Thursday, January 9, 2014

Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

Back when I taught elementary school full time, I found I could accomplish a lot more on a snow day than I could on a Saturday. I had the same number of hours, but for some reason I could do more housework and grade more papers, not to mention spend more quality time with the kids when I had an unexpected day off. I suppose part of that was because on Saturdays, unless I needed to be somewhere, I would sleep in, so my day started later. On a snow day, I was usually up early to watch the news and look for my school's name scrolling across the screen. When it appeared I would be too excited to go back to sleep, so I'd start a project right away.
Now that I'm retired, my days are much less structured. I take care of my grandkids on Mondays, so on that day I get up early. I sew with my church's quilt guild on Tuesdays. On Monday nights I go to rehearsals for a community band, and on Wednesday nights I rehearse with a community orchestra. That's it for weekly commitments. I belong to two writing groups and a scrapbooking group that meet monthly. And I help my eighty-year-old mother get to her doctor appointments and other places. On paper it sounds like I'm busy, but I really have a lot of unstructured time—and that often translates into wasted time.
I tried to combat that wastefulness by writing a to-do list each morning as part of my 750 Words challenge. That works pretty well when I actually write the list early enough in the day that I can finish my writing (or at least get to a good stopping point) and then work on my other chores. But I often get caught up in the "other stuff" – social media, research, and the endless marketing. So I have to have a plan, and limit the time I spend on each task.
This week, the snowstorm and bone-chilling temps in Michigan caused cancellations for several of my weekly commitments. So I had two days during which I stayed inside and tried to get things done. I got up, wrote out the things I wanted to get done, and gave myself a time frame for getting each item done.
How did it work? Well, during my two days of being snowbound I made two more quilt tops, several holiday napkins that I'll put away to give as gifts next year, edited a few chapters in my work-in-progress (wip), did my homework for a class Japanese language class I'm taking, and finished reading a book. This is all in addition to keeping up with correspondence and marketing opportunities.
Having a plan usually helps me get things done. Having a schedule helps even more. And sticking to the schedule makes things happen. Now that most of the snow has been shoveled away and the temps are survivable I'm back to my usual hectic schedule. There's no way to know when I'll have another "free" day. But when I do, I'll have my paper and pencil out to list what I have to get done, prioritize, and cross things off as they're finished!

Crafting goal: Yes, I know the quilt tops look really similar to the ones I made last week – but I had a LOT of squares! They will go to church on the 21st, and the Christmas napkins will be put away for next winter. I like to have last-minute gifts handy.

Reading goal: I finished reading Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold by JL Salter. It's hilarious! I think most people would love it. Next up, a new romantic suspense by Diane Burton, One Red Shoe. Diane is a fellow member of the Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America and I'm always eager to read books by people I know. And Diane will be here on Saturday, so I'm hoping I'll have a lot of it read by then!

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