Almost Oops

I had an opportunity to spend a few days at a house where I used to live. I loved that house. I still do. So I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t consider not having any reliable Internet except on my phone.

I grabbed at the chance that I could get a lot of writing done on a current manuscript that I wanted to finish in August. That didn’t happen, so I’m hoping for a September finish. It’s definitely possible.

And today I got a lot done on it.

There were a few things I needed to research, though. I used my phone. No big deal. It’s doable. Not ideal, but doable.

Tonight, I decided to sit down at play a game on the computer. It was then I noticed I had an Internet connection. Not just one bar from the coffee shop next door that I’ve had on my Kindle off & on all day, but FULL bars. Full signal. From the coffee shop. It’s not fast, but it’s letting me post.

That’s why this post was almost an oops. It almost didn’t get posted and that would have been okay because it had to be. Since it’s not, you get this short little rambling post about how my unobservant day almost missed this deadline.

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How Jen Got Her Groove Back

Used under a Creative Commons license.
Used under a Creative Commons license.

I can’t actually say I have my groove back, or even that I have a groove, yet. I am, however, on my way to getting one.

As a result of having to keep my foot up for so long, I lost any kind of momentum I may have had. Because of my eyesight, it’s difficult for me to work with a computer in my lap. It can be done, but with a lot of difficulty. I prefer to use an external monitor adjusted for easy (well… easier) viewing and an external keyboard. It just makes my life easier. If I were working for someone else, they would call it accommodations. I call it doing what works for me.

Anyway, I digress.

Since I don’t have to have my foot up as much (though I still do a few times during the day), I can start getting back into a routine. It looks something like this:

Morning: Morning routine & housework (including tidying my office & living areas)
Noon: Lunch & a walk
Afternoon: Writing & marketing (and other work as it comes along)
Evening: Dinner, knitting or crochet/TV, family, & end-of-day routine (maybe another walk, especially if the noon time is too warm as the summer progresses)

It’s nothing major in the grand scheme of things, but it will help me get back to where I want to be, so it’s pretty major in that way.

I used to think schedules and routines were anathema to creativity. A few years have passed since then. (OK, more than a few.) I have come to realize that having a schedule and following a routine actually allows room for creativity. For me, creativity requires structure. If I have no structure and it can have free rein, nothing ever gets done. It’s funny how that works.

As things progress and I get assignments and other work coming in, I have no doubt the schedule will change. It will have to in order to accommodate deadlines. For now, though, this is a start. And I think it’s a good one.

Overwhelm

Creative Commons via catchingcourage.com
Creative Commons via catchingcourage.com

In a conversation with my mother earlier, I mentioned that when I think about everything I have to do tomorrow, I feel overwhelmed.

She said I’ll get over it. And she’s right.

I’ve decided that when you take on anything new, there is always a learning curve (or a RElearning curve, as the case may be). I’m in that now. Yes, I know how to use AP style. I know the format for news stories. I’m having to relearn part of it though. This goes along with “The Wheels Are Turning” post from the other day.

Today was more…intense, I guess, than I expected. The assistant editor was back from vacation and trained me on how to do area briefs and obituaries. I worked on an article that I did the research and interview for on Friday. I learned the proper form for submitting my invoices to AR. I want to go over the article I was working on one more time before I call it done. I’m actually pretty happy with it.

Tomorrow, I need to come up with some interview questions for an entirely different subject, do the interview, type my notes, and finish a Halloween round-up article that I’ve been collecting information for.

Can I do it all tomorrow? I think so. Part of it, I have to.

I guess the point of all of this is to say that with my calendar, notebook, and revamped skill set, I’ve got this.

What are you working on that causes you to feel overwhelmed from time to time? I can pretty well guarantee you’ve got it — whatever “it” is — too.

Consulting a Calendar

Creative Commons via catchingcourage.com
Creative Commons via catchingcourage.com

How many of you write things on a calendar? Over the past year, I’ve found my calendar is one of my most valuable tools.

I know many people have kids they have to schedule for as well. I don’t know how they can do it without a calendar. It seems like it would be a necessity for keeping up with dentist appointments, soccer practices, t-ball games, and work requirements.

Like I said yesterday, putting things in writing has helped me remember things. So has using a calendar. Back even a year ago, I could keep track of deadlines without one. I can’t do that anymore. There are too many things going on for me to know exactly when one thing is happening when compared to another one that is in a similar time slot on a different day.

I know people who swear by Google Calendar. If you have an Android smartphone, this will put your Google Calendar on your phone as well and keep the two synchronized. I’ve used it. I’ve found that it’s not for me. When I go to look at a calendar to see what’s coming up I don’t tend to turn on a computer, go online, or look at my phone.

I look at a paper calendar. It’s what works best for me. My current calendar is an At-a-Glance 2014-2015 calendar with one day per page. It’s what works for me.

What works for you?

Skype for Interviews

I have had a Skype account for quite some time. I’ve used it a few times, particularly when my nieces spent the night and Face Time wouldn’t work on my mom’s iPad.

Fast forward to a few days ago. I needed to do an interview with someone who is currently in a different country. I knew she wouldn’t want to do a phone call, international rates being what they are, so I thought we would end up having to do it via email.

She suggested Skype. I had never thought about Skype for interviews. It was a wonderful idea! The interview went very well and I’m already almost half-way finished with the article.

I know many people use Skype on a regular basis. Yes, we had a few glitches, some on my end and some on hers. Overall, it was a 20-minute conversation that would not have been possible otherwise. Now?

Now I can meet my deadline. And I got a reminder of a great tool that I need to remember to use more often.