In a few hours January will be history. It always surprises me. Where did the time go? How can another month have come and gone already?
This year I chose the word renew to embody my hopes and dreams for 2014. Did I do anything in January that renewed me? I’m happy to report that, yes, I did.
I gave up Words With Friends after the first of the year. I played it non-stop for a little over a year and at times had a dozen games going at once. Without realizing it, I was spending hours on the game. I began playing to improve how I thought about words. It worked. The game got easier for me and my average score improved by almost 150 points. So why stop? Because in the last few months I haven’t enjoyed playing and my score had stagnated. It was time for a break.
Being organized has always been a challenge for me. Last year I seemed to go in streaks. I’d work really hard at organizing and then a few weeks later things would be a mess again. I’d get things back where they belonged and then several days later it’d be a mess again. Obviously, my method wasn’t effective for me. Frustration sent me in search of new ideas. I read several posts discussing organization. While it was a relief to know I wasn’t alone in this struggle, I knew I still needed a way to make it work. Armed with many ideas, I decided to begin with small easily repeatable steps and reminders.
I discovered a handy reminder app on my computer. It puts a reminder on the screen, no matter what I’m doing, that tells me what I need to get done. I put in everything from clean the bathroom to take a bike ride to put clean clothes away. I don’t know about you, but it’s easy washing the dirty clothes and putting them in the dryer, but everything falls apart once they come out of the dryer. Writing about this reminds me that I have a stack of clean towels to put away…BRB.
Got it done 🙂
Last year I began using Feedly. A handy news aggregator that allows me to easily and quickly follow my favorite blogs and more. By October I had over 2000 articles waiting for me. It was such an intimidating number that I stopped reading. Which is unfortunate because a lot of those blogs had really useful information that I missed because I’d buried my head under a pillow. So this month I sat down and brought order to the madness my Feedly page had become. I ruthlessly cut out the blogs that published excessively — I had one that put out close to 40 posts a day! There is no way I can keep up with that.
Next I went through the rest of the blogs I followed and asked myself two questions:
- Did I actually read the blog or was it one I always skipped over?
- Did I enjoy it or find useful information in the blog?
The answers to those two questions determined if I kept the blog on my feed or removed it.
Now I’m down to a dozen blogs a day to look at. Here is where the beauty of Feedly comes in. At night, I pull out my phone and check the list. I scan or read everything that came in during the day. The posts I want to share or keep I save. It’s quick and easy. This is one easily repeatable step I’ve been very successful with. In the morning, I look at the saved posts on my laptop, which syncs seamlessly with my phone. I share posts on social media or save them to Evernote where I can easily access them in the future. Doing this each day has turned Feedly into an extremely useful tool that I fully recommend.
I made good progress on my book. I’m taking the very best plot lines from the drafts I’ve written, and am combing them into an exciting story. To make sure they mesh seamlessly I had to double-check the new version’s timeline, which meant building four family trees. It’s a really good thing I did because I found one big error. Each day I’m closer to finishing The Fire-Pit and that in itself pushes me to work harder.
My Blog and Newsletter
If you’ve followed my blog for a while you noticed that I quit posting regularly during October, November, and December of last year. I was sick most of October and my niece was in and out of the hospital in November and December. In many ways, life stopped. Part of my renewal for 2014 is to post every Friday and to build up a stock of posts for when life interrupts.
So far this month I’ve met the weekly Friday deadline. A newsletter sharing a behind the scenes look at writing a novel will be in my wonderful subscribers email box this afternoon.
What Will February Bring?
Super Bowl 48! I’m rooting for the Denver Broncos, my favorite team! A victory would ease my yearly football withdrawals.
The Sochi Olympics! The winter Olympics are the best. I enjoy watching all the events, unlike the summer games where I fixate on swimming, diving, and gymnastics.
Taming Evernote! I’ve dumped files into Evernote for almost two years. I don’t really know what’s in there. I will conquer the monster!
Goodbye January, Hello February
I’m excited to discover more ways to renew my life. Consider leaving a comment about how your January went. I’d love to hear from you.