Breaking up is hard to do

In an effort to streamline and get some writing on the page, I’ve looked at parts of my day that can be devoted to fingers on keyboard in a positive way.  Looking at catalogues that come into my email is a total time waster.  I counted how many came in over just a few days and it was 27 of those little distracting pests.  I’m not sure how I collected so many but they seem to find me in this wintery corner of the world.  They worm their way and set comfy in my inbox and before I know it, I’m overrun.

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It’s amazingly hard to unsubscribe. Have you noticed that?  The unsubscribe link is always hidden away in – 4 font down the bottom of the email. Sometimes it’s so stealthy it doesn’t say unsubscribe. It requires a magnifying glass and a safari suit to find the secret passageway to unsubscribe land.  Livingstone and sherpers couldn’t find some of them. When finally it is trapped and the link is clicked it took me to a site where a sad little message will greeted me.

Really! You’re leaving me?  Why? I’ve been so good to you. I’ve given you hours of browsing pleasure looking at things you don’t need so you don’t have to write.  Isn’t this a little harsh? At least take me out to dinner.

Just when I thought the relationship was over, a few of the more persistent – dare I say stalkerish sites – came back with a message.

We miss you. It’s not the same with out you. Here are a few deals to tempt you back.

Restraining order anyone!

I was ruthless.  I even broke up with Booktopia – a bookstore in Australia.  That one was hard.  There is regret over that one.

My email looks less cluttered  and I’m a minimalist at heart. My time is not spent on looking through online stores for things I have no need of but look pretty.  Breaking up was worthwhile, even if my eyes did take a beating from looking for that tiny link.

 

Habitual or how I became addicted to writing.

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No, not that kind, though the flying nun is habit-forming.

At the beginning of the year I wanted to turn some so-so habits that were kind of working into habits that helped me breeze through the day.  There were things I was good at and some I was haphazardly hit and miss with. Writing every day was unfortunately falling into the latter category.

A book that helped me turn this around was Lifelong writing habits by Chris Fox.  It’s a quick little book, it took me no more than an hour to read through the entire thing and there are some pointers in there that where easy to implement.  After about a month I found they were real habits and if I didn’t do them I felt something in my day was off.  That’s the feeling I wanted. I wanted to notice if I didn’t write.

Chris breaks down what a habit is.

  • The trigger,  i.e. an alarm in the morning that wakes you up
  • The Routine, i.e. brushing your teeth and making a cup of coffee
  • And The Reward, i.e.  clean teeth and a shot of caffeine.

I needed sitting down at my writing place to be as necessary as brushing my teeth in the morning.  After a month or so – it took longer than I imagined it would – if I don’t park myself in that seat I feel something was off about my day. I felt not quite right in my world.

There are loads of books on the market about habits, I think any of them could deliver the same message. This one did so in a compact way that didn’t take a great deal of time and didn’t necessitate any grand plan.  It was also under $5 aus.

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A short burst of Will Power was only good for the racing circuit.

It spoke about something I found to be true.  That willpower doesn’t work. I don’t mean the racing car driver, I am sure he works very well. I mean that thing we are all suppose to have that pushes us to do something. For a few days, sure, but over and over again, not so much. By hard wiring writing into my brain I created an addiction to this activity.

My trigger: Alerts I set on every device I could get my hands on. My phone, iPad, laptop and desktop all chime one minute after each other telling me to Write, Write, Write, Write. It’s worse than an toddler in a toy story for nagging.

My routine: Grab a cup of coffee, sit on the chair, read over yesterdays quick notes ( I’ll blog about quick notes) and then put fingers on keys and press them in an order that makes sense. It’s important not to open up anything but scrivener.

My reward:  Words on the page. Pages turning into chapters. Chapters turning into a book!

The same place, the same time, the same thing = habit.

 

 

 

It’s tabs for me

 

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It’s time to admit that I’m addicted.  Not to the nightly tipple or a secret stash of chocolate. I’m talking tabs people. Little dividers that I’ve devised to help me find all the little notes I leave in…well  notebooks.

It started with the diary or more accurately , my bullet Journal.  I’m never satisfied with the store brought ones. Some things will work and other parts won’t, so I made a little black and white number to sit on my desk and track my writing. Nothing out-landish about that, you say.

But it didn’t stop.I’ve gone overboard, there’s no denying it.

You know how it is when you’re on the move and an idea pops into your head. A line here or there. A lightbulb moment. A bit of dialogue that sings. Oh the time spent thumbing back through notebooks for that priceless spark that would make the paragraph come together.  In an attempt to find those little gems we all scribble down I took to my current writing project notebook and before you can say rainbow card-stock it looked like little tongues were poking out at me. This miraculous idea would see bits of coloured paper scattered across three rooms, sticky tape on the bottom of each foot in the household and a fiendishly happy mother writing on tiny rectangles and flipping through the results.

This has grown.  This has become a movement. This is now a revolution.

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It soon included  general notes. Now it’s recipe books, shopping lists, to do lists….it’s changed my life. OK that’s over the top but it’s safe to say I’m spending less time flipping through a book saying where did I write that….

 

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Productivity

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A week ago I opened my email to the usual long list of blogs, articles and distractions and thought why do I do this each and every morning? I really should go straight to the WIP and get started. I can be distracted for hours combing through the words of others rather than writing my own. A morning can drift by and before I raise my head for a cup of tea, I’ve done absolutely nothing.

In a world of apps I knew there had to be something that could cure me of distractionitis – I’m patenting that word by the way – so I browsed the app store, through the thousands of productivity apps they offered, looking for something simple that didn’t have a lot of settings or options and something that would track my progress. I’ve always been a star chart kind of girl.

After trying a few, I came across the Pomodore.  The theory is that we work better if we divide our tasks into manageable chunks of time – 30 minutes being the optimum. 25 of those minutes is used for focused work and the last 5 for a rest before we switch to a new task or keep going. The plan is to get away from the computer and move around for 5 minutes. After 4 pomodore’s, a longer break of 30 minutes is recommended.

The App I downloaded is called Pomodore One by Vojto Rinik. It’s absolutely free and very simple.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.08.57 pmThat’s what it looks like on the desk top. It sits very unobtrusively behind your work, your menu bar, what ever suits you,  doing it’s thing for 25 minutes.

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You can see it here counting down at the top of my menu bar.

For that 25 minutes, I write and for 5 minutes I make a cup of tea, use the loo and walk around a bit.  I can decide to do another 25 minutes or not. Of course a physical timer would work just as well ( though the ticking would drive me nuts.)  A stop watch, a phone timer or your microwave are going to work.

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When the 25 minutes is up,  it dings ( so you need your volume up) and it begins at 5 minutes, giving you another ding when that rest period is up.

I like the app because it sits at the top of the screen doing it’s thing and I need only lift my eyes up every now and then. It’s amazing how quickly the 25 minutes goes by and when I take my 5 minute break my mind is jumping with ideas ready for my next pomodoro.

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I can easily see how much work I’ve done during the week and yes, I can see where all my time has gone.  So rather than thinking about working, I’ve been writing in 25 minute chunks and it’s paying off.

I love the simplicity of this app.  This is going to be too regimented for some, but for those of us who love our star charts and progress bars it’s fun.

Have you an app that is helping you work?  Please share it.