Monday, 24 February 2014

Learning To Do Less

Image provided by Flicker - Rory Finneran (Cropped by me to fit)

At the beginning of January I wrote a post called Unbusy Your Life  Its been VERY difficult, learning to let go, and do less, if you're a life squeezer who crams the maximum into every day it doesn't come easy to change to a slower pace. January and February are supposed to be quiet, January wasn't, and February isn't, but I've challenged myself to slow down.

We all need to stop our to-do lists from building up and overwhelming us, it's taking me a lot longer than I expected to clear my schedule, and my mind. I've made an appointment with myself each day to do nothing! I call it taking a slow hour, when I switch off the phone, the laptop, and the TV, and I kill all thoughts of what 'needs' to be done. I do whatever I want to do instead, write, read or listening to music have topped the bill so far. It doesn't come easy, if you're driven, and used to rushing around at 100 mph every day, but I'd encourage everyone to try it, and while you're at it, do a life edit, the sooner the better, because its definitely worth doing.

Look at what you do in a typical week, I was moving through days on autopilot, working, cooking, cleaning, ferrying teenagers around, shopping, internet surfing, snatching writing time here and there. It was exhausting, both physically and mentally. I wrote everything down for a week, it was a long list, a shockingly long list, no wonder I'm jaded and worn out, frankly I'm not surprised my writing has suffered.

At last I saw where my time was going. Was what I was doing really important? Did it make me happy? What tasks could I remove, or renegotiate?

Getting more sleep is a priority, I've been going to bed an hour earlier five nights a week, and set my alarm to wake me thirty minutes later on a work day. There are consequences, I don't have as much time, I'm sleeping for an extra seven and a half hours a week. Not to mention the 'slow hour' I'm taking daily. Some tasks I have simply removed, but others have had to remain as fixtures,  Some things I dropped - I got wrong, they have rose to the surface, they're back on the list, I've had to delegate them, and ask other members of the household to pitch in and do their share, and its making things easier.

I do more prioritising, assessing each task, and I delegate whenever I can, everyone has to pitch in now. I've made it clear I can't keep all the balls in the air any more. I want to enjoy my free space, and get back to my writing properly. Its working slowly, I now have two dedicated writing sessions, and I'm planning  to add at least another this week.

I'm still clearing clutter around the home, and have adopted a new life rule. If something new comes into the home, something has to go, it doesn't feel like I'm making a dent in it yet, its a slow process, I do fifteen minutes every other day. Just clearing the backlog of old writing magazine is time consuming enough, not to mention the mountain of books! I'm aiming for a clear writing room. Its a way off, but I've started the journey.

Slowly I'm bringing a little balance to my life again, and cranking up the happiness by learning to do less.
What about you? Do you need to do a life edit? Perhaps you have tips and ideas you can share?

Have a good week.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

I'm Trying To Make You Smile

Spring Blooms - Maria A Smith

Its mostly been a horrid week so far, all sorts of rubbish happening too boring to mention, except perhaps I've not got any writing done yet! Instead of whining about the bad, I thought I'd make use of my lunch break to tell you some good stuff.

Look at my lovely Spring blooms, a gift from a friend, they've opened their petals today, and are showing the promise of what lies ahead. Spring will soon be upon us in all its glory. A reason to smile don't you agree? And a reminder that I said I'd try growing something this year. I must look at those seed packets I've got tucked away.

I'm supping peppermint tea, whilst I write this post. Its good to take time out of a busy work schedule to do something for yourself, I've managed to find details of two competition too.  If you're a budding crime writer do take a look here where you'll find all the details. Where as this one is a more general short story and poetry competition, and well worth having a bash at, as the prizes are very good.

My time is up, and I can now cross off writing from today's list.

Enjoy Thursday!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

10 Ways A Writer Can Find More Energy

Image provided by Flicker Commons

Want to boost your energy? Recover your writing Mojo? Read on...

1. Get Moving - Exercise is energising, run, walk, swim, or any aerobic exercise will make you feel good, and you only need a short blast every day! We all know the long-term benefits of increased muscle tone, weight loss, and less stress, but do you know, physically active people escape that sluggishness that descends halfway through the day? Get out there, and do it, just thirty minutes will make a difference, and ideas and words will flow better afterwards.

2. Keep Your To-Do List Short - Adopt the rule of three. List only three things you have to do today. If your list is any longer, you'll feel overwhelmed, tired and it'll have a negative effect on your writing. If you complete your tasks easily, then you can add more. Don't let a long list hinder you, remember, less is definitely more, as you'll become more productive with a shorter list. 

3. Ditch The Mood Hoovers - Or choose your friends wisely. Some people energise us, and some do exactly the opposite. If someone is acting 'better than you' or is making you feel worthless about your writing, dump them!

4. Snack on Nuts And Seeds- Nuts and seeds are a fast way to deliver nutrients, including B vitamins, omega-3 fats and minerals like iron and zinc. Keep a packet handy for a quick boost when you feel yourself flagging, but do make sure it is only a small handful, as although healthy, they are high in calories if you are trying to lose weight.

5. Sleep - Try going to bed earlier, because if you're not rested, you can't expect to perform properly can you? Try going to sleep half an hour earlier each night for a week. Or take a nap during the day. Difficult if you work, but even ten minutes can make a difference to mood and energy levels.

6. Hydrate - Gosh, this one is so easy to do, yet most of us forget. When our heads are down writing, when we are in the zone, drinking regularly goes out the window! Water is best, so keep a bottle with you, put it next to your laptop, or notebook, or get into herbal teas like peppermint, or lemon and ginger, they're caffeine free, and will provide a quick lift when the words are flagging. 

7. Be Still - Stand up, stretch, move away from the desk. Go and sit somewhere else properly. Don't slouch, turn your palms up, close your eyes, and sit there quietly. A few minutes once an hour helps keep you mindful about your posture. 

8. Get a Buddy - A supportive ear, and a critical eye can do wonders, so pair up with a buddy, it doesn't matter if they are on the other side of the world these days thanks to technology. Writing can be a lonely business even when you are surrounded by people, and there is no one quite like another writer to encourage, and motivate. Agree to write something, and send it over to each other, set mini challenges, swap stories for critique. Laugh off rejections together, and bolster each other along when the going gets tough. Give it a go, its a good thing.

9. Unbusy Your Life - Don't take on too much, and don't be afraid to relax. Start immediately, the next time someone asks you to do something, stop and ask yourself, do I really want to do this? Learn to say 'No' to people. If you're afraid to do it outright, say something like, 'I'm busy that day already' and don't justify, simply move the conversation on. If you'd rather be lying back in the bath thinking up your next chapter than going out to tea with Aunt Maud then don't! If something doesn't interest you, why waste your precious time on it.

10. Eat Well - Writers lose track of time, they miss meals completely, or worse, shovel down lots of unhealthy foods that offer nothing to body, nor mind. Try and eat healthily, be mindful of mealtimes, and remember to eat breakfast, its the most missed meal of the day. Yet its the kick-start you need to perform well and doesn't have to be fussy. Porridge oats, wholegrain toast, or a piece of fruit with yogurt. Lunch can still be healthy on the go too, try flatbreads, wraps or soup, and salads can be tossed together in a jiffy. Stock up with fruit. When you eat well regularly, you perform better.

Its easier than you think to rejuvenate and energise, how do you boost your energy?

Making Things Happen

Bluebells in the grounds of Chatsworth, Derbyshire - Maria A Smith Nearly two months ago I made this list of goals - See how I've g...