Take Back Your Time

It’s 10:20 a.m., and despite the fact that my stomach has been growling for the last two hours, I haven’t stopped to eat breakfast. In fact, my laundry is waiting in the dryer for me to fold, my story notes are waiting to be typed, and it would be nice to vacuum my floor and clean my bathroom sometime before the end of the year. My lists have lists, which have lists of their own. There’s a stack of business cards and promo material I need to go through, and on the corner of  my desk is an inbox with 4 inches of paperwork I need to go through. And downstairs I have a table of newspapers to review for research purposes. It seems that finding the time to do the most basic things becomes harder and harder. There’s just so much clutter to weed through.

Kill the Clutter

This morning I found myself in the rare situation where I’m between projects. I finished edits on Winter’s Fire yesterday and want a day before I begin the final proof. Finding Lacey Moon is off to the last beta reader. And I’m not quite ready to pull Full Circle back out to finish the draft. So, I decided to clean.

Clean my desk.

Clean out my email.

Clean up my notes.

Clean up my stacks of papers and receipts.


Time-slips-through-your-hands Take Back Your TimeI tackled my desk first, and even though I wasn’t quite finished with it, I turned to my email to begin cleaning it out. If you’re like me, you get a TON of email you don’t have time to read. Your intentions are good. You really want to read those emails, but you have to decide, “Do I want to read all these emails or write/eat lunch/send a birthday card to a reader/[fill in your own blank]?”  You begin to feel guilty that you can’t read all those emails, and you don’t want to unsubscribe, because what if you miss something you really wanted to read?

I think we need a one-year rule for email subscriptions, or in this case, a 6-month rule. If you haven’t read an email from a particular sender in 6 months (or even 3), it’s time to unsubscribe. The stress of continuing to beat down your email isn’t worth potentially missing one email you might gain some insight from. Because you might not. In fact, you probably won’t. If it’s important, you’ll read it or hear that information somewhere else. And really, just because Kohl’s is having a half-off sale doesn’t mean you need a new wardrobe. Look at it this way, unsubscribing could save you a ton of money.

So, anyway, there I was this morning, cleaning my email and ripping off the Band-Aids by unsubscribing from a bunch of newsletters and daily emails I never read anymore, and I came across one from Anne R. Allen and Ruth Harris. It was a blog post notification. I almost unsubscribed. I almost ripped off the Band-Aid. But something told me to start reading.

Angel sang. The planets aligned.

My stomach growled again.

Here’s the blog post from Anne and Ruth’s email: Frazzled, Overwhelmed, Swamped? A Writer’s Guide to Mental Health

Can I just say that this blog post was written expressly for me? I mean, come on. Isn’t it obvious that Anne and Ruth were in my head addressing every single thing I’m dealing with right down to the lawnmower under my desk? So, there’s where the damn thing went.

It’s no wonder my creative mojo has been skipping out on me lately. It’s no wonder I got sick on October 27 and have been sick ever since. It’s no wonder all I want to do right now is hibernate and avoid all human interaction. I’ve fallen prey to cyber-clutter, mental clutter, and paper clutter.

Take Back Your Time

Clutter is TOXIC! It dumbs you down. It sucks away your energy and desire for socialization. I can’t be dumbed down and toxified. I need my brain to write. I need it to stay fresh and frosty. And I need to want to socialize. And, damn it, I want to be healthy again.

It’s time to take action. And with 2015 just around the corner, there’s no better time than the present to clear the crap and develop new habits and behavior, starting today.

So, here’s what I’m going to do:

  • Learn how to say no. I don’t need to sign up for every newsletter, every event, every new thing that comes along. That’s just more to keep track of. I will look at everything and decide which are worth my time and which will only keep me from my objectives. Most will fall in the latter. Only the select few will make it to my keeper list.
  • Unsubscribe from magazines and publications that no longer serve me. If I don’t have time to read them, I don’t need them.
  • Unsubscribe from e-newsletters and e-mail announcements that I no longer read. To those this affects, please don’t take this personally. I would love to read everything I receive, but if I did that, I would never finish another book. So, I have to make hard decisions to eliminate those things that, while I love the people who write them, I never read them anymore. Most are for book reviews and announcements, and since my reading list is already ten miles long, these would only serve to add to my clutter and not eliminate it. Sorry. Plus, those people have to pay for the number of people who receive their newsletter. If I’m not reading their newsletters, I’m wasting their money. I don’t want to waste anyone’s money.
  • Regularly go through my files and toss anything I no longer read or need.
  • Continue to use the binders I created earlier this year to organize my story notes, character info, upcoming events, RWA info, and a host of other data.
  • Look at Scrivener as a potential writing tool. I can’t believe I said that. I never thought I would. I feel I have a great system for keeping my stories and related notes organized, but Scrivener could streamline this even more, decluttering me just that little bit extra.
  • Go through the shows on my DVR, take the notes I need from them for research, and delete the damn things. I’d love my DVR to say it has 80% or more available again. We’re excited when it says 40% available. And if I can’t watch those shows in the next 6 months, they’re gone. I ain’t got time to deal with the clutter anymore.
  • Reorganize my email. A few months ago, I did this to my computer files. Took me an entire afternoon, but now I can find files again that used to take me forever to find. There was one file I knew I’d created, but couldn’t find it for over two months. Yeah, there was no order to the chaos. Now all my files are logical. I need to do the same with my email.
  • Clean out my closets, my drawers, my kitchen, my bathroom. Yes, this will be a long process, but if I keep plugging away at it, I’ll get there.
  • Lastly, I will not try to be everywhere all the time, whether on social media or in real life.

Hopefully, by the time I make some of these changes, my mind will be clearer and allow me more and better productivity, which will lead to more book sales, an agent, and a book deal with a publisher. Because more book sales will mean I can hire an assistant, which means I won’t have to do as much. And an agent and publisher means I can get a helping hand with some of the things that currently add to the clutter.

Those are my objectives, and that means I need to declutter and stay focused on reaching them.

Looks like I have the fuel for my New Year’s Resolutions, huh?




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