on how to Upload and Link a File to a Page/Post. This is not something I do all the time, and I always have to do a Google search to find out how to do it when I need the information. Now, I’ll just check this file real quick and be able to finish up my post.

I’ve set up a folder in the documents on my laptop for these processes, and I’ll be printing each off and putting them in a binder. They can easily be changed if I notice something isn’t working, or a program changes a process and I need to update my files.

Have you begun setting up processes? While we may have differing goals, it would help us each out greatly if we documented our processes. I’ll be adding to the folder and binder over time.

*****

Organize Your Space and Stuff by Shannon L. Buck Organize Your Space and Stuff provides take-aways such as ideas for organizing projects and record keeping, as well as keeping track of successes. https://www.amazon.com/Organize-Your-Space-Stuff-Freelance-ebook/dp/B01BIEZYHK/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8Want to learn more ways to organize your business life?

Organize Your Space and Stuff is a compilation of many articles from How to Live the Freelance Life. Each article has been expanded on for this book, with updates on how things have changed, and action steps to guide you in setting up and keeping up with your office or office space.

A bonus section at the back of this eBook gives the reader creative projects that will aid in furthering their career and brightening their day. These projects are not to be missed. They are fun!

Organize Your Space and Stuff provides take-aways such as ideas for organizing projects and record keeping, as well as keeping track of successes. Organizing the way you do business does not have to be difficult. The eBook offers advice from someone who has tried many things, before beginning to get it right. It also offers recommendations for having a ‘greener’ office environment, and advice for keeping what you need on-hand, so it is available when needed.

*****

Warmest Wishes,

Shannon L. Buck




Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright January 30, 2017. https://www.amazon.com/Shannon-Buck/e/B01AIXHW0Y/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Organize: Use a Calendar to Keep Track of Scheduled Posts

As per my theme word for 2017, I’ve been doing little things here and there to better organize my space and time. I recently shared how I organized my desk drawer, and today I want to show how I’m organizing my scheduled blog posts for the year.

This is the calendar for my blog Frugal Recipes: Spending Less to Eat Healthy. I chose to show you the calendar for this blog because it’s the one that has the most posts scheduled so far this year. I’m doing an audit of the blog: Changing things, adding and deleting things, updating photographs. It’s the blog I’m concentrating the most on at this time, and all the circles you see within many of the months indicate blog posts that are ready and scheduled to post.

I believe in working ahead when there is time to do so. I work at the front desk at an inn, and winter is a slow season for us. Our boss lets us bring our own stuff to do, as long as it does not interfere with our job. I do a lot of editing and writing during these months, so I am able to get ahead.

This year I decided I would print off a generic calendar for each blog and site, and circle days when I have a blog post or article scheduled to post. A ost or article hits scheduled status when I’m sure I’m done writing and editing. I no longer have to worry about them, as they post automatically once scheduled.

As you can see, I’ve already put in a lot of work on posts for the blog. There’s still more to do, but now I can see at a glance when I need a blog to post. I’ll keep this calendar and the ones for the other blogs and sites in my planner, so they’re easily accessible.

This method will not only help me to stay organized, it will also save me time. I wont have to keep opening blogs to see when I have posts scheduled. The time saved can go toward doing things with family and friends, or taking care of me.

How do you keep track of scheduled posts? Not every method works for each person, so it helps to have multiple ones to choose from when setting up a system.

*****

Organize Your Space and Stuff by Shannon L. Buck Organize Your Space and Stuff provides take-aways such as ideas for organizing projects and record keeping, as well as keeping track of successes. https://www.amazon.com/Organize-Your-Space-Stuff-Freelance-ebook/dp/B01BIEZYHK/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8Want to learn more ways to organize your business life?

Organize Your Space and Stuff is a compilation of many articles from How to Live the Freelance Life. Each article has been expanded on for this book, with updates on how things have changed, and action steps to guide you in setting up and keeping up with your office or office space.

A bonus section at the back of this eBook gives the reader creative projects that will aid in furthering their career and brightening their day. These projects are not to be missed. They are fun!

Organize Your Space and Stuff provides take-aways such as ideas for organizing projects and record keeping, as well as keeping track of successes. Organizing the way you do business does not have to be difficult. The eBook offers advice from someone who has tried many things, before beginning to get it right. It also offers recommendations for having a ‘greener’ office environment, and advice for keeping what you need on-hand, so it is available when needed.

*****

Warmest Wishes,

Shannon L. Buck




Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015.

Revisiting Batching Days

I first discussed batching days back in September, for International Batching Day. I had pretty lofty goals that day, and I met them. I was pretty darn proud of myself.

As per my goals for this year, I’m revisiting the idea of batching days. You see, I’ve decided to implement a new productivity technique and stick with it. I decided, since I did so well on the batching day last year, I’d use that technique. I already know what to do.

I did a number of different things on that batching day. I’ll do like things each time I implement this technique. For instance, I’ll write, edit, and schedule all the articles for this blog for a one-month period one day, then move on to a different blog another day.

If done right, I can get all my blogging done for a month in a week’s time. Not a bad deal. Then I can concentrate on marketing, answering emails from readers, and other important things.

To set myself up for each batching day, the evening before I’ll make a list of the most important things to get done. I’ll also take a few quick notes if there is anything important I want to put into specific articles, so I don’t forget.

How are you doing with your goals for the year? I’m getting a bit of a late start because I’ve been so sick. But I’m starting to feel better and I have more energy for what I want to get done.

Shannon




Wrapping up This Year & Planning for Next Year

2005-01-01 00.00.00-64It’s the time of year when I begin reflecting on what I’ve accomplished and what goals I never got to, among other things. You’ll notice goal planning, Yule, Christmas, and New Year posts coming up on the Facebook page, and those will help you to get started on the coming year. If you haven’t already joined the page, now is an excellent time to do so. You wont want to miss anything.

Let me ask you something: Have you started the process of reflecting and planning yet?

  • If you have, good for you! Maybe this post will help you to gain more insight.
  • If you have not, then this post will definitely help you along your way.

Grab a notebook and a pen, and let’s get started with these ideas. Oh, and if you want to get more creative, feel free to doodle, color, add stickers, or do whatever you want. You are making a planning notebook, and we are creative souls!

Reflection: One of the first steps in planning is reflection.

Take a few days to reflect on the current year, and start a page in your notebook for these reflections. It’s okay to use more than one page for this. What big goals have you met so far? What little goals have you met? Don’t worry if you haven’t accomplished something important, there is still time. Or you can always move that item to next year.

There’s no point in stressing over what we couldn’t get to. As long as you have met client deadlines, you can be happy with what you’ve accomplished. My goals list is so big each year, there’s no way I can get to everything of my own. But I always finish projects for others.

What things worked for the different aspects of your business? What things didn’t work? Don’t worry if you aren’t an expert in some areas. You don’t have to be. You’ll progress naturally. And if something did not work out, scrap it and try something new. Don’t base your success on the things that don’t work. Keep what works, and repeat any time it is relevant.

I hate editing, so I still have tons of manuscripts in final edit stage. However, I did manage to get a lot of editing done myself, and my daughter is doing the final edits for my fiction work in her spare time. I’ve also learned to make (a bit) better eBook covers and other graphics, and I’m learning more tricks all the time. So, until I can afford a professional editor and someone to do all my graphics, I know I have to schedule time for learning more about these tasks. Not too much time, mind you. But a little here and there.

What aspects of the business have you loved doing? What aspects do you hate? You don’t want to spend too much time on activities you can’t stand doing. I love to write, but editing is not my friend. I put off publishing for years because of my hate for editing and my inability to do graphics. (I’d hate to see this happen to you.)

I spent years second-guessing my ability to be successful based on these things and this year decided I was done. I took what I’ve learned in these areas over the last couple of years and put them into action. I got a little help with editing when I could, and learned some about graphics.

My eBook covers and graphics are not perfect, but I’m not letting that stand in the way of my goals again. You shouldn’t let the aspects you don’t like, or have enough confidence in, stop you. Go for it!

What items on your list were you unable to finish? Now is the time to decide if those projects are still important. It’s okay to let things go if they are not, or to shelve them just in case you want to get back to them in a year or two. You’re going to want to concentrate on the most important things to you in the coming year.

I started the first of a series of eGuides this year, but was unable to finish. I had a lot on my plate and it seemed I wanted to concentrate more on getting some fiction stories published, including a series. I also published non fiction works. I’m thrilled to see them published, but I definitely want to get back to the eGuides.

I also had editing projects that didn’t get done. Many of them. This means I have no shortage of my own projects to work on in the coming year, and this is fine. As long as I get some more of my own projects published, I’ll feel successful.

What projects did you not get to this year? Decide whether or not they are still important, and either add them to next years’ goals list, get rid of them, or shelve them to do in a year or so.

Now reflect on other areas of your life: Family, friends, personal, finances, home, and spirituality, and whatever else is important to you. What has been working in these areas and what hasn’t? Think about stressful situations that need to be changed or let go, and about the blessings in these areas that you hope to repeat or you want to expand upon.

Let go: Remind yourself that it’s okay to let go of what no longer serves you and your situation.

I’ve been particularly stressed these last few weeks because there are a couple of people in my life whom cause me a great deal of stress. I love them both dearly, but our relationships have been slowly getting weaker. I hate to let people go, but have had to do so in the past.

I don’t want to let these people go completely, and I’ve decided I wont. But I need to let go of who we used to be with each other, and put them somewhere else. It does me no good to keep them as top priorities in my life when I’m no longer a top priority in theirs, so I need to let go of the things that used to be and start them where they are now. Not priorities, but acquaintances I’ll be checking in with every so often. Like I’ve done with some other people.

I also need to finish getting rid of negative thought trails. I’ve come a long way with this already. My depression used to be so bad I needed medication, whereas now I think positively and am truly feeling happy about 90% of the time. I’m proud of myself for what I have accomplished here. I’m setting intentions for the coming year that will help with that other 10%, so now I’m writing down any bad memories and negative thoughts I want to let go of and move on from.

Another thing that bothers me is that I don’t get to see my daughters and grandson but a few times a year. I write to them sometimes, talk to them on the phone once in a while, and do video chats with Zowie and Little Man, but this year those things do not feel like enough. It is causing some loneliness this time of the year, and I’m so thankful Zowie and Devan will be here with Little Man for Thanksgiving, and that they and Skye and Dominick will all be visiting just before Christmas.

I’m letting go of these feelings this year, and I’m going to try to be more proactive next year. I’m making a list of more ways to have contact with them all. They live away, so we only really visit a few times a year.

What things are you letting go of? Bad habits? Negative self-talk? The feeling of never getting enough done? How about uncontrolled spending that has a negative impact on your family? Or procrastinating on client projects?

Start a page in your notebook for these things, and continue on the next page if needed. Once you know what you’re letting go of, work toward shifting your thought processes and putting people and situations where they need to be. This will not necessarily be easy, but it’s important to start anew for the coming year.

For instance, I’m reminding myself daily that the people I’m placing elsewhere in my life have already stopped making me a priority in theirs. They are no longer there for me when I need them, and don’t try very hard to make time for me. I’m telling myself that it is okay to place them on a lower rung of the ladder, because they have already done so to me. This is a difficult one, because it has to do with the heart and feelings, so I keep reminding myself I am not pushing them out of my life completely. Sometimes people grow apart. They change, as do relationships.

List goals: Now that you’ve let go, or at least have started the process, it is time to create your goals list.

For this, have at least a two-page spread in your notebook for each area of your life you want or need to make goals for. By doing this, you leave plenty of room for notes. You may need more or fewer pages, but this number usually works for me.

These will be my two-page spreads:

Spread 1: Family Goals

Examples: 1) Writing to daughters each month. 2) Date night once a week. 3) Working on strengthening sibling bonds.

Spread 2: Other Relationship Goals

Examples: 1) Letting go of people who obviously don’t want to put effort into the relationships. 2) Scheduling monthly visits with parents. 3) Throwing a beginning of spring and an end of autumn barbecue to invite friends and family to.

Spread 3: Work Goals (for my job at the inn)

Examples: 1) Being sure to always be helpful when coworkers need help with something they don’t understand. 2) Deliberately helping boss a little more, even when he doesn’t think he needs it. 3) Making sure the supervisor knows how appreciated she is because she’s trying hard to be fair with everyone.

Spread 4: Writing and Site Goals

Example: 1) Write a chapter in the book you’ve been putting off, each month. 2) Create a website. 3) Reach out to three potential clients each month.

Spread 5: Financial Goals

Examples: 1) Figure out how to begin investing in simple ways that wont break the bank. 2) Start saving for some travel time. 3) Put away 10% more toward retirement than last year.

Spread 6: Spiritual Goals

Examples: 1) Read books of my faith. 2) Join gatherings involving my faith. 3) Build relationships with people of my faith.

Spread 7: Personal Goals

Examples: 1) Work toward becoming a healthy weight for me. 2) Take a retreat weekend once every three or four months. 3) Spend an evening each month reflecting on what is working in my life and what is not.

Spread 8: Home Goals

Examples: 1) Shelves f0r sitting area. 2) Go through things, putting aside what is no longer needed, and donate those items to people in need. 3) A new refrigerator.

I don’t know what these will look like for me yet, because I’m still working through this, but I’ll post about it here when I’m finished. Either the end of this year or the beginning of next. I’d like to see all of you share here as well, so we can motivate, support, and help each other throughout the year.

Set up your pages, labeling them accordingly, and work on your goals list for next year as you can. Don’t stress, and try not to be like me – always making too many goals to really be successful at them all. Keep it simple.  And work on what is important to you, even if that means your page headings differ from mine. Personalize each to fit your needs and wants.

Set intentions: Because goal setting is not always enough.

Many people  after writing out their goals, set them aside and don’t think about them for months. Then they wonder why they don’t accomplish them – or more than just a few of them.

Now that you have your list of goals, it is time to set intentions for each. Do this on an evening when you’re alone. Light enough candles to provide soft lighting to read by, put on some soft music, get comfortable with tea or coffee, and possibly a snack, and look over all the notes you’ve taken. Add any notes that come to mind, such as a new idea for how to invest money or what you want to do on your vacation. Be sure your planner is handy.

Now meditate for a few minutes, breathing normally and trying to clear your mind. Then meditate on each goal, one at a time. Again clear your mind. When you’re done, take pen and notebook in hand, writing out any last details.

Once this is complete, look at each goal in turn. Remind yourself of why you set the goal, the steps you are going to take to reach them, and what the desired outcome of each is.

For each goal, decide on the month you want to finish, then work backward to schedule where you want to be each month on the goal.

Example: You want to video chat with your son and his family each month, because he lives too far away to visit regularly. You decide you’d like to have dinner with them on a monthly basis.

  1. Your main goal is to have dinner with your sons’ family each month through November, knowing they’ll be visiting in December. Write this in for the end of November, putting a box next to this item to check off when you have completed the 11 dinners.
  2. Write a note on the first of each month from January to November to contact your son and make a date to video chat for dinner that month.
  3. Record the date and time of the dinner chats as you wont forget about them.
  4. The nights of the dinner chats with your sons’ family, make dinner and then begin the video chat at the decided upon time.
  5. Enjoy your meal while they enjoy theirs, talking about all that is going on in your lives.
  6. Cross the dinner off your list for the month each time you’ve completes the date.

Don’t make things difficult. Keeping it simple is the way to go.

Setting an intention is simply telling yourself what you are going to do and putting it in your planner in such a way that you remember to work on it, letting yourself know that the intention is important and needs to be worked on.

Does this mean you’ll meet all your goals? Maybe and maybe not. It really depends on how important each goal is. If you find you don’t have time to put into a particular goal or two or three on a regular basis, then you wont complete it. All this means is that it/they turned out not to be a top priority in the coming year, and that is fine.

But you’ll have a monthly reminder, and you can try to get back on track if you wish to do so.

I, for one, never accomplish all my goals. I used to beat myself up over it, but I have since realized that I didn’t meet them when planned because they were not top priorities. No big deal. I just shelve those goals for later, or discard them all together, depending on how I feel about them during the reflection period.

Want more examples of creating goals and setting intentions?

Example: Yearly Christmas Party.

  1. Schedule October planning: Week 1) Create a guest list, and decide on the date, time, and theme for the event (day 1), buy invitations and postage (day 2), and make out invitations and fill out the envelopes, placing a stamps on each (days 3-5). Week 2) Plan the menu, deciding on new recipes to try, clipping coupons, and planning to have extras of necessary items on hand (day 1), find out who is willing to make what dishes and/or bring along cups or whatnot (day 2), create shopping lists for what you’ll need to get for each week until all ingredients and other food related needs are taken care of, and schedule these shopping days in your planner to coincide with weekly grocery shopping trips (day 3), and prepare a space to place everything you’ll be picking up from food items to gifts (day 4). Week 3) Decide on the gift giving process (Yankee swap, secret Santa, etc.). If it will be a secret Secret Santa situation, put names on slips of paper and fold them so you can’t see the names, list each gift giver on a sheet of paper, put the names in a basket and have a child or hubby choose a slip of paper for each name. Write the name of each recipient next to the givers name (day 1), decide on any further gifts you may be buying for the event, and make a list (day 2), pick up the gifts and wrapping needs you’ll need for the gift(s) you’re giving (day 3), and wrap the gift(s), placing them in the chosen space (day 4). Week 4: Decide on needed decorations and like items, making a list (day 1), shop for them and place them in the chosen space (day 2).
  2. Schedule November Planning: Week 1) Figure out what else you need, such as tables, chairs, etc. (day 1), call around to see who can provide these (days 2-4), and make sure you have a place to put the items when people start dropping them off (day 6). Week 2: Make a list of the names of people/families you’ve made out invitations for (day 1), mail out invitations (day 2), be prepared to start marking off invitation acceptances and declines (day 3). After Thanksgiving: Begin decorating, planning to do a little work each day over the coming week or two. Mark these tasks in your planner.
  3. Schedule for December: Call anyone you haven’t heard from to discuss whether or not they will attend or be dropping off their secret Santa or other gifts so no one is left out. Assure them they’ll get theirs as well – after the event. Also discuss any of the food or other items they’ve agreed to bring to be sure they will still be doing so. For anyone who will not, put this on your own list and buy the non-perishables (day 1-3), go through all the stuff you’ve picked up so far, making sure you haven’t missed anything. Add any items to the previous list. (day 4), set aside bake ahead time, for items that can be made ahead and frozen (days 7-14), take turkey or other meat out of freezer (three days before event), finish decorating and prepare for the party as much as possible – baking, setting up, taking things out of freezer, shopping for perishables, etc. (day before event), finish setting up seating and tables, doing the cooking and remaining baking tasks,  and setting the table settings, putting out gifts, etc. (the day of the event), put away food items and anything else that will go bad, leave the rest (after the event), and pick up everything else (the day after the event). Also, reflect on what went well and what should change for next yea making note of everything.

As you can see, the above is not something that is worked on throughout the entire year. Not all goals will last the whole year.

Example: Creating a website.

  1. Schedule a few hours once a month from January through May for brainstorming ideas for the website. Consider carefully the title, sub-title, topic, pages, and categories, and take notes for the first 10 posts. Keep everything together in a folder or notebook.
  2. In June, set time aside once a week to research hosting companies. Keep the notes in with those from step one, making sure all your questions are answered and you’re comfortable with your decision. Make up your mind during the last session.
  3. Schedule time during the first week of July to order your hosting and begin looking at themes.
  4. Schedule theme consideration three times over the month, deciding on the theme during the last session when you will install it.
  5. In August set aside times to customize the theme, decide and implement widgets and/or menus, add social media buttons, take photos, edit, and add photographs to the media library, and type the first 10 blog posts and save them as drafts.
  6. September should be used for editing of blog posts and scheduling them to post one per day Monday through Friday for the first two weeks in October, and for final touches on the site before going live. Schedule days for these activities, as well as for creating an about page, a contact page, and a static home page. Also schedule a day to write your bio, and another to brainstorm more post ideas.
  7. Go live October 1st!

And there you have it. The steps I’m using to reflect on this year and to plan for next, as well as some timing examples for implementing goals.

Care to share your rituals for these areas? Share in the comments below.

Shannon




Batching Days

Shannon L. Buck livethefreelancelife.comToday I’m taking part in International Batching Day.

Because I have been so busy publishing eBooks as of late, I haven’t gotten to other things on my to-do list. Today is the day I’m catching up on these things, before I begin my tw0-double weekend at the Inn. I like to feel that I’m accomplishing enough in my writing before I go back to work, then I can do smaller writing-related tasks during my downtime at work. I’m lucky enough to have a front desk job, and a boss who lets me write while there – if there is time.

My goals are listed below, and I’m more than half done. This blog post is actually part of my goals list.

Today my goals are to:
~ Write and edit the last of this months blog posts for the fiction blog, and schedule it to post on the correct date. (Done! I published a new story, We Can See You, and this was the last of four posts to introduce it. You can read the first, Published! We Can See You, on my Author Blog.)
~ Plan the details for the photo shoot for the story I am publishing in October, making a list of props I need. (Done!)
~ 3 Blog posts for the freelance blog. (This post is the first one of these. I’ll finish all three, and schedule the last two, before the day is over.)
~ And two sales pages for the freelance blog, for two eBooks I recently published. (Done! The sales pages are scheduled to post here over the next few weeks. They will introduce my new eBooks, Careers for Freelancers and Let Your Teen Help As You Build a Home Business: While Learning Valuable Skills for the Future.)

As you can see, I’ve already finished most of what is on my list for today. Yay! Catch-up days help me to feel like I’m accomplishing important things and moving ahead in my writing life. I like that feeling.

I think everyone should schedule these days once-in-a-while, and I’m grateful Melissa Cassera implemented this day and I was able to follow along.

How did I prepare and go about my batching day?

  1. Last night, I wrote down the tasks I wanted to accomplish today.
  2. I set out candles on my desk. One scented candle (mulled cider), and 4 tea lights in candle holders. I love to work with candles lit, and with pleasant aromas surrounding my work space.
  3. I ordered extra Thai food, in the form of Fresh Spring Rolls and Siam Rolls, to have for lunch today. No cooking!
  4. I bought Chai tea and a fancy hot cocoa – treats for my day.
  5. This morning I packed my to-do list, laptop, charger, and favorite pen, and walked to Aroma Joe’s for breakfast. Apple-Cinnamon oatmeal, a health(ier) cookie, and two large mint Iced tea – nothing added. Yum.
  6. While there, I completed the first, second, and half of the fourth, items on my list.
  7. I walked home and lit my candles, and finished the fourth item.
  8. Leftovers for lunch were delicious and, after finishing this blog, I’ll be enjoying my hot cocoa while taking a short break.

Then I’ll write my last two blog posts, scheduling them to post here in October, and enjoy some Chai tea after dinner while relaxing with a horror movie.

Shannon L. Buck




Write Now, Publish Later

Organize Your Space and StuffThis article was originally posted to the blog on January 13, 2013. It has been updated and was added to the content of my recent eBook, Organize Your Space and Stuff. All of the pre-2015 organizational articles, with the exception of What is Your Theme Word? Mine is Prepare were deleted from here, then updated and put into the eBook.

Here is the updated version:

My schedule is a hectic one. I don’t have the opportunity to write every day, but I want to start keeping somewhat of a schedule for my blogs and Examiner.com channels. Doing so will allow me to stay on track, and give my readers for each venue something to look forward to.

Each blog and channel allows me to write posts or articles and schedule them to publish on a specific date. By using these features I’m able to get as far ahead as I want with my writing, and have everything scheduled to post when I want. I’ll be utilizing this feature much more this year than in previous years.

During the busy season at the inn, I don’t have enough time to write regularly. In November (NaNoWriMo month!), I do not have time to blog much at all, and certainly no time to write articles.

By using this type of feature, I can keep everyone reading by doing all my work during the off season and scheduling it for later.

This means that, for the next two or three months, I’m working triple time: At the inn, writing current posts and articles, as well as doing marketing tasks, and writing for the on season.

Let’s see how it all works out for me.

How do you handle busy times?

July 2015:

It is possible to get all blog posts for a two week period written in just one day, scheduling each to publish on the desired days. If you write a few posts or articles each time you have a chance, you will be ahead of the game in no time. Simply write the post, edit, add a photo, and set the schedule.

If your blog is set up to do so, each post or article will also automatically post to specific social and professional networking sites. All you have to do is respond to comments.

ACTION STEPS:

  1. Write and edit a blog post, adding an image and whatever else you like.

  2. Schedule the post for a specific day, as well as a specific time if you have that option.

  3. If you have a day or two a week to set aside for writing blog posts, go ahead and do your best work creating a variety of posts and schedule them to publish every other day or so over the course of a couple of weeks.

Shannon L. Buck

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