Tag Archives: housekeeping

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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Some Musings on Motivation and #ROW80

And when I say musings, I mean that I’m looking at some things that I’ve done right, and trying to figure out how the hell that happened.

There are three big things I’ve done in the last several years that I can easily point to and say: these are things which required a lot of motivation and I made them happen.

  1. Got my house together– When my daughter was finally done nursing and I was once again free to move about the cabin, I really did a lot of work to get my home in order. It was the first time in our marriage (about 15 years at that time, I guess) that we lived without any cardboard boxes in view. I decluttered, I cleaned up, I got routines together, and when disasters happened (as they did daily as I had a toddler around) I was able to take care of them and get things back to order.
  2. Wrote a book– Meaning I finished it. I started at the beginning and I wrote until the end. And it was even good. I made an outline, I had a list of scenes, and I tried to write at least one every day. I didn’t write every day, but I averaged more than one and I finished 30 days after I started. No putting it aside 2/3 in and starting something else, no putting writing aside to pick up another activity.
  3. Lost weight– I got married while I was still in college. Between the weight everyone gains in college and the weight everyone gains when first married, I was kinda screwed. My senior year I made a big effort at diet and exercise and lost half of what I’d gained those four years. But after that it was a slow but steady increase until I got pregnant almost a decade later. After losing enough of the baby weight to get out of maternity clothes and back to a size 14, I pretty much maintained 160-165 for a number of years. Today I weighed in at 127.5, a weight I haven’t seen this century.

So if I went through this period where I was good a keeping up my house, why is my house a wreck? Why am I always struggling with this? What am I doing wrong?

Why did it take me a month to write the first draft of Hush Money and close to ten months for Heroes ‘Til Curfew?

If I have the self-discipline to just say no to binges, over-eating, stress-eating, etc., why can’t I seem to apply that in other areas?

This is stuff I’ve been thinking. Reading about motivation can be confusing. A lot of it seems to come down to this concept: You just have to really want it. I can’t make you want it.

Well, um, I think I do want it. That’s why I’m here. I don’t know how to make myself want it anymore than this. I’m not even sure I’m comfortable with the notion of a greater level of want. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to help with my crazy level.

I mean, did I not want to write Heroes ‘Til Curfew? Of course I did. Did I want it enough? I think so.

It’s hard to talk about this stuff because nothing happens in a vacuum. I was better at housekeeping when I wasn’t also trying to run an Etsy shop or a writing career. I was better and just writing when I wasn’t in the throes of second book syndrome. There are definitely other factors at work.

But other people manage do more than one thing at a time, and I’d like to as well, so I’m looking at these three successes and trying to figure out what they had in common.

  1. When I was good at housekeeping, my goal was not to have a perfect or even beautiful home. I did not own the house I lived in, I knew I couldn’t afford to make the improvements it needed. It was never going to beautiful, but I was going maintain it and keep it as clean and comfortable as I could. The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process of making it better and maintaining the progress.
  2. When I was good at getting a book written, my goal was not to produce the greatest book ever. I had no standard I was going for, except for it to be finished and as good as I could make it. The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process of writing a book from beginning to end.
  3. When I was good at losing weight, I never had a goal weight. I might have said, I’d like to lose x amount, or I’d like to be x by the end of the summer, but those were just things I would throw out in conversation, like wishes. They were never subgoals of some greater endgame I was trying to achieve. In fact, when I did really start to lose weight, it wasn’t about losing weight, it was about changing my eating habit. The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process of learning to be mindful about eating and making better choices.

The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process.

That’s what I’ve pulled out of this. I’m not sure what it means, what to do with it, how to apply it. Not yet. Plenty of people do great by focusing on an end result and breaking that down into smaller tasks. I don’t think I’m that person. Some people make the decision to change their actions and they follow through. I don’t. When I tell myself to do stuff, most of the time I just don’t.

Maybe because it’s always easier to just stay where I am.

I’ve already determined that I need to change my thoughts before I can change my actions. Now I’ve determined that thinking about my goals as big end result things, or even smaller, successive results, doesn’t really work for me either.

What is going to work for me? Still don’t know. But if I figure it out, I’ll pass it on.

#ROW80: I have 10 threads for Heroes Under Siege. My goal for the week is to make sure I understand what happens in each one from beginning to end and how they interweave. That’s going well so far as I’m at 7/10 mostly done. I’d like to start brainstorming specific events and jotting down scenes next week.

Meanwhile, I should have a guest post up over at Book Lovers, Inc. today. The post is about taking something often considered boyish–superheroes–and taking it for Team Girl. And there’s a giveaway. Go, read, comment, make it look like people like me.

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GIT Thursday

Not like I need to add another day to a blog schedule I’m already not really keeping, but I’ve been wanting to start talking about some stuff that doesn’t really fit in with the rest of it. Like, in yesterday’s post I mentioned that I’ve dropped several sizes over the course of the year. Kait talks about her commitment to weight loss and getting fit on her blog a lot, calls it Goddess in Training (GIT). And trust me, Kait’s commitment is inspiring. Mine…not so much.

But then, hey, I lost over 15 pounds this year and, like, 35 over the last 7 (my daughter just turned seven so there’s a good marker for when I was the biggest). And I need to give myself credit. I’ve made real changes that made a real difference.

Somehow I’m just figuring that out– that whole idea that the loss, which I’ve kept off all summer, despite ice cream and vacation, is a result of changes I made and applied consistently and not somehow that I’ve been lucky with my weight or it just kind of happened. (If you’ve ever heard that thing where depressed people tend to believe their lives are ruled by outside forces…yeah.)

I live in chaos. In FlyLady land, CHAOS stands for Can’t Have Anybody Over Syndrome, a condition where your home is such a wreck you have to block the door with your body just to sign for a package. Because it’s just that bad, you don’t know where to start, and even if you do blow through and clean it up, everything’s a wreck the next week because you don’t have the habits to keep it up.

So much of “having it together,” it seems to me, is about these habits.

So this morning I was thinking about how I couldn’t have actually worried away 15 pounds. I forget to eat, but I’ve been forgetting to eat for years. I just used to make up for it and then some. So what was the change? Well, there were a bunch, and some of them were changes in how I think about food. More accurately, they were me getting into the habit of THINKING about food rather than just acting on hunger and cravings. About making what I eat a thoughtful decision rather than a whim. Which is less tiresome than it sounds.

So I took control of the eating and it was good. Now if I go back a bit in the blog, I should come to a post in which I think I said that I need to work on changing the way I approach writing. I can’t be depending on things to just come to me, I need to learn to work consistently and believe that the words will come, even when I’m not in the mood. Which sounds a lot like I need to work by thoughtful decision rather than whim.

Hmmm….

The chaos is not just in my house. It’s not just about the amount of pet hair that’s on my floor right now or the dishes I’m pretending aren’t in my sink. It’s in my head. It’s in the fact that I’m so mood dependent that I seem to wait for inspiration to dictate everything I do. When and what I write, if I pick up my house, what I eat…

And hey, it’s non-optimal to say the least.

So maybe what becoming a goddess means to me is taking control over my shit. Which is scary because it feels like planning to become someone entirely different. Kait would tell me to break it down and work on one thing at a time. So I think that’s what I’m going to do and I’m going to try not to think too much on that big picture.

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