Wednesday 9 January 2013

Free Your Mind

I’m back! 

I realise blogging about resolutions is so last week and by now you’ve probably already broken the no chocolate, no alcohol, write every day promises, but here goes mine anyway.

It seems that my 2012 resolution which stated right here that I would keep on blogging didn’t go to plan. This year, I made just the one resolution: To be Organised! That’s it, that’s all. Wouldn’t it be amazing if it really were that simple? I do honestly believe though, that by adding just a tiny more order to one’s home, writing, thoughts, and life makes a huge impact.

How best to tackle this resolution? Here are some thoughts from the point-of-view of someone who has fallen into some terrible habits and usually feels exhausted and deflated by the end of the day. Lack of time ends up being a far too common excuse and makes no sense when 10 levels of Angry Birds have been completed. No lack of time for games then eh? 

I recently came across the following chart and it illustrates perfectly what I'm aiming to achieve:

So here goes, a few steps that could help us all get there:

Is Your Routine Really the Best it could be?
Take a minute to write down what you do on a daily basis from the moment you wake up, or in my case, from the moment I get trampled all over and yelled at by two infants keen to have breakfast in the middle of the night! I have to be honest, some days it doesn’t feel like an awful lot but my head is spinning at the end of the day as my list of errands increases. On the plus side, I can tell you what many of my Facebook friends have been up to all day long. Sound familiar? Distraction just comes way too easily, and the less you have to do, the more distracted you’ll become and that will start to build up to the point where all errands and housekeeping snowball until you don’t dare think about it and end up with takeaway for dinner. Again! Nevermind the writing.
Review your routine, write an improved routine and see how that works out. (the busier you are, the more you’ll get done)

Remove the Distraction
If your new routine is still not working, perhaps it might be time to get rid of all distractions. As I type, a little box has popped up informing me I have new mail. That has to go, along with all other notifications! Set yourself certain times of day in your routine to check your e-mails and social networks. You do not need to see another photo of a cat doing something cute, or a baby with a face covered in chocolate! Well, at least not all day long, that can be done during your chill-out time. I’ve recently heard of people using timers to manage their workload and it sounds quite useful both for work and for leisure. 

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” 
― Jim Ryun

Keep a Calendar/ Diary
Fill it! Colour code it. If you’re quite good at using an app to help manage your schedule, great. I’m not. I add to one and then don’t look at it for a week. I now have a shiny new wall calendar and I walk past it all day, every day. It’s the best thing ever! 
There’s a column for each one of us in the household and I now know where everyone needs to be and when. It’s one less thing to keep in my busy mind and at a glance I know which days/ weeks will be better for writing or just note taking. 
If you love apps, I find Evernote really good for planning, sharing and storing information. 

To-Do lists are your Friend
Don’t Keep it in Your head or there will be no room for dreams!
I’m a little bit anal and really do enjoy lists and spreadsheets and so far it’s been fun. Putting it all into practice will be harder, but I’m determined to make it work.

Be realistic and take it one step at a time! It sounds obvious but it might not be. Looking at my writing goals last year, they could have been more do-able had I been more specific. Rather than having a goal that says write a feature, a more achievable goal or to-do list would be:

  1. write notes for a feature
  2. write a logline
  3. share the logline for feedback
  4. write a loose outline
  5. rewrite outline
  6. write a treatment (or beat sheet or whatever it is you do)
  7. rewrite treatment
  8. get notes
  9. write 1st draft

Now that looks a lot more achievable, rather than writing a whole feature, the 1st task on my to-do list, which I can actually cross off within a realistic time frame is simply to write down notes. And ticking that box feels good! It is no longer a monster, it is no longer a task that I want to avoid and wash the dishes instead. It is a small part of a whole which I can enjoy as I haven’t set myself too high a goal all at once.

Empty Your Sink
That takes me into another part of my life that needs to be more organised, my home. I won’t bore you with how I’m going to achieve this without a cleaner but I have noticed that I get too distracted when the house is a mess, or worse, I feel guilty. Guilt that I have chosen to write over a list of other things that need my attention.

I will share the one great tip I got from FlyLady: Always empty your sink! The longer you leave the dishes, the less motivated you are to wash your dishes. Now just try to empty the sink. Put the dishes on the stove, on the worktop, on the floor if you have to. How does that feel? Try it, it feels amazing and your dishes will get done! 

Now try to apply that to writing, whatever your metaphorical sink might be. In the words of En Vogue “Free your mind and the rest will follow”  Maybe your mind has too many ideas floating about, too many worries, too much baggage. Empty it! Keep an ideas book, write them down. Keep a to-do list, take note. Keep a diary, let it remind you of your meetings. 

Make Time for Your loved Ones
Most important of all though, make time for your friends and family. If you need to, add it to your to-do list “Call Mum/ sister/ friend/ dog”.
I have made a conscious effort to put my phone away at mealtimes. It was too easy to grab it to just check something quickly during a meal and that’s not something I want my kids to be doing if they are ever allowed their own phones. 

There you go, just a few tips on how I intend to survive this year without reaching the end with a sense of non-achievement. I just think that if you organise your life, your thoughts, you’ll be happier and those around you will too. You reflect to the outside world the energy within.

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