Toiling Tuesdays: How I am So Productive

I don’t just make to do lists, I make a plan of attack. A plan of attack may look like a to do list but it differs in a very significant way: activities are broken up like so…

Sample Plan of Attack:

2 sections of internal audit procedure
test one bag of switches
add 4 vendors to list
finalize vendor selection and approval criteria, send for release
organize emails
pay credit card
finish xyz board edits
2 sections of internal audit procedure
test one bag of switches

You’ll notice that most of these pertain to working (with a personal errand thrown in). I like to intersperse all the work activities with short isolated personal items so that I will psychologically think I got ‘everything’ I needed to get done finished and not just harping on work the entire time. Doing a plan of attack this way, I tend to work from when I wake up in the morning (a bit before 8 AM) to before I have to leave for a night time activity or start my exercises or break for dinner (between 4:30 P.M. and 6 P.M.) Additionally, sometimes my work plan of attack merges into my night-time personal plan of attack with very few, if any, work activities thrown in.

The key to a plan of attack is to create shorter and manageable activities and break up the long slog of writing a procedure or testing 500 boards. You will remain alert, excited, and productive. The key is to know the amount of one activity to put in your plan of attack. Sometimes I organize the plan by time slots but most of the time it’s by amount I want to accomplish.

The plan of attack is a constantly changing plan, don’t feel obligated to stick to it completely, you can move around things or add on to each part of the activity. Sometimes when I’m on a roll I’ll just continue with one thing until I’m sick of doing it.

My other important tip for staying so productive: If you find yourself procrastinating on a project because you don’t want to do it, find something harder that you want to do even less than the first project and voile that first project won’t seem so bad and you’ll get it done (in lieu of the harder project)

Author Tuesdays: Clarification

Toiling Tuesdays is becoming Author Tuesdays. I will be writing about author related things on both Tuesdays and Thursdays as writing (and reading) are such important parts of my life.

Don’t forget:

Miscellaneous or Medical Mondays
Author Tuesdays
Wildlife Wednesdays
Author Thursdays
Foodie Fridays
Seattle Saturdays
Socializing Sundays (for friendships, relationship, and hanging out)

Toiling Tuesdays: Amazon Cost Calculator

Wonder what your book will cost before you’re even finished with it? Createspace (Amazon affiliate) has a handy Cost calculator so you can determine how much your book will cost to help you make decisions such as, should my page count be shorter? Should I use a smaller trim size? Or is it at all cost-effective to make it a hardcover?

Toiling Tuesday: Maple Valley Writers December Workshop – Goals and Resolutions

Goals vs. Resolutions

Do you write out goals with deadlines in mind?
      Do you have daily goals? Weekly goals? Monthly goals?

Your goals should:

  • Be something you can control (not just “make lots of money” but “send out three query letters a month)
  • Inspire you
How to define these goals:
  • They should be measurable (not “be a better writer” but “write daily”)
  • They should be attainable (not “be the number one writer” but “get an article published in the local newspaper”)
  • They should be meaningful
Short term vs. long term measures of success
  • Do you want to measure success in terms of hours spent writing per day (or per week)?
  • Do you want to measure success in terms of pages produced or words produced per day (or week)?
  • Do you want to measure success in terms of queries submitted per week or month?
  • Do you want to measure success in terms of projects (articles, stories, or chapters) written per month or year?
What’s your writer’s bucket list?
Here is mine fantastical bucket list:
  1. Become rich and famous
  2. Write a book in every genre/type
  3. Publish my own anthology of poetry
  4. Write my autobiography
  5. Have one of my stories made into a movie
  6. Write a screenplay
  7. Write a one-hit wonder
  8. Be a top-selling, name-known author
  9. Be on talk shows about my books, as an author
  10. Sell a million copies of one of my own novels
  11. Be an inspiration to other authors
  12. Win an award
  13. Travel and do talks in other countries
Don’t forget your support! The people who can support and motivate you along the way. 
Also, don’t forget about what resources you will need to accomplish your goals!
Are you self-publishing? Take the author self-assessment worksheet to help you as you progress through your publishing experience:

Toiling Tuesdays: Authoring, Marketing, Publishing, Selling is Hard Work

The Maple Valley Writers booth at the MAple Valley Holiday Craft Fair sold several copies of the books of the two featured authors: Becky A. Benson and Rachel Barnard. For more information on the authors, check out the brag corner on the Maple Valley Writers website. To purchase Becky A. Benson’s novel, Three Short Years, click the link here. To purchase Rachel Barnard’s novel Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams, click the link here.

We had fun and met many fascinating people with their own stories to tell. Perhaps you will see their books in the future. This post is dedicated to those writers out their in Maple Valley who have important stories of their own to capture and inspire us.

Toiling Tuesdays: An Observation on Getting New Jobs

I have heard both ends of the stick on being able to get a new job, one being that it is easy and you only have to try and the other being there are none and you can’t seem to get an offer (or even an interview!)

Being able to get a job is like being able to follow a new recipe, at least the way I do it. The first time following the recipe I sub ingredients, I only partially follow directions and it never turns out how I want it to (I don’t get the interview or the job because I don’t properly prepare or style my resume to highlight my relevant experience and expertise). The second time I only sub ingredients I know can be subbed and I follow all the directions I’ve newly found to be important after flubbing up the first time. The produced effort is rewarded with a decent reward (or a half dozen interviews). The third and subsequent times you throw a spin on the recipe to make it your own so it caters to your own tastes (this is when you are so confident in yourself that you get the job!).

Toiling Tuesdays: Bring a Child to Work Day

Now re-read that title… It says to bring “a” child to work day not to bring “your” child to work day.

Have you ever asked a young person what they want to do/be when they grow up? Not too long ago I used to be one of those “young persons” and do you know what my answer was? Usually it was that I didn’t know. Or, when I grew tired of hearing that question, my answers would become more and more humorous or absurd, such as “drop out of school and have ten kids” or “underwater basket weaving.” However, if you ask some young kids/teens what they want to do/be they might have a solid and unchanging answer. My question for those kids is, “how do you know for sure?”

Here is my answer: Bring a child to work day. Bring your kid, bring your neighbor’s kid, bring a kid from the local school. Bring a kid who wants to do your job when they grow up. Bring a kid who is undecided. The point is to expose them to a realistic job experience. 

Why bring someone else’s kid? One of the one jobs I was certain I did NOT want to do when I ‘grew’ up was be a teacher (my mother’s profession). Plus, because she was a teacher and my mom, I was already exposed to that career’s characteristics. If you bring a kid who thinks they want to be a teacher, it will be more beneficial for them versus your own kid who already knows they don’t want to be a teacher or already knows the ins and outs of being one.

One step further: What about a program from the business end where businesses sort of sponsor the bring a child to work day and partner with schools to provide this type of experience? If it does well enough, it could even be for longer than a day, kind of like a mini internship.

Toiling Tuesdays: 3 Ways to Hide a Yawn in a Business Meeting

Perhaps it’s early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Perhaps you have yet to have your morning stimulants (coffee/tea/chocolate/etc)
Perhaps the meeting is about the last quarter’s financial reports, i.e. boring
Perhaps the speaker has a monotone voice

Whatever the case may be to cause the yawn, it inevitably will happen. But yawning in a meeting is rude and unless you are in a college style lecture with hundreds of other people, the yawn will probably A. Be noticed, B. Be frowned upon, and C. Be rude!

How to keep from yawning you ask? Well, if you have a solution then let me know because I don’t know how to suppress one of those jaw opening mouthily functions. I do, however, know some techniques to mask or hide the yawn.

The first technique involves clenching your teeth together and attempting to keep the rest of your face from twitching as the yawn escapes between your teeth. If you can clamp down your teeth tight without it contorting your face, this technique should work for most yawns that are not too powerful.

The second technique is similar to the first except instead of clenching your teeth you hold your lips together (you can bite your lip as if you’re thinking about the lecture/meeting/person talking).

The third technique is for those all-powerful yawns that consume your entire upper body. If that is the case you must make an excuse to move, either by shifting your position in your chair at the same time or bending down to pick up something/scratch your foot/etc. If this shields your face then let out the yawn. If this does not shield your face, then the only polite thing left to do is cover your open mouth.

If the meeting is extra boring/extra long/extra monotone/extra lacking in coffee and you continue to yawn and yawn, try to switch up the techniques as much as possible without appearing too shifty or disinterested.

Toiling Tuesdays: How to Succeed in Blogging Without Really Trying, 4 Ways to Boost Your Blogs’

At one of my current jobs I have been researching SEO (Search Engine Optimization) practices and stumbled over a couple of gems for optimizing my blog. One I would recommend you at least skim through is from (my newfound favorite SEO company based locally here in Seattle!).

The article, 5 data insights into the headlines readers click, talks about the importance of your headline. Well duh! The headline is like a book title. It might be all your potential readers see and your only chance to grab their attention to make them read more (click through).

1. Use excessive superlatives or none at all

5 Ways to Boost Your Blog
5 Best Ways Ever to Boost the Amazingness of Your Awesome Blog

Am I doing it right?

In my opinion, the latter example is less believable for containing critical information or information with evidence to back up the claims made but hey, the data don’t lie.

2. SOME RESPONDENTS don’t even MIND when you YELL at them

Again, this would strike me as the tabloid type yuppie article with no real or new information or information without evidence.

3. Write headlines that leave no ambiguity

I want to hem and haw over this one because I enjoy writing mysterious headlines that I find intriguing but maybe I’m wrong and I’m turning away readers who would rather know exactly what they are getting out of my blog post. What do you think?

4. The type of headline that generates higher click through rates is one that contains numbers, check the headline for this post for an example.

I think this one ties into leaving no ambiguity. The reader knows what you will say and how many things you will say about it.

Want to read the original article?