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On Zero emails in the inbox

Willow
Well, after almost 24 hours, I can report that my inbox still has only 1 email in it. Not because I didn't get any emails today but because I kept to the system. I mostly dealt with all of today's new emails and managed to feel inspired enough to tackle some of the backlog.

Not only that, but I also managed to be in the headspace that enables (and wants) to tackle the paperwork. That's a big deal - I pretty much only get a window of about 3 weeks a year where my bookkeeping makes sense to me. The rest of the year I kinda hope that entering the information in is good enough and I panic whenever I have to look at it in detail or try and interpret something.

So that's a yay so far on this whole thing. I'm going to try and maintain for a week or so before I look at tackling another area.

I feel like I should clarify something I posted yesterday. I described myself as being lazy. And there are lots of ways that I think I am - I'm not awesome at cleaning out my fridge (I only have to cook for me, it doesn't seem important right now), I hate mail - I very rarely open anything within two weeks of receiving my home mail and I pretty much pay all my bills the day they are due or just after. Most of my laundry doesn't make it to the cupboards and drawers and I don't make my bed. So I guess I was referring to that kind of stuff. Which, when we all have limited awake time, all I'm doing is trading some of mine to work a second job and to fit in my hobbies and so on. Triaging. But it annoys other people, who don't see the publishing and the community involvement and so on. They want to know *why* I didn't do x or y. So in my "real" daily life, I think I appear to be quite lazy and disorganised. Because what I spend my time on are not mainstream things. In a way, part of the learning new methods is about faking mainstream better.

Trying new things

Willow
I was going to do other things this evening and I was going to write a different post to this one. But my day ran away from me and gave me a headache in return. Too sore to sew or do anything productive, I intended to just sit and do not much for the evening.

I'm not really good at that though.

I've started to get into the headspace to think about beyond Swancon (publishing trains you to exist mentally in the future whilst physically delivering that which is needed in the present. The worst is when you already think it's the next year and it's only October). One of the things I am doing after Swancon is simplifying and focussing. So I'm starting to look around at tips and advice on what that means and how to do that and stuff and I finally had the headspace to start reading zenhabits.com

Of course, where do you start? When you want to overhaul your whole life and how you do things and maximise what you are getting out of each day (both in product and reward) - how do you even start to tackle that? I'm not yet ready to sit down and write out my priorities, though I have a good idea what they are, which is in part where the wanting to declutter and simplify and focus come in. I've been too splintered and fractured for a while and I think that's resulted in some lack of direction.

So I started reading some of my saved bookmarks and things and somehow ended up deciding to tackle the zero inbox thing. And several hours later, some emails answered, a bunch of tasks suddenly and accidentally completed, I have 1 email in my inbox.

One.

Weeeeeeiiiiiiird.

And kinda freeing though I also know I have two other inboxes - Action and Reply. And there are 30 odd actions to do and 20 odd emails to reply to. But I spose that is suddenly a lot more approachable too. I'm not sure how I will go mopping up the rest of that but the goal now is to maintain the zero inbox. Will see how I go.

ETA: I should add that it feels really scary to systematically deconstruct how you live, look at it, decide if you like or want to continue and if not, change it. I guess there's this "other" more idealised way I want to live and the lazy way I currently live. And a little fear at what happens next if I embraced and lived the life I would like to live. Not sure if that's well explained.

And also, changing the way you do things and adding structure to your life or deliberately changing your habits feels well, so much more structured. Slothful I guess feels less effort, because it is? But also more free cause you're not following a guide. But then you don't get what you want or be who you want to be or where. And there is a degree of imprisonment to being undirected, cluttered and unstructured.

Sugar free day 4

Willow
It feels like forever but it's only been 4 days since I last had sugar. Yesterday I hit my first real withdrawal and cravings. I desperately wanted something, anything, for most of the afternoon. I think because I was late having lunch. Eating extra protein in meals is helping a bit. I arrived at maelkann 's to find him wrists deep in pasta making - he made gnocci from scratch for dinner, gluten free! Dinner was delicious and what always finishes a fine fine dinner is ... dessert. An ice cream of some kind. And a certain person had just stocked his freezer full of very delicious ice creams. I might have asked for one. Maybe knowing that I wouldn't get one. I was kindly asked what exactly was my deal with myself and if it included the single ice cream on a Saturday night, in which case I could have one. Alas my deal did not. And I hope one day that I will be able to consume ice cream that way. But for now, I know that I can't.

So I made it, barely, through day 3. Day 4 has been ok. There have been moments when I have looked at delicious, sugary delights. And I was handed a coffee this afternoon and I looked for the sugar to add out of habit. But I have made it to the end of another day without sugar.

It's hard. I go through hours of craving all sorts of things. But I don't yet feel like I really want to give in. I am reminding myself that the needing to give in is the very thing I am trying to kick, not even the craving itself, necessarily. The craving will be there whether I cave in in the moment or not.

Day 5 tomorrow. And onwards.

Yesterday I was missing my grandmother very much. I had spent some time with my niece in the morning - whom my grandmother would have gotten so much nachos from. And the funny thing is that my niece has my grandmother's hands. It's so odd to see them on such a small, unblemished person. So familiar and such a strong reminder of someone who is no longer here. And yet - there she is, evidence that she was here, in any case. And my mother calls herself a name that my grandmother used to be for my cousins. And then last night my mum was going off to babysit on a Saturday night, just like my grandparents used to do for us, when they were my mother's age. It's really odd to see everything just shift over a bit. And I've been wearing my grandmother's cape a bit in the cold. So ... I miss her. I miss her a lot. And because there is so much that is familiar of her around at the moment. I had a bit of a cry as I was driving down to see C last night. I don't think I've cried really since the funeral and the period just after she passed away. Last night I missed her so much, with such a heartache. And I wondered if this was one of the things I've been numbing. Out of habit and the way I know how to cope.

Day 1

cuppa
So I started today. I quit sugar. And I survived!

Actually it wasn't too bad cause I'd really quit most of it last week and I'd changed a few of my regular routines and habits - I've been bringing in breakfast to work, and lunch and some healthy snacks for the afternoon and late morning. So I haven't needed to go to the canteen. And with the whole week's shopping already in the pantry and fridge, I've been able to avoid the temptations of the shops straight after work when my blood sugar is low.

The biggest thing was giving up the caramel shot in my morning coffee which I dealt with by stopping off at the best cafe on the way to work and getting my coffee there instead, no sugar. And yep! You were right! If the coffee is very good quality, it doesn't need sugar. And not only that, I actually enjoyed the cup as well, no sugar and all.

I've been playing around with herbal teas as something interesting at work (I tend to go get coffee when bored) and to be a water source in the day. And I've noticed that as the sugar is being removed, I can appreciate and enjoy the subtler flavours. Today I finally enjoyed licorice tea - a tea I have been trying to like for about 6 years now. How exciting!


Sugar free

Willow
So I'm not quite sugar free yet, and technically I don't have to be till Thursday. I have stopped restocking and haven't had a lolly in days. Today though I found an interesting quirk - because I have a fully stocked pantry and fridge (first time since the Rodent Fiasco) I have no reason to stop past the shops. I have all the ingredients I need for all the meals this week. The point is to save money by not shopping in small amounts every day. So now, since I didn't need to pop into the shops, and in fact was not going to, I suddenly didn't need to check my post office box today - would be fine, it seems, to check it every other day. What could be so urgent, afterall?

So today, I saved money AND time - I was home definitely a half hour earlier which meant I could put dinner on earlier and settle in for the evening earlier.

Anything that liberates time for me is an awesome awesome thing.

Today I got halfway through Cold Cases, the latest version. It's much longer than Horn. So that puts me at 4.5 for 5 - 5 being the number of novellas/novelettes I have to edit and take to print by the 12th. I'm hoping to finalise and announce the final book for Worldcon in the next couple of days.

I've started sleeping a little bit better - I mean that's even ridiculous to say because the ventolin and serotide have me super hyped up at bedtime and I'm waking up several times in the night with coughing and needing a drink to stop. But I feel less lethargic, if that makes sense? I don't feel completely and utterly knackered when I've gotten up this week to go to work. In fact, I was at my desk quite a bit before 9 on Monday and on the dial this morning. AND I had packed both breakfast and lunch and healthy afternoon snacks on both days. And then cooked dinner tonight. Less lethargic and groggy is the only way to describe it. All this time I've thought that I was just damn lazy and maybe uncommitted or not wanting it enough, to get up and drag my arse to exercise in order to start losing weight. I used to be a really energetic person and this has felt really weird or sad. But what if ... well, what if ...

It's too early to say anything other than I feel better. I'm starting to feel better from the asthma. I'm still coughing constantly and have a headache from it. And my headcold is still there. But like I said, I feel better in the mornings and I feel more in control or at least getting more organised. I got on top of a ton of work at work today. And this evening, I've been pottering around sorting things out and getting things done.

Thursday is D Day when I can no longer have sugar in my morning coffee. To be fair though, getting sick this close to July 1 has meant I've been off food since Thursday and not really feeling much like anything, including coffee (I've been drinking black tea). So I've eased into this more than maybe I would have anyway.

Kicking the habit

cuppa
Today was the first day in a very long time, if ever, that I stopped past the shops on the way home from work (as I do everyday as I need to go to the post office daily) and only bought things I actually needed, that's all. I actually left the shop with a jar of garlic and a jar of ginger and one pack of soothers for my sore throat. I thought about buying a little something something for the evening - maybe some licorice, or some lollies but as I wandered around, I thought that well, Thursday is the day I quit for realz and what's the point of doing it so suddenly that I get whiplash? And as I asked myself why and for what I needed these sugary things, I could not come up with a good enough reason - some things went awry today, maybe some lollies would soothe. When that didn't cut it, I tried out that because it was cold ... which also didn't really cut it. And I walked out emptyhanded. For the first time in a long long time.

I wanna kick this addiction. Deal with the cravings and break the habits.

And what's interesting is this space ... this empty space. I think I try to fill it with the good good sweet sugar. And I never really noticed it til today. There's a space here and I'm interested to explore it. Interested to find out what it's about and why I want to fill it so I don't need to see it. It's made its presence known to me this evening and I'm just picking it up and turning it around and surveying it. All I know is there is a space here. A void. A fear, maybe. I dunno yet. But I'm guessing that it's not going to be fun defining it.

But discovering it has piqued my interest. Maybe just enough to move through the withdrawl just to explore this.


I LOVE the future!

coffee
I am SO ONBOARD the grocery shopping online with home delivery! OMG Hell yes! My delivery came last night in the last 5 minutes of the two hour window I'd booked but still, that you can get your groceries delivered at 5 minutes to 7pm on a Saturday night and the man carries them into your kitchen for you? If that means that I can do my food shopping without the pain? I am SO onboard.

It's a glorious thing!

I tried out the small box of seasonal fruit and veggies with an idea of that a) making fruit and veggie shopping easier and b) having a bit of variety and c) challenging me to use up all the box in the week but trying out new recipes etc.

So far, I have put the potatoes, onion and a carrot into a soup that I have bubbling away on the stove. Not quite chicken soup but hopefully will help with my cold/asthma. And I had a banana and some strawberries on my puffed rice cereal this morning. That's probably a lot more diverse diet than I've had in a while. So it's on track so far!

I also plan to make a curry and a stir fry and a quiche later in the week to get back into proper eating, deal with the ah beginning of life without sugar which begins on Thursday and to get back into the habit of bringing lunch to work.


Things are looking up

Willow
I used to be the kind of person who wrote their assignments 5 minutes before they were due, no matter how much time we were given to work on them. It never occurred to me that a 2 week deadline required 2 weeks worth of work. I used to be last minute girl who enjoyed the thrill of the ride, unsure if I would get the assignment turned in on time and who enjoyed the succinctness and ruthlessness that pressure to deadline brings with it.

And I find it kinda amusing how I am so not that person anymore. Somewhere along the line, I discovered the joy of multitasking and how the better I get at it, the more I can take on. And I finally find myself scouting out future deadlines and planning for them in advance. I think the more you take on, the more precise you have to be on doing the work. I tend to procrastinate less when actively on the task. Usually because if it's not done in the timeslot allocated to it, it pretty much won't get done. There's no real room for doing things later because that time is often pre-booked. And I think that means I am even more cutthroat about tasks now.

But the thing that amuses me the most is when I scout out a future task and do it now and then turn it in even if the deadline is a while away. I don't worry about whether I could have needled at it more and tweaked it, cause I don't have the time for that set aside. But I also no longer need the pressure of the deadline to get things done, in fact I now hate that feeling more than I have ever done in the past. I've become that annoying person who gets things done early and is off doing something else. I've become in this way a lot like my grandmother who was forever getting things sorted way ahead of the deadline cause she could and cause she wanted to know it got done in time.

So today, I was out and about with my mum after running a couple of errands that I *had* to do, which got me out of the house. My voice is still pretty much gone but I think I was feeling a bit better, at least up to changing out of my pjs etc (I think that flu/cold has come back though, in full force). We just happened to be outside a Textile Traders so we went in and the next thing I knew, I was sorting out my fabrics for my month of the quilting bee. My month is August and my fabric needs to go out at the end of July and I had really no idea when I was going to have a free Saturday to get it done. And today I had one, my fabrics were chosen and then pottering about with my mother afterwards had the materials washed and dried and ironed and cut. And now I just need to write my brief and package them up. Yay! Another thing done on the to do list!


Getting back on track

Willow
Was home sick again today. The asthma is improving but the brain was still not functioning quite right. I always feel guilty taking sick days. But I couldn't work on TPP or even sew, so I'd say I was reasonably sick enough to say that I wouldn't have been productive at work either.

I did manage to sew straight lines today - not start anything that wasn't previously pinned and I couldn't even think about new blocks - funny how working out which colours and patterns work is a different part of your brain. I just couldn't face that. So instead I worked borders and unpicked the borders that I sewed that were wrong before.

And watched lots of Roswell.

But I also have hot water again! Had to get a plumber out to relight the pilot and it wasn't straight forward so I felt a bit justified about not being able to do that myself. I also postponed my colonoscopy.

And then I tried out grocery shopping online. I figured I was not going to be up to the task in the next few days and then it would be the working week again. And I do want to be able to keep a handle on food spending, which has gotten a bit out of hand and is related to the sugar thing. So I sat and planned a bunch of meals and sorted a shopping list and then the delivery man will deliver it all to me tomorrow. And hopefully it all stretched out to a week and a half and I have been financially prudent. We shall see. I also tried out one of the fruit and veg surprise boxes which I thought would be fun to make myself cook outside my comfort zone.

So I feel like I am slowly getting myself sorted and back on track. And hopefully will be almost 100% tomorrow, though my voice continues to get huskier and more and more lost.


On identity, baggage and hoarding

Willow
The other night I moved the last of my stuff out of my old bedroom at my parents'. That's quite terrible isn't it, considering I moved out of home some 8 years or so ago now. It was only the top shelf of my wardrobe and truthfully it's the stuff that clearly I don't really *need* and perhaps the word *want* should be litmus tested as well. It's sort of funny because maelkann has been very actively persuaded by his parents to move the rest of his stuff out of his room and it's pretty fair for parents to get a room back in their house once a kid moves out. Hell I know I could damn well use an extra room! Why shouldn't we expect that they could use the space too?

I've been slowly sorting through my possessions as well, slowly addressing being ruthless about what I need and what I don't even want. I'm trying to expunge a small amount of possessions each week, either through throwing out, recycling or passing onto someone else who might have use for it. I've tended to not want to address this before, and have just packed up all my possessions in boxes and moved them from house to house with me. Afterall, it is "my stuff" and in some ways I feel that my stuff defines me - it forms my personal history, I suppose. It's where I came from, what I have gathered and what is part of me because it always *has* been part of me. Why yes, I am a hoarder.

And this exercise falls into two parts. One of them is coming to terms with who I actually am right now. A large amount of "stuff" in my study and bookcases is my phd research. And I've been very slowly asking myself a very big question, to which I have already answered the question indirectly by planning and moving in the direction I have set for myself for the next 5 years. Which in no way involves either the content of my phd topic nor actually returning to the work. I don't want to. I no longer have passion or interest in it. And it turns out that happiness in life is linked to not forcing yourself to do things or be that which you don't want to do or be. And so, if I don't want to finish that phd, that's kind of the end of the discussion. Isn't it? And yet actually culling this material is proving ... difficult.

The other part of this also relates to coming to terms with who I am right now. :) Aspects of reality, and how it's transient, sometimes do my head in. What I mean is, all I know is who I am right now - all that came before me contributed to that. And all that I am now will contribute to who I am tomorrow. But does that mean that I need to carry every keepsakes from every part of the journey along the way? Does something that I once loved and now no longer can relate to need to be kept? Will the person I become love it again and wish I hadn't thrown it away? Should I keep it because it represents where I was before? How do I know that the book I have no interest in reading right now will not be the perfect "to read" later on?

Going through my stuff in my bedroom the other night, I came across two pictures that once hung in my room - a clown with a tear and a pink scene of a little girl on a rocking horse in a dress up room. Neither of these two paintings are me, now, at all. And truthfully, I wonder if they were ever me - though I did do a lot of the pink - but both were mostly because they were objects and colours that other people *gave* to me. And I have to admit that much of these posessions that I carry with me is stuff that I have always carried because someone gave it to me. I'm the kind of person who keeps birthday gifts from her 10 year old birthday party even if she never liked them then and they were given to her by people she didn't even know that well. Like, it's stuff that other people thought I would/should like. And parts of an identity that other people think I have. Sometimes very removed from the reality, both then and now. And as soon as they got assimilated into "my stuff", they became the baggage that I literally carry with me from place to place *because I have always had it and therefore it is part of who I am because I have always had it*.

I don't know if that remotely explains the thinking of this hoarder. But I'm spending a lot of time trying to separate out that which I should keep for sentimental reasons and that which I feel sentimental towards only because it has always been amongst my belongings, and for no other reason than that. Do you have to keep presents from people who have long left your life and will never return? If they are never to be part of your life again, does it matter if you no longer remember them? Or keep something to remember them?

The truth is, I had too much crap last time I moved and at that point in time, I was not in a good head nor emotional space to sort and cull. But that move was agony. And when you move is exactly the wrong time to decide to sort your stuff, I reckon. So I want to just get into a routine of regularly culling crap. I used to do it regularly when I had to fit into one bedroom at home. And clutter and possessions just drag you down til they own you. I want to get to place where I only carry possessions that are important to me and that I need. And that in part involves disconnecting myself from the ideas I have about my stuff and looking at it honestly and ruthlessly.

It also involves reading and returning books and DVDs that I have borrowed. And that process, whilst it dictates some of the way I use my spare time in the short term also has this element of freedom about it - as I start to assuage myself of the borrowers guilt. I tend to way overborrow compared to possible turnaround time of said borrowed item.

There's this really cool thing, it turns out - decluttering brings a sense of freedom. Ownership of possessions has this weight associated with it. And so does the mess and untidiness of having too many things that they don't all go away neatly. Clear and tidy spaces bring such an uplifting feeling to me. And so does returning borrowed items and reducing to read/do/watch queues - freeing up of future spare time! In part I think that's what's also brought about this need to finish reading my to read queue and to start getting stuck into doing things with my fabric stash. In time I will turn to the yarn stash but I have been contemplating selling some of my cross stitch kits because I almost cannot see a time when I will ever get all of these projects done.
(And I didn't even say anything about the quandry of looking at WIPs of craft projects you both neither have any desire to finish nor even like anymore ...)


Willow
There's much intrigue surrounding the time my taxes are taking me to do. They *are* more complicated than the standard tax return because I am trading as a sole trader for TPP and that means that I lodge a personal tax return that includes TPP sales/losses within it.

And this is where it all gets a bit complicated. I love that editormum said to me the other day that she is taking my advice on this. I love that because this will cause her far less pain in the end than I have self-inflicted.

When I started TPP, I wasn't really sure where it was going to go. It was about 2006 I guess and we started New Ceres the ezine. And then not long after that Shiny was born. And then 2012. And then after that it all kind of snowballed. So when it was just New Ceres, and I was giving this a go, I took sales in my personal paypal account and covered some expenses with my personal credit card. And then as things took off, it was obvious that TPP needed its own bank accounts and paypal account. But I still make payments with my credit card (printing bills are more than you can direct transfer in a day). And I never fully reconciled monies between bank accounts and between TPP and me personally. See it was ok, because I had a papertrail. I also started selling other small press books for my friends - it's easier to put a couple of books on a table at a con that you know someone is going to be at. And they need to have their monies reconciled. But that's ok because I had a papertrail and all it would take is some sitting down and combing through the papertrail and some maths and it'd all be sorted out. And I started going to a bunch of cons to sell books at and it was ok, because I had a papertrail. And then I started up some more projects and it would all be ok because I had a papertrail.

And then one day, all papertrails come home to roost. I'm at a point where I need to know how much each project has spent/earned. I need to know what the bottom line of TPP is. I need to how to budget future TPP publishing schedules, work out which projects worked financially and which didn't. And I need to reconcile all the monies across all the accounts because TPP needs to be self sufficient and also because I have investors that need to have their loans + profits repaid and I need to know what those are.

And ... each year the number of transactions have doubled. There was no way that I could not sit down and draw a line under this stuff for this tax year. Because it will be too late after 2010 to physically keep track of and to go through the papertrail. It turns out that accounting is not like normal maths. And I had been trying to track all of this using maths that made sense to me but then also, the actual outputs in my spredsheets made no sense. My mum, who does a lot of business accounting, sat down and worked through the page just for 2012 to help me think through a lot of the numbers. It was helpful, helped me set up a new system. And then her brain exploded and she told me I was on my own. The same thing when a friend of mine, who is an accountant, sat down to help me. I knew I was in trouble and I knew I needed to get on top of this.

To whit, I started two completely new financial spreadsheets to track the papertrail - a financial year one that would bottom line TPP and be the page that I lodge each year to the tax man. So this tracks 2005/2006, 2006/2007, 2007/2008, 2008/2009 and 2009/2010. And has an extra page for invoices - bookstores and wholesalers want to be invoiced and you need to be able to track who has paid and who hasn't and for what and when. And if you don't write the invoice number on the back of the bank slip when you deposit the cheques, there is no way to figure out what things were for if you mixed in cash deposits with cheques. Just sayin' - not all papertrails are perfect. *cough*

The second spreadsheet tracks transactions and expenses by project. For each electronic sale there's the book price, the postage paid and the paypal fee for the transaction. And then payment for postage purchase. So 4 lines of information per sale. Plus other things like printing, author payments, tracking contributor, review and award judging copies. And catering for launches. And advertising. And so on. and the important question of - where did the seed money for the cash flow come from (was it investment, a loan or a reinvestment of TPP money?)

And so there are pages in this spreadsheet for: ASif, New Ceres, Shiny, 2012, Angel Rising, New Ceres Nights, Horn, A Book of Endings, Roadkill/Siren Beat and Non TPP books. I had to start a new spreadsheet for 2010 projects. And I will need a new one for 2011 as well.

And you don't get to really end any of these pages' activities - it's called the long tail and it's what, in the end, enables a small press to be viable. That is, selling your backlist. So I still get sales from each of these and that means that with each new project, admin increases. I'd say with each year, admin is doubling. It'll probably triple by 2011.

So, once all these pages were set up and the transactions and which columns they should go in kinda made sense, I have been trawling through my papertrail all the way back to 2005 and entering all this data - from two paypal accounts, two chequing accounts, two higher interest earning accounts, one visa account and cash records. And also trying to resolve questions that crop up along the way. Last time I tried to do this, I tried to do too many things at once - entering data and answering big questions to do with resolving reconciliations and so on. This time, I have spreadsheets I understand and am entering all the data and then will do final equations and drawing of lines at the end.

The tax man only wants the ins and outs for the year 2008/2009 - that means just the data entry, and that bit is almost almost done. But at the same time, I did all the years and all the way up to today so that once the tax return has been lodged, I can interrogate the data and do some reconciliation and move forward with separated finances between me and TPP, even though the tax lodgement is still all wrapped up in one.

The question at the end is ... what colour will the final number be, red or black?

Ahhh productivity

shoes
I just told Benji that we were allowed to stop working at 11pm so I think I'll follow through with that by posting what I did tonight and then relaxing a bit before bed.

I'm quite glad that yoga was cancelled and I didn't have to feel guilty about not going! I worked on the tax spreadsheets and have finally gotten all (5 years worth) of the paypal transactions entered and double checked. Phew. That's a great incentive to enter the rest as I go now, forever, into this swanky sleek new excel template. I do have a few more things to do for this but the microtransactions are the most fiddly. Once all the data is entered, and sent off to the tax man, I can do a bunch of reconciliation type stuff that I am still dreading. But then it will be DONE and that will be awesome.

I also cleaned up the mess from Monday night. Funny dog. He absolutely shredded a cane basket - I have no idea how he didn't hurt himself doing that - a wicker basket in teeny pieces! I was quite amused though going through what did get shredded. He has managed to assist me in the declutter by seemingly only attacking things that I didn't really want but didn't have what it took to toss out - the basket (what do you do with these when you don't want them anymore?), a bunch of knitting WIP bits and pieces from a project from 15 years ago, a cheap white board that was always crap and that I didn't know what to do with once I replaced it and a poster that I presented at some conference during postgrad. All shredded and now tossed. The room looks neater and more organised than it was before the storm!

And since I was there, I moved some yarn stash and packed it away to make room for my fabric stash. OMG I have SO MUCH sock yarn. I may never need to buy sock yarn ever again and will still have too much sock yarn. Seriously. I think I needed to be in therapy for obsessive compulsive disorder YEARS ago! I squinted and tried not to think about it. At least I have a niece now who I can knit for who will grow and need new knitted things in bigger sizes. This explains my lack of gusto in stashing up on fabric.

And my kitchen is all neat and tidy and organised. There is nothing like going to bed with a clean kitchen sink. And the hallway is mostly clutter free. Handyman/gardner is coming next week to look at a hinge that needs fixing and some help with some tidy up in the gardens. Banking has been sorted (though I sighted another unbanked cheque in my clean up this evening) and some forms lodged for some TPP stuff.

A good evening, I think, all in all. Tomorrow, more taxes after my eye appointment. And more editing. So much more editing ...


And yet it's still only Wednesday

benji
This week has felt like a month of things has packed into it. And yet it's only Wednesday. Wednesday is yoga day and again, I'm probably going to spend the whole day not wanting to go. I've ended up so behind on my taxes, which I wanted to be totally finished with by the end of this week. And in fact *have* to be, because there are no other weekends between then and after mid April for me. But I probably should go to yoga since I'll be skipping it next week to take Benji off to his boarding holiday ahead of Swancon. Sigh.

Last night I took Benji to the vet. I've been dreading this adventure for quite some time but it ended up being, like all mountains from molehills, not that bad. We hardly barked at very much in the waiting room, which was separated into "cats over there and dogs over here". The vet was a very kind man and gave Benji lots of little treats in order to befriend him. In the end though, Benji ended up with a muzzle on after trying to go for the vet when he tried to examine his bad leg. The vet thinks it's from an old injury which he would have sustained before he went to Poundwatch. :( But not much can be done for it. Benji was very good about getting his injection - didn't phase him at all. But the claw clipping, that was another story and involved being whisked behind the door to where a nurse could assist in holding him. But it was all done very quickly and we won't need to go back till next year.

maelkann and I have been talking over puppy school for Benji. And we'll probably look to get started after Swancon. I've had a few behaviouralists recommended to me and that's probably the way we're going to go. Dog that comes when called, coming to an owner near you!

He's such a naughty thing though. After knocking over my waste paper bin and pulling down all my old, and discarded, half finished craft baskets and what not, he's been going into that mess (see last photo post) and finding TOYS to play with. Last night I found a pom pom in the bedroom. And I was like, WTF? I must have made that pom pom in like 1986! Still, dog toy is probably the best use I've managed to figure out for it in 20 years! What can you do eh? Keeps him entertained! (Most of that junk needs to be tossed out. How long do you keep started craft projects that you will likely never ever return to?)

Thoughts are now focussing for me on my publishing schedule. I've been putting together my dates for books to go to the printer for vodkandlime (aka Graphic Design Department :P) who's designing them for me, so that I should definitely have them all in time for Aussiecon 4 (beginning of September). And then, beyond that for 2011 and Swancon 36/Natcon 50 and so on. And I had a bit of a panic, I'll admit. I've suddenly realised I need to do 9 books this year on that timeline rather than the 6 that will be out in 2010, alone. I'm doing this transition, I guess, from small press schedules where I was making sure I had cashflow from the last book to be able to afford the next one, to somethng a bit more like a pro indie press. And I'm taking a bit of a leap in 2011 and it turns out, that means I need to get my skates on ... NOW!


Decluttering State of Mind

Willow
I guess it's a mood? I'm decluttering. I like the way tidying up feeds on itself the same way as making a mess does. It's reassuring that if you put in enough effort, one of the benefits is that you are more likely to maintain the achievements and work towards bigger ones. Not to say that there aren't days when my house looks like a bomb has hit it but the mess wears on me more now because I am used to things now being tidied away and I am thus more likely to deal with it quicker.

I guess it's the same as doing chores. I got to a spot where I thought I was getting on top of these and then I got deluged with more things to do and I got discouraged. It's really easy to put that phonecall off till tomorrow or take this thing to be repaired next weekend. But the more you leave stuff, the more it wears down on you, all its white noise at the back of your mind.

Somewhere along the way, I got to quite liking the feeling of having things done - the small things removed from my frame of mind and the niggling things to stop niggling. It turns out that's a much nicer space to be in. And it turns out you can be happy and happier more often and it's totally within your control.

So I've been decluttering and getting a little bit addicted to decluttering. Not grand tidying up type things but more the walking past something and thinking, "that goes in that cupboard" or "I don't need that, it can go out" and then acting on that thought. Or thinking "I really need/should/must/have to" and then actually just doing that as the very next thing. And it's kind of creeping into more aspects of my life - not just tidying up my house (which I am doing because I cannot face moving a lot of that junk in one more housemove) but also in terms of relationships that I am in that are unhealthy or make me feel bad about myself, and speaking up when I previously wouldn't (you're shocked I know, but I hold a lot back, brace yourself world) and in my finances and lifestyle habits too.

Because if you take responsibility for dealing with things that make you feel shitty, or disorganised, or bad or whatever, you can take how you feel into your own control.

The only problem though with all this dealing with stuff I have been putting off is that it doesn't help with the cutting back on the finances stuff! There's lots of things I've been putting off that cost money and they are all going to get done this week and next. Ouch! On the other hand, it will feel awesome to know they are done and to enjoy the things that having done them will mean - glasses that fit, carpets that are clean, dogs that are properly vaccinated, things fixed in the house etc etc.

ETA: I wonder how much of this is due to drinking more water and cutting out dairy - in terms of feeling better mentally. My mind feels clearer, I feel more ruthless and equipped to just make decisions and move on.

you know how it is

Willow
Is it possible I actually have so much on that I don't have time to blog it anymore? Could that have actually happened to me? I've currently got so much on that I am working on X so that I can get it done in order to work on Y. It's pretty hectic, with little downtime.

Also, at the moment, I seem to be mostly in reactive mode - got sick, couldn't do anything but deal with that. Then had a ton of backlog to deal with because I didn't work for 4 days. And then it's just be one thing after the other. For example, last night I cooked dinner for friends in the dark because the kitchen light globe blew days before, and when I went to replace the bulb, I bought the wrong size. And then whilst I was cooking, I opened a cupboard door and it came off in my hand. Yesterday I got my car serviced. This morning I was driving to my hair appointment and had a flat tyre. This kind of thing.

The way I've found to cope with all this stuff is to do things that I have been putting off for a really long time. The really white white noise that makes you feel bad and guilty even when you don't think about it. And so now, I've kinda gotten a thing where I do one task that I have been putting off for forever, each day. These have included finally getting some extra bedsheet sets, bin for my bathroom, kickstarting a new project that's been on the drawing board for months. Yesterday it was the car service. Today it was setting up my personal budget. Tomorrow ... who knows! It's oddly freeing and addictive. And I'm visualising a time when all these chores are done and I live in a time of just doing the things as they come up. Could happen.


I can't tell if it feels better or worse

Willow
I'm desperately trying to stuff as much into the last remaining days of the year as is physically possible for me. I am about to rush off and see to the plumbing at home (ie oversee a plumber etc). I still vaguely thought I could book my car in for a service, get the carpets cleaned etc etc etc. But I also realise that the end of 2009 for me will be a I get on the plane on Weds at noon. So I just transferred over to my 2010 diary. Wow. That was interesting. Now I have written a to do list for all the things I really am not going to get done between now and tomorrow night. I put the to do list in for the first week I get back from hols.

It feels quite stressful to already have jobs to be done into next year. And yet, there is no real defining point between now and then. Just this ridiculous made up one - oh we must catch up before the new year! Why? Why??? Whats the difference between doing things madly this week or like over the next two weeks following? And why can't we catch up just cause we like each other? I dunno. I'm just at exploding head phase I spose.

And remember when I was wondering, ages ago, what would happen if you got all your things done? Or what if you did things ahead of time in a planned, organised fashion? Well I'm here to say that, as suspected, you find more things to do. And really maybe I had it right before - doing things at the last minute. Cause now, I do try and work ahead of things which means that because I have all the presents bought, I have the TPP things packed, I've sorted out my plane reading and the work plan for the next two weeks, now I am organising plumbing and fridge cleaning and dog clipping and and and.

And I think I feel more harried and stressed than the flying by the seat of my pants stuff.

Though admittedly, I am getting more things done and letting less people down

There's just always so frigging much more to do.


How did I go

Willow
I guess my weekend tally ended up looking like a game of swings and roundabouts. Some wins, some losses, probably all evened out in the end.

The moving into living in my house kinda was a washout yesterday and didn't really happen. I did though finish the top of the kimono wallhanging. I've never finished a quilt top before. I then, um over exuberantly cut the backing fabric for the kimono wallhanging and even though I had factored in a generous buffer for fucking up, I still managed to cut it so badly that I missed a corner. This morning I woke up, told my mother about the cutting disaster and she talked me into getting in the car and taking it over. So I did that and about an hour I came home with the project ready to move on. Let us never speak of the misadventure again.

So, assembled, I began handquilting the project. In the TV room watching Foxtel. Fellow tweeters will have noticed my entire loss of IQ as a result. Now I have a very sore finger, and have discovered I'm not that good at quilting. This bit is going to take longer than I hoped just cause of the pain to my finger issue. I tried a thimble but I don't like the lack of dexterity - I'm wearing a bandaid and that's still not great. So the score on that is, top finished, quilt assembled, one kimono quilted. I moved back to the tumbling blocks patching in the inbetween, taking breaks from the quilting.

I finished most of my AA commitments - the rest now comes down to a few final emails flicking back and forth so I've crossed that off my to do list. I also finished my reading for LSS 2009! And started 2010. I'm reading Shadow Unit for fun and will go back and read Season 1 now as well.

My list as it stands:

1. Aurealis judging
2. LSS 2009
(carryover Shadow Unit)
3. Swancon Meeting prep (couple of pieces to draft up)
4. TPP Finances (reconciliation meeting, final bank accounts, con sales and invoices to balance)
5. Personal budget (track spending for 2008 and 2009 to underpin decisions)
6. Write 2 reviews/ wk for ASif
7. Start LSS 2010 (read 4 shorts/day)
8. Write 900 words commissioned article
9. Sort payments TPP
10. Finish webpage at SPUNC and TPP website updates
11. Read RWE draft and send feedback
12. Read Cold Cases draft and send feedback
13. Read novelette
14. Set up promotion and marketing spreadsheets

It's been a bit confronting living in the whole house. It's an adjustment. And I still don't want to be out there late at night, I prefer my bedroom. Still, I'm counting that as progress.


Some kind of day

coffee
I've had an oddly productive, I want to say morning but it's quart to four, day. I started out with a beautician's appointment and then shouted myself breakfast at the middle eastern cafe across the road. Mmmmm shakshuka. And I finished off my Aurealis judging reading and read a bit of Locus mag. I came home, fixed the TV sitch and finished off Eclipse 2.

I also cleared off all my whiteboards and wrote up my current Working To Do list of things I am manically trying to do and keep track of in my head to complete before Sprawl:

1. Aurealis judging
2. LSS 2009 (carryover Shadow Unit)
3. Swancon Meeting prep (couple of pieces to draft up)
4. TPP Finances (reconciliation meeting, final bank accounts, con sales and invoices to balance)
5. Personal budget (track spending for 2008 and 2009 to underpin decisions)
6. Write 2 reviews/ wk for ASif
7. Start LSS 2010 (read 4 shorts/day)
8. Write 900 words commissioned article
9. Sort payments TPP
10. Finish webpage at SPUNC and TPP website updates
11. Read RWE draft and send feedback
12. Read Cold Cases draft and send feedback
13. Read novelette
14. Set up promotion and marketing spreadsheets

That's probably not all of it but it's here for accountability. Sprawl deadline hits Dec 20. The novelette reading period announcement looks to have gone wide so am a bit scared of that. And I do actually have most of Glitter Rose content already and need to get moving on that too.

Mum came over and we embarked on our quilt shop expedition. We are making a quilt together for my sister's baby. We have been "discussing" at length for months now the colours (I vetoed yellow and green) and theme (I vetoed a lot of themes). Mum has been less than enthusiastic about quilting for years even though she was really passionate about it for over a decade! Anyway, she browsed the Jinny Beyer website last week, I've mentioned that here haven't I? - http://www.jinnybeyer.com/ !!!) and I got this email "I remember why I love quilting!" Oh yeah Jinny Beyer will do that to you.

So off we trekked today. I got wadding and backing for the kimono wallhanging and quilting needles and safety pins and thread. And I'm going to actually attempt to assemble this tonight ... stay tuned. Maybe a photo essay later. I'm quite shocked but I think I might actually get this project finished by the deadline I set last Xmas of this Xmas. (really really shocked tbh) I also got some fat quarters. Ahem. And a super long ruler cause that might have been one of the problems with my cutting of borders aka the reason the kimono project stalled.

Except I do really want to progress the tumbling blocks - isn't that always the way? Wanting to be working on the project you aren't actually on?

We also got some fabrics that we are both really happy with for the baby. No clues here because my sister pops by! And Mum got some stunning fabrics for a wallhanging project that she just got so excited about (I love it - hopefully I'll have photos at some point.) She's gone home all excited and energised and project oriented. I expect to see her here tomorrow for cutting implements etc.

And now it's like 4pm already.

I have 15 short stories left to read for LSS 2009. I might really actually get this done.


Trying something new

Willow
OK, I have been procrastinating on sorting out my entertainment devices at home. I think even when I moved here the ex set up my TVs for me - is that terrible? That's probably quite terrible. And then the Foxtel man came and installed Foxtel and he reset everything up. It's been a while since I've wrestled with cords and connectors and things.

Long time readers might recall that Benji ate through a bunch of cables when I left him inside for a couple of rainy days - gosh that would be back in winter. Anyway, I have been without Foxtel since then - but paying the bill. I went and replaced one cable only to discover he'd chewed through more than the one. Then it took a while to get to the shop to go and replace a second cord. Meanwhile I'd bought a digital set top box for my other TV - which I have unpacked but am yet to connect. When I finally got round to connecting the second cable, I discovered I'd bought the wrong one. Repeat. And so finally today I fiddled around for half an hour trying to reconnect all the new cords. Argh!

I had to move all the cables around - he had also partly chewed through the power cable of the DVD player. My mother convinced me that was a fire hazard so whilst I spend several months procrastinating on figuring out what to do with the DVD player, I reconfigured all the cords to bypass the DVD player and play free to air and Foxtel. Man that nearly did my head in! But! I have an engineering degree for heaven's sake, I was not gonna let that beat me! And now, I am sitting here blogging on my laptop watching Sex and the City. *happy sigh*

Later, I might even trying setting up my digital set top box in the bedroom.

And now. I am going to try this thing editormum said I should oooh way back when we went through the Getting Sorted lists. *deep breath* I'm going to move my recreation/work/sewing/maybe even reading time out of my bedroom and into the rest of my house. Yeah, it's weird. I live in a whole house by myself but I actually physically only live in my bedroom - it has everything I need! And its a leftover thing from the OCD. Difficult to explain without sounding ... [crazy]. Anyway, gonna try this living in the whole house thing, using my Foxtel that I pay for and then my bedroom for sleeping. Though my bedroom does have the only working DVD player ...

ETA: Been sitting here for 10 minutes wondering about this whole ... living in your whole house thing. When and why do you decide to go to bed then?


Planning

Willow
I've been reading Booklife by Jeff Vandermeer and I'm really engrossed in it. Probably he grabs me in in the first few pages because he's talking about lists and goals. My favourite stuff! So I'd been mulling over my mission statement (which I finally managed to draft up today) and my 5 and 1 year goals. See actually I was already working on the 5 year goal, as in, I knew what it was and have been focussed on it for awhile now. It sort of factored in when I decided what kind of day job I would start applying for and it was sort of verbalised at that point where I really felt like I was at a fork in the road of life (aka June).

vodkandlime had already told me this week that I needed to have a one sentence line that describes TPP about which I would centre all my future decisions. Booklife suggests this too as your mission statement, as a way of making the decision process for you. And I realised this was what I had done with the day job applications - no pay cut, permanent or decent length of contract etc and it really has guided my process so that I am not jumping at every opportunity, only the ones that offer me career progression.

So I wrote my 5 year TPP goal out in words on a page and am trying to figure out what that makes my 1 year goals. And as I was doing this ... I realised that I also have a 3 year goal to go to Italy. And a 2 year goal to go to WFC again. So um. That probably means I should include some savings targets in my personal budget when I get round to drafting that up.

Crazy but perhaps this organised goal planning stuff works?


Continuing the quest to be sorted

Willow
One of the things that I was worried about when I back to work after three weeks off was whether I would be able to maintain the momentum for my getting sorted project. I was still in the middle of sorting out my study, getting the finances finalised and some general household sorting things. Given that these things had gotten to this state, I was worried I would slip back into old habits and not have enough time to finish and then maintain.

But luckily my other theory seems to have held - tidiness forces further tidiness. Just like mess seems to spread. I've also begun enforcing a new set of calendar scheduling which will hopeful reap time for things that need to be done at home, more TPP time and also more personal time.

The TPP finances are very very close to being done. I might have to throw a party when they are. I tell you! The pain, I cannot fully convey it. In sorting through all the paperwork for TPP, I have also begun work on my personal budget which will be the next project and hopefully ready to go by Jan.

I've submitted one deadline for Aurealis judging. As well as one list of recommended reading for this year to another outlet. And I'm quite surprised to report that my kitchen remains pretty much immaculate. Dishes are getting done and all foods are continuing to be packed carefully away. It's pretty darn nice to have a clean kitchen as the norm not as the passing blink in the week. And I also noticed that whilst I've been at home, other things get picked up and put away so the house is progressively getting more and more organised and tidy. This is very restful and uplifting.

Interestingly though, I do have moments of panic as I see myself get on top of things. It's almost like I prefer to be behind, like I don't quite know what to do if I'm not running to catch up. Cause if you aren't buried in things that are late or need to be caught up on, then you have space to go forward, create, do new things, try news things, relax, conquer. Whatever. But that stuff is scary cause it's unknown. I'm pushing forward through the fear cause, I think I should be out there and not held back by my own tardiness and laziness. Or fear of having to come up with something else (or read a book when I buy it etc).

I have 74 short stories/novellas left to read and I intend to start 2010 reading Dec 1.


Getting Sorted Update

Willow
I think it's been three weeks since I last posted my progress, supposed to be weekly so I should get back into this.

36 tasks done (doesn't seem enough for 3 weeks!)

7 personal (3 household, 3 errands, 1 TV (UK Queer as Folk S1 and 2)
25 TPP (4 ASif, 10 General, 4 R/SB, 1 BoE, 2 novellas, 2 Sprawl, 2 Horn)
1 A4
3 Craft

13 sent to Did Not Finish

(Oh and started new job, and sat Job Interview for Application 2. Reading for Aurealis Awards and Last Short Story also not on this list.)


outclassed!!

Willow
Yoga was fantastic tonight! I walked into the room just after 6 and our teacher stops the conversation she was having and says to me, "I just finished "Siren Beat"! I couldn't put it down. I haven't started the other story because I just want to mull it over." Feedback doesn't get better than that!

I can still do Marichyasana A and B. Yay. I've been doing chair yoga at work. Every now and then I just do a few back twists and stretches and things because I don't want to stiffen up. This is probably what you are actually supposed to do and is called maintenance but yeah, for me it's all gotta be about the prize. Also, I am starting to see the possibility of the half lotus on my left side. Maybe not by Christmas but we'll see. My bend backs are getting less painful too - I think that must mean more back strengthening has happened which also should be good to fight against all that sitting at the desk.

On the way home, I picked up Benji from my Mum's and I thought I was being very clever returning a bunch of borrowed DVDs, review book for D, a book of my Dad's that I have no idea how it got to be in my library since I have my own copy of the same book, and the two books that I finished this weekend. And OMG! Outclassed is all I can say. I ended up leaving with THREE books - one of the books I returned which she wanted me to put with all my other second hand books that I am collecting to resell or whatever. And two more books by the same authors. Net increase in borrowed books!!!! Though, these are crime novels and I'm quite enjoying the switch in genre for my relaxation reading at the moment.

But now I must put nose to the graphic novel I need to read tonight.


Getting Sorted Update

Willow
About three weeks ago, maybe a little bit more than that, I gave up free to air TV. Technically I have foxtel but you might better to discuss that with Benji than me. Ahem. And I had heard this was true, many people had tried to tell me before but ... I can't believe how much time I have found since giving it up. I'm not watching any less TV in fact I've watched tons more but I'm not "scheduled" the way TV makes your life and I'm not limited to watch shows one episode at a time. And oddly movies seem now such a more digestible format all of a sudden. I gave up watching the news on TV about xmas last year and I never missed it and I don't feel less informed. And I don't feel unconnected - I always thought that I would if I tuned out.

I'm thinking of not going back to watching free to air tv at all. I'm not sure if I could sustain that long term but I can't also think of much that's on right now that I want to watch, either.

So sort of all the tasks finished since the last update (probably missed a few, but they'll get picked up next week I'm sure).

28 Tasks Done:

11 TPP (1 BoE, 3 R/SB, 2 general, 4 ASif! 1 Finance)
13 Personal (3 TV (Big Love s1, Northern Exposure S5 and 6), 8 Film (Frost/Nixon, Picture Perfect, Capote, New in Town, Last Chance Harvey, Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium) 1 Benji, 1 Music)
2 Craft
2 Books finished (both borrowed)

1 item moved to Not Completed (yay review I don't need to write)


And somehow job interview for application 2 was not on the to do list but was done.

And now? Now I have leftovers to go in the fridge so I don't need to cook dinner tomorrow night. I have baked muffins for breakfast and I have shopped for lunch to pack. I am reading another book and am working on LSS - have zeroed some stories and started reading some more.

Not recharged fully, but getting there.

Getting sorted - more things I have learned

Willow
If you declutter properly ie actually go through all those boxes of who knows what crap and look at each page and file, toss or forward, there is ALWAYS a monetary reward. It could just be me, and that I am really crap with cash, but I think I have always found some notes when cleaning, properly cleaning, out my room/house.

So why yes, I did find some birthday money last night. Long since spent and not reimbursed.

Last night this reward was for ... throwing away most of my fanfiction, all my notes related to those programs and plot bunnies etc, throwing away a lot more crap related to the ex (all sorts of things I had saved - all gone), tossing out saved bits and pieces that I really do not need.

It was very liberating and then I found cash!

Something else I have discovered about myself, I feel much more like reading when my house and space is free of clutter and mess. I'm not saying I've actually *done* any reading, but I do feel more like doing it now. I can sense reading in my future :P But the other thing is ... reading with purpose!! As I have been cleaning out my study, I've culled some books that I will never read and returned some books I had borrowed and sent out as many review copies for ASif! as I can talk the reviewers into taking. And so things have started to get much more organised. All my books now fit into my bookshelves. And I'm looking at my to read pile with the idea of ... hey if I read that, I could return it and free up space. And also I suspect that I wasn't reading my newly acquired books because I had no room to fit them into my bookshelf.

So I've been culling my to read pile - if I can only read X books in my life, do I want this to be one of them at the expense of say Y? Yes, a lot of BFFs have been returned to their owners. But now I'm actually eyeing this pile off, not as reading, but as potential tidying up - if I read the books I've got of Tansy's before Xmas, I could return those in person. If I worked through all the graphic novels of Tehani's, that would be a big space created.

I see progress in my future. Reading with purpose :)

things n stuff

Willow
My brain finally switched back on and warmed up enough to do some prep for my interview tomorrow. I'll cram again in the morning and you get 10 mins prep with the questions before hand. Hopefully I'll do ok.

I'm also hoping my brain will switch off again tomorrow afternoon post-interview. I have a few more days left on holiday and I liked the way things were. It was an interesting feeling though, trying to get myself back to concentrate. I haven't really done much thinking these last 3 weeks - weird.

I've learned a few things though:

- having a clean and tidy kitchen really does make me happy
- it's much easier to do a few dishes at a time than wait and do them all at the end of the day
- I make a lot of dirty dishes
- burn out made me tired and also made me keep really extreme hours for social activity
- it's nice to cook and have leftovers to eat later
- I want to have a nice house, with lots of nice things around, but it turns out, before I can make the surface pretty, i need to dig deep and sort out the hidden secrets and nasties
- finally confronting demons is scary but exhilarating
- I need to monitor how I manage my time and my space post holidays - I'm finally able to think, to plan and to schedule and I have a few spots in the diary back to pre holiday crazy. If I don't manage this, I'm going to get burnt out again AND I won't have enough time at home to do maintenance stuff and my house will slip again
- maintenance on tidiness is not a big deal but it is CONSTANT, as soon as you miss it for a bit, you're back to mess and disorder
- order and tidiness make me happy and make me feel in control
- I have not felt in control of my life for a really long time

:)


i can hardly believe it

shoes
When you've been putting something off for two years or more, and you think it's a really really scary thing to do, that you're kind of terrified to do, it's an extremely odd feeling to find yourself in the midst of that task, without pomp, without ceremony, and actually without much pain.

I am knee deep and well into pulling apart my study and sighting every scrap of crap and filing, tossing or passing things on. I can't quite believe it, still.

Today I've:
- culled books from my bookshelves
- tossed out the video tapes
- amnestied myself from ASif! reviews
- posted out a ton of ASif! review copies
- admitted there are books I will never read, don't want to read and am cool to move on from not reading
- found my mothers stack of scrap patchwork and quilting books - she did lend them to me
- found a rather hunky photo of planeterry in an old news article
- sorted through a lot of my postgrad stuff and boxed it away
- reduced another box from the TPP stock
- found stuff from the ex and just tossed it
- created a heck of a lot of storage space --> maybe now I have too much space?!?
- found a photocopy of an article showing a row of men with enormous testicles (dunno why I have that either)

ETA
- all my Dark Angel fanfiction
- a postcard from kathrynlinge address to "'the cell'"
- the manuscript of my first novel, clearly not trunked enough
- a rejection letter for a submission I made to an aussie small press years ago that I had forgotten about entirely

It's really weird - being able to look at all this stuff unemotionally and either toss it or pack it up. It feels weird that it took me so long to get to actually doing it, that I made it into this big deal, and now that I am here, doing it, it's really not a big deal at all. I guess I'm finally past it all. And more than that, I think part of the problem was that when I moved in here, I never actually gave anything a proper place so stuff never went back to its place. Since I have been doing this all week, tidying up is so much easier. Now my house has systems and order and things naturally find their way back there. And I guess a lot of that had to do with the state of mind I was in when I moved in here. I'm glad though to be beyond that now. And maybe back to me. Again.

And watching the end of Season 5 of Northern Exposure. Even though Joel whines and whines and complains, the show is totally less than when he is not in the episode.

Today I am finally feeling like I am over the burn out. First day of the whole holidays. And funnily enough, my bedtime is creepy back to midnight and getting up earlier in the morning now too. Which is nicely in preparation for work next week. Eek! I paid bills today. And ran a bunch of errands. I'm feeling a little sorrowful that work starts again next week but also that I might be ready and on top of things again by then.


request for second opinion

Willow
I don't need to keep Buffy and Angel video tapes from live to air versions of the show, do I? Like for nostalgic or preservation purposes?

I have all the DVDs. They're just taking up space right? Yet it's so hard to just toss em.


The thing about getting sorted ...

Willow
About Friday I hit the tipping point - the point at which things in my house were starting to look more tidy and organised than not, in places, and this is kind of driving me to want to organise and tidy things in the other places. Once past the tipping point, I find that I will get totally engrossed in sorting and culling and tidying areas of my house. I lost an hour a couple of hours ago culling some books in my bookshelf, putting together my new paper tray doo dat and sorting through papers on my desk. Tidiness leads to tidiness.

But I have also uncovered a horrible truth - why I have been untidy and neglected this big house declutter and sort for some time. The surface disorganisation and mess is sort of handle-able, I can reasonably find things, although I have been losing due to be paid bills. But I think I know why I have been avoiding dealing with the surface mess - it means that I need to then deal with the deeper one. I have been wanting to sort my study for well over a year and now that I am finally doing this, getting really stuck into it, I am seeing why I put it off - this task involves the uncovering of things I have been hiding - review copies I haven't written reviews for, TPP costs I haven't added to the spreadsheet, admitting there are books I will never read, books I have borrowed and am yet to read and return (OMG my to do read pile is ENORMOUS). And it involves me looking at things that I think are who I am and culling them and by proxy, me. Or something. And some of that process is painful, some of it cringeworthy but it turns out, most of it just requires a decision. Cause after that, there is afterglow and enjoyment of neat and tidy and organised spaces.

A long way still to go. Alas.

This afternoon I met up with jonathanstrahan - the call of a 30% off sale at Planet Books and a coffee and chat with J was all too alluring and I schlepped out in the heat. I also FINALLY took along my Birthday vouchers for Planet and that in some way alleviated the cost of my spoils! I replaced the Mieville but not the Linqvist. I bought hopefully only the Buffy graphic novel volumes I am missing. I grabbed both Liar and Leviathan and I also nabbed a Maureen Johnson. J laughed at me. I have done no reading at all these holidays and I just took a visual audit of my to read piles. Ouch.

And in other news, repeat customers are happy customers. I came home and decided to see if I could neaten up a couple of bits of Benji's coat. He happily lay down and showed me his stomach which he had not let me trim at all. Obviously the hair cut has been working out for him. He definitely looks like a happier (and younger) dog.


Monday - Holidays Week 2

Willow
Gosh, I'm a third of the way into my holidays already. It's going quickly and I'm trying to balance the chilling out with the getting things done. What I'm failing at is catching up with people and I suspect that's how the second two thirds of my holiday is going to go as well.

I'm just about to pop out to the post office to send deborahb some more books and to resupply on prepaid envelopes. I might pop past JB HiFi as well. I'm supposed to organise a bunch of things this week to get done around the house and to get Benji clipped. Can anyone recommend a good electrician (for the getting things done in the house not the dog clipping!)? What I really want to do is get my finances and tax sorted, clean out the study and watch more TV :)

Here is the wrap up from the last two weeks of the to do list. Conflux happened and the start of my holidays so ... it's a bit lean:

29 Tasks Done:

2 Work
15 Twelfth Planet Press (4 R/SB, 4 BoE, 1 RWE, 1 NCN, 3 General, 2 Finance)
2 Craft
10 Personal (3 TV: Weeds S3 and 4, Big Love S1; 7 Film: 5 chic flicks, Charlie Wilson's War, Step Up 2)

I will attempt to kick this scores arse for next week and also get the hell on top of my emails which I can not seem to get under 145.


Getting Sorted Weekly update

Willow
So, the tasks in the Project Management spreadsheet are not all equal. And that is why, I'm still pretty chuffed with this week's performance even though the task number is lower. I got a new job this week. And I sat in my first serious panel interview, which I have always been terrified to do. I did ok this week.


16 Tasks Completed
3 Work
1 Craft
5 Twelfth Planet Press (1 Sprawl, 3 Roadkill/Siren Beat, 1 Horn)
5 House related
2 TV

1 Task moved to Did Not Complete

I have 581 short stories left to read for Last Short Story


On Getting Sorted - things that work for me

cuppa
This post is as much to archive this for me when I next am wondering how to flick my status from stagnant to productive. It always seems so impossible to get out when I'm stuck in a groove.

Something I have discovered in the last couple of weeks is that I am more productive and excited about doing work/cooking/cleaning/organising/paying bills/whatever if I *feel* ahead of the game. I noticed this twice in very recent days. Last week I worked out I needed to read 9.2 short stories every day for Last Short Story to get it done by Nov 30. So I started reading 10 a day. Except it felt so good to read 10 a day that I was reading 20-30 a day and now I am really knee deep in LSS reading and the whole thing is moving apace after hardly any progress all year. [1]

The second example was just yesterday when I finally bit the bullet and cleaned out my fridge. This task was one I had put off for some time, let us not speak of the details. For complicated reasons, I finally had all the planets aligned yesterday and I tackled the job. Much was turfed. And a big dish washing pile was created. This pile could not be avoided and as I worked through it last night, and on visiting the fridge for milk and cold drinks throughout the evening, I realised how much the not cleaned out fridge was impacting on my desire for cooking and being in the kitchen. As well as how much the job needing to be done was weighing down on my mind. And tonight? Tonight I baked a batch of chocolate chip muffins on a weeknight.

Just the act of getting the one task done has kicked me into getting a couple of other kitchen issues sorted and once I tackle those tomorrow, I think I can see myself getting more enthused about cooking and cooking healthier. I was even thinking about making (and freezing) soup whilst sitting at traffic lights today. Another helpful thing I have noticed is getting the dishes done and the kitchen tidied up at the end of the night. I was never one for doing this as a rule but it seriously does make you feel better to wander into a clean kitchen for a late night cup of tea.

Thinking about this, I realised that very likely the not tidying things up and putting them away when I've finished with them might be adding to the feeling of being behind aka not feeling like I am ahead. And of course, I'm not - I have tidying up tasks ahead of me. Look at the pile of filing, bills to open etc etc. Interestingly too, I would say that the way I think that leaving a project in progress out so that I see it and don't forget it's not finished probably also adds to my constant feeling of being behind. All these things, not helping to give the feeling of being ahead. [2]

So something I am going to be slowly working on, is putting things away, tidying up, and making spaces clear and organised. Even just to see if clean and clear spaces enthuse me and help me go looking for unfinished projects to tackle.

I want to get back into eating mostly unprocessed food. I was really good at it for a while, about 5 years ago. Probably before this last bout of depression, when I had first moved out of home, but also as I was moving into the depression as it was also an OCD reaction thing in response to people close to me getting diagnosed with cancer. It proved to me that I could cut out a bunch of things in my diet and cook varied and diverse meals day after day and enjoy it. I"d like to get that back (sans the depression and OCD). Having a tidy and organised and clean kitchen, I think will help with this.

The other thing that works for me is this game that I invented like when I was 10. It sounds stupid but it always works to get me to do things and feel like I got to relax too. It's my way of balancing work and fun. I used to use it to tidy my room, now my room is my house. Though sometimes I use it at work too :) The game I used to use was this - read a chapter of my book, then pick up the number of items in the room and put away as per the chapter number. Game doesn't work if the book chapters aren't numbered but it has a built in picking up pace as the book gets better cause you have to spend more time tidying up more per break between chapters :P The thing it does work for is it breaks down the job you have to do - so instead of "tidy up counter top" or "do filing" or "get through ironing" it breaks it down into, "find 4 items to put away from the counter top" or "file 5 pieces of paper", "answer 3 emails" or "iron two shirts". And it has this instant feedback loop of things done, in a very concrete way. And I find tidying up mess works better when you remove single items from the mess and put away.

And the thing that absolutely works when tidying up mess is this - concentrate on one space at a time, clear it so that whenever you walk past it, you see one spot that is done and you get the payback of the enjoyment of the completed task. It always pushes me onto get something else done because of the positive feedback.



[1] Yes I can "read" 20 to 30 shorts a day - not all shorts deserve to be read as though your life depended on it, or for sitting an exam later or even to pass the time waiting for a bus. Most shorts published do not deserve to be read to the end or more than skim read to check they were boring and unimaginative alllll the way to the end. Sad but true.

[2] The irony being this would have been one of the items on the ex's list as to why he couldn't live with me anymore - his opening to the discussion of us breaking up.


Getting Sorted Weekly update

coffee
I'm gonna call it now, even though I'm still pottering round on things. They can be a bonus for next week.

This week was about just getting runs on the board and maintaining routines.

27 tasks completed

15 Twelfth Planet Press (7 Siren Beat/Roadkill, 3 Horn, 3 Shiny, 1 BoE, 1 General)
5 Work
1 TV
2 Swancon/Natcon
2 House/errand, 1 Cooking
1 Other

I've also begun chasing down the tally for Last Short Story.

Bit of a biggish week coming up. We'll see how we go.


sleepy skeepy

Willow
Am very tired today because I was, for some reason, attempting an all-nighter to work on my quilting block for the quilting bee. At half-past midnight I realised the ridiculousness of this and sent myself to bed. I had traced the templates out for all the pieces and cut them, sewed one quarter of the block and pieced maybe half the other pieces together. I'm quite pleased though with how it's shaping up so was hoping to see more of it finished. Course, I only have yoga on tonight so there will be time to finish it tonight. I am just slightly terrified of missing the first deadline on this group project!!

AND I started watching The Sarah Connor Chronicles and got 3 episodes in before the aforementioned bed-sending. I think I have become addicted to inhaling television. This seems like it could either get expensive or time expensive if watched on my laptop. On the other hand, I am insanely behind on television that aired in the last 5 years or so and feel this pressing need to fix this. Film will follow.

It's September and nearly coming up on a year since I wrote my "things I don't still want to be on this list next christmas" list. Interestingly, for all my meandering about the place, I am actually making some progress towards these not being on next year's list. I got all my furniture back from the ex, thus cutting any remaining ties. I found a place the other day to hang one of the Dalis and there is slowly more art filling the white walls at my place. The aim is for there to be a few finished quilts to hang too, to warm up some of the spaces. That's why the rush on quilting - to have things up on the walls by Christmas (but I also feel sad that I will no longer be working on some of these projects which is hindering progress. I need to get over that on account of there being a ton of other projects in the queue and this will justify more project acquisition at the next craft fair.) Catching up on TV was on the list - as well as which shows.

Last night I had a weird and kinda awesome dream. Awesome because I was showing off my very buff biceps which I explained were from just one yoga session a week. I'm choosing to consider that to be prophetic :) Also there was a hunky man in the picture and I had to go into a house that was quarantined for being "too hot" - I went in, held my breath so as not to dehydrate my lungs and grabbed the thing I needed to get from there, and came out with just a coating of sweat on my body. And I reported that it wasn't as hot as I thought it would be in there.

Getting Sorted Weekly update

coffee
I've had some insights into the way I do things this week. The first is there are two reasons I abandon projects - 1. I have a fear of the outcome ie it being flawed and 2. I have forgotten where I was up to and think it's too much effort to reorient myself (and the longer the project is abandoned, the worse this becomes). To combat both of these, I worked on the monochrome tumbling block quilting project this week which both forced me to cut up lots of material and work through where I was up to on the piecing pattern combinations.

I almost finished cutting out all the diamonds from all the material from the project. This evening I tidied this all up and removed that which I won't have time to get to this week into the spare room. This reminded me about another issue to do with getting sorted - I have a fear of not remembering to finish tasks if I am not constantly reminded they are in progress. Mostly this results in lots of in progress projects across the whole house which other, uninitiated people might consider "untidiness".

Tidying up my sewing work space to only have the current task in the one project visible made me think about how in knitting people are divided into process or product driven - they either like knitting or they like having the knitted items. And depending on which type you are, that might indicate your style of attacking and finishing projects. And I suspect most of the time, in life, I am process driven. This might explain why for example in an anthology I am editing, there will always be one story I seem paralysed working on. Or why I can take a project all the way to sign off and then sit on the final proof for a week.

I realised I just got sad thinking that soon I really will finish some of my long term quilting projets. One of the reasons I want to is to hang some things i have made on the white walls here and add depth and tone and texture. So I have been driven to finishing them this year for that. But suddenly I felt sad that I wouldn't be working on them anymore. I get very comfortable in the groove of a project and I get reluctant to be done with it. On the other hand, I have no shortage of projects in the queue that I want to start, once these are done. And this becomes a question of whether I am process or product driven because if its the former, what really is the point for the latter. (Just finish the darn thing!) And why would anyone want to be stuck on the one project, learning the one technique or skill forever? (Finish. It.)

My final insight for the week is that I really hate feeling behind on a project. If I feel behind, I often have no drive to try and catch up or get ahead. On the other hand, if I feel ahead on something, I tend to want to keep that going. This worked well for Last Short Story reading this week so I am going to look at how to use this in other projects.

So ... how did I go this week on the to do list? I wanted to get 80 items done, since that would be two weeks in a row doubling but ... didn't happen. I completed 32 tasks. I tried to focus on one craft project a night this last week since the trying to do a little bit of each project a night didn't work. In the end I ended up focussing on one project (monochrome tumbling blocks) more than the others. Though I did knit two and a half pairs of newborn socks.

The breakdown:

20 Twelfth Planet Press (3 Shiny, 3 Horn, 1 New Ceres, 2 BoE, 7 Sprawl, 2 General, 1 Novellas, 1 R/SB)
2 Personal (1 TV)
2 Work
3 Swancon
4 Other
1 Craft


On Getting Sorted

cuppa
Where do the Google Calendar Reminders go?

I've been trying to use Google Calendar to micromanage some tasks. I find that if I schedule an indefinitely recurring reminder, like something I want to do every day, I get a Google reminder for maybe a fortnight and then they just stop coming. I've checked the Calendar to see if it's still scheduled and I've checked the Spam folder in case constantly deleting the unread item sends it to spam.

Nope.

Wonder where they go.


Getting Sorted Update

coffee
Since I posted, I think last Sunday, on my progress after Week 1 of the new spreadsheet, I thought I'd update weekly on my progress. Even if just as a personal bookmark.

So, week 2 of the spreadsheet has seen 40 tasks sent to the "Completed Tasks" tab with the following breakdown:

28 TPP (13 Horn, 6 BoE, 5 Roadkill/Siren Beat, 2 ASif, 2 General)
10 Personal (1 Benji, 1 Money, 6 errands, 2 TV)
1 Swancon/Natcon
1 Work

Possibly a bit TPP top heavy. One of the reasons why it's all tagged is so I can see where I am focussing my energy and what I am ignoring :) And tasks are totally not comparable. You know, that would be scientific or something.

Comments - I think whilst I may have actually done more last week than the week before, it's currently hard to actually assess. I'm still feeding in the remaining sections into the spreadsheet. I also still am working on making each task executable in its own right. I tend to write to do lists with double barrelled items (do this and this, or do this three different times for three different things). I also noticed that I move goal posts a lot. This contributes to the feeling of not getting much done - instead of crossing something out or moving it to a Done column, I write over top of items with the next step in the project. One of the reasons I tend to feel like I am not getting anywhere. I've been working on this - hence more items in the Completed sheet. Also the breaking down and splitting up of tasks will help with this too.


Getting Sorted: update

shiny&chocolate
So this was the first week working with the new spreadsheet after editormum had a look at the roadmap and suggested some revamps.

I think the whole process is quite interesting in terms of trying a bunch of possible solutions and just throwing out the ones that don't work for me. It's part of the idea, I think, that she had me include a "Did Not Complete" tab in the spreadsheet - it means no fear of adding things to the to do list and if later I want to abandon them or just don't want to do them any more, pick em up and whack em in there. I'm trying to apply this to other things in my life - like the to read pile, Last Short Story and so on. I'm starting to look at life from the perspective of, lifetime is finite, do I want to spend some of it on X instead of Y? Its helping to be more ruthless and less completist for the sake of completion. I even have three items in there already.

I'm quite liking the Project Management spreadsheet, as it is called. I have 7 tabs of different overarching areas of my life and I just whack in new things that need to be done, or I want to do, whenever I think of them. I have it open at all times. I'm hoping to get some time later today to go through and check all items are phrased as an action and also I am trying to break these actions down into executable tasks. The thing that is working for me is that I have a "Finished Tasks" tab and so it doesn't matter how long (and believe me the other tabs are full full full) the other lists get, as long as this one grows, it's all good. Every subsection is denoted by a different colour and when items go into the Finished tab, the get tagged so I can sort by area to see how I am going. So, after a week it looks like this:

20 completed tasks - 5 Work (day job) related, 3 personal (2 TV, 1 Film), 4 Swancon/Natcon, 8 Twelfth Planet Press (2 Horn, 1 Shiny, 2 General, 2 Roadkill/Siren Beat, 1 BoE). I've actually probably done more than this as I am still training myself to a) use this for everything and b) go back and tick off what I have done.

I'm still working on rolling out a bunch of things. For example, the regular stuff. Not included above because I haven't set it up properly yet, I also read one graphic novel for the week, read one nonfiction essay/feminist critical piece and worked on a bunch of craft goals. Tracking this bit is still being ironed out. Not sure if it will just get picked up as a finished goal later.

I trialled this week a stint system - I broke down all the very large ongoing projects I want to complete (3 sewing projects, reading, house organisation plus a big overhaul of the indexing at ASif!) into day bite size bits. And then I tried to make sure every day I did one little stint for each. This worked well in theory but not so well in practice. I am probably going to throw this one out as a technique that works for me. Or I will take one of these things only to work on everyday. It was just too much.

Next week I am going to see how it goes to assign one day to each of the above tasks in the week and see how that works out.

And I am going to finally bite the bullet and call my friend who's an accountant and ask for help on the financial organisation stuff.


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