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6 Things I’m Doing to Increase Productivity

The Time Has Come to Dig My Way Out of This Hole

Sometimes, we get ourselves into a rut; doing the same things at the same time on the same day, week after week. We end up in a rut which affects all parts of our lives, and often, we don’t even recognize it. In the last couple of weeks, I realized I’d hit that point and needed to take some drastic steps to re-invigorate my motivation. Here are just a few of the changes I’m making.

Change 1: Change it Up

Since part of the rut was just in the routine, I looked at doing some of the usual things like exercising at different times of day. Instead of doing it right after I get up and feed the cats every day, I’m moving it around. Sometimes, I’ll do it right after breakfast, others, later in the afternoon. My brain is no longer expecting it and will not be able to adjust to a particular time and schedule.

Change 2: Making Meditations More Proactive

I decided to test-drive John Assaraf’s “Winning the Game of Money” program. I say test-drive because, for now, I remain skeptical that it will teach me to make significant changes in the way I approach my writing and making a living, but I’m also keeping the door open to the possibility that it will. As he has a 30-day money back guarantee, I’m going to give it the full 30 days before deciding whether to continue. After only 4 days, I can say that it has opened my eyes to, well, opening my eyes. I admit that there are opportunities staring me in the face that I’m just not seeing right now. As the main component of the program is a 30 minute guided meditation which can be done once a day or more if you like, I’m using it instead of my usual hour-long, silent meditation. The one thing I’ve noticed after only 4 days is that the cats are becoming active participants. Pyewacket, in particular, feels the need to lie on top of my head or climb all over me through the entire recording. I’m also feeling more alert, more positive and more energetic. I can certainly appreciate these benefits and use them to my advantage!

Change 3: Enjoying my Own Company

I’ve been spending more than the usual amount of time out in public lately, between doctor visits, errands, and physical therapy. It’s given me a bad case of human overload. Since I crave a certain amount of alone time, I gave myself three full days of nothing but me and the cats. Half-way through Day 2, I was feeling absolutely wonderful! Then, while doing chores I was visited by a very friendly pit bull puppy, and, better still, an old friend I haven’t gotten to visit with in awhile!

Change 4: A Dance Hiatus.

As you might have read, I had a bit of a meltdown the last time I went dancing. I lost the ability to, as I like to say “leave my shit at the door”, and behaved rather badly. Though I have tendered an apology to the injured parties, I am not ready to return to that environment right now. I’ll go back when my daughter is in town, but have no real pressing urge to do so any sooner. I do miss seeing my friends, but I know they understand and will welcome me back when I’m ready.

Change 5: Setting Deadlines

I have done very little work on any of my novels lately. It’s becoming terminal and I finally decided to switch from working on my 2015 NaNo to going back to the one I wrote in 2013. I tried to finish the latest revision by October 31, but came up about 50 pages or so short. So far, I’ve managed to get another chapter revised, but now, I’m committing to 20 pages per week. It may not sound like much, but revising takes a whole lot longer than writing a draft, as I’ve learned to my frustration. I read today that writers procrastinate because we work better under pressure, and saw myself in that slightly tarnished mirror.

Change 6: Getting More Regular

I used to be really good about writing blog posts several times a week, but in the last few months, I’ve really let my readers down. My goal for now is 3 posts a week, but I can certainly do more if I just plant my tushie in the chair and start writing. I’m hoping the WTGoM program will inspire me to write more and give me things to write about as well. Stay tuned to see how well I do on this one.

Keeping it Simple For Now

The only thing missing from this plan is a more intense exercise plan, but until my neck and shoulder are in better shape, I’m going to leave most of that to my Physical Therapist. She kicked my butt today and I came away feeling a bit battered, but I’d rather she pushes me so I’ll get better more quickly.

At this point, there’s nothing left to do but give you tonight’s gratitudes.
1. I am grateful for support groups. There are many people out there who share interests with me and both cheering their successes and giving each other moral support makes what could be a very lonely journey something uniquely companionable.
2. I am grateful for life’s synchronicities. Just when I feel like I’m making no progress, something happens to assure me I am.
3. I am grateful for beautiful, sunshiny days and emerald green grass. The rains have made our air clearer and allowed the drought-murdered lawns and hillsides to thrive. Even my daffodils are turning their faces to the sun to smile radiantly.
4. I am grateful for my daughter. We don’t always agree and we can really frustrate each other, but there’s a love and a bond we share that nobody can ever break.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, support, inspiration, butt kicking, brainstorming, connections, friendship, family, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Getting Back to Basics

Life After NaNoWriMo

A lot of things went to hell during November; so badly, I’m amazed I was able to complete my first NaNo while working a full-time job. Of course, I didn’t have bi-weekly critique groups, Thanksgiving dinner for almost 20 and events with my photographer friend either. I was also very focused about writing between 10 PM and midnight,something I am2015 Nano Winners Certificate not always on top of these days.

This year’s NaNo taught me a lot of things, but the one which impressed me most was prompted during the final week when procrastination had gotten me in a bad spot in spite of a terrific, 5,000-word first day. In short, I had about 4 days to write 15,000 words, give or take 100.

Impending Deadlines are my Best Friend

I’m going to say this very softly so the Universe won’t hear me, but I work best when I have a deadline looming. In fact, if my deadline is 3 or 4 days away, I am bound and determined to finish with no less than 2 days to go. That’s where I found myself last week.

On Thursday November 26, I had about 37,000 words written. Being Thanksgiving and, as we’d celebrated early, a nice, alone, stay-in-my-pajamas kind of day, I further procrastinated. OK, that left 3 days to finish, on top of which, I had client work which had languished as well.

To make a long story short, I proved to myself I could write 10,000 words in a single day. It is not something I plan to do on a regular basis, but now I know I can do it. Note I did not say I wrote 10,000 good words. But I did write 10,000 words, and with the 3,000 I added the following day, finished with a day to spare. It’s amazing what you can do when someone holds a knife to your throat, even if the hand holding the knife was my own.

I wouldn’t recommend attempting my little marathon (though my first Nano saw 8,000 words in a single night of writing, beginning at 10PM and ending at 3AM.) Needless to say, I seem to need that push at some point in November, maybe to make me feel that I’ve really earned the right to say I’m a NaNo winner.

Taking a Little Break

Though my beloved Inklings have decided to continue our Wednesday Panera Write-ins through December, I used the time today to work on a blog post for one of the events I attended in November. Again, I hold the knife to my throat to finish the posts I owe by the end of this week. Something tells me life is going to continue to move at the rapid pace which was set in November so I have lost the procrastination time I stole.

The Excitement Never Ends!

And if the writing, accounting and VA work wasn’t enough, my 17 year old cat (who I thought was 18 going on 19) has developed an infection in her liver. She has never been the easiest cat tf50f8-familyandfriends321o medicate but now she has to have an antibiotic pill twice a day and two other meds once a day. Poor baby, but she also gets baby food rather than the kidney diet she’s been on until she starts eating again. Just another fun addition to my daily routine. At least my sweet girl knows I’m trying to help her and isn’t fighting the meds as hard as she might.

Nothing Left to do but be Grateful

Which leads me to tonight’s gratitudes:
1. I am grateful I’ve learned to read my cats and know when they need a trip to the vet.
2. I am grateful for a successful completion of NaNo #3.
3. I am grateful for work which fulfills me and is even starting to keep me busy.
4. I am grateful for the positive influences I enjoy every day.
5. I am grateful for abundance: Love, life, kitties, health, happiness, harmony, peace, forgiveness, inspiration, motivation, productivity, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages at and . Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

November 7, 2014 Day 7, and I’ve finally caught up! #shericonaway #nanowrimo

It’s amazing what can be accomplished with a little concerted effort and a clear goal.

Yesterday, I took myself to task for being behind on the minimum word count for my latest novel in the NaNoWriMo challenge. I set myself a nightly goal of 2,000 words, and exceeded it by 300 words last night, bringing me closer to the minimum needed to complete the challenge on time. Tonight, I improved upon last night’s effort by adding 2,687 words!

What does this mean in the general scheme of things? It means that I’ve just blown past the minimum word count needed by today in order to finish on time. But even more, it means that, at the rate I’m going, I’ll be ahead of schedule so when Thanksgiving weekend comes around, I won’t be forced to do another marathon writing session to complete the challenge!

I learned a lot from last year’s challenge. First, I came in more prepared with my plot and initial characters. I had a couple of weeks to just let the story bounce around in my brain. Although it bears little resemblance to those initial bounces, it is definitely off to an interesting start, and has headed in a direction I hadn’t even considered.

In reviewing last year’s stats, I had several times when I wouldn’t write for two or three days in a row. Granted, I was still working and putting in some long and stressful days in an effort to leave my successor with as much information as possible. This year, the only thing I have to combat is my own laziness.

I am finding that, hard as I try, the best time for me to write and just stay focused is still after 9PM. I’ve tried sitting down to write in the middle of the day, and have yet to achieve success. The way I see it, there’s no reason to mess with a system that works.

Don’t you hate it when anal accountant brain kicks in on a project that’s supposed to be creative?

Although I am firmly set in my life as a writer now, I find that taking the girl out of the accounting department does not turn off the accounting mind completely. As such, I had to calculate how many days it would take for me to finish if I continued writing 2600 or so words a day. At this rate, I could finish the 50,000 words in about 15 days. But then, the rules don’t say I have to write a maximum of 50,000 words, but that I have to write at least 50,000 words by November 30 in order to meet the challenge. I, for one, do not have a problem with writing more and actually finishing the story, in rough form of course, by November 30.

There are some opportunities to use December to fine tune the first draft of my novel, and I would love to accept one of those offers so I don’t spend another 8 months or so refining my novel’s first pass! As I said, I have learned a lot from last year’s effort, and am endeavoring to avoid at least some of the mistakes I made last time.

I hope you’ll stick with me through this challenge, offering encouragement, energetically, if nothing else. I don’t know how many people are participating this year, but we can certainly use all of the good energy you might want to offer up. Writing an actual novel is a great deal different than writing a bunch of random thoughts or the occasional well thought out and researched blog post.

It occurs to me that I live to learn.

I stagnate when I’m not learning anything. I know that about myself and it is probably why I never stayed with one company for longer than seven years. Either I rot away from boredom or I dig into things management didn’t want me to uncover. Either way, I’m screwed.

With writing, finding a place where learning stops is just not possible. It is an avocation with ever expanding horizons where there is always plenty more to learn and infinite new directions to take. This is why I’m here.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that I’ve gotten into the flow of writing every night, and am back on track to complete the challenge on time.
2. I am grateful for the lessons and challenges of being a writer.
3. I am grateful for completing my fourth week of regular gym visits, and have, in fact, increased my average number of weekly visits from 2 to 4.
4. I am grateful that inspiration is flowing my freely now.
5. I am grateful that I have recognized and accepted that my optimal writing time is after 9PM.
6. I am grateful for abundance: inspiration, words, encouragement, love, friendship, health and prosperity.


And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

November 3, 2014 Getting a little behind #shericonaway

Life is all about trade-offs

This weekend was like every other weekend, in fact, like every other day. I had to choose between one thing and another. Now that my daughter lives 2 1/2 hours away, visits with her are very precious. Visiting her at her house also results in the expenditure of a great deal of energy, which I don’t ever regret, even for a minute. This weekend, I had already accumulated over 13,000 steps on my own recognizance between chores, errands and dancing on Friday. Though we only hit about 7,000 with our Saturday activities, we more than made up for it with over 14,000 steps on Sunday. Add in little sleep and a late morning on Saturday plus an early morning and going non-stop on Sunday, and the result is that I got no writing done at all last night; not even a blog post.

Because of my slacking off,  I’ll play a bit of catch up on my novel over the next couple of days, but because I exceeded the daily minimum both today and Saturday, I don’t really think it will be a problem (all I need to do is remember the 8,000 word night last year!). I would probably have made it up tonight had it not been for an election tomorrow and the need to slog through the propositions tonight! If I don’t manage to get the entire 3100 words I need by tomorrow done, I suspect I’ll be darned close. Even with a reduced amount of time to write tonight, I managed over 1800 words.

Granted, the story is kind of slogging along right now, but will gather momentum more and more as I continue. As usual, I find myself jotting down notes to be used later in the story. I’m also trying to incorporate some of what I’ve been learning, though more of that will occur once I do the first revision.

In some ways, I have to admit, writing is hard work.

I’ve learned that getting myself to sit down and write if I don’t have a plan can be really tough. I find it very easy to procrastinate. That’s one of the reasons I decided to do the challenge again. Now I have a plan and a word count requirement to meet. I also put more time into work because I know that I have to get accounting work done in a given time period, personal paperwork and chores plus my writing and studying. It’s really a good mix for me.

In fact, the deadlines and word count requirements are so effective that I got home today and immediately got laundry done, unpacked and put away my suitcase and took care of a couple of other chores before sitting down to write. Even so, I got a good couple of hours of writing in, slow and go though it might have been. I guess I’ll be looking for more deadlines to keep myself in line! (I know, I know. Be careful what you ask for!) but I really want to be majorly productive again. I’ve slacked off enough for the past year! It’s time to get back to doing what I enjoy, and believe it or not, it involves being productive. At least now, my productivity is in the field of my choice most of the time!

Once again, I leave you with a short post as my brain is rather tired from a long drive, a lot of writing and a lot more brain dashing, monkey mindedness.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for goals, deadlines and requirements.
2. I am grateful for an increase in productivity over the last few days.
3. I am grateful that I’ve put several chores behind me.
4. I am grateful for a couple of days to myself before my daughter arrives for HER visit with ME.
5. I am grateful for the increased energy I’ve been enjoying as I hit the gym at least three times a week.
6. I am grateful for abundance: things to be grateful for, love, passion, determination, deadlines, imagination, motivation, dedication, inspiration, happiness, health and prosperity.


And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

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