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Things have been kind of busy around here what with the holidays coming up (Thanksgiving is already over!), the end of the year racing toward us, and lots of planning going on for noveling and coaching and classes.  I haven't had nearly as much time as I'd like for creative projects outside of novel outlining, but I know keeping my hand in the creative ring is really important for my general outlook on life.  So while I'm busy with a lot of in-my-head stuff right now, I've been making a point to do some photography.  Lucky for me, Mother Nature has really been helping out with this fantastic, constantly changing fairy ring right next to where I park my car at work.

Mushrooms 1

Mushrooms 2

Mushrooms 4

Mushrooms 5

Mushrooms 6

What about you?  What do you do when you are busy but want to keep your hand in the creative game?  Leave a note and let us know--we all like to add ideas to our stash.

 

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8

Holiday time! Sparkly decorations and parties and food and friends and family time! Frazzled time? Sometimes.  This time of year can leave us feeling overwhelmed and stressed rather than warm and fuzzy.  So what to do about it?

Holiday Mix 2

One of my favorite de-frazzlers is list making.  I know!  I saw you rolling your eyes.  I'm not talking about the productivity lists, the every-single-minute-accounted-for lists, the lists with so many items there's no way you can do everything in one day, nothing like that.  I'm talking useful, calming lists.  Want to give it a try?

First, decide what the actual purpose is for making this list. Is it to make sure we don't forget to do certain things that we want to get done? Or is it that we have so many things that we think we need to do that we can't possibly keep track of all of them without a list? The former is a good reason. The latter might indicate that your lists need some work. Figure out what you really want from a to-do list, what you want it to do for you, and go from there.

For me, I want my lists to be filled with things I really want to do in a day, things that will make my life better or easier, things that will move me forward in my creative dreams, things that I can put on a done list at the end of the day if I want to make one and feel really good about having done. I want my list to be like a friendly guide showing me the way to where I want to be.

How do you turn your lists into friendly guides to the life you want?

Tip #1: Cut down your daily list drastically. Only add on things that move you forward in the important areas of your life or things that you really do want to do today that you are worried might slip through the cracks of a busy day (that's why my list tells me to make a grocery list—so I don't end up at the store trying to remember what I need to buy). Don't put down every little thing you think you want to do or should do today. Just put down the truly important stuff.

Tip #2: Prioritize. Some days you will have things that really do need to be done that day. Put those at the top of your list. After that, prioritize by what pulls you the most, the things that feel like they will really move you in the direction you want to go. Some days you might need to rest and be calm because life has been too hectic lately, so you might put "knitting" or "painting" on your list, and you might want to put it fairly high up because you really want to fit that in. Let what is important to you today, right now, guide you in deciding how to order your list.

Tip #3: Categorize. Decide on the areas of life you want to give time and attention to regularly. Maybe even make a master list of sorts (for me, my master list is writing, coaching, organizing my house into a haven, and improving my health). This shouldn't be a very long list—probably no more than five things. Make sure that your daily list has something from at least one or two of these areas so you know you're working on the things that are most important to you.

Here are some questions to ask yourself after you write your list:

  • Does this list make me feel like I'm going to fill my day with important things I want to do?
  • Will completing the tasks on this list make me feel like I've done a good day's work?
  • Does this really need to be on my list?
  • Is there some way to make doing this easier, more pleasant, more fun?
  • What part of my life does this item make better?
  • Will something bad happen if I don't do this today?
  • Will something bad happen if I throw out this idea and just don't do it at all?
  • If this really needs to be done but I don't want to do it, can I pass it on to someone else?

Let your intuition guide you as you add and remove things from your list. Ask yourself how you feel about adding or removing a task. Experiment with leaving off things you thought for sure you needed to have on your daily list. Let your list become a helper instead of your keeper, and give yourself more time to actually go out and do the things you like.

A little end note—NPR offers a list of reasons to make lists: 10 Reasons Why We Love Making Lists. Lots of great reasons and ways to use lists for your best interests.

And another note: this article was originally published in my newsletter, although I've edited it for the blog and added a new picture.  Doing a blog post was on my list of things to do for the week, but I've been feeling too busy, so I used the "how can I make this easier?" question and came up with something I hope will be useful to all of us.

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2

On My Table November 12

I haven't had much to share in the On My Table category lately with all the life happenings and the recent reconfiguring of what I do. I've been feeling the lack of making things, and it reminded me that for a long while I've been struggling with a lack of consistent journaling and writing in my life, too.

I started circling around the problem as I have umpteen times in the past couple of years. Years! (At some point I may write about how a teacher and coach falls into a trap she helps others escape, but not right now.)  I threw myself back into the maelstrom of "I need space to set out my notebooks and have them close at hand but my house is too messy and I have no room and I just can't fix it!"  And then I reminded myself that I am a Kaizen-Muse™ Creativity Coach, for crying out loud!  I know how to deal with this sort of overwhelm--it's what we do.  We're overwhelm busters (among other things).  I probably should have talked to one of my fellow coaches about my difficulties--we could have gotten to this conclusion ages ago!  But, at least I'm there now.  I found an inroad into getting where I want to go.

Last night, after reminding myself that all I need to do is take one Small Step, I had an epiphany. I would like to do some of my writing and journaling at the office, but I didn't have a good place there to set out my journal and pens and things to act as a visual reminder for me.  My journal, pens, notebook, etc. do not take up that much space.  Where could I put them?

I thought about what I needed from such a space.  Accessibility from my chair, including visually because seeing my tools makes me reach for them more often.  Enough space to open a notebook and write in it without having to move anything.  That's pretty much it.  Did I have anything like that in my office?  Yes.  How about that catch-all corner of my desk?  It was home to random papers (hey, that's where that recipe got to!), bottles of vitamins, expired coupons, and my fingerless gloves.  That space was plenty big enough for my writing and journaling tools.  And it's behind me but off to the side so I see that corner in my peripheral vision every time I turn my head slightly.  It's a perfect spot, and it was right there all along just waiting for me to look for something (some place) small.

You know how long it took me to clear the space?  Three minutes.  No, really.  Three minutes.  The recipes went into a folder of recipes I had already set up, the vitamins went into a drawer, the coupons went into the garbage, and the gloves went to the opposite corner of the desk.  Then I set my tools in the cleared space, and I was done.

Is this the perfect, end-all-be-all solution to my problem?  No.  But it's a good start.  It's going to make picking up my journal or notebook and writing a bit much easier.  And you know what happens when you make your work easier and do a little bit of it?  It gets even easier to do more.

The take-aways from all of this?  Your writing, your dream, your work needs space.  You do not have to have the perfect space, just space. You can do one small thing and make just a little space for yourself and your dream and get started right there.

So go!  Make some space for yourself.  Do a little something for your dream.  I'm going to go write in my journal.

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