New Year, Not-so-new Goals

I took some time off blogging last month, mainly because, holidays. With all of the extra stuff on the to-do list, something had to give, and I figured it might as well be the blog, since the writing had already given.

I did get some other things accomplished. For one, I decluttered the basement. After living here for 23 years, that’s no trivial thing. My family is amazed. And while I was decluttering, I found fabric my mom had given me years ago to sew her a couple of things. Which was great in that, if I completed them, I had something to give her for Christmas, not an easy thing to find. Which was not-so-good in that it was another project to add to my to-do list (hence no blog). That really wasn’t a problem as I like to sew; it’s just one of those things I haven’t had time or energy for much in the past few years.

Luckily, my energy held out until after Christmas, and I was able to complete the projects (the last one at 9PM on Christmas Eve). And she loved them, so it was totally worthwhile. The whole family had a good Christmas, so that was even better (and we were all well this year, too!).

DH and I had decided not to get each other anything since, after all, we had a new kitchen and were in the process of buying 28 acres in TN. Except I couldn’t do that, so I bought him a couple things to wear. LOL–he did the same.

Skeet at right while Isis gives DD a kiss

We got an addition to the family, too–a four-legged one. This is Skeet, the neighbors’ dog that we pet-sat for a couple years ago. She’d run away, and DH found her in the pound. The neighbors aren’t really in a good place to keep a dog right now with their jobs (he is out of town all the time, and she is rarely home) so we adopted her. As before, Skeet and Isis get along great, and we knew Skeet’s really sweet and affectionate (and totally destroys dog toys, but only dog toys, so that’s OK).

What I’ve been reading, abbreviated version (since it’s been a while):

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ROW80/Writing Update: As mentioned above, not much writing has gone on in the past couple months. I had a great start to NaNoWriMo, but that stopped cold soon after that as I ran out of outline and had no idea where my story was going. Some people write well that way; me, not so much. I needed to step back and regroup, but just as that happened, the holidays came along. So my new goal for this ROW80 is the same as last time’s: finish the WIP. I did figure out a few things while not writing, so that’s a start. This week, I want to at least spend time planning or working things out each day, if not actually writing.

What about you–how were your holidays? How did you do on your goals, if you do that? And what are you up to now? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Thanksgiving Decluttering

That’s mostly what occupied me this past week, though there were a few other details as well. First, we’ve started on our due diligence for our land purchase, starting with getting a perk test for the septic system. DH called the Knox County health department, expecting this to be a big pain, because in the suburban city where we live now, any dealing with the local government is exactly that. There’s one person there who knows what he’s doing, and he’s only in the office between 8 and 9 AM, when he might answer the phone–or more likely, lets it go to voice mail. Sometimes he returns calls–usually after several voice mails. Everyone DH deals with acts like he’s inconveniencing them by expecting them to do their job and answer questions.

Knox County was totally the opposite: Every single person he spoke with was super friendly and went out of their way to be helpful. We sent them a preliminary plot plan by email, and they even called to follow up. They did the test within a week, and said they found a good place for the system. So that’s one item down!

Thanksgiving went wonderfully, especially with the new kitchen! DD and I cooked the night before, and even though it’s the same small area, we had no trouble both being in there working on different food, because the layout was so much more efficient. Even cleanup is a pleasure in that kitchen! The meal of course was wonderful as always.

This past week, I also started decluttering what is, in my house, the final frontier: the basement (cue scary music). Actually, I haven’t done the garage yet either, but that’s technically not in the house. If that sounds scary, it’s because it is. We’ve lived here for 23 years, and that’s a long time to accumulate junk–and that’s mostly what’s down there. So far, I’ve collected five bags of giveaway stuff, and thrown out as much trash. It’s only now starting to look like I’ve made a dent in it. I expect to fill at least two more giveaway bags of old blankets for SICSA, a local animal shelter. The good part is finally, I don’t dread just walking down there any more.

sm28What I’ve been reading: Smith’s Monthly #28 by Dean Wesley Smith. The short stories were the usual, entertaining fare, but the novel was a bit of a surprise: An Easy Shot: A Golf Thriller. I know, right? IMO, “golf thriller” sounds like an oxymoron. Even my dad and husband, who both enjoy golf, fall asleep within ten minutes of turning it on the TV. But the novel turned out to be very entertaining. The thriller part centered around an assassination plot against a U.S. senator, who was playing in a golf tournament. The main characters were a husband and wife who were both cops and overheard something about the plot. There wasn’t a lot of actual golf in the story, but what was there I didn’t even need to skim (like I do in some of Smith’s stories that center around poker playing).

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ROW80/Writing Update: This is what’s been pushed aside this past week, mostly because I’m still stuck. In desperation, I finally set my timer on a couple of occasions, and let myself just sit and think about the book for fifteen minutes. It’s helped–while I still don’t know enough of my way forward to get back into the writing, I’ve figured out some of the main details. A few more sessions will hopefully take care of it and I’ll be back at the computer–in between Christmas prep, of course. As a side note, it seems I get stuck at this 2/3 – 3/4 point with just about every book, so I guess that’s part of my process. I just wish it didn’t have to take so long. But anyway, that’s my goal for this week: one sit-and-think-only-about-the-book session per day until I get it figured out.

What about you–if you celebrated Thanksgiving this past week, what did you do? Have you started preparing for the December holidays yet? Have you ever read a book that didn’t sound interesting, but turned out to be great? And have you ever stalled out on a goal, and how did you get back into it? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Why Didn’t I do this Years Ago?

Along with my recent decluttering has come some rearranging. A few weeks ago, I decluttered our first floor bathroom, starting with getting rid of the storage cabinet that was in there. Not only was the cabinet a bit beat up with the laminate peeling, it wasn’t needed. Most of the stuff in it was either really old, or was stuff we didn’t use or need. What we did use, there was room for elsewhere.

Which left the table linens and place mats. Why were those in the bathroom, you might ask? When we bought this house in 1993, I didn’t have a china cabinet, just an old, hand-me-down dinette set. The kitchen cabinets were full, so the bathroom cabinet was the only place for the table linens.

I got a china cabinet a couple years later, but the linens stayed in the bathroom. Until I got rid of the bathroom cabinet, it never occurred to me to move them into the non-glass section at the bottom of the china cabinet. Now that they’re in the room where they’re used, I can’t help wondering why I didn’t think of that years ago?

file000804438807Yesterday I decluttered the small file cabinet drawer on my desk. It too held mostly trash–albeit writing-related stuff: old rejection letters I used to keep in case the IRS came calling, notes from craft workshops I took years ago (and have never referred back to), old contest entries from even longer ago, project notes from freelance web design projects I did in the early 2000’s. The only thing I kept from there were contest win certificates, and those were easy enough to find a new home for.

I filled the now-empty drawer with paperwork from our rental properties, which had been in a huge, four-drawer file cabinet. That thing was useful when we owned a bar and had to keep all our daily and weekly paperwork, but we sold the bar over 7 years ago, and the file cabinet was empty, aside from the rental property stuff which only took up half a drawer. So now I can get rid of it! Better yet, with the paperwork now filed right in my desk, I no longer have an excuse to put off filing it–it’s right here at my fingertips. Why didn’t I think of that years ago?

What I’ve been reading: Still working on the novel in Smith’s Monthly #17, almost done.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I made my goal of reading over the outline of my next WIP and seeing what needs to be done with it (conclusion: what a mess!). I also started actually reading the book, to see what might be salvageable. So this week’s plan is to finish the read. I also got edits back from the content editors’ re-read of Time’s Dilemma, so I want to finish those and get that to the copy editor. There’s a lot going on here this week, so that may be a stretch, but I’m going to try.

What about you–ever have one of those “Why didn’t I do this years ago?” realizations? Do you have stuff that could be moved closer to where you need it? How are you doing with whatever goals you may have, whether writing related or otherwise? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

The Hardest Thing to Declutter

Most of you reading this blog probably would agree with me what that is: BOOKS! Yes, that’s what I’ve been working on this week in my ongoing decluttering efforts. And like most writers, I have a lot of books.

I have an antique book case in my dining room that’s stuffed full, about three feet wide by five feet high. I haven’t touched that yet. What I’m working on now is the built-in bookcase in my study. That’s about nine feet long and three shelves deep. These were not only stuffed, but double-layered on about half the shelves that were full of mass-market paperbacks.

My bookshelf runneth over

My bookshelf runneth over

About half of these are mass-market paperbacks I picked up at various RWA conferences and have never read. The last RWA con I attended was in 2011. They looked good at the time I picked them up, but I figure, if I haven’t read these books by now, I’m probably not going to, especially since I prefer ebooks now.

The other half are books I have read and enjoyed enough that I just couldn’t give them away before now. Yes, most of us have keepers, and while decluttering, I did indeed find plenty that I love enough to move, even though I seldom re-read fiction. But there were many that I loved, but don’t see myself re-reading… and definitely don’t want to move.

So rather than just give them to someone to sell, I decided I would rather give them away to friends. I have a dozen paranormal romances boxed up and ready to go. The giveaway will be offered to those subscribed to my Readers Group. If you would like a chance to win, but aren’t there yet, you can join here! The giveaway announcement will go out sometime this week, probably Tuesday. I have lots of books to give away besides paranormal romance. Future giveaways will include suspense, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, historical romance, and fantasy/sci-fi. Oh, and there are also a bunch of writing craft books that I liked and found useful, but know I won’t re-read.

The other interesting thing I did this week was attend a fashion show. This was at my daughter’s university, and I’ll admit, the only reason my family went was because my daughter was a model in it. I don’t have any pics, because all I had was my phone camera, which is no good in that sort of venue (dark with just the performers lit). No matter anyway, because my daughter had to be in the most unflattering outfit in the whole show! It was a short, pouffy white dress with a huge bustle in the front. It made her look about twice her weight. I described it as “marshmallow Tinkerbell,” but I think her description was better: a walking wedding cake. She said it was an interesting experience (as was watching it), but not one she’d care to repeat. I have to agree. Just not my thing.

I have to give the fashion design club major props on one thing: the models weren’t all tall and thin. They included several short girls (one was my daughter), and most were a good, healthy weight. They even had one model with Down’s Syndrome, who the audience loved. The show also went off well, as far as the audience could tell, though my daughter said several things went awry. So an interesting experience to do once!

What I’ve been reading: Still not done with the science fiction book, though I’m close!

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I did not get done what I wanted this week. I finished the cover and sent that to Mythical Press, but did not get the book description done for them yet. So that’s up for this week. They are also asking for my front- and back- matter (Acknowledgements, Author’s Note, etc.) so completing those are my goals for this week.

What about you–do you have a lot of books? Do you find it hard to get rid of them? Have you ever attended a fashion show? Or have you had another new experience recently? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Shaking Things Up

I tend to stick with things for a long time. I’ve been in my current job for over eight years (a really long time for a software developer). A few weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary. We’ve lived in the same house for that long, too.

Those are all good things. But being in a good rut is still being in a rut, and both my husband and I have been feeling a need for a while to shake things up.

My family is a real blessing, so we don’t want to shake that up. And my job has been good–I’m blessed to work with and for nice people, in a relatively low-stress environment, and it pays decently. It’s not always challenging and interesting, but it is enough of the time that it’s good.

But neither of us has ever lived outside of southwest Ohio. My husband has never even lived in a different city. It’s been a good place to live, aside from some crappy winter weather and presidential campaign seasons. But we’re feeling a need for change, so we’re looking to move south. Not any time soon, but probably in 5 years or so. Just because we feel we need something different.

He’s actually been talking about this for a couple years. It took me a while to come around, but gradually, I did. Now that I have, it’s exciting to think about. This is one reason why I’ve been particularly inspired by Patricia’s story of leaving California and following her and her husband’s dream to Mississippi, where they bought a bed and breakfast (that I definitely hope to visit sometime!).

The main reason for our timeframe is that we want to get our daughter through college and pay off the remaining debt on our rental properties. The other reason is the massive amount of decluttering this house needs. It needs a lot of little nitpicky repairs too, but the clutter has to go first.

So I’ve gotten back into Flylady. I joined Flylady back in 2002 when I was laid off for a couple of years because there were no software jobs around here. I wanted to get my house in order, and learn how to keep it that way.

It took a while (I honestly don’t remember how long), but I did pretty well. The only thing I didn’t get to was completing the closets, and the basement. And when I went back to work, a lot of the Flylady habits fell by the wayside.

Some I’ve kept up. I do have a morning and evening routine, and I relegate my bill-paying and bookkeeping to Monday evenings. But I now have a lot more motivation to get back into decluttering.

I normally spend only 15 minutes a day on this, as Flylady suggests. And it’s already made a noticeable difference! For example, I have a huge built-in bookcase in my office/study that’s three feet high, by about twelve feet long. The top of it was completely full of clutter! I spent fifteen minutes putting stuff away and throwing trash out, and it was DONE (the top, not the contents. That will come later). We didn’t have anything suitable for the giveaway bag, though normally that’s a part of my decluttering, too. This bookcase top was just one of those things we think will take a long time, but if we just do it, it doesn’t. I did the same thing with an occasional table in the dining room that seemed to have a sole purpose as a home for junk. Fifteen minutes was all it took! I can’t believe I forgot this basic truth. Even things that took more than one fifteen minute session to declutter were easier than I thought.

Having the additional motivation is a big part of it, I’m sure. Now I not only think, “Do I use this? Do I love it?” I also think “Would I want to move this?” If the answer to all three is No, out it goes!

What I’ve been reading: In the midst of all the decluttering, of course I still have time to read! That’s even more so now that I’m trying to establish a habit of walking at least 15 minutes every day. If the weather’s nice, Isis gets another walk. If not, I walk on the treadmill–and read! Right now, I’m reading an advance reader copy of an exciting science fiction novel. I’m about halfway through it, so should finish by next week. I’ll discuss it then.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I finished the revisions based on my beta readers’ comments! Part of this is because I decided to stop dawdling over those from one reader, whose suggestions for changes were quite extensive. I initially agreed with her comments, but the more I dug into the book with them, the slower the revision went, and the more I balked at making the changes at all. I finally realized that this was because those changes weren’t right for the book–they either would have deviated from my vision for the story, or they would have made it different, but no better. I did work in her more overall suggestions, so it’s still a stronger story. Now I’m having them look it over again, along with a third reader, because I want to make sure the changes make sense. For this week, I really need to buckle down and get the book description to my publisher, plus a cover comp. I also need to complete another cover for a Mythical Press client.

What about you–have you ever felt the need to shake something up? What did you do? Has clutter taken over your home, or are you good at keeping it under control? Have you tried Flylady’s system? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Another Good Week

Isis and friend

Isis and friend get some human greetings

I’m happy to report that last week’s pattern of getting stuff done has continued (and no funerals).

I’m continuing to declutter one cabinet or cupboard in the kitchen each evening, and am making progress there. Yesterday, I cleaned out the refrigerator, which hadn’t been done is waaaaaaay too long. Not going to say how much, because my mother reads this blog. 🙂 That took a good bit longer than fifteen minutes, and now, I know some of my writer friends are thinking, I must be trying to avoid writing, or just “why???” Actually, I’m not trying to avoid writing; I’d rather work on that. But it was getting to the point where I was afraid my daughter would call a HAZMAT crew when she returns from Germany in a few weeks, so I cleaned it. (She mentioned that when she was home for spring break–back in March.) The good part? It’s like having a new refrigerator! DH said now when he opens it, he wonders, “is this OUR refrigerator?” then opens the freezer, and thinks, “yep.” That’s today’s decluttering task, and should take a lot less time, since there should be no spilled gunk to clean.

Isis had some more play dates–in fact, her friend is over now, as I write this:

This is the typical speed of a doggy play date

This is the typical speed of a doggy play date

HuntressSet1-3D-1000I did some book covers this week, one for Athena Grayson’s Huntress of the Star Empire series, this time a bundle of the first three novellas. The second cover was for another writer friend whose small press publisher went out of business, and who kindly gave its authors their rights back. I’ll show the cover here when she releases the book, as it’s currently not available at all.

UnleashMoon Huntress11-300What I read this week: Unleash the Moon by Zoe Winters, and Huntress of the Star Empire, Episode 11 by Athena Grayson. I picked up Unleash the Moon when I ran out of Huntress episodes, then had to finish Into the Savage Country, which I discussed last week, because it was a library book. Finally, this week I got back to Unleash and finished it. As with all of Zoe Winter’s books, it was an enjoyable read, although this book felt a little anticlimactic after Forbidden, the prior book in the series. Still good, and still worthwhile, this book is the conclusion of her Preternaturals series.

Huntress just keeps cranking up, leading to the next, and last book in the serial. In this episode, the intense action of Episode 10 lets up, as the Huntress begins to come to grips with who she really is.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My goal last week was to get the prequel short story in my series reformatted (my publisher wants to upgrade the interior look of their older ebooks, and I do this for them as a contractor), and get it and the first book to my publisher. Did that, so this week’s definitely a win! So this week, my plans are to reformat the next one and get it to the publisher, with some additional mailing list setup stuff as a bonus.

What about you–how has your week been? Have you read any good books lately? Do you ever stop reading one book, then come back to it after finishing another, and if so, why? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have, whether writing or otherwise? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Quiet But Busy

Aside from one evening, this week has been an uneventful, yet busy one. I’ve had a little more energy lately in the evenings, so I’m trying to get back into a habit of decluttering, starting with the kitchen. The clutter finally got bad enough that I decided I’m tired of living in CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome*), so it’s time I did something about it.

I started with the countertops, which had become a dumping ground for STUFF (“Something That Undermines Family Fun*) we were being too lazy to just put away. And as FlyLady suggests, I gave the sink a good cleaning and am also working on a habit of making sure it’s clean before I got to bed each night. Wow, did those two things make a difference! Even DH is now putting things away, because he likes it tidy, too. And it’s so much easier to fix a meal in a kitchen that’s not full of clutter!

Of course, the cabinets and cupboards still need work–lots of it!–so I’m going through and decluttering one a day. Typically, this takes no more than fifteen mintues–FlyLady’s recommended amount of time to spend, so we don’t get burned out. I highly recommend FlyLady’s website if you want to learn to get your home under control using baby steps. I discovered her many years ago when I was laid off, and had my house looking really nice before we all slacked off and started letting clutter accumulate. I will admit it’s easier when one doesn’t have a full-time job and a second, part-time one (my writing), but it’s still doable.

Friday night was a quiet occasion. A good friend’s sister passed away, so we went to the funeral visitation. It was one of life’s sad ironies–this woman had beaten breast cancer twice by age 40, when she’d been given a low chance of surviving another year. She was 42 when she passed–from an accident on an ATV. It’s the kind of thing that really makes us think of our own mortality, especially given my husband’s two close calls last year.

Saturday morning, Isis had a play date–our next door neighbors are dog-sitting for their son, so they let his dog run around our backyard with Isis for a while. They both totally wore each other out! I did not get any pictures because every time I got my phone out, they ran around the other side of the garage, or were just moving too fast!

Into the Savage CountryWhat I read this week: Into the Savage Country by Shannon Burke. This a bit of an aside from my usual fare, a Western/historical fiction about a young man’s adventures as a fur trapper in 1820s America. A writing friend recommended it to me, and since the hero of my upcoming book is also a fur trapper (albeit 70 years earlier, and about 700 miles east), I read it partly for the time period, and partly for the research. It started out kind of slow and episodic, but got better as it went. The characters and their relationships were complex and well-developed, and used the same inventiveness and determination that got them into trouble, to get out of it.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: My goal last week was to rewrite/tweak the blurbs for all of my already-published books. I did that for one, but decided I would rather focus on one book at a time and instead worked on reformatting it (my publisher wants to upgrade the interior look of their older ebooks, and I do this for them as a contractor). That took a while, and it’s not out yet (I need to do more testing and tweaking), but so far, it looks much better. I also did some website stuff that isn’t ready to roll out yet, but will be soon. I consider it a win, and plan to continue in this vein this week. So this week, my plans are to finalize that book and get it to the publisher, then reformat another, probably the short story.

What about you–how has your week been? Have you worked on developing a new habit lately? Have you read anything outside of your usual type of books lately, and if so, how was it? How are you doing on whatever goals you might be working toward, whether writing-related or otherwise? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

* Definitions for CHAOS and STUFF are FlyLady’s.

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Baby Steps Get the Job Done, and NaNoWriMo/ROW80

My mom has been working on some massive decluttering for the past few years. Some of it is her stuff, but most came from her mother, who passed away a few years ago and had the classic depression-era “collector” mentality. Mom has some health issues, so it’s been slow going at times, but when she’s able, she works on one pile of stuff at a time. Eventually, a pile gets cleared, then a stack, then a whole corner of a room.

She’s still working on it, and it may take a while, but baby steps really do get the job done.

The same goes for our writing, as many of us embark on NaNoWriMo starting this week. For the uninitiated, that’s National Novel Writing Month, a challenge in which the goal is to write 50,000 words–the equivalent of a short novel–in one month. I’ve done it–and won–twice. But it sounds daunting if you’re not a writer, or if you’ve never done it. And indeed, it’s a lot, and it takes dedication. But so does decluttering something like what my mom’s working on, and the same approach can work to getting through a big goal like NaNoWriMo.

Just write a sentence. Then the next. And the next. And the next thing you know, you’ll have a paragraph. A page. A scene. A chapter.

Baby steps really do get the job done.

ROW80Logo175To  that end, I break my NaNoWriMo goal down into weekly goals, as part of my ROW80 goals. This week’s goals were:

  • 4500 words on WIP – close! I got 4,000. I’m happy with that.
  • Keep up with lessons and homework for Promotions workshop – I got the lessons done, will do the homework today (it’s due tonight).
  • Refine layout of Shopping Cart page and individual product page for family member’s web site – No
  • Fitness 4 times, no matter how short – No

Looks like I need to get back into that baby step mentality for the website and fitness. We’ll work on that this week:

  • 12,000 words on WIP
  • Keep up with lessons and homework for Promotions workshop
  • Refine layout of Shopping Cart page and individual product page for family member’s web site
  • Fitness 4 times, no matter how short

What about you? If you’re doing NaNoWriMo and/or ROW80, how are you doing? If not, are you working on some other goal? Have you tried the baby step approach? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

Time Management: Just Fifteen Minutes!

Time management has been a challenge for me for as long as I can remember. And keeping my house clean?

(Excuse me while I go have a good laugh)

Okay. Anyway, yes, the day job makes a convenient excuse. Not sayin’ it’s a good one, but it’s mine, and I’m sticking to it. Actually, I no longer worry about it, because now that my husband’s retired, he does a lot of it, and trades work with a friend to do some too (don’t hate me!). But when I was laid off a few years ago, I knew I had to step up.

Enter Flylady.

Before: My shoes were out of control!

Flylady’s website is full of tips to get your house (and other aspects of life) under control through routines. She sends out motivational emails every day, and sells products on her website that she’d personally used and determined to be the best value for what they do. She also has a lot of great sayings:

“Your house did not get messy in one day, it’s not going to get clean in one day!”

“You cannot organize clutter, you can only get rid of it!”

“Baby steps get the job done!”

“Just fifteen minutes!”

What a difference ten minutes makes!

Words to live by!

While I was out of work, I did a good job getting clutter under control, and I kept up with the house fairly well. But reining in clutter is an ongoing task, and I haven’t kept up with it since going back to work several years ago. Yesterday, I tripped over shoes in my walk-through closet and decided enough was enough. Surely it wouldn’t take that long to declutter my shoes, so I noted the time and figured I’d spend fifteen minutes on it and see what I could get done.

Buried in that junk, I found three pairs of boots I hadn’t worn in at least two years, and five pairs of shoes that were worn out (and I also hadn’t worn in a year).  Those went out. Behind them, way in the back of the closet, were a cleaning bucket I’d thought was lost, and a laptop I had from my first software development job, that I bought in 1997! Even if it could run modern software, the screen was just about shot the last time I fired it up. So I found a place that recycles computers for free, without using toxic chemicals or shipping it over to China, and I put the boots in a bag for the next AMVETS pickup.

Time? 10 minutes!

Okay, five more minutes. I decided to tackle my husband’s shoes, since his size-14s are even more of a tripping hazard than my shoes. He didn’t have any to throw out, but I did move a few he doesn’t wear often to the back, behind his slacks.

Fifteen minutes total, and I was done!

The rest of the closet awaits for my next fifteen minutes, some other day, maybe tomorrow!

Have you ever put off something because you thought it would take a long time – then when you finally jumped in and got to it, found that it didn’t take long at all? Have you found anything as ridiculous as a non-functional, 14-year-old laptop??? Got any decluttering tips? Please share!