Balancing the Best of Both Worlds

56179-cat-on-keyboard-typing-gif-hi43I’ve come to crossroads in my life. A strange, positive, yet confusing, conundrum.

I believe I told you I suffer from “be careful what you wish for” syndrome. All my life I’ve been a writer, but never for money. Never for a living. It’s always been mountains of stories, poetry, and rhymes, along with lists, ideas, and doodles.

But lately at work I’ve been doing a lot of writing. And, if things work out, I’ll be doing a lot more. I am enjoying the pace, the pressure, and the chance to see if I have what it takes to be a full-time writer.

One thing I notice, though, is that by the time I get home, the last thing I want to do is be creative. I’m pretty well cashed for the night.

And that upsets me.

I have always had a laundry list of things I want to write, to edit, to play with. There is no cork on imagination. But spending 9 hours a day in front of a computer, most of the time bringing life to everyday words, makes for one mentally drained oldie-but-goodie boho chick. By the time I have dinner, do the dishes, and sit down in front of my own laptop, I find myself suffering from brain freeze. It’s like my thoughts are somewhere behind this lovely burled oak door with a leaded glass window that reveals gorgeous vistas, but the door is stuck closed.

This will not do.

I am a writer. A make-up-story kinda gal. I love to write about spirits and middle aged women and time travel and elves and occasional sex. The more creative the better.

But I also have dreamed about writing for a living. Something that, for me, comes easily. Having had grammar and structure and style as my bedfellows for like ever, the prospect of writing full-time is a chance I want to take. Even if I don’t make it, I have to take that chance.

For a long time my husband has been telling me to cut back on computer time. I spend all day in front of that dull light, squinting and studying and reading two computer screens. Then I come home and squint and study and read one laptop screen. I suffer from headaches, and all this extra squint time doesn’t help. So cutting back on the night time does makes sense.

But I still don’t like it.

How do you balance the two worlds? Especially if both of your worlds are places you enjoy being?

It’s not all disastrous — it’s actually a pleasant conundrum. This conflict is forcing me to schedule my time better — writing time is scheduled just like doing the laundry or paying bills.

But I tell you now — it won’t be as much fun.

Squirrelly

Today has been one of those “squirrelly” kind of days. You know those kind — I’ve misplaced more things today than I have in the past week. I suppose it’s because I’m always in a hurry. Sagittarians never seem to finish their current project — they always find something more interesting to do, and leave things half-way done.

I decided the best therapy was to either come home from work, eat, and head straight for the bed, getting up only to let the dogs out; or to come to the library and use their WiFi to work on my blog’s photo gallery. I kidded my friends on Facebook that I’m always tired, achy, ready for bed (even at 10 in the morning), and yet  all I can think about is writing and researching and brainstorming with friends. They all told me it’s Writer’s Syndrome.

I wish I could say I was in the middle of my breakout novel — that I was working on an article for work or for my friend’s website. But it’s not. I’m kinda done with the novel thing for a while; I’ve thought about working on getting my Gaia and the Etruscans  published, but here in the middle/end of January that just seems like too much work. So I spend my time with ways to enhance my blog.

There is no doubt that that ambition leads to quite a bit of squirrelly-ness.

I come across dozens of articles a week that promise to help me build my reader base, get picked up by search engines, make money by blogging (or writing in general), enhance my blogsite…enough to fill Dumbledore’s Goblet of Fire. There are a million blogs out there; a million ways to build/entice/share/follow — so many that I’m dizzy talking about it. I follow about 30 blogs, and could easily follow 30 more, but with a full-time job I barely have time to read my own writing.

This past year hubby has gotten a new job that is from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. Bad for him — great for me. You would think. It is turning out that he doesn’t mind these hours, and I don’t have enough of them. Ah, you say — hours and hours of alone writing time! Peace and Quiet! Inspiration! Musing! Researching!

It’s a nice thought, but for someone like me who can’t sit still for 20 minutes, it’s a circus.

During the day I’m busy entering data, my Muse coming and bugging me now and then with new ideas. She is an Irish Wench, you know, and has no problem speaking her mind. And often times her ideas are great. But not when I’m entering HTML code. So we make a date to meet after hubby goes to work.

By that time I’ve been up 13 hours, let the dogs out three times, washed the dishes, thrown in a load of laundry, wiped the dust off the TV, and set up my writing corner on the sofa. By then my ambition has waned. My energy level slips minute by minute, and what seemed so exciting at 11 a.m. now seems like a mountain I’m too tired to climb. I manage to get a little work done so that pulling out my laptop isn’t for naught, but most times my mind is a blank.

Then about 9 p.m. I get my second wind.

Now, I have to get up in 8 hours, and old people like me are supposed to get at least 8-10 hours a sleep at night. But the great ideas of my Wench sneak back into my consciousness and I’m up writing and researching and downloading until 11:30 at night.

No wonder I’m so squirrelly.

I’m really trying to get into a schedule, a pattern, where I can do a little of everything and still get to bed at a decent time. But it doesn’t seem to be working. I escaped to the library this evening just so I wouldn’t have to let my dogs out three times and give them cookies and push the cat off my lap and look at the dishes I didn’t do or walk around the laundry I conveniently forgot to do.

Sometimes all I want to do is write.

But sometimes wantin’ ain’t gettin’.

How do YOU do it??

Got Milk?

200177370-001Are you a multi-tasker? Does it work?

Tonight is Thursday. Working a half day tomorrow then taking off with my daughter-in-law and grandbaby and heading to the cabin for probably the last time this year. I really need a month away, but I will take two days.

Again I have left every task to the final hour. I always do. I wanted to write my blog before I take off, yet I didn’t give it the respect of time and thought it deserves. I have others blogs I want  to read; I peek and go ooohhhhh and get all excited and keep on moving, promising to come back and read soon.

I’m currently watching Sons of Anarchy, typing, waiting for my last load of laundry to finish so I can finish packing. I hate half of my wardrobe, so picking out comfies for the weekend is more a chore than fun. Even when I get up nort’ I won’t relax. How can you with a  3-year-old? I will bring my laptop, but it will most likely never leave its case and tote.

Is your life like this too? Or are you bored out of your mind?

So tell me. Do you schedule “you” time?  Does it work? Do you feel guilty if you take away family time or work time or sleep time?

Let’s share. Multi-task if you must. You can  answer me while you watch TV and  write and clean up your computer files and switch the laundry and talk to your significant other and pet your dog while you drink your glass of chocolate milk you poured an hour ago.

You get my drift…

Don’t Worry About It!

          th_Cheshire_Cat_KHREC  They say routines get easier as you get older. That’s why adults have an easier time dealing with telephone solicitors, making grocery lists, and analyzing football games.  Why is it, then, that getting ready for work in the morning is often more confusing than a “Where’s Waldo?” puzzle?

            Let’s take this morning, for example. Woke up more than an hour before I needed to leave for work. Now, mind you, I have no children to get ready for school, my animals were already fed, and I didn’t have to dig through the basket for clean underwear.  I took a quick shower, made my lunch, grabbed a banana, and ran out the door.  I didn’t do the makeup thing or the curl-my-hair thing. And I still was almost late. Checking out my main campground (where I work), others looked so smooth and…mmm…together.  The guys were groomed, the gals were fresh.  Few (if any) look as frazzled and windblown as me.

            Time Management, you say.  I swear I am proactive.  It’s just that my time is lost somewhere in Einstein’s Relativity Time Dilation Theory. This morning I managed to slice, salt and paper towel eggplant for dinner; throw an excess of grapefruits in a bag for company distribution; and even took time to select jewelry to match my top. But somehow I still managed to look like a bag lady schlepping bundles in the back door of work.

            Get Up Earlier, you say.  I don’t know about most of you, but 5:20 a.m. is already pushing the sanity button.  Seeing as I woke up at 4 a.m. anyway (when various cats and dogs chose to share my side of the bed), you’d think I’d have the stamina to get up and get going.  Right. My husband showers, shaves, dresses, feeds the dogs and cats and fish, makes himself a breakfast sandwich, lets the dogs out again, brushes his teeth, checks the weather, and leaves for work all in 35 minutes.  What’s up with that?

            Be More Organized, you say. Pick out your clothes the night before. Make your lunch the night before. Take a shorter shower so you don’t have to put your makeup on in the warehouse bathroom. Color-coordinate your jewelry (gold together, silver together, rhinestones together) so the choices are quicker. Now you’re getting to the edge of implausible. How would I know what I’d be hungry for at 12:30 p.m. the next day? What if the shirt I wanted to wear suddenly sported a ketchup stain? What jewelry would go with that?

            Enlist Help, you say. That he-man who flies through his (or her) morning chores can pick up a few more tasks along the way, too. Knowing my tendency to move slow (so I don’t forget anything), I should have him double check the stove and curling iron before he leaves to make sure they’re turned off, have him make me a sandwich while he make himself one, and since he’s  superman and out to his car long before I take my vitamins, maybe I’ll have him start my car as well. That way I don’t have to drive the first couple of miles peering through a strip one scraper width wide.

            Accept It, you say.  The more you fight your routine, the more messed up things get.  What is the purpose of a routine if you don’t stick to it? Realize that you do stick to it ― you just interpret the parameters of these things your own way. So you don’t always remember to bring the bills to drop in the mailbox. So you don’t remember to pack bottled water or the book you read until one in the morning.  So what?  Has anyone ever mentioned your non-ironed shirt or your pants that occasionally ride up your calf because of static?  Not really. Accept that, even though the field has been filled with obstacles, you have managed to stay within the safety of the goal posts.

            Look ― the things your friends worry about have nothing to do with what you brought for lunch or if your hair was cut too short.  Friends are more worried about what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling. How your family is doing. What you’re doing Saturday night. If you’re feeling okay and if they can do anything to help you feel better. Those who judge you by your rigid adhesion to schedules don’t understand who you really are. So they don’t matter. Respect the rules, abide by the ones that can get you in trouble, and strive to keep the rest.

            Don’t Worry About It, you say.  Now, that’s about the most sensible advice you’ve given me today.

 

Time Management — or Really the Lack Thereof

Round and Round and Round She Goes…….Where She Stops Nobody Knows……

Does your life often feel like that?? Lately my life has been that! No time to blog, no time to write, barely time to breathe. As I sit here jotting down a few words of wisdom, I am scratching and digging and itching the skin off the top of my feet where chiggers fed a few days ago. What kind of wisdom is that?

I really believe the drought in the Midwest has drained the sanity out of us mere mortals. If I thought I had little patience before, ask me how I feel after camping for two days in 90 degree breezeless weather. (On second thought, don’t ask…) On one hand, chiggered ankles were a small price to pay to be with my grandson for the weekend. But, upon reflection, I could have thought of 50 other places more suitable to both my “temperament” and “temperature.”  We won’t talk about sweating, but with temperatures at 100 one tends to sweat in places you never knew you could sweat in.

The heat also messes with my sense of organization. (Like I had any to begin with…)  I look around the house and see all the things I should do but don’t have time to do because I’m busy doing other things. We all have days of disorganization. But why does it seem lately that I’ve had weeks of it? Maybe I need a little time management or something.  A search in Yahoo brings up time management games, tips, skills, techniques, strategies, software, training, books, articles, and activities. Wow. I am overwhelmed just by so many choices. This is more than just turn right or left; this is riding on the twirliest roller coaster in the land.

Is my madness just a case of time mismanagement? Of poor planning? Or is it that our world has gotten so big, so advanced, so fast, that there are literally millions (as opposed to dozens) of activity melons that are ripe for the picking? Our ancestors didn’t have such a cornucopia of delights to choose from. Extra curricular activities were limited by your pocketbook and your proximity to town.  Reading (how about sinking your teeth into The Scarlet Pimpernel?), walking (didn’t you see Sense and Sensibility?), checkers or chess, or singing around the piano (think Christmas Carol), were the highlights of adult play.  Granddaughter in another state having a birthday? Too bad — too far. Want to go swimming to cool off? Too bad — closest body of water is five hours by mule.  Want to go out for dinner? Too bad. Town is ten miles by mule.

These people didn’t have an unlimited choice of entertainment like we do. Blogging, surfing the Net, playing online or video games, talking on the phone, watching 20 Closer reruns you’d DVR’d, reading Star Magazine, dancing to your IPod — all are activities that would be chinese to them.  I know we don’t do all those things, but admit it — we get pretty darn close. Add going to work,  grocery shopping, driving to birthday parties and soccer games, watering the garden, mowing the lawn, washing clothes, getting a hair cut, going to the dentist or doctor, all contribute to the roller coaster ride we put ourselves on.

Here are a few tips I found on the “Time Management Tips” List:

Carry a schedule and record all your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your precious moments are going.  How many three-ringed notebooks do I have to carry around??

Any activity or conversation that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it. To-do lists get longer and longer to the point where they’re unworkable. See my blog https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/real-lists-vs-fantasy-lists/ to clarify real lists vs. fantasy lists.

Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities and conversations that produce our results.  I already spend 110 percent of my time doing this – where did they get 50??

Schedule time for interruptions. Plan time to be pulled away from what you’re doing.  Oh, does that mean I can pull into McDonalds for a hot fudge sundae on my way to the grocery store?

Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Don’t start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.  I do this before I go to sleep and between alarm snoozes in the morning. Plans sound better when you’re half asleep.

Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. When you only get 10 minutes for morning break and you’ve got three phone calls to make, that’s tacking on another 15 minutes to an already squished schedule. Mmmm…

Put up a “Do not disturb” sign when you absolutely have to get work done. Yeah, tell that to your dogs and cats and kids…

Practice not answering the phone just because it’s ringing and e-mails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls. About the only free time I have lately is on the toilet — not what I consider a conducive atmosphere for answering emails and phone calls.

Block out other distractions like Facebook and other forms of social media unless you use these tools to generate business.  I use these to generate the business of friendship and gossip…whatchu talkin’ about??

Remember that it’s impossible to get everything done. Also remember that odds are good that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results. Now that’s the smartest thing I’ve heard all day.

I guess I’ll just have to do what I can when I can. After all, there’s so much more to see, to do, to write.  And I’m sure there will be plenty of time to get organized on the “other” side.

Won’t there?