GIT: Building a Control Journal

Here we are for another GIT (Goddess in Training) post, in which I try to figure out how to, you know, live.

I’m totally standing by what I said about how I was into the traditional publishing thing to learn stuff. And I was lured by the possibility of an advance. But something I didn’t talk about: it seemed easier.

Once I made the decision to go that way, I immediately felt less pressure. Sure, traditionally published writers absolutely have to work to market their books, but it seemed like I would at least have some help and guidance in that regard. More than that, it was the traditional publishing schedule that was appealing. In indie it’s definitely a good idea to put out as much work as fast as you can. So the idea of only being able to put out one book a year for a while, and being okay with doing only that if I wanted, was appealing. It was a relief to think that I might be able to write one manuscript a year and let other people deal with the details, and to feel like I wouldn’t be the sole person in charge of my own destiny with regard to marketing.

Now that I’ve gone back to indie, of course all that pressure’s back, along with more because I was such a slacker for months while I was finishing Heroes ‘Til Curfew. I spent the weekend redesigning my site here, revamping some of the static content. I’ve got a bunch of ideas for things I want to do and try, and mostly it’s just stuff I want to do better. Stuff I’m letting slide because I spend a lot of time worrying instead of just buckling down and taking care of things.

And the worst part of THAT? One of the things that doesn’t get done is writing the next book. Right now I am RIGHT where I was last year in terms of not writing consistently because I’m constantly doing this #HeadlessChicken act. My stats sickness is a little better this year. Which is good. Maybe I’m in recovery. On the other hand, I’m busier in my personal life. My daughter started a dance class this year, I’ve got four different social commitments which actually take me out of the house 6-12 times a month (this is a lot for me). Scariest of all, I’ve got a Girl Scout Brownie troop I’m going to be leading this year. We’re supposed to have our first meeting on Friday, stuff’s not in place for that yet, and I have about a million details to take care of.

I’m conscious of kind of freaking out here. So somewhere in the middle of being better about keeping house (which was destroyed by two seven-year-olds having a sleepover this weekend), being better about family meals, being better about fitness (my back is killing me and I think it’s because my muscles are too weak to hold me up properly because all I do is sit in front of this computer), being better about social media, figuring out the Girl Scout details, remembering dance class and the other stuff on my calendar, I have this vague recollection that I’m supposed to be writing a book–if I ever want to get anywhere in this career, and while I’m at it, there’s a short story and novella I need to write before that book comes out. Not to mention that idea I’m supposed to come up with for my agent for something different.

[At this point I’m reminding myself to breathe and thinking that it’s a shame I don’t have a moment to read more of that book about Zen so I can just be in this moment and not in all these other moments I really can’t affect from here or whatever.]

However, at some point in the past, I used to write more, I used to read more, and I had a baby who nursed hourly and then an insane toddler who had to be watched every moment and never napped. And somehow I also got housework done, served a lot more from-scratch food than I do lately (including homemade baby food), and somehow had time to maintain a personal blog and socialize on LJ all the time.

One thing that I had at that time was a control journal–a domestic’s day-planner. I had a page for every day of the week and all I had to do every morning was open it up. All my routines were written out so that I didn’t have to think, I just had to do and cross things off.

Control Journal a la Flylady

And of course, after some time of doing these routines, they actually became routines. But having it written down allowed me to be on autopilot before I actually learned the route. You can see on one side were some of the things I was supposed to daily. There as a place to write in stuff specific to that day–like sending my brother a birthday card–and a place for writing in tasks which weren’t daily or weekly. This page’s notes tell me to finish one of the slipcovers I was making and to declutter the entertainment center.  I’d write all those things in when I organized for the week on Sunday. On the other side of the notebook is my dinner menu for the day with recipes, in the order they had to be started. So the crockpot recipe was first, bread recipe for the bread machine next, and quick fix vegetable sides at the end.

I realize that I spend a lot of time spinning my wheels because I’m so stressed about not having stuff done that I can’t think what to do next. So I don’t actually DO anything, so I get more stressed. And I think I can really point to things falling apart when I moved from that last house to this one. My routines were upset because things were different and I stopped using the journal.

Flylady imageSo I’m going to be working on building a new control journal for myself. Or perhaps a few of them. I need to keep track of stuff for the house, stuff for the writing job, stuff for Girl Scouts. I’m not going to stop everything to try to make the perfect journal all at once. I’m just going to start writing things down, collecting data, putting it together a little a time.

If you’d like to read more about control journals, click here.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “GIT: Building a Control Journal

  1. When I look back I did more with three babies under 1-year-old than I do now. And, yes, falling out of the routines, especially after I gave up the idea of homeschooling and everyone went to school, is when things went downhill. Strange how I had more time, but used it less wisely. I also have revamped my control journal, and am trying to do more to-do lists. They keep me honest and on track.

    I was, and still am, impressed with all you do.

    • @Alice- Thanks. It’s so strange how much better the house seemed to be when the child required more care. But I guess that as I got kind of free of that I used the free time for other things and the other things took over my cleaning time. Plus, her starting school and all changed our routine, and I’ve yet to manage to integrate my routines with hers. I just know I’m going to have to do something because I feel like I’ve got way too much going on and I’m not able to really think anymore. I need to get back to autopilot so I can get my brain back for writing the next book.

  2. You’ve inspired me to go back to FlyLady. She can teach anyone how to organize things. My problem was that I didn’t listen. Because I didn’t WANT to be that rigid. But I know I’m going to have to do something. I’m so glad you wrote this post and reminded me that I’m a slacker. Fly Lady, here I come!

    P.S. I did always use her method to get Christmas organized with all the gift lists and such.

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  4. Earlier this year I started doing a Life Journal to try and stay on point for my life goals but it never really “took”! I think this control journal is WAY more what I need. Something to help me day-to-day find and stick to a routine. I love it. It totally speaks to my “planning” personality. Thanks for sharing and be sure to let us know how you progress. Good luck – life is definitely overwhelming (I am not sure how you get anything done…wow) so any tool that can help you destress and feel on top of things is well worth the effort.

  5. A journal like that sounds great. It is what I do at work, I make a list every day of each and every thing i get done. I like it because I can cross things off and actually the marks of progression as my day moves on.

    One for at home would be great too, although my chores etc are mainly weekend based, but the idea is a solid one.

    I know what you mean about having no time ot write, with three kids running around it is hard to find time. I wrote way more when we were bottle feeding the kids. Waiting up for the midnight feed was a very productive 10 weeks or so.
    I have taken to getting up at 5 am to write, but sadly the last two weeks have seen one if not all of the kids awake by 5.10 so my productivity is way down. When it is up, it is always at the sacrifice of something else. Thankfully I have no social obligations other than my wife and children. I struggle to make friends and since moving to Holland 5 years ago have not made a single one. But the silver lining there is it does give me more time to write once the schedule clears up and the kids become slightly more self sufficient.

    Wow, this is a long comment. I’m gonna shut up now 🙂

  6. @LL- I moderated a large FlyLady community for a couple years and what I learned there was that it works best when you’re NOT rigid. My example was the shiny sink. It sucked that it was the first thing because it’s absolutely the hardest for me. Yeah, when I maintain that, everything seems so much easier, but maintaining that was not baby steps for me and I totally failed and quit the program a number of times because I just couldn’t get the first step. Once I understood that I could skip it, I started to make real progress, and that shiny sink thing came in time.

    The exact way she does things doesn’t work for everyone. And it can’t. That’s like saying the same good book should appeal to all readers. Everyone’s lives are way too different. But if you can take what does work for you and try to get at the principles behind it, it will probably work better for you.

    @Hartford- Thank you! Hope it works for you.

    @Alex- Thanks for your long comment. I moved here 8 years ago and I’m just starting to be social on any kind of regular basis. Often it seems like everyone’s too busy to include new people in their lives.

    I had a good housekeeping run for a while with something I called the Sunday Reboot. Basically I just took every room in the house and wrote down all the tasks that needed to be done every week to keep it looking nice. So things like sweeping for cobwebs, feather dusting, picking up, emptying trash, mopping floors… My husband and I would split up and refresh the whole house in a few hours. Since we did it every week, it went pretty quickly.

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  8. Ooh, I like this idea. I don’t necessarily have too many social commitments (at least since I haven’t written them all down, I don’t think I do!), but I lack organising my time. I never seem to have enough of that with all the other responsibilities/tasks I need/want to get done. Writing goes by the wayside and I feel all the more guilty.

    I got a binder languishing somewhere that could be put to better use for this! Good insight! Hope the Brownie meeting went well. 🙂

    Pirate Bonny (human typing: C.E. Schwilk)

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