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January Progress

money goalsJanuary’s almost over, and most New Year’s Resolutions have been forgotten.  I didn’t really have any specific “New Year’s” resolutions, but I did find myself finding a lot of great things I wanted to accomplish this year, right around the last week of last year. I found an awesome yoga challenge. I found a really cool reading challenge. I made too many grand plans to have time for.

But my main goal this year is to pay off my highest interest student loan. That is a tangible goal that is really easy to track. I’d like to pay it off earlier in the year rather than later, but in order to meet my goal, that loan just needs to be at a zero balance by December 31, 2015. Read the rest of this entry

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Give and Take

This year is already shaping up to be great- I have a lot of fun plans with friends, and some solid plans for paying off my student loans. I’m finally going to see my best friend after over two years of living in far-away states. So far I’ve approached this year organized, motivated, and optimistic.

My main focus in my planning has been paying off my debt without making my life focus “money”. I’m going to lessen miscellaneous expenses, but not at the cost of not spending time with the people I love. I’ll just seek to do so in budget-friendly ways. Read the rest of this entry

Good Choices I’ve Made Recently

Lately I’ve been trying to procrastinate less, be less lazy and focus on my health. These are things I’ve done in the last two weeks that have been beneficial decisions toward these goals:

I haven’t had any coffee this week. The last two weeks I had had it pretty much every day at work. I’ve been thinking I needed to stop drinking it so much, especially since I add so much cream and sugar to mine, but I didn’t really make a concious decision. I just said “I think I’ll have tea” on monday, and then tuesday did the same. Wednesday was a little more difficult since I was really groggy, but I decided it was worth it to keep the trend going.

I deleted the facebook app from my phone and downloaded the wordpress app. This way, when I’m using my phone just because I’m bored, i’m using it to read and comment on other people’s posts. Consequently, I’ve read more articles, stories, and poems this week than I had in the 2 months prior. This in turn gives me inspiration and ideas or my own posts.

I started taking lunches to work again. Recently I’ve just been snacking throughout the day, and I know that’s not good. Yay for eating on a regular basis.

I downloaded a pedometer app onto my phone so that I can better track how active I am throughout the day. Surprisingly, on days I work, where I sit in front of the computer for 10 hours, I walk more than I do on my days off. This is due to the fact that when I take breaks at work, I make it a point to walk around. At home, I never really think about getting up and moving around. Now that I’m more aware of this, I can figure out how to best combat it.

I’m pretty proud of myself for making some good choices lately. How about you? Make any good decisions or break any bad habits recently?

Balancing work and pleasure

Balancing Work and Pleasure

Since I’m trying to start my own business, I’ve been thinking a lot about the balance between work and pleasure.

There’s this trend going around of making your work your life. Work 18 a day, have little to no social life, and never really have your mind off the job. This is almost seen as a requirement for entrepreneurs. After all, you can’t start a business if you’re not willing to put everything into it.

I can’t do that. I love the people in my life too much to blow them off for my publishing company. Right now I’m working full time and trying to start this business on the side. I realize that I will have to make schedule adjustments. I will probably have to sleep less. I will miss out on things I would otherwise do. And I think that’s worth it. I just can’t miss out on everything.

I have a great work ethic, but I am not a workaholic. When I’m working, I give it my all. But when I’m not, I don’t want to be focused on work.

I don’t think this has to hinder my entrepreneurial goals. What I have to do in order to get this project off the ground is the following:

Develop a work schedule.

I’ve tried saying that I’m going to work a certain number of hours a week (but I didn’t specify when I would complete them). This resulted in me simply not reaching my hours goals.

Then I tried specifying certain tasks I wanted to complete. This was even worse, as I would schedule way too many other things to do (social, housework, etc.), and maybe only get one or two tasks done (out of an ever-growing to-do list).

I’ve decided the only way I’m going to be able to turn this into a paying job is to treat it like one. So I’m creating a work schedule. I’ll have shifts that I will be required to work, and if something that comes up and I cannot make them, I will have to make up the time within 24 hours.

Create a work environment.

If I’m going to be “going to work”, I’m going to have to act like I’m at work. My boyfriend and I are working on making one of our extra rooms into an office. I’m going to complete my twisted willow tasks in this room and follow certain “rules” that I’ve established.

In this way, I am segmenting my personality. As an entrepreneur and boss, I am setting rules and standards. As an employee, I have to live up to them. I will be a stricter boss on myself at first than I would probably be for other employees, and stricter than my day-job bosses are to me. I will not be allowed to have my cell phone in my office, and I will not be allowed to be on personal social media.

Follow through.

Each week I will create a goal list, as well as a “completed tasks” list. If I don’t reach a goal, I’ll need to justify what happened, whether the goal is still important, and if it is, how and when I will reach it in the future.

Keep my work ethic.

I say I have a strong work ethic, and on some levels, that is true. I always want to put my best foot forward and deliver the best results for my employers. When I work where there are customers, I strive to give them excellent service. I always want my work to be worth the money being paid for it.

But I can’t say that this is all for “ethics” reasons. I like to impress people. I want my bosses to appreciate and like me, and I want the rewards that come with excellent performance. I want to be worthy of higher pay, higher positions, and great recommendations. I want to be worthy of these things so that I can acquire them.

So when I don’t have a boss, that work ethic is a lot harder to come by. I then have to create accountability for myself. This comes partially from the previous mentioned strategy of implementing myself as both boss and employee. It also comes from being accountable to my clients. The authors I work with rely on me to excel so that all parties can succeed. I just need to figure out the best way to make my accountability a real thing and not just a vague concept.

So those are the strategies I am implementing in order to make my business strive and still maintain an acceptable work-life balance. I love editing and marketing and everything I will be doing with my publishing company, but I don’t want it to be my entire life.

If you run a business, how do you handle work-life balance? Is your company your whole life? Do you want it to be? Share your views and strategies below!

Horizon

Anticipation.

Is nothing

as exciting

and fulfilling

and real

as a dream

on the horizon?

Simple Truths

Dreams:

just a snooze button barrier

preventing them from

becoming reality-

but I keep hitting snooze

 

(so I can keep dreaming)

Since I’m not Writing

This is the answer to yesterday’s prompt. Check out my last two posts to learn about the writing challenges I’m posting. I hope you give the prompts a try as well, and share what you write!

The point of these challenges is to improve writing skills, which starts with getting past everything that keeps you from writing. The first thing I’m going to address is the physical activities that distract us wannabe writers. Tomorrow we’ll talk about fear. The following scene is an enactment of one of my pet-characters doing what she and I do best: procrastinating.

I’m so excited that I have the house to myself for once, Sophie thought to herself on the drive home. I am going to get so much writing done! I’m going to write some short stories, and some poems, ooh! and I can work on my book idea! Maybe I’ll outline it! Or I can just write a chapter or two! 

So here’s the game plan. Once I get home, I’m going to make a quick dinner so I don’t forget to eat, and then it’s straight to work. I won’t write very efficiently while I eat though, so I’ll watch a little bit of tv. just a half hour. 

Sophie walked into the house feeling confident in her ability to be productive. Then one tv show while eating turned into 2 hours of some stupid sitcom. Then… My shoulders are so sore. I could really use a bath. Maybe I’ll do some reading while in the tub. Reading’s just as important as writing. I’ll write a quick poem while the water runs. 

So while the tub water ran, she checked facebook and her email. Then..

This water is soooo nice. I’m just going to soak here for a while. And now my hands are all wet… I’ll just read later.

So Sophie went to bed 45 minutes after she planned to and got absolutely nothing done.

Writing Challenge 1: What Keeps You from Writing?

As a procrastinator, a lot keeps me from writing: checking out webcomics, watching tv, the fact I don’t want to look at a computer screen after 10 hours of doing so at work, lack of inspiration, fear (which is silly, but very real), and probably a million other things I could list if I thought about it long enough.

These first few writing challenges are going to focus on what keeps us from writing. We’re going to start off easy and focus on the physical things that keep us from writing.

Write a scene of the last activity that won out over writing. Maybe it was work, or watching tv, maybe you spent the whole time thinking about how you should be writing. Whatever it was, I recommend you write in the same style you usually write, or aspire to write in.

In yesterday’s post, I talked about the importance of having a goal. That goal will likely have a form. If you want to write a fiction novel, write the scene as fiction, with a character that is you or represents you. You can even fit the challenge to sci-fi, romance, or whatever genre you specialize in. If you write poetry, write a poem. If your goal is to publish a memoir, the post can almost be a diary entry, or in the tone you’d tell a story about yourself.

If you’re still figuring out what your writing goal is, just play with it. Take the prompt in whatever direction you want. I’ll post my response to this challenge tomorrow. Feel free to share your response in the comments below or post it on your own blog and put the link in the comments.

Resolve

leaf on groundAlways strong.

Never wavering.

Unthreatened

by reality

and doubts

and other nonexistent entities.

Yet leading nowhere

as usual.

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

I first saw Nina Sankovitch’s “Tolstoy and the Purple Chair” in a random bookstore in downtown Boise. I wasn’t looking for anything specific, just browsing.

I’ve loved memoirs ever since my senior year of high school when we focused on some great memoirs for an entire semester. I also took a course in college that focused on memoirs. I find them interesting in many ways. For one, you get to see a very personal side of someone’s life. You get to see their life through the lens of a specific theme which they’ve chosen as their backdrop. And then, after you’ve read it, you can analyze their version of events and speculate how other people in their lives may have told the story. The subjectiveness of truth has been the downfall of many memoirs’ reputations. It brings up the question: Is it how events happened that matter, or how we remember them, the message we take away from those events?

Anyway, I was going through the memoir section of this bookstore, and “Tolstoy and the Purple Chair” jumped out at me. I read the back, and found it interesting, but I didn’t really need more books (as if I ever do…) so I put it back. Read the rest of this entry