Goodbye Christmas, Hello New Year!

You’re probably thinking that this post is coming out two weeks too late.  But, really, we just got rid of our Christmas tree tonight (sob) and I’m just now settling in to figure out the new year.  So far, I have not even been able to figure out what day of the week it is in the new year.  In fact, for most of today, I thought it was Monday not Tuesday.  Proving once again how much I need a routine in my life.  I wrote the wrong date on everything today, would have missed my DD’s swim lesson had my phone not sent me a reminder as I finished grocery shopping and I didn’t help out in my DD’s class this morning like I said I would on Tuesdays this semester.  Sigh…

But, 2017 is here and Spring semester starts next week.  I’ll be on a schedule again and I am looking forward to being able to eat dinner at a decent hour AT HOME every night of the week!  My meal planning has fallen to the wayside thus far.  Heck, most things have fallen to the wayside thus far.  But, I figure school starting will help me out with getting things together a bit better (send a prayer my way on this one).  Although, traveling the first week of classes is a little bit rough.  But, I will take it.  The holiday is over.  I need a routine and I need it now!

I’m shifting to try something new this year.  I have been using a 10 minute timer to get things done.  I have a long list of things that I need to work on and I work on one thing for 10 minutes and then move on.  But, I find this to be too short of a time (although I’ve adjusted to it and often will stay doing a task for longer when I’m in flow on it).  So, I’ve decided to use some block scheduling instead.  I find that I’ve really lost my ability to focus for long periods of time and do any kind of deep work and it is really negatively impacting my productivity on larger projects.  My schedule this semester lends itself to this type of schedule much better than my prior schedules, so I’m going to give it a shot and see if I can regain my focus, get more done and take more time away from the laptop!

focus

 

Five Minute Friday – Time

I am posting this a little early because I will be traveling tomorrow and I don’t want to miss the Five Minute Friday this week.  This week’s prompt is time…join the party if it inspires you!

time-management

Time is my ever-present adversary it seems.  This week has been relatively quiet for me.  I’m off from teaching.  I didn’t have any workshops to attend.  I was home, by myself, most mornings.  But, I still feel like I didn’t have enough “time” to get things done.  I think that I’m constantly blaming time, when really is the “things” that are the problem!  It isn’t that I don’t have enough time.  It is that I have too many “things”.

So, that is why part of my mission this year of “Myself” is to simplify.  I want to give “myself” more time and those things less time.  I want to give my family more time and those things less time.  And I want to be better at focusing on one “thing” at a time.

Time is such a strange thing.  Our perception of it is drastically different depending on what we are doing.  I often tell my students that impromptu speaking is the perfect microcosm of how time shifts depending on perception.  When preparing for an impromptu speech for three minutes, the time seems to fly by.  We are wanting more time.  But, when we stand up to speak, those three minutes stretch out before us like a road to the moon.  They go by so slowly.  We can’t seem to fill those minutes despite our best intentions.  There is three minutes of preparation and three minutes to speak, but those two three minutes are dramatically different.

My hope is to create a world where time is a gift that I am able to truly relish.

A Quick Update – Back to School!

Well, today was Back to School day for my DD:

Ready_for_First_____Grade_

I haven’t been posting here much lately for a couple of reasons.  First, we went away for the last four days with family and the internet was spotty at best.  Second, one of the exercises in Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life was to list out my priorities.  When I did so, this blog was not on the list.  I didn’t think about it until afterwards when I went back to review them to set goals and realized the blog was not even on the list, so no goals were needed.

I am a little disappointed as I like the THOUGHT of blogging on a regular basis and forming a community and maybe even making some money from writing one day, but this made it clear that this is just something that is not important RIGHT NOW.  I do like that Crystal Paine (the author) talks about seasons of life and how some things just don’t fit with what you’re doing at THAT TIME.  It doesn’t mean I will never be a “blogger” in some serious way or that I can’t blog when I have the time here, it just means that right now it isn’t really something that is a priority for me.  It is kind of nice to see some things fall away that would stress me out (yes, even though I don’t have a ton of followers or a big demand, I would stress out about missing blogging days).  Blogging when I have so many other things to do is one of them.  Maybe when I get my routines down and time starts to become more available, I will be able to devote more time to it.  But for now, I’m going to aim to do Five Minute Fridays (because I love that exercise and that community) and Six Word Saturday  (because who can’t write six words?) and maybe one other day a week if I have time.

I haven’t found a lot of other things I can just let go of so easily, but I am working at making my classes manageable as far as grading and prep is concerned (trying to do a lot of front-end prep work right now).  I am also NOT volunteering to do things I might have done before because I realize that I need to figure out my schedule and time management and priorities first before I can start adding things in (even those things that are on my priority list).  If you’re curious about my priorities, here they are:

Family/Parenting:  Spending quality time together as a family everyday.  Includes: eating meals – breakfast and dinner together.  Game night once a week.  Family walks three times a week.

Work: Prepare and perform to provide my students the best possible experience both in and out of class.  Includes:  Be prepared!  Start each week with a clear plan for each class and time set aside for grading.  Being present in class.  Focusing on students – their learning and experiences in each class.  Use office hours for work projects.  Focus on advising, grading and Forensics projects.  Finally, stay on top of email!  Zero inbox every three days is the goal!  Respond, Refuse or Refer!

Health:  Get and maintain the best possible health to protect me now and in the future.  Includes:  Do regular check ups for medical and dental.  Eat right – healthy food and 4-5 meals a day.  Exercise – weight resistant/bearing exercise 5X/week and cardio 3X/week.

Finances:  Get all accounts in order/paid up or off and then maintain a budget and spending plan.  Includes:  Get taxes done for 2014.  Conserve money for only things we REALLY want/need. Question everything!  Meal plan to reduce food waste.  Do online points programs to make extra money each month.

Relationships: Establish and maintain relationships with God and good people.  Includes:  Attend church at least 2x/month or more (whenever not traveling for work).  Do morning devotional every day.  Do Bidwell Pres prayer list everyday.  Go out with friends at least 1X/month.  Send 5-10 cards each month to friends, family and coworkers.  Do friends trip 1X/year at least.  Date with my hubby 2X/month.

Life Management: Manage my household responsibly to have a clean, peaceful and enjoyable space, physically, mentally and spiritually.  Includes:  Do MOMS App for daily household duties.  Set up and keep routines that WORK!  Purchase only what you love and declutter all else.  Continue working on simplicity and minimalism in my home and life.

So, that’s not much, huh?

I did include blogging when I did my weekly time block planning (I allowed for seven hours – one per day), but that time block is not going to work unless I get my act together and do the things above.  So, there is blogging in my future – maybe pretty immediate future, but for now, it is not going to be done unless the other stuff is done above.

I will say that reading this book (I am now on page 83) is making reminding me how much I live my life in fire fighting mode.  I simply wait around for the three alarm fires to get so bad I can’t ignore them anymore and then I fight to put them out.  Exhausted after all the effort it takes to get the blaze out, I collapse in a mess and wait for the next three alarm fire.  I need to do some prevention now and make my life calmer, more satisfying and less exhausting.  It won’t be easy.  I’ve been living this way for a while now.  But, I’m looking forward to living a fire-free life!

So, that’s where I am.  You will see me on a somewhat irregular basis for a little bit (hopefully not long).  And when I am here, I hope to be focused on this space and better at writing, sharing and saying things that matter.

Motivational Monday – I Missed You…

still alive

Just in case you were wondering.

It has been a while.  I was really hoping to be more consistent here, but when stuff piles up, this goes to the bottom of the pile.  So, I haven’t been in a while.  But, today is Monday.  A new week.  It is the first Monday in May.  A new month.  The end of the semester is drawing nigh and I am looking at summer break with a bit of drool on the side of my mouth.  This semester has been a rough one (gee, I seem to say that a lot come the end of the semester).  But, once again I appreciate the teaching benefit of getting to “start over” each semester with new students and a clean slate.  I’m hoping the Fall 2015 slate stays cleaner longer than the Spring 2015 slate did, but who knows.

So – this week’s agenda is busy, busy, busy.

WORK:

At work, we have our end-of-year celebration for Speech and Debate on Wednesday.  So, I need to get graduation gifts, going away gifts (my Assistant Coach got a full time job at the local CC, so she is moving on), student awards (certificates were not printing right today, so I need to figure that out tomorrow and then have my student assistant get them all in frames on Wednesday) and then we’re Karaokeing (is that a word?) at a local restaurant that is frequented by retirees (we have quite a few under 21, so most of the Karaoke in town is out of bounds for them).  It should be interesting.  I might find someone to talk Murder She Wrote with there.  🙂

I also have committed to really working on getting my grading done for Chico State tomorrow.  That way, I can give everything back during the last class meeting on Wednesday.  It seems kind of insane to even think about being able to do that, but it would be so wonderful to have it out of the way before finals week.  We’ll see how much I actually get done.

My other classes are pretty much on cruise control until Chico is done since they go for another two weeks after Chico is done.  Then I will have to get all of those graded.  Sigh…

HOME:

My mom has agreed to come up this weekend instead of us going there.  It should be better, but I need to get the house cleaned up.  Right now, it is pretty much a mess.  And my DH is leaving on Thursday morning for a work trip and will be gone until Monday night.  So, not much help there.  We’ll see how she deals with the stairs, etc., but hopefully it goes well.  So, there is laundry to do (lots of it), dishes to wash, vacuuming to do, dusting to do, etc. etc.  It is never ending around here.

This week is Teacher Appreciation week, so I volunteered to help with Bean’s school’s celebrations.  Tomorrow I am getting a traveler of Starbucks and a dozen bagels and some cream cheese from our local bagel place.  There is a potluck later in the week as well.  I want to help out because I really do love the teachers at Bean’s school.  But, tomorrow is going to be an early morning – I need to get it over to school around 7 a.m.

REFLECTION:

I’m feeling a bit better about things.  I’ve got my calendars up-to-date and relatively synced.  I am getting things done slowly but surely.  I’ve taken my boss’ advice after a meeting earlier this week and I now have a “To-Do list” on each day of my Google calendar on which I put the things that need to get done that day.  The stuff hasn’t got done everyday, but as she says, “as I move it from one day to the next, it makes me realize what really needs to be prioritized.”  So, I’m going to try to stick with this one and really start being more productive.  I’ve already noticed a difference, but I still don’t check it nearly enough and I forget things that are on the list.  But, baby steps.

So, there is my motivational Monday post, 9 minutes before Tuesday.  My goal for next week is to get the Motivational Monday post up more than 9 minutes before Tuesday.  As I said, baby steps.  🙂

Motivational Monday –

Well, today’s motivation is a little low because I’m suffering from a cold and not looking forward to traveling with it in a couple of days.  To be honest, my usual motivation is much like a fire alarm – I get a note saying there is a deadline looming, so I do whatever that thing is.  But, as of late, that really isn’t working for me.  First of all, some things don’t come with a note that there is a deadline looming, so those things tend to NEVER get done.  And a lot of that stuff is stuff I would REALLY like to get done or I REALLY need to do.

So, I’m trying to figure out how to give myself meaningful deadlines on things to motivate myself to do them.  I’m just not good at fooling myself.  But, I’m also realizing how stressed out the way I’m living is making me.  And stress is not good for me.  I am trying to use the “act now” principle as often as possible.  But, often I can’t act immediately due to circumstances or other fires that I’m putting out.  So, that doesn’t always work.

But, I’m really trying to either “act now” or identify the time I will act and then follow through on that.  It isn’t always working, but I do seem to be making improvements.

I feel like I’ve read every time management and productivity book, blog and article out there, but nothing seems to work for me in the long term.  I start off strong and then fizzle out when things get overwhelming.  I think part of it is that I lack discipline, but part of it is also that I can’t find my “thing” that is really going to work for me.  I have been better about saying no to things this semester.  I’m consciously trying to not try to do everything (although it is often very tempting) and prioritize things to make it work better, but it hasn’t been easy.  There is so much cool stuff out there and people I’d like to help and things I’d like to do.  But, then I get bogged down in it all and I end up not doing anything at all.  So, making some choices will help me get things done in the end.

I really would like to do the 21 Day Fix (I failed at it the last time before I even got started), but the planning aspect seems totally overwhelming to me.  I can barely plan my life as it is, I can’t imagine having to plan the meals so far down to the measurements, etc.  So, I’m thinking that really won’t work for me.  I need something simpler.  I think Weight Watchers might work because it is just recording, not necessarily planning (although some planning has to happen to avoid running out of points on day 3 of the week, but not nearly to the level that is required for 21 Day Fix).  I need to do something because I’ve got myself scheduled to do a 5K in three weeks and then a mudder run in 3 months.  I need to get in better shape and start eating better.

I would also like to put together a budget and actually get on following it.  But, again, it seems a little overwhelming.  Which is ridiculous.  How simple is it to put together a budget?  But, it seems like a lot and then requires planning and follow up and all those things I’m not very good at doing.  Sigh…I really wish I could just have a personal assistant that I could hand everything over to and have them put it together and tell me what to do.  🙂  If only I were famous or wealthy or wealthy and famous.  I could probably get one of those.  I’m good at following instructions and doing what people tell me to do.  Maybe I just need a bossy, overly involved life-coach.  I wonder if I can find one of those on the internet…why yes, there is:

http://auntbossy.com/

http://www.yelp.com/biz/bossy-outsider-life-coaching-hanover

There is even a bossy nutritionist – that would probably help me out:

http://thebossynutritionist.com/

But, its relatively limited.  I think it may be that whole Ban Bossy problem.  No one wants to claim they are bossy…

Anyways, if you’re a bossy person who wants to use me as your test subject, I’m open to it!

What about you?  What’s your “thing” that keeps you on track?

 

Six Word Saturday

 

Everyone is sick and I’m exhausted!

The last ten days have been a $#%*storm.  Last weekend my mom came to visit because it was a year since my dad had died and we didn’t want her to be sitting home alone.  Bean was sick with a cold, running a low grade fever most of the time and then developed an ear infection that landed us in the ER and then back at the pediatrician for a new antibiotic two days later.  She didn’t sleep well the whole time, which means I didn’t sleep well the whole time.  My mom was having stomach issues while here, so no one did much and no one was very happy or comfortable.  My mom went home and immediately got the cold that Bean had and she is now in the hospital with possible pneumonia.  I have been on the verge of illness for the last three days, sleeping multiple hours during the day (which I never, ever do) partially due to not feeling well and partially because I’m simply exhausted.  Totally and absolutely exhausted.

So, I was hoping to spend this weekend recovering somewhat but now I probably will have to go down and see my mom at the hospital or my sister’s house (she is hopefully getting out of the hospital today).  The house is pretty much a mess, I am not prepped for the new semester at my other campus next week and I need to finish grading the Winter Session this weekend.

But, I’m going to take it one step at a time and do what I can do.  I just wish this headache I have would go away.  Far, far away…

What about you?  How is your Saturday looking?

Six Word Saturday – Work, Work, Work edition

BlackHole

Winter ends, Spring begins next week.

I am woefully unprepared for what the next week will bring (and the week after that).  I’m glad I taught this Winter session class, but I feel like my break went into that cavernous space pictured above (a black hole).  So, next week the Winter session is coming to an end and the Spring semester is getting started at my other campus and on Friday, I’m flying out to Missouri to a tournament.  Then, I come back and the Spring semester starts at the other campus and I have to have those Winter session grades in.

I was feeling relatively on top of things as the Winter session started, but that has quickly faded.  Between grading, prepping for Spring classes, figuring out the long list of things I need to do for the Spring semester for other activities I help with on campus and an added aspect of hiring an intern (who hopefully will help me with all these other activities I have going on so I can focus on teaching and coaching) is really starting to stress me out a bit.

As an added bit of challenge, because all of that is not enough, my DD has a pretty bad cold.  So far, she hasn’t run any big fevers or anything, but she does have a pretty nasty cough and a very stuffy nose.  I probably should have taken her to the pediatrician yesterday, but it was the first day of it and I wasn’t sure it wasn’t allergies because we’ve been having some pretty erratic weather (upper 60s, sunny, then rainy for a day, then back to upper 60s), but now I’m sure it is a cold.  So, I may have to put a visit to the prompt care this weekend as well.  Sigh…she is having to miss the first birthday party a classmate invited her to today, which kind of sucks.  But, such is life.

Anyways, I should get back to grading, prepping and cleaning my total disaster of a house.  I really wanted to start the Spring semester with a clean house and a positive outlook.  But, I think I’ll have to settle for starting the Spring semester.  Period.

How about you?  What’s your weekend looking like?

Stray Thoughts Sunday

Stray Thought Sundays

My first Stray Thoughts Sunday in a while.  I have so many stray thoughts, it is often difficult to corral them!  But, I shall do my best!

First off, the Monday blogs in my Sunday feed make me unnecessarily anxious.  I am behind.  I am not as behind as I was a week ago, but I am still behind.  And every Monday is another Monday I am not caught up.  So, I like Sundays to stretch out before me, limitless in opportunity, but as darkness falls and Monday blog titles start to pop up in my Bloglovin’ feed, I start to lose some of my hope and optimism and panic and dread start to set in.  It was my hope to start out this week caught up and feeling great…I don’t think there are enough hours left in the day to fulfill that goal.  Anyone else feel like this?

So, it seemed slightly prophetic that “7 Ways to Start Your Week Like A Leader” popped up in my inbox review tonight (an old post, but one I had saved to read at a later date).  I’m not sure about #1 right now.  I don’t have the person in mind and thinking of someone makes my brain hurt.  But, I am on top of #2 – I actually have a couple of letters to write and send to people’s bosses complimenting them for their recent tournament hosting and I definitely have a long list of Thanks to be handing out.  And, wow – do I ever need #3 in my life.  Part of my problem this past three or four weeks is that all I’ve been doing is putting out fires.  And unfortunately, more are being lit than I able to put out.  It is hard to prioritize when it seems like everything is needed RIGHT. NOW.  But, realistically, when I don’t focus NOTHING gets done.  So, tomorrow, grading is my focus.  I will feel 100 times better if I can get my grading done.  So, although I don’t usually go to a coffee shop to work because I like to be able to clean my house intermittently, I’m going to do it tomorrow to avoid cleaning my house intermittently.  I’m going to take myself off of social media, email, etc. and just take whatever time I have after helping out at my daughter’s school in the morning (tomorrow is the 50th day of Kindergarten and so it is 50s day) to grade, grade and grade some more.  #4 is taxes.  Definitely an issue I need to deal with, so step one tomorrow.  #5 is student instead of employer – I am going to check in with some under-performing students this week (this will be easier if I can accomplish #3!) and see what is going on with them.  #6 is a little less clear.  Not sure who it would be or why, but something may come to mind a little later.  Finally, #7 is going to be a conscious effort on my part this week – shifting to gratitude!

 A few other stray thoughts before I go…

First, I would really like for it to rain in California for a considerable amount of time.  The drought is starting to become a full-fledged disaster.  And when I read things like this infograph, it is also frustrating beyond belief.

Second, Go Giants!

Third, if you like shows like 48 Hours or 20/20 murder mysteries, do yourself a favor and listen to the Serial Podcast.  It is amazing stuff…

And, last, but certainly not least, I have found my productivity guru thanks to Sorta Crunchy – The Complete Flake’s Guide to Getting Things Done by Sonia Simone.

Oh wait – as an afterthought – this bear was my favorite animal of the week!

Have a great week to come and remember – gratitude!

Six Word Saturday – Starting Over

Starting over is always an option.

I realize that the new year was only six short weeks ago, but I need a do over!  So, instead of waiting for the start of another month or even another week, I’m starting over today.  I’m not totally sure what this means other than I feel like I am in desperate need of a reset button right now.  So, I have been pretty productive the last couple of days – living room is clean.  My daughter’s room is clean.  The laundry is very close to being totally caught up (I think I can do it tonight, but there may be one or two loads of bedding left depending on my productivity tonight and tomorrow morning).  Our bedroom is more or less clean (and has actually stayed pretty clean the past few weeks).  Now, I just need to figure out how to keep things less cluttered, more tidy and more on track.

So, I’m starting over with ROUTINES!  I am a stubborn, stubborn person.  I constantly resist routines.  Maybe sometimes it is out of laziness, but mostly I think it is because I am stubborn.  I don’t want to give up control.  I can get things done without a routine.  I can fly by the seat of my pants and I’ve been doing it for years.  BUT, I am also a ball of stress with too much on my plate to keep track of it all.  I am constantly forgetting things, double scheduling my time, doing things at the last minute and under undo stress.  So, in the interest of making all of that STOP and providing my daughter with a bit more structure than she has had recently, I’m going to institute some very general routines.  I realize I have talked about this before.  But, I have not been at all consistent in forcing myself – and I do mean FORCING myself to actually DO the things in the routine.

But, I am now instituting the routines and will be using the mantra NO EXCUSES for a while.  I need to have high expectations for myself and I need to live up to them.  Starting NOW.

So, for those of you who have fallen off your resolutions wagon, join me.  Because starting over is always an option!

Struggling…

That is where I am today.  Struggling.  I am struggling to figure out what it is that makes me incapable of keeping an uncluttered space.  House, car, garage…it is all just piles of stuff and I’m tired of looking at it.  I feel like I pick up quite a bit every single day, but to no avail.  I am also struggling with why I can’t get my act together financially.  I also have problems keeping up with my work load at work.  I’m doing better this semester with some things, but am still quite a bit  behind with other things.  I am also struggling with being a defacto “single” parent so often.  My husband left this morning and will not come back until next Tuesday and when he does, he will be completely exhausted.  I was gone all weekend, arriving home very late on Sunday night and I will once again leave next Thursday for Friday and Saturday.  It is as if we are going through revolving doors, waving at each other as we pass.

So, today is short and sweet.  I’m doing my best to play catch up today…hope to talk to you soon.