Three Big Things

meditationrocksAs you may have guessed from my last blog post, I’m once again re-evaluating how I spend my time. It’s a fine-tuning process that I’m sure I’ll be going through for the rest of my life. Time is our most limited and precious commodity, so I’m trying to spend mine wisely. Or at least not stupidly.

I’ve often said that I feel like I have the time and energy in my life to focus on three big things. I do more than three things during the day, of course, but I can focus on no more than three major tasks to be successful in any one of them. Everything else has to fit around the edges.

Because my financial situation demands it, one of those big things is my day job.

Because I am a daughter, sister, aunt, and friend, and I actually need to have clean underwear once in a while, the second of those things consists of family and life responsibilities. Whether it’s taking my elderly mother to the podiatrist, or the cat to the vet, mowing the lawn or roasting a chicken, some things just need to get done.

Those two things are non-negotiable, and will probably always be in place. If I ever have the ability not to work for someone else, then I will be working for myself, taking care of my own business. And I hope that I will always have family and life responsibilities.

But the third thing…that’s where I can get confused.

The third big thing is where I tend to flounder. It doesn’t have the set boundaries or expectations of the other two. I need to make a living. I need to live. Boom. Done. But the third thing…well, the third thing is up to me, and that can be a problem.

I know, and I’ve known for a long time, that the third big thing in my life has to be writing. I may not always act like I know it, but it’s there. And it’s driven me to write and publish (or try to publish) for a really, really long time now. But sometimes the knowledge gets buried under all of the other things I want to/need to do. I feel the pressure of all the tasks I want to accomplish, and forget that I only have the capacity to focus on three big things. That’s when I stall and stand shivering in a corner, not sure which way to go.

The point of my Tiny Task Initiative (TTI) was to get moving again. And the good news is, I did. But I moved in too many directions at once. Instead of having a third big thing, I had about six smaller ones, all vying for time and attention. I was taking tiny steps forward, but because my focus was scattered, I didn’t make as much progress as I could have in any one of them.

So, then. Has the Tiny Task Initiative been a failure?

No. Absolutely not.

Identifying areas where I needed to make progress, and then actually working on them, has been very useful. It showed me that taking small steps every day can make an impact.

That’s awesome. The problem came from assigning all five tiny tasks the same priority. The writing, which is my third big thing, had the same priority as walking or vacuuming or creating a print book. Those things are also important, but they are not my third big thing. And, since it is the nature of the beast that I will take the easiest way out, I would often spend more time on one of the other tasks and set the writing aside, instead of doing it first and fitting the other things around it. I needed to remember that I have three big things, and to find the right balance, at this point in my life, with the other responsibilities I have.

Using the experience of the last few months, I’ve revised my tiny tasks. This is to better reflect the way I want assign priorities, and to give writing the importance it needs to have.

Here’s the updated list.  Remember, the objective is to do more than the minimum listed here.  These tasks are just supposed to be the gateway to get me moving.

15 minutes working on the current project – that’s either writing or editing.

5 minutes working on either planning fiction, or the next project.  I realized that I hadn’t built in any thinking time to figure out what I want to work on next, brainstorm, that kind of thing. Also, when I’m editing the current project, I want to continue to write.  It keeps the channels open.

5 minutes working on blog / newsletter / business tasks. This is where prioritization comes in. Before, I had these things equal with the fiction writing. I love doing them, but they can’t be as important. Lumping them all together gives each of them less priority.  For now, this  will include publishing tasks.  I’ve learned that the publishing tends to take on an urgency that makes me forget about the more important task of writing.  At this point in my “career”, publishing is less important than creating products to publish.

5 minutes yoga and meditation. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly no yogini, but calming the body and the mind is essential. I need to be in a good mental space to write.

The main difference between this list and the last one, is that the tasks are either writing, or supporting the writing. That gives writing it’s place as the third jewel in my crown. Other things still need to be done, and I will have other things vying for my attention, but I’m not going to assign them the spotlight of a tiny task. They will either happen, or they won’t.

So, there you go. We’ll see how it works out.

By the way, I hope I’m not boring you jabbering on about this stuff. It’s my hope that seeing me stumble around will give you something to think about in your own journey to wherever it is you need to go. Or at least provide some entertainment.

A reality show.

Kind of like Honey Boo-Boo with a keyboard.

curlercomputer

 

 

 

 

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