Brida Anderson

Urban Fantasy

Tag: challenge

Slipping back into frazzled working mode – Procrastination-Challenge Day 3

I’m blogging this days after the fact — due to working in “chunks”. Some days are for blogging, others for working on my non-fiction projects. Lessons learned from the Procrastination-Challenge so far. As you can see in this post.

Brida's Procrastination Challenge


 

Day 3 of the Procrastination-challenge started with meeting three other women for coffee. I’m yearning to get to know more people here in Doha (dare I say: more people who fit my tribe? ;) and I’m always happy to see other adults :-), so that was a much-needed outing.

Two lessons learned from this day for the Procrastination-Challenge:

  • I need the first morning hours for work. Starting when my brain still feels fresh and, creatively speaking, close to the landscapes of sleep/dreams.
  • Starting after 10 is too close to lunch (even if I ignore lunch and only stop working when I have to pick up my kids at 1:30); after 11 is even less productive. Even if coffee-fueled ;-)

How do you feel about that? What’s your experience today, after 3 days of No-Procrastination?

Today, I kept slipping back into my old mode of working. Just because I kept thinking “oh well, I don’t have that much time for work today anyway”. Which was just the usual bull our inner procrastinator tells us – I had ample time.
Several emails from the publishing house flew in about my Mom-Wellness-manuscript which is currently being typeset. They were urgent but not that urgent — still I repeatedly stopped what I was currently working on to answer the small questions in the emails (about spelling a certain word, layout for the index, and such).

After the third email, I never went back to focussed writing. I answered other emails, connected with new friends on Facebook, lost at least an hour commenting and reading in Facebook, researched a new blog platform for this blog, researched how to transfer the blogposts …

New emails in between, more research for silly workflow stuff, like: “how much does a full Adobe Acrobat version for the Mac cost” — because the publishing house had said that the PDF with my corrections didn’t print properly.
Does that sound familiar?

Only because I had worked for 2 days following the No-Procrastination rules, I realized for the first time how frazzled this way of working makes me feel!

You do accomplish a lot of different tasks in one day and manage to get all the urgent, niggly stuff off your desk. But there is no (or: not much) brain-capacity left for really working on the projects that matter. The projects that require concentration and inspiration.
Perhaps a good mix could be 2 rounds of focussed writing and then devoting one hour to such urgent but non-creative stuff each day. (Or more, if you have more hours at the office than I do.)

During the remainder of the No Procrastination-Challenge I’ll keep trying out different rhythms of focussed writing, different projects and urgent stuff to see which works best.

So many lovely things to do – on battling the Procrastination troll

How’s your battle with Procrastination going, in the 35-Day-Procrastination Challenge?

I am at that point where I got so much done on the projects on my list (thanks to writing in the flow) that my brain served up glorious ideas of WHAT ELSE I could all accomplish in that time. “You know, if it’s going so well, why don’t you do this and this and that?”

Troll Head Lost Garden's of Heligan, Cornwall by Webheathcloseup / Flickr

Is that my procrastination troll? — Troll Head Lost Garden’s of Heligan, Cornwall by Webheathcloseup / Flickr (Creative Commons)

The project-ideas actually made sense – to finally take the time to create a nonfiction backlist from my previously published books. They were published by publishing houses, edited, proofread, I have the final PDF  — so all that’s missing is “just”  formatting them as ebooks, add a cover, upload.

Then I read a post from a friend on Facebook. She did long overdue work on her blog and happily so, working in the flow for hours. Only in the evening did she realize, that it “had been the Procrastination troll whispering in her ear”. He has a knack of making distractions sound utterly important and meaningful.

... or isn't he rather looking like this? :-) -- "Internet Troll?" by Eiik Solheim

… or isn’t he rather looking like this? :-) — “Internet Troll?” by Eiik Solheim (flickr / Creative Commons)

For now, I’ve decided to stick to the Procrastination Challenge but change my list of projects, pushing the second book in the Rule of Thorns-series further back and working on two non-fiction projects, one for a publishing house (deadline in August), one for my backlist.

Procrastination-Challenge. Day 0 — First Stumbles

Hey, procrastination challenge wasn’t even a few hours old when I ran into my first roadblock. I had totally forgotten that this Thursday (last workday of the week here in Qatar) I was booked at my son’s school. They did a sleepover from Wednesday to Thursday. And my job was to show up at 7 am (with 5 other moms), to prep breakfast for 14 ravenous and sleep-deprived kids and then do crafts with them all day until at 1 PM their parents would pick them up again.
So much for Day 1 of the No-Procrastination Challenge. %-)

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I took my notebook to school with me, in case some free time would miraculously appear. Hope is eternal, right? ;-)

I didn’t manage to get in some writing time, but it was still time well spent, getting to know my son’s new school, his teacher and the other children in his class.

The ice-breaker were my shoes ;-) Vibram toe-shoes. A lot of kids came over to our table to ask me questions. “Why do you wear such freaky shoes?” When I said “because they’re really comfy and you can climb all trees in them”, they were duly impressed and asked for help with their craft project. ;-)

A day well-spent. :-) Just not very productive for my current writing projects.

The Procrastination challenge. Day 0

Half a million projects on the plate, a small kid who is always sick, with outside temps at 40°C and rising? We’re arming ourselves with Leo Babauta’s no-procrastination ideas, putting on sunglasses and add a tank full of gas. Let’s hit it!
From today till the day our school and nursery close their doors, it’s 7 weeks. 7 weeks with 5 working mornings per week (if no-one gets sick. again. %-) * That’s 35 possible no-procrastination days.I’ve procrastinated my little heart out already today, with Facebook, eMails, blogposts, so this is day 0 not day 1. ;-PSo, huh? What is this?
Check out Leo’s blogpost on procrastination (while you’re at it: his posts on forming good habits are also great).
Back?
Great.
So, essentially what Leo’s post boils down to for me (you might have a different take-away):

What does it mean to have “No Procrastinaton”? Does that mean an unbroken stream of work from waking until bed?

It means I’m going to define things I can’t procrastinate on, even for a minute, and set a time period I have to work without distraction. And after that work period, I get a break.

An example: Let’s say the next thing on my list is to write a chapter of my book. I set a timer for 20 minutes, and I have to start right away, and work without cessation until the timer goes off. Only then can I check email or do any online reading, though I can work longer if I’m in a groove.

That’s Leo’s words. (Source: http://zenhabits.net/procrastinateless/)
Because I don’t have a whole day and several projects, I’ll be stricter with social media.My rules for the next 35 working “days”, based on Leo’s but moulded for my situation, are:

  • List my Most Important Task. I have to pick 1 thing from my “Do this week!”-board for that day.
  • Do it early. As soon as I start my working day, I will write for the chosen project without stopping for 50 minutes.
  • Do only empowering breaks. I’ll do 15 minutes break, but without Facebook, Pinterest. I can do yoga, prepare a coffee, water the plants outside.
  • After fifteen minutes, I do the next writing-bit, for about 30 minutes. I’ll play around with duration of the writing sprints depending on project.
  • Next break. Rules see above.
  • Next round of writing, this time for the 2nd project on my list, for 40 minutes.
  • Break. This time, Facebook, E-Mail, Pinterest etc. allowed.
  • The rest. I now should have about two hours, give or take, left of my morning. Now I’ll turn to the “other stuff” on the board (bills, text feedback, emails) and to household chores.
  • Every day I manage the schedule, will be one token for reward. ((I have a private list set up at Amazon where I add stuff I’d love to have and how many tokens it’s worth. Books, LARP accys, elfish jewelry. Lots of Etsy finds :-))
  • If there’s a “higher force” (kids sick etc.) and I don’t meet my quota, nothing happens. For every day I mess up without external interference, I pay back one token into the stash.
We’ll have to see how it goes and adapt the rules accordingly.
This is based on how I work during NaNoWriMo in November and when I am close to a deadline for a project.What do you think? How’s your battle with procrastination going? Want to join me for a final writing sprint before summer vacation?

Being sticky – being brave in what you create / write

Kristen Lamb tells writers to “be sticky” if they want people to notice them and their books. Even though “being sticky” comes very naturally to me as a mom of two young children ;- ), in my writing, that’s something else.
There are three areas Kristen urges you to be sticky if you want to succeed at social media (and, alas, a mom-writer’s clothes and hair are not among the three. Rats! ;-).
Two of them are internet-related, the third is our writing itself.

While I dropped my youngest off in kindergarten, I mulled over what I had read in Kristen’s book Rise of the Machines. And realized that this isn’t just something about writers. It applied to the people I ran into as well.
How often do we really stick out our neck? And how often do we take the safe road and blend in? At the cost of being “non-sticky” or almost invisible. Non-memorable.

How about you? When did you learn that talking freely about what you felt was your truth (in any given situation) wasn’t safe? That it got you in hot waters with your teachers, your parents, your first boy-friend, perhaps?

 

Inner warrior Brida Anderson

Your inner warrior is wise and wild / She knows the true shape and names of things / … and just how strong you really are

Before our move abroad, I was talking to a friend I had rediscovered on Facebook. He had last seen me when I was 16, just embarking on a relationship that later turned out to be abusive. When I told him about moving to Qatar for three years, he urged me to not start a one-woman-revolution there. I thought: “What is he talking about? Me? Why should I?”
He remembered me as I had been, at 12-13-14 years old. Running around in my hometown with a bright red cap, dispensing flyers on a busy Saturday about women’s rights. (Pathologically shy me!) Even pressing one into the mayor’s hand with an acidic comment when he came by by chance (I was camped out near the city hall). Sending my poetry to magazines and competitions, totally convinced that it was superb and much-needed. And even getting it published at the tender age of 14. It seemed only natural to me at the time — today, I shake my head how confident I was, how sure that I’d be published.
Then … stuff happened. Life. Boys who punish you for being “all brain” or who seek to hurt you, verbally, physically, when you seem to be too self-confident. After uni, it carried over into my nonfiction writing through my work. (University had taken care of the fiction writing already.) If you talk to other editors and agents all day, get trainings every few months on how to write the perfect fluffy nonfiction book that appeals to everyone and offends no one, it rubs off on you.Now with Kristen’s advice on “writing sticky books” in my ear, I have been quietly exploring for months, how true to my ideas and convictions I dare to be in my nonfiction.
If you write like anybody else and what anyone else could have contributed to a topic, then a reader won’t see that this is you writing to them. And they won’t hear your voice.
Time to put on the red cap and stand up. Become sticky!
((reblogged from my old blog-address at Weebly, hence the wonky formatting))
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brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Stranger in a strange land – moving abroad

When we first heard about moving to the Middle East (from Germany), I ran across the internet, especially all kinds of blogs, to find information about being deployed abroad for several years with kids. The with kids part nagged me most. And the question of what to bring. We’d be able to only bring along 4 cubic meters of our personal things (that’s about 40 small moving crates), so every gram counts. Hard to anticipate what you’ll need of baby medicine, equipment … when moving to a very different region with different climate, shops,  healthcare, …
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My two brave troopers – at 0 degrees back in Germany; with their new summer shoes for 25 degrees in Qatar
I was really surprised that I didn’t find many infos. I did find stuff about the region we’d be moving to (Doha, in Qatar), found info on how to bring a dog and what life’s like with a pet in 40 degree weather — among a people who don’t like dogs and consider them very “unclean” (like pigs). But no account of someone moving there with kids.
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Packing up all Playmobil and much beloved accys for the toy kitchen
Now that we actually made the move (3 days ago), I know why.
When moving abroad with kids, you don’t have any time to sit and write about the experience. :-D
It’s a race to get all stuff together, get the paperwork (oh, the paperwork!) and house sorted, estimates from moving companies, … No wonder I couldn’t find another mom’s chronicle of the move.

Now I’m jotting down stuff in Evernote to put together tips&tricks lists for other moms in the same situation.
Provided I can wrestle my computer away from my kids for an hour, I’ll keep you posted on how we settle into life in the Middle East. So far, school and nursery have not started and with no car at our disposal, the kids are entertained by treks to the mall a few streets away and DVDs. The hotel’s pool is cold – which isn’t too great a combo with the snot-noses we all brought from Germany. ;-)

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