Monday, February 22, 2016

Juggling Time or Tasks?



Can you juggle time? 

We might think so, but it's probably more accurate to say that we juggle tasksFrom the necessary to the enjoyable, we try to accomplish it all, but not always with great success. The trick is to keep these tasks airborne to create the illusion that we're getting it all done. But are we?

If you were to look at my to-do list, you'd see that I'm not getting it all done. Within reason, this is okay. Life happens, and it needs to be enjoyed too. But I've been reviewing my habits in relation to my goals, to write well and productively. There's one small issue, though - I am a master procrastinator, and with that, get distracted often. I need regular reminders to stay on task. So thought I'd share my observations and action steps on the off chance that you might have similar "juggling" challenges.



  • Ignore the internet. It's like a magnet. Facebook, Twitter, email, it's just crazy. Trying to write an article with my email open is a tangent waiting to happen. So I keep those windows closed, or bribe myself. Article done = dark chocolate. Or something similar that helps motivate me. 
  • Ignore the phone. Or at least, screen calls. That way, if the Super Duper Contest Company calls to tell me that I won, I won't miss it. I also designate working hours, otherwise interruptions can hijack the day.
  • Ignore the chores. I don't mean ditching housework forever, only for a bit when it means getting a project finished. Saturdays are often my chore days to get general cleaning done. Knowing that keeps the distraction level down.
  • Ignore the "must-do-now" items. You know, like the files that want to be alphabetized, or the unfinished craft project mocking you from the next room. Focusing on the task at hand frees up time later to work on those other items.

Pretty basic, I know, but when keeping these things in check, a lot more gets accomplished. Which means I can enjoy the other facets of life, which are just as important. A balance of self discipline, flexibility, and determination makes that juggling act a lot easier. 

(Speaking of easier, one helpful resource is Jeanette Levellie's book, Shock the Clock. It offers great tips on time management for writers and other creatives.)

Are you a procrastinator? What tasks do you juggle? What helps you focus and get things done? 


Taking a break before heading into my 7th blogoversary celebration in March. We'll have a few guests and maybe even a giveaway or two. :) See you on March 7!

Happy writing,

Karen

  
Image credit: Free Images

35 comments :

  1. Yes, balance is the key. I try not to procrastinate, but do it on occasion. I think the best thing I find for things I don't want to do is to try to do one of them a day. That way they do get done.

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  2. I hate to procrastinate and tend to rush through my to-do list as quickly as possible. Those are all little distractions that pop up though.

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  3. Oh that 'being distracted - so recognisable. You are not alone int hat Karen- believe me!!!

    Sound off on the phone so the 'pings' wont get me- not reacting to postings on Facebook - always a teaser. That smiley when the mail drops into the box- oh such distractions.

    I keep telling myself - STAY FOCUSSED - DON"T DILLY DADDLE. It has become a mantra of sorts.

    There are successes and failures- I keep on learning and hopefully conquering!

    Have a wonderful week full of achievements

    I aim to tick more boxes each day!

    Anita

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  4. Oh, Karen, can I ever relate! The only thing on my list of things to keep in check that I can't ignore - the grand kids. If they come plowing in the door all bets are off. LOL Love this post!

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  5. I can ignore all of those things!
    I've gotten better at being able to do two things at once. Three things though and I'm a mess.

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  6. Hi Karen! Oh my gosh, I am a HUGE procrastinator. I think I'm afraid to write...but then I see so many accomplished writers like you, fighting the same thing. I wonder if it's just hard to settle down from all the demands of the day, and FOCUS!! I always think I'm a dog that circles his dog bed about a million times before he finally plops down.

    You just want to say 'For Pete's sake, lay down already!' I hope I can get a little better at it day by day. I love lists because they keep me going with small goals. I should return to that...
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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  7. Some days are better than others for me. Motivators like chocolate help me too. I'm not good at doing more than one thing at once. I'm super focused when I do something!

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    1. Christine,
      A fellow chocolate motivator - I love it! :) I hear you, multi tasking is just not for the serious stuff!
      Thanks for coming by,
      Karen

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  8. Natalie,
    I know, that's a good plan. I often do that too. And I think about how I will feel when it's done. That can be a reward in itself! :)

    Diane,
    I have days like that, but not as often as I'd like. lol :) Your determination is admirable.

    Anita,
    I think some of this has to do with working at home and getting drawn into all the little distractions. And then some is due to just plain lack of self discipline. LOL For me anyway! :)

    Susan,
    I am so with you on the grandkids thing! There is rarely an item that gets postponed if they are coming over! :)

    Alex,
    Then I am thinking we need to shadow you for a day. Then you can do a series of workshops for us procrastinators! :)

    Ceil,
    Well thank you for the compliment! But I must admit, part of my procrastination is due to fear or lack of confidence in certain areas. I like your analogy about the dog. So true! I do the very same sometimes. :) We are works in progress, right?

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  9. Oh, I'm a master at ignoring the chores! I finally broke down and dusted my living room Saturday, as the sunshine was streaming in the window on the coffee table, mocking me for the domestically-challenged lady I am.

    Thanks for mentioning Shock the Clock, Karen. It's a short book, so doesn't take much TIME to read, and includes tips from many successful writers, agents and editors.

    I love you more than I did yesterday, since you admitted you're a procrastinator. We should start a club...

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  10. Karen: Having been on a hiatus for three months and longer, I can relate to "putting things of until. . . . " Since I have been home, I have cut back on computer time. Slowly,I am again getting ready for the writing life. Procrasinators Anonymous might be a good name for that club Jeanette thinks we can start.

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  11. I have weekly to-do lists, and my writing goal is on that list. I tend to cram in the writing towards the end of the week, but it gets done. Housework and errands are things I tend to do before the writing since they're easier.

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  12. I try to ignore, amigo. But that mean ol' Facebook taunts me day after day. *snort* Seriously, I need to write a to-do list every week. Write it on Sunday and check it off as I go. I say I will, but then I don't. P.S. ditching housework sounds like the way to go. If only. XOXO

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  13. Jen,
    That dust will mock you, won't it? :) Love you too, friend! Yes, we should totally start a club. But let's do it next week...

    Cecelia,
    I am glad to hear you are feeling better and getting back to normal. No rush to go full tilt, though, it will all be there when you are ready! Yes, about that club, I think we're starting next week. :) LOL

    Medeia,
    I too, do the seemingly easy stuff first. I think it makes me feel more productive in certain areas, so that things can be checked off the to-do list sooner or something. :)

    Robyn,
    In theory the to-do list is great, but then sometimes life just sidetracks it. But then, I guess you just need to get back on that horse again, right? (I knew you'd like that one!:)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  14. I think time juggles me. I'm never too sure if I'm ahead or behind or just totally lost. The best thing I can do is just shut down the computer, go outside and see if it's light or dark out there. That kind of time I can relate to.

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  15. Karen, I so much relate to this post! Easily distracted, a procrastinator, juggling tasks. Two things I'm trying to do: establish the habit of making appointments with myself for writing so the time doesn't just disappear, and seeking to look at life not so much as finding balance but finding a rhythm. We'll see how 2016 plays out on both accounts. As for 'life happens'--we're expecting newest grandbaby here any day now and of course I'm going to take time to celebrate her! Enjoy your blog break :-)

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  16. Hi Karen - glad to see you're taking a brief break and I'll get to you easily. I know what I need to do - it is to turn my day on its head and do the things I should be doing first, and then follow up with other necessary items - such as commenting!

    I need to re-evaluate my blogging and writing life and make some changes - thankfully Spring is nearly here and we've a good 8 months or so of light and clarity before the next winter comes along - when things will be rosy!

    Cheers and take care - looking forward to March .. Hilary

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  17. At least I know I'm good company now. :) I'm a procrastinator of the highest order, and I do let all those things get in my way. One thing I started doing a couple months ago is to name out loud, every morning, three things I WILL accomplish that day. Only three things, no more. It takes the pressure off, and once those three things are done, it's surprising how much time I have available for other things.

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  18. Ignoring the internet is probably the hardest one for me, to stay on task! And my procrastination tends to be taking on another webcast, another book or online course. Staying disciplined to the goals of the day, the week, and month is the biggest struggle for me! Look forward to your March celebration!

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  19. Lee,
    I feel like that some days too! And if it weren't for making my husband dinner or doing laundry, I might be crouched over my laptop indefinitely. Still procrastinating somewhat. lol :)

    Kenda,
    I've been doing the appointment thing too. I try to treat it as though I really am at work. Because I am supposed to be! :) I like that - a rhythm - that's a good idea too. Congrats on the new grandbaby! You'll post pics, right?

    Hilary,
    I hear you; sorting things out here too, trying to refine and clarify goals and whatnot. Not to mention get the office organized! Looking forward to March as well, and having you visit! :)

    Lisa,
    Oh yeah. That club Jeanette was talking about, well, we're just going to have to get t-shirts and all that good stuff. It'll be fun! :) I like the three things I idea. Going to do that!

    Lynn,
    I'm with you - that procrastinating thing isn't always bad as far as what you are doing, but it's the what is not getting done that is the issue. I'm thinking, anyway! Helps me clarify things to think it out like that. :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  20. And then comes ignoring the guilt that comes from ignoring all those things. LOL.

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  21. I am generally NOT a procrastinator, although there are definitely things I put off. Mopping the floor. Balancing the checkbook. Going grocery shopping. The Internet is DEFINITELY a distraction. I turn off notifications, but I end up checking my email frequently as I write anyway, as a break (or so I tell myself). :) Happy 7th year blogoversary!!!

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  22. Joylene,
    Well yeah, there is that. LOL Well, maybe it's like Kenda said, finding rhythm as opposed to balance (that often is elusive), and then guilt and other stuff is quieted to some degree. Or we just all get giant book contracts, raking in the super big bucks, and hire someone to clean for us. :)

    Carol,
    You know, I was just out in the kitchen thinking I should mop the floor. Seriously. :) But I think I will wait til later in the week after the rain. Is that technically procrastinating? :) Thanks a bunch for the well wishes!

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  23. "I don't mean ditching housework forever"- What? Why not? teehee My biggest problem is ignoring the "must dos" that are musts, but not must-right-nows.

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  24. I'm totally not a procrastinator, but I still can't get everything done. My calendar is booked but there's only so much brainpower to go around. The older I get, the more I prioritize. If it's not ground-shakingly important, it just may not happen and I have to be okay with that. I think that's the only path to sanity.

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  25. I would love to ditch housework, and I often do, but it does have to get done sometime. My family is the most important on my must-do list and then . . . after that, it's all stuff I can juggle.

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  26. Holly,
    Well, I can't say I disagree with you there! But till I am wealthy enough to hire cleaning help...LOL That's a good way to put it; there are always "must-dos" but keeping them in check is the key. :)

    Crystal,
    Well, I admire you girl, not only for your love of cheese, but for the non procrastinator that you are! I think you've hit upon something here, we do have to prioritize, and some things just don't make the cut. :)

    Tyrean,
    Yeah, it does have to get done eventually. Or at least right before you sell and move out of your house! :) Putting the big rocks in the jar first is super important.

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  27. I have to hyper focus on the task at hand to avoid distraction. Facebook is also a tough one to resist. Time is an issue, but learning to work smart helps make the most of what we do have.

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  28. I love lists and I am a procrastinator. I do try to keep myself in check, but sometimes things get in the way. Great list to remember what to do to stay on track. :)
    ~Jess

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  29. Susan,
    I too, must often work to focus on a given task, especially on days like today when it's like "Interruption central" here. You're right, working smart is the best way! :)

    Jess,
    I'm a list girl too! :) Glad you liked these points. Always good to see you!

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  30. Hi Karen...Oh my, yes, I definitely fall in to the procrastination trap. I juggle so many jobs and projects that they all make my head spin. What really helps me whittle down "to do" lists and really get things done is writing the day's goals down. Seeing things in writing really makes me take action. Inch by inch, anything's a cinch. Enjoy your break. Susan

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  31. Hi Karen! Yep, I can join the club, too. I did find something that helps me a lot, though....when I remember to do it! I read about using a timer to get your different chores accomplished. I think it was on a blog last year but don't remember whose. There are internet timers, I-phone timers, etc that can be purchased....but I just used my Dollar Tree little timer. It works just fine, thank you very much! :) You may have even written about it. You concentrate on ONE thing for the allotted time...something like 25 minutes...and when that timer goes off, you go to something else, and on and on. I found that I was getting so much done, and having FUN, that I continued sometimes with what I was doing, and then set a new time for later. Guess I better start doing that again, huh?!

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  32. Susan,
    Daily goals are a good thing. I've been doing that more and it really helps. How are all those grandkiddos doing? :)

    Becky,
    Welcome to the club! :) Yes, we should really get t-shirts and coffee mugs, too, don't you think? A timer is an excellent idea! I think I may have mentioned that at one point, and now that you mention it, I need to do that more. Thanks for the reminder! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  33. "...a tangent waiting to happen." This tickled me. Soooo know what you mean. It's just hard to ignore the internet when I work on it all day long and am tied to the computer. Facebook is a bit like gathering around the water cooler to see what's up. Aack!

    Thanks for the tips, Karen.

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  34. Rhonda,
    Well, that tangent is my life some days! Between the real, necessary interruptions and standing around the water color, well, it can go south in a hurry! :) Good to see you, friend. xo
    Happy weekend,
    Karen

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!