I did an interview yesterday with Jeff Ayers, a writer friend I met at Thrillerfest a few years ago. During the pre-interview conversation Jeff asked me how I managed to “do it all”, referring to family life, my role at Who Dares Wins Publishing and finding time to write. My answer was being organized, but lately, no matter how organized I am, my to do list has wrapped around my office three times!
My husband is uber organized and he’s rubbed off me. Add in a business partner who is a spreadsheet fanatic (I swear Bob is teaching his dogs how to use spreadsheets), my organizational skills have been amplified. But I’m not as organized as I would like to be. I’m good at multi-tasking. I’ve always wanted to have my laundry room in my kitchen since I fold my laundry while I’m cooking dinner while I’m quizzing my youngest on his vocabulary words and having a conversation with my middle boy about why senior year is not about slacking off and also playing draw something on my iPhone with my daughter who is away at college. Oh, and must not forget I’m also updating the shared family schedule on Google and having a text conversation with the DH (who is probably just in the other room). I’m exhausted. And that’s just the dinner hour!
But like I said, I’m good at multi-tasking. But it comes at a price. Sometimes you can’t multi-task and you also can’t “buy” more time in your day. I’ve had to play tricks on my mind so it feels like I’m multi-tasking. I have to have noise in the background. Once I had the TV on and the cable went out and I had no idea. Just white noise in the background, but helped me focus on one specific task. If the phone rings, I have to pace when I talk, actually, I clean the house when I talk. My best friend always says, “you just called so you could clean.”
The key to being organized is understanding how your brain processes and stores information. I’ve learned the way Bob processes information is very different from the way I process information just based on how he organizes a spreadsheet and how I organize our dropbox. I make him nuts with my folders inside of folders inside of folders.
Bob is big on mindsets and organization is a mindset. You can make it a habit by just doing it everyday. Before I go to bed, I make a list of I need to do the next day. I make that list in a timetable. I tell Siri (my friend on my iPhone) to remind me to do things at certain times of the day. Yes, that’s a little nuts, but if I didn’t use some kind of timing device, I’d never move on to the next task. That’s another thing about me that can be frustrating. I am a “completer”. I don’t like to stop things before they are finished. If I’m going to paint a room, I’m not going to stop until it’s done. This mindset is something I need to work on. Another one is changing from business mode, to writer mode. Not an easy mindset to change sometimes.
We have a lot of time in the day, so I think we can accomplish great things. But I don’t think we manage our time as effectively as we can and I’m always open to trying new things.
I had the opportunity to sit in on Writing Moms: How to do it all without loosing your mind on-line workshop with Natalie C. Markey a few months back. She will be teaching the workshop again starting 3 March at Write It Forward and as the queen of multi-tasking I highly recommend her workshop. As a matter of fact, I will be sitting in on the workshop again as it proved to be invaluable. And not just for moms, but for everyone who finds themselves wearing more that one hat.
Her approach is simple and to the point. She has developed a common sense template to help anyone with time management no matter who you are. The workshop is only $20.00 and it is run on a Yahoo Group. There are no set class times, so you can follow along as your schedule allows (time management!) You can participate as much as you like, or as little (though you will want to). Sometimes we all need a little help figuring out how to manage all things in our lives in order to be more productive.
Write It Forward!
Please welcome Natalie C. Markey to Write It Forward!
As the landscape continues to change in publishing one thing remains clear, the work for the writer only grows. With the reality of social media and online communities, not only do writers need to write and write well but they also must network and market themselves. The truth is, there is more to a writing career then just writing and balancing that routine can become mind-boggling.
No matter what style or genre of writing an author does, time is always a challenge. At Who Dares Wins Publishing, a variety of authors are represented from best selling fiction and non-fiction titles. All of these titles took time. Lots of it. Every writer has their story beyond the words of their pages. It’s that “thing” getting in your way from meeting a deadline or a daily writing goal.
How do you do it all? I’m a freelance journalist with contract assignments. I’m a published non-fiction author of ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ working on my second book and I’m writing fiction work as well. I’m preparing to teach my first Write It Forward online workshop next month, Writing Moms: How to do it all without losing your mind. That’s right. The writing and other tasks associated with my business are just one part of my life. I’m a mother to a beautiful 14-month-old little girl, who “helps” me work from my at-home-office each day. Some days she is more help then others.
So, what is my trick? How do I stay sane and get anything done? First of all, I’ve accepted that just like any balancing act, there are good days and bad days. Have you ever balanced? Yes I mean literally balanced on one leg. I was a dancer until I had to quit after two knee surgeries. Some days my pirouettes (that would be a turn on the ball of your foot for non-dance people) were better then others. Not every day can be a great day. That’s not a bad thing. Accept it. I use the energy from my very productive days to push me through the more challenging days.
In reality, no one can master time management. It is a true balancing act. The best solution is to know what works for you. That is what I will teach next month in, Writing Moms. I cannot tell you what is the best way to manage your writing schedule around your family life. I can tell you what I do but everyone if different. I will share self-study techniques that I used to indentify the best plan for me. Over the month of October we will discuss the techniques, strategies and work from that experimenting by trial and error. It will be interactive and fun.
Whatever you write, whatever your situation is, time will always try to be your obstacle. However, I’m a firm believe that if you want something then you will find a way to achieve it. It’s not easy being a writing mom but I wouldn’t change a thing. And it builds character! I use to work in New York City on the Ave. of Americas and now I write, many times late into the night with a burp rag hanging from my shoulder. You can do anything!
Learn more/sign-up for Writing Moms: How to do it all without losing your mind
Natalie C. Markey is a freelance journalist of ten years. She is the author of ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog.’ In addition to multiple freelance contracts, she continues to write non-fiction as well as fiction. Markey speaks professionally about dogs from an owner’s perspective as well as tackling the major writing issue, how to have it all as a writer and a mother. Markey is a graduate from Baylor University with a double BA in Journalism/Public Relations and Communication Specialist. She has worked for a NYC PR firm, been the youngest Business Development Director for a National advertising firm, served as the Creative Services Director for the fastest growing CBS affiliate in Texas and served as the Texas Spokesperson for the D.A.R.E. program. A native Texan, Markey currently lives in an Arkansas forest with her supportive husband, daughter and dog, Oscar.
Write It Forward!
In her debut book, “Caring for Your Special Needs Dog” writer Natalie C. Markey is writing what she knows and loves. She uses her writing to convey a message to dog owners— special needs dogs are not a challenge, they’re a blessing.
Why did you want to write this book?
It was much more like a need to write this book. I found myself successfully caring for a special needs dog and I was in a career, in which I could use the information I was experiencing everyday to educate others. When my dog, Oscar was diagnosed with epilepsy I looked at books on special needs dogs. I found so many books on the topic but they were all from a professional veterinarian’s perspective. Of course, vets are an important component to any pet’s care, but owners have power too. My vet got Oscar on the right medication but I’ve learned simple, around the house tips to care for him at home maintain that non-special needs quality of life.
Why did you decide to interview other families?
As much as I love Oscar, I didn’t want this book to be about him. I wanted readers to see how other dog owners are caring for their special needs dog. Each dog is different and special in his or her own right. What works for Oscar, may not work for your dog. So I wanted to incorporate different kinds of disabilities and different points of views into the book. That way I had a better chance of giving or showing some advice that would help readers.
Why did you decide to give a percentage of the profits to charity?
I knew when I started writing this book that I wanted it to benefit a charity in some way. This book is about making a difference and The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine makes a huge difference to the animal community each year. I am happy to give a percentage of profits to The Texas A&M Foundation to the benefit of the Neurology Section, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinarian Medicine.
What do you hope people take away from this book?
I want people to understand that they can make a difference in their dog’s life. That caring for a special needs dog doesn’t have to be hard. For however much work you put into to your dog, they give back in so many ways. Don’t give up on your dog because they won’t give up on you.
Natalie is a nine-year seasoned freelance journalist. She writes for several local and National publications including a regular column on Examiner.com, Special Needs Dog Care Examiner. After a professional career in PR and Communications she now writes non-fiction and fiction full time from a forest in Arkansas. She lives with her supportive husband, daughter and, of course, Oscar. Follow her at her blog Natalie C. Markey- Pen to Publish.