Thursday, July 31, 2014

The power of a deadline

I work well under pressure, always have. But I still prefer to steadily work backward from a set deadline - no matter what I'm working on. Big projects at work, short stories, group endeavors, and of course my novels. It is why the slow and steady approach to NaNoWriMo works so well for me and so easily translated to an all-year writing habit. The reality of my life is I've usually got about ten different irons in the fire. As long as I juggle all of them effectively I am able to do everything. Hence the overachiever aspect of my life. Focus too much on one thing and others start slipping, so to speak.

I've recently put a new iron in the fire with my writing group that requires a lot of coordinated effort from each of us. Something we've been cooking up for several years and finally have the resources and know-how to do really well. (Sorry, I can't share details yet but when I can you know you'll be the first to know - and it is so exciting!) In working on this project I observed that my way of handling a deadline is not the only effective way. Which got me thinking.

One of my partners called the other side of this coin hyper-focus. Which can be described from my observations as abandoning every other aspect of life to zero in on only the one project with the most pressing or imminent deadline, working tirelessly through to completion. I've been chipping away at my to-do list for the overall project for several months while it seemed no one else was worried about theirs. At all. Yet we managed to pull it all together with a big push the past couple of weeks which resulted in meeting our deadline. I'm in awe of those who can do this. Because I cannot. Interestingly, the majority of our group can and do work this way. Minority or not, I much prefer my slow and steady approach. What's your preference?

Regardless of how you deal with a deadline, procrastination is never your friend. One sign for me that I might have too many irons I'm juggling is when things start slipping. I have a submission deadline next week - mid week. I realized on Monday our family reunion is this weekend, not next like I thought which still gave me plenty of time to prepare. So instead of hanging out at home for a marathon writing weekend to finish up my revisions, I'll need to be in crisis mode next week to make it happen in time. *sigh* Bring on the coffee and the sleep deprivation! And perhaps I'll pack that laptop for the weekend trip after all since a little multitasking never hurt anyone. No one will notice, right?

Monday, July 21, 2014

What have you done with your life?

Someone once asked me "what haven't you done?" It was right after I mentioned one of the things I used to do but don't anymore. It got me thinking about all the stuff I've done over the course of my life. Recently I read a very witty bio for a fellow author that listed a few very diverse things she's done in her life that showed an impressive and broad spectrum of achievements. Which of course prompted me to write my own list so I could feel good about myself instead of feeling dull by comparison. It was such an interesting exercise that I figured why not share it? So here's the list for your viewing pleasure. In chronological order of course, because my OCD demanded it. Those in italics indicate things I still do actively. Now you can really believe me when I say I'm an overachiever...

Electronics geek (circuit boards and soldering)
VICA State Officer - High School
Debator / Orator
Fast food slave
VICA President - SLCC
Retail clerk
VICA State Officer - College
College student - Communications major
College student - Flight Technology major
Flight school coordinator
Tennis player
Biker (of the motorcycle variety)
Guitarist - Dreem Raage (garage band)
Dirt biker 
Accounts Receivable Clerk
Voice of an interactive phone system
Aloette Sales Rep
Customer Support Rep
Coffee drinker
Mainframe Operator
System Administrator - Tandem/NonStop
Operations Manager
Technical writer
General Ledger Accountant
Mary Kay Independent Distributor
Wedding planner / consultant
Reiki Practitioner Level 1
Home owner
Web developer
Office Manager 
ATM Network System Manager
Dance Mom
Book club member
Project Manager
Writing Group founder/member - Once Upon A Keyboard
Systems Analyst
doTerra Wellness Advocate
Survivor - Kidney disease and pulmonary embolism insanity
Website designer / collaborator
Yoga instructor

So, what have you done with your life? I hope your list is full of accomplishments and growth as you age like mine is. Lots of things I don't do anymore helped point me to the things I do now that I love. And I don't regret any of them - well, maybe I regret smoking a little bit since it was so hard to quit.

Bottom line, there's no excuse. Ever. Tomorrow isn't promised so don't wait for that elusive 'someday' before you do what you've always wanted to do. Nothing is guaranteed beyond today so whatever you do make it count.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Someone please invent a machine to give me more time?

Ramping up the overachiever work-load. That's how you could sum up my life last month. I tackled an extremely difficult certification class at work because why not, they would pay and it pads my resume quite nicely. As a result, many things didn't happen the last couple of months because there simply wasn't enough time. Unfortunately, one of those things was my writing because studying took up my writing time and there just isn't any way to squeeze more hours out of the day.

Then I started looking around and seeing other things that I have unconsciously trimmed out of my life. My garden tops the list. Sure I planted a couple of rows of peas but I don't even know if they produced anything. I had shallots and onions come back from last year but I never harvested any of them after the very first one I pulled out in early May. I bought seeds to grow corn and then never got around to planting them. I noticed this giant weed the other day and figured out it is the couple of carrots I failed to pull out last year because they were tiny and not worth the trouble. Now they've gone to seed and probably rotted under the dirt. Buying vegetables is much more effective for us since we don't have the space to grow a big variety and we all get really bored with the same two or three things after the first month anyway. Or that's what I'm telling myself so it's okay I have no time to garden.

I've also watched very few movies and very little television the last few months. Not a lot of TV isn't a new thing but Hubby and I watch tons of movies together - it's been our thing since our first date. So it really sucks that I haven't made time to watch many of them this summer. Then I realized that's also because we are out riding our motorcycle together during some of the time that we would have been watching movies before and it doesn't make me so sad. I'm still sharing an activity we both love with him so it's okay.

Let's not mention how sporadic my blogging has been lately... and how I thought I was still posting at least weekly. 

I'm morphing even more into a person I don't recognize with the introduction of tennis lessons for Baby Sister that happen every morning - before work. Remember when I was so in shock that I was capable of doing yoga in the morning once a week? I not only did an hour of yoga this morning, I also did an hour of tennis lessons and a dentist appointment for a cleaning - all before 9:30am. Inconceivable! But it still happened.

I've got two major writing deadlines looming in the next couple of weeks. Not including the new commitment I made to my writing group last week to get one of my manuscripts ready so I can get it out on submission for publication by next May. An important step so they can keep me on the hook to do what I say I'll do. Good thing I'm really fabulous at juggling life and have uber perfected the art of overachieving or I might be a little more stressed. Still, if someone could possibly come up with a way to squeeze more hours out of the days I would really appreciate it!