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Posts tagged ‘To Do list’

Sometimes Even Hermits Need People

Hermits Come Out of Hiding

https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpAfter spending 3 of the last 4 days not only behind the closed doors of my house, but behind my closed eyelids about 20 hours out of 24, I’m feeling decidedly restless. Waking up to a slightly overcast but basically sunny morning, feeling almost as good as new again after being laid low by what I can only assume is the latest strain of flu, I’m feeling strangely disconnected and, dare I say it? In need of a people fix.

As a self-professed hermit, people aren’t usually high on my list of outside stimulation. Not that I don’t go out fairly regularly amidst the humans. But as much as possible, I find entertainment where people are few. My workouts are timed for the less populated periods, as are my weekly errands. The less people between me and my objectives, the better.

But after two entire days when the sum total of my human contact was a few text messages and one person stopping by for her Girl Scout cookies, I’m ready for some real, honest-to-goodness human interaction. Then my inner responsibility kicks in saying: But you’ve gotten nothing done for days. You’re behind on all your tasks, and need to stay in and catch up!

The Never-Ending To-Do List

Never mind that I have all cross-posts to Medium done for the month of February, or that this is the final blog post for the month too (and it’s only the 12th!). I have a book to read, blurbs to create, schedules to make for those blurbs, a summary to write, and at least a dozen other tasks I can think of if I put my mind to it. After a couple of days of doing nothing, my mind ignores what’s done and rushes straight to the endless list of “undones”.

Needless to say, the desire to be around people is quickly overshadowed by the never-ending To Do list in my mind. Yet a small piece of me says: Surely you can spare a few minutes. Walk to the store or go sit in a coffee shop. Something so I know I’m not alone in the middle of Humanity’s crowd.

The little voice is drawing closer and closer to a whine, my most hated of human vocalizations. More hated when it’s coming from my own inner voice. Perhaps I could pack up my laptop, clean off the bed dust, even wash my hair, and go to a local Starbuck’s or the like and do some reading or writing there. If only to shut the little bugger up so I can get some real work done.

The Mind is Willing, The Body, Not So Much

Created with CanvaJust when I think I have myself geared up to make myself presentable to the outside world, reality sets in. Though I was up earlier and have kept going longer than I had in the last couple of days, the truth is, my energy is still low. I’m still eating far less than I’m used to (which isn’t a bad thing), and after about 4 hours of wakeful time, I’m ready for a nap or meditation; in short, some shut-eye. The mind is willing, but the body says: nuh uh!

So I exchanged a couple of texts, posted or shared things on Facebook (another place I’ve been noticeably absent lately), and honored the needs of my depleted body. I comforted myself with the knowledge that I’d get to go to the gym and run errands tomorrow (and maybe even talk to people for a change!), and meet my friends at our temporary dance home tomorrow night.

Until then, I’m giving my To Do list and Trello board the respect they deserve. I’ll cross off a few more tasks in between naps so I can still have the work-free zones at their regularly scheduled days and times. This uncharacteristic need for human interaction will have to wait its turn in my personal Grand Scheme.

Do Other Hermits Sometimes Feel Un-Hermit-y?

I do have to wonder if other hermits (aka writers) have moments when they’ve been out of touch for so long the need for other people becomes almost a palpable craving? When they know if someone called and offered up just about any kind of entertainment, they’d drop everything, throw responsibility to the wind, and go.

It isn’t only illness which locks us into our hovels for long periods of time either. Sometimes it’s our writing. We get into a zone which can last for days; when eating and sleeping are secondary and the words roll off our fingers like water from a gushing spring. These moments don’t come often, so when they do, we’re not about to get in our own way and slow the flow.

Hoping for a Flood (of Words)

In fact, it’s been awhile since I’ve had one myself, so maybe I’m due for a burst of creative fury when I can’t type fast enough to keep up with the words. When spelling and typing are cast to the wind in a mad rush to just get words on the screen. Forget trying to do it longhand. While I can write fairly quickly, it’s nothing compared to my typing, and I would be shredding the page in frustration. Besides, it’s easier to correct all the misspellings and typos when they’re on a screen in front of me with spellcheck engaged. Squiggly red lines or solid blue ones alert me to potential grammatical faux pas’.

Perhaps the temporary hiatus from humans will set off one of those floods, allowing me to knock down that towering list of To Do’s so I’ll feel less like I’m abandoning my responsibilities to go out for a bit and commune with humanity, perhaps to find a new source of inspiration. It would sure beat having the flu which took me completely out of commission and shot my productivity numbers down to zero!

Grateful for Every Little Thing

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the modicum of ability I’ve developed to actually stay on task until projects are completed.
  2. I am grateful for words that flow and cravings which subside while I’m getting things done and clearing space.
  3. I am grateful I’ve learned to clear space because new projects arise and things happen when I least expect it. Having some space cleared keeps the stress monsters away.
  4. I am grateful for new beginnings, and projects which return before I expect them.
  5. I am grateful for feelings of anticipation, even if I don’t know what they portend. I know it’ll be something good, and that’s all that matters.
  6. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, health, happiness, dancing, writing jobs, new things, opportunities, joy, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

 

 

Comfort Found in Daily Routines

Daily Routines Keep Us Grounded Amidst the Chaos

2018 has taken some uncomfortable, and even downright painful turns in the last couple of months of the year. Although we managed to have a wonderful after-Thanksgiving feast in November, and some love-filled dance nights in December, I’ve joined the many who are going to be happy to say good-bye to 2018. Too much was lost, some temporarily, and some devastatingly permanent.

Through it all, I’ve taken comfort in daily routines which, no matter what else is happening, are a manageable and controllable part of my days. Like everything else in life, we can do no more than take it one step, one minute at a time. Falling back on the familiar helps me get through some of the minutes which are harder than others.

Morning Pages: Routine for a Lifetime

My now 2+ year practice of writing morning pages has become more than just a routine. It is a lifeline inScrappy Doo a life which has, more often than not in recent days, been chaotic and outside any control I might want or need to exercise. Whether I rise with the alarm at 8 or let myself sleep in until 9 or 10, my first stop every morning is my desk where I pick up pen and paper and write for about 30 minutes.

Part of the routine is Dylan sitting beside me purring or flicking his tail across the page to let me know he needs attention. Sometimes Scrappy joins me, especially if I put a Ricola in my mouth; he seems to find menthol as addicting as catnip. The challenge is to write with a cat rubbing himself against my face in inebriated bliss. Regardless of the disruptions and interruptions, I finish those three pages daily (with the rare miss) without fail.

Doing What I Must So I Can Do As I Please

The rest of the non-negotiable morning duties include making the bed, feeding the cats, and putting in my contacts. After that, the day is mine to do with as scheduled, or occasionally, as I please.

The “as I please” part has been my practice for the last couple of weeks, leaving many of the scheduled tasks on my Trello boards undone. In years past, I’d be beating myself up over what I’ve left undone, fretting over making deadlines and meeting goals. But these days, I know my time is more flexible, and my ability to put in a few long days to make up for days I devoted to self-care has always been there when I needed to tap into the energy and focus.

Even when I worked for others, no matter what they threw at me, I met or beat my deadlines. For a long time, I failed to meet deadlines which only affected myself and my business. One day I realized I’m my most important client and, as such deserve to have my deadlines met or beaten as well.

Allowing for Flexibility

That isn’t to say life’s challenges don’t cause slippages, but as my mentor, Linda Clay tells me repeatedly, I can re-set the deadlines and forge ahead. Spending time beating myself up over those missed or extended deadlines serves no one, and keeps me from making and executing new plans.

Nearly a year ago, I planned to finish and publish “Life Torn Asunder”. Today, I’m looking at about 15 more chapters to re-write, and know it won’t be my final re-write. I also need to work on a synopsis and the rest of the information I need to pitch it to a publisher or agent. I know they won’t happen until they become a card on my Trello board.

For years, I had a written or Excel-based To-Do list. I’ve found it worked great for things like gym visits I was trying to establish as routines, but not so great for long-term projects like book re-writes and regular blog postings. I also learned having an event pop up on my phone reminding me to check the Trello boards daily helped keep me focused on the tasks I’ve committed to.

One thing I’ve learned about routines, be they daily, weekly, or monthly, is you need to allow for some flexibility. Like friendship, routines fall into three categories; a season, a reason, or a lifetime. There are only a few which fall into my “lifetime” category these days, though many only started within the last five years, and some just this year.

Routines for a Lifetime, a Reason, or a Season

Those include daily writing, making my bed, going to the gym three times a week, and writing regular blog posts. Even the last one keeps evolving. First it was once a week, then twice, now thrice. My goal is to add a similar routine for at least five clients a month so they can put their effort into building their business instead of creating content to attract clients for them to talk to. Again, this is where Linda comes in. We have weekly calls where she helps me find focus, kicks my butt, or helps me add items to my To-Do list. I also get to do some writing for her, and she’s someone I greatly admire both personally and professionally. Writing for her is the cherry on my hot fudge sundae.

My “reason” category includes things like the components for my book pitch, a long-delayed will, preparations for our after-Thanksgiving feast—the list goes on, and changes as my life expands.

“Season” is a little tougher as I enter tasks I expect to be ongoing, or perhaps, short-term, and their nature changes. Yet this is where a lot of my lessons are learned and experience gained. It might be a one-off client who needs documentation for a divorce, or someone who responded to one of my specials, and didn’t ask for anything beyond the initial tasks. Or maybe they did and became a long-term client. Either way, I’ve learned I don’t usually know whether a season task will become more, or will die on the vine until the task is completed. Sometimes they disappear for months, only to reappear when I least expect it.

Sowing Seeds to Grow New Routines

Through it all, I, like everyone else, sow seeds. Some I’ll nurture and help them grow into something to feed my soul, and hopefully a few others. Some will thrive in spite of any attention or neglect I pay them. Others will surprise me either with the fruit they bear, their tenacity, or their ability to entwine themselves into my life, creating new and exciting challenges and routines. A few will either die out or fail to sprout at all.

All of the scenarios are perfect in my mind. Not all the seeds we plant are meant to feed or inspire us. Some will even lie dormant for a long time, leading us to believe they’ve died out when in truth, they were simply waiting for their time in the sun. Those seeds are smarter than we are in that they know when it’s their time, and when it’s not.

I’m guilty of shiny object syndrome a great deal of the time (if you haven’t already figured that out while reading a post that meanders from topic to topic with no recognizable point) so I’m prone to tossing a lot of seeds into the ground just to see what they’ll do. For many, I’m less concerned about the outcome and more about the experiment I’m running. I’ll sit and watch people for the same reason. There’s a lot to be gained by watching and waiting, so long as you don’t spend your life solely in that mode.

Honoring Our Need for Times of Rest

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jfolsom/5931303869/in/photolist-a38tZP-dmn34H-a7FwQm-antZ2h-bwzwuR-5stPPH-6EsqoX-T4qUgL-4hmxbh-8MJPmb-fEFoSF-kCt71i-2ikr4t-8MF532-WNwMjy-8tMnKX-fEFoGg-fEXXd7-afuD1a-8MEuUF-95Mr5j-dySrRf-bfNhFR-9oSxoh-5WgF4Q-8MHZfC-7VroTL-9PiLGB-oaW3YQ-K4CQFx-8YSrLp-mSLwB-7VqeAh-5hfnTx-KfhXca-e3u44f-99b5UG-7BeZaD-8MHAVw-kAEoL3-6qZ9C6-5thpD3-ai9p7Z-9gCot5-o8bKtB-5W8sPu-85jA66-6PCR9M-bJ7tue-97oqD4Sue Monk Kidd wrote about the value of watching and waiting in her book “When the Heart Waits”. She compared herself to a caterpillar who has spun a cocoon. There’s no rushing the process of evolving from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Sometimes, we have to sit back and wait for things to line up properly, or rest after a long, concentrated push. Those waiting periods are as important, or more so than the periods of frenetic activity which often precedes them.

I realized this week I’d neglected my reading for quite some time. Not just books to expand my skills or knowledge, but those by writers whose story-telling skills I admire. After spending a day reading one of the Mercedes Lackey books I found at the $5 book store while seeking my daughter’s and son-in-law’s annual Christmas books, I realized I need to add reading time to my daily schedule. For me, reading for an hour is on the same level of importance as daily meditation. That too has fallen by the wayside a bit in recent weeks.

Routines Should Never Become Straight Jackets

I think the most important thing I’ve learned about regular routines we create and set is we must allow Created with Canvafor flexibility. We can’t beat ourselves up when our schedule goes sideways for a little while. Sometimes we have to step back and deal with what life is throwing at us, even if it means missing a few meditations, gym days, or even writing time. When we do, it gives us a chance to take a hard look at what we’ve deemed important to make sure it still is. It also gives us a chance to look at what we’ve forgotten about, and what needs to be added back into our life.

Most of all, it’s important to remember we are evolving beings. When we step back and look at our routines, we’ll find some are still valuable while others have outlived their usefulness. We’ve gained the lesson and need to let go to make space for something else. Those are the seeds which lay dormant for awhile until we were ready to let go of something, harvest the crop, and turn the soil again.

The short days and long nights of winter when the leaves have left the trees and the ground is resting is a good time to review our routines, turn our soil, and rest. It’s also a good time to go within and just listen without judgement, plan, or goal. You might be surprised by what comes up when you quiet your mind.

Gratitude: A Routine for a Lifetime

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the things I’m learning about myself from my friends.
  2. I am grateful for the time to quiet my mind, listen to my heart and gut, and find new directions.
  3. I am grateful for the variety in my days; some are quiet and introspective, some are productive, some, even chaotic. But overall, it’s balanced.
  4. I am grateful for balance, and the ability to recognize when I need more of one thing and less of another.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, connection, joy, vulnerability, authenticity, deep conversations, new connections, lessons, challenges, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

March 29, 2015 Writers and Procrastination

Writers as a Group are Well Known for Their Exceptional Talent in the Realm of Procrastination

Add in what I believe is a tendency in many creative types towards ADD/ADHD and you see procrastination raised to an art form, worthy of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel (which, by the way, leads me to believe that by today’s standards, Michelangelo himself would have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. How else could he hyper-focus and spend the hours necessary to complete such an amazingly massive, intricately detailed work?) Allow me to give you an example of a typical day in the life of a writer.

After coffee and a light breakfast, the Writer sits down at her desk to begin working on one of her many current projects.
Noticing that her water glass is empty, she picks it up and takes it to the kitchen for a refill.
In the kitchen, she notices that there are dirty dishes on the counter, but the dishwasher is full of clean dishes.
She unloads the clean dishes, rinses and puts the dirty ones in the dishwasher.
Looking out the window, she notices that the plants need watering, and goes outside to turn on the hose to irrigate the planters.
Leaving the water running, she goes back inside, retrieves her now full water glass and returns to her office.She sets her water glass down and notices that her makeup bag is still on the desk where she left it before going out the night before.
She takes her makeup bag to the bathroom and puts it away in its drawer, then notices that the cat’s litter box needs scooping. She scoops all of the litter boxes, takes the poo filled bag to the garage, puts another bag in the wastebasket and washes her hands.
She returns to the den to select a project and notices that she has a new email.
Opening the email program, she stops, listens, then realizes that she’s left the water running for the last hour and has now flooded the entire yard.

Lest you think this is an anomaly, believe me, this is a typical day unless extreme self-control is exercised to stay on task. The good news is, if such control is applied, the Writer will continue working for hours at a time, stopping only to refill her water glass or answer nature’s call. Today, for example, I completed 12 parts of a freelance writer’s course, wrote this blog post and am 500 words into another I hope to publish on Huffington Post.  The bad news is, this diligence must be practiced daily in order to achieve proficiency and combat the natural tendency towards procrastination.

This doesn’t even begin to cover all of the other enemies to productivity a Writer faces.

Another personal favorite of mine is the “Brilliant Idea”. These often come when you’re in the middle of something else, requiring you to stop and write the idea down (as well as a dozen or so opening paragraphs, lest the idea which exploded in your mind fully formed decides to self-destruct before being added to that growing list called “Projects in Process”.)

Speaking of Projects in Process, it is a good idea to keep a weekly To Do list as well, to ensure that the daily, weekly and monthly tasks find a way to be addressed at some point. My own list includes the following:
1. Brush teeth-morning
2. Brush teeth-evening
3. Take all vitamins and supplements
4. Pick up produce box
5. Grocery shop
6. Cook (chili, stir fry, spaghetti sauce, etc.) when my freezer full of single meals is running low.
7. Blog post-word count
8. Project #1-time and word count
9. Study whatever course I happen to be doing this week (and it is often more than one)
10. Read about writing
11. Go to the gym (and this one has now been broken out into my three workouts, plus a line for crunches and squats)

Anyway, I’m sure you get the picture. With a mind going in 17,000 different directions at any given time, the only way to assure myself that I’m doing the things which are necessary to daily life and health is to hold myself accountable. Of course, the To Do list has a secondary advantage. My equally ADHD daughter gets a bit twitchy if one of my home improvement projects sits on the To Do list for too long, especially if boxes of hardware or racks of clothes are smacking her in the eye every time she visits. Case in point: the towel bar and toilet paper holder I bought over a year ago to match the faucet, shelf and vanity I put into my master bath were, until yesterday, collecting dust in the guest room closet. They now look rather nice, attached to the walls where they belong. And last week, I moved all of the clothes from my bedroom closet to a rolling clothes rack in preparation for pulling up the carpet from the last carpeted room in my house. Before she left yesterday, she informed me that if it wasn’t up by the time she returned in a couple of weeks, she would help me do it. I love my daughter. She keeps me honest, even with myself.

Procrastination, a gazillion unfinished tasks and a longer than necessary path to publication aside, the Writer’s life is still for me!

To normal people, this life might appear to be chaotic and crazy making (I know my OCD friends are probably losing brain cells just reading my rambling) but for those who must write to live, to breathe, to retain a modicum of sanity, it is absolutely, positively, unequivocably perfect.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for my crazy, busy, weird, chaotic life.
2. I am grateful for the things which are steering me closer to a life as a real, published freelance writer.
3. I am grateful for the people who share their experiences in order that the rest of us can make one or two less mistakes along the way. I’m talking, right now, about Holly Lisle and Gina Horkey. Thank you for all you do!
4. I am grateful for a busy day, even if an outsider would see no apparent progress.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, joy, writing, inspiration, sharing, peace, harmony, health and prosperity.

Blessed Be

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and my website, http://www.shericonaway.com. 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!

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