Post-Christmas Prep for 2009

At long last we are, I think, free of family obligations.  Everyone has left town, save one uncle who isn’t our responsibility.  After a disaster with all my baked gifts getting infested with ants, unreasonable and unseasonable mid 70s temperatures, an emergency trip to the vet for my FIL and his dog for stitches (he’s okay now), and a narrowly escaped trip to the emergency room for myself after a really bad fall due to the sweating concrete caused by said unreasonable mid 70s temperatures (it’s a Christmas miracle that I didn’t break anything), I’m ready for some down time.  And some nice, light food that doesn’t, in any way, shape, or form resemble sweets.  I have ODed.  No more, I beg of you.   No way in hell am I approaching a scale until January 1st at the earliest.  I don’t care to know the full extent of the damage of all the excesses of food for the last 3 weeks.

I’ve knocked out 4 lectures out of 14.  I had intended to get another 2 done yesterday, but the fall precluded me from doing so.  As soon as I finish tea and getting my brain in gear, I’m headed back to the office.  Lots to do.  Normally, I really enjoy this time of the year.  Working for a university, I get a truly kick ass vacation at the holidays, which makes my life a lot less stressful the rest of the time.  I get to relax and read and write and catch up on my lengthy to do list around the house.  Not this year.  My class begins January 7th, and I need to have all those lectures written, the chapter tests written, the exams written, the syllabus written…  I took Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and as it turned out, the day after Christmas off.  I don’t have time to take any more off.  I’ve got to get a minimum of 2 lectures a day written.  Sadly, I’m going to have to take part of tomorrow off as well.  I have a bridal shower for one of my best friends in Jackson (I’m not sad to go…just wishing it’d been in January).  So I really need to knock out 3 today and another 3 on Monday.

As I plan to be designing another course for fall semester, I plan to do a better job of spreading the whole thing out instead of waiting until the last minute.  I’m planning a lot of things, actually.  I think that 2009 is really going to have to be the Year of Time Management (Mom accomodated me by getting me nice new day planner with lots of room to write stuff in).  It’s going to have to be to juggle 3-4 classes a semester, the 40 hour a week day job, home improvement projects, writing goals, exercise, family obligations…  I think I’m going to have to go back to living by the thing.  I used them constantly through high school, college, and grad school, but once I got out of school, my days were predictable enough that I didn’t have to write everything down.  Now it’s not an issue of surprises but more an issue of squeezing everything in.  I’m going to have to be very very good at managing my time.

In light of the finite nature of time, I’ve been taking some steps to free up a little more of mine.  I’ve been culling blogs from my Bloglines.  This is something that makes me sad, as I really enjoy reading blogs (far more than I enjoy reading the news).  But there are several on my list that I haven’t gotten anything great out of in a while, or I simply skimmed them.  It’s no poor reflection on the blog writers themselves–their content simply wasn’t what I needed at the time.  Most of the blogs on blogging have been adiosed.  There is some wonderful content out there, but I’m not in blogging to make money.  I’m not going to switch to Thesis.  While I do need to learn more about SEO, I don’t think my big focus this year is going to be blogging.  I’ll maintain what I do here, and people will come in trickles.  It’s hardly going to matter whether I have a following if I don’t have work for them to read, and blogging does take away from my real writing time.  I’m going to have to set a schedule that isn’t every day for Frugal IntuitionPots & Plots doesn’t worry me.  I post there when I have new recipes to share, and it doesn’t take a lot of my time.  I do, eventually, want to have a serial going there, with a once a week posting, but I don’t know that I’m going to get into that this year.  Maybe I can do some planning for it.  If I have an outline for several dozen “episodes” or “chapters”, then perhaps over Christmas break next year, I can write a lot of them and have them in the queue.  Either way, I want to maintain both of those, as the little bit I make from blogging there is handy for paying my for my web hosting here and allowing me to indulge in the occasional book.

In 2009 I also want to get back to menu planning.  Taking the time to figure out what our evening meals are going to be for the week saves a lot of time and electricity, as I don’t tend to stare into the freezer or fridge wondering what to cook for supper if I already know the week’s menu.  I got several Fix It & Forget It cookbooks for Christmas, along with 2 crock pots (because my family is made of awesome)–a new programmable 6 quart one to replace the one I got LAST year that broke (PSA–don’t buy the Rival Smart Pot…the handles are brittle, and break easily, and Rival won’t do anything about it; there are many many complaints about this online) and the 3 quart one I asked for.  Slow cookers are a lifesaver for any busy person, but particularly so for the working writer.   If you’re like me and working a full time job (or 2 or 3) on top of trying to write, then the last thing you have time for is babysitting dinner.  I fully expect to be using mine several times a week, at least during the week.  I live 2 miles from the day job, so I come home every day at lunch and can throw on whatever, and it’s ready when I get home.  No time wasted and energy saved since I didn’t have to heat up the whole kitchen.  Woo!  Maybe I’ll start a weekly slow cooker recipe post.  Would anybody be interested in that?

Improving my overall health is another big goal in 2009.  Notice I didn’t say losing x amount of weight.  I’ve done that one every year for what seems like the bulk of my life and it rarely comes to fruition.  So DH and I have decided to set goals of establishing better habits–like actually using the home gym we bought this time last year.  For me it’s going to have to happen in the mornings and in small steps.  I have a mini-stair stepper at work (which is a source of great entertainment, as everyone who comes in my office feels compelled to get on it).  I’ve got reminders set for the first 5 minutes of every hour throughout the work day to get up and use it.  It’s a small bit of time (that I’ve been ignoring the last several months) that doesn’t take a lot away from my productivity at work, but by the end of the day, I’ve burned somewhere between 200-300 calories, which isn’t shabby on it’s own, and will definitely not be shabby once we get back to walking and using the gym.  I also want to put a little bit of yoga into the beginning of my day.   My flexibility has gone to hell the last few years, as has my overall body strength.  So I’d like the routine to be get up at 5 (God help us), walk with hubby (we should be able to squeeze in 2 miles before he needs to shower and get ready for work), spend 20-30 minutes on the home gym, then do 10 minutes of stretching and yoga and a bit of toning work before I hit the shower myself.  My brain doesn’t engage at that hour, so I’m not missing out on writing time.  Then hopefully when I come home at lunch, I can spit out a few hundred words every day.

I haven’t figured out what my daily writing goal is going to be yet.  I may aim low for the first few weeks until every last detail of my class is dealt with (because I’m not going to manage to get all the tests written and uploaded and all the audio recorded by January 7th).  Maybe just 250 words a day.  It’s piddly, but it’s something that I feel is easily managable and can likely be achieved during lunch (which is the only totally alone time I get each day to write).  Once my class is squared away, I’d like to aim for 500 a day.  Still smaller than my previous goal of 1k a day, but the name of the game this year is slow and steady.  If I get more than that, yippee, but I’m not beating myself up over it.  I’m going to finish a book this year.  More than likely that’s going to be my latest werewolf story.  If I get more than that, great.  But I’m thinking about managable goals.  That’s the big one for writing this year since I know I have to focus so much on the teaching aspect of my paying jobs.  It’s long-term planning.  Expanding my online teaching capabilities will ultimately allow me (maybe) to stay home when we have children in a couple or three years and eventually (I hope) to write.  It’s the one thing I can think of that would allow me to work from home and write (since it’s unlikely I will ever be able to write exclusively for a living).  I think that’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned in 2008.  This is a long haul game and to play it any other way is foolish.

Anyway, I will be back on New Year’s Day with my formal Resolutions list.  In the meantime, I’m focusing on getting that class finished.  Just so you won’t be bored, I’m going to rerun some of my more popular posts from years past.

Hope you all had a lovely holiday.

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