Tag Archives: productivity

Weddings, Clients, and Meetings … Oh My! (Guest Post)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Weddings, Clients, and Meetings … Oh My!

by Steph Beth Nickel

Okay, so, I only attended one wedding this month, but the title reads better because I pluralized it. As writers, we’re allowed a little poetic license from time to time.

My son and brand new daughter-in-law had a small ceremony because … COVID. So many friends and family members couldn’t make the trip. I will forever be thankful that my husband and I made it to Saskatchewan from Ontario for the weekend.

Even though we were only away for four days, travel included, it meant we had to shuffle a lot of other responsibilities.

Deadline extensions + a tsunami of tasks + a sense of overwhelm often leads to too much YouTube and not enough time at my computer.

So, how can we handle our schedule when we’d rather vegetate on the couch or pull the covers over our head and sleep for “just five more minutes”?

Here are some suggestions that have either worked for me in the past or I’m planning to implement in the next little while:

Create a list of everything you want to get done. The more detailed the list, the better.

Prioritize the list. Self-care may be a buzzword these days, but getting adequate rest, eating well, keeping physically active, and doing something that feeds your spirit on a regular basis are vital for not only your wellbeing but also for your ability to effectively complete the tasks on your To-Do List. Be sure to include self-care on your list of priorities.

Decide what you can get done each day within reason. I make a mean To-Do List, and because I’m content moving unfinished tasks to the next day, it’s hard for me to create realistic expectations for each day. I’m getting better, but it’s a process for sure.

Back out of at least some responsibilities that don’t rank high on your priority list. This is tough for many of us. People count on us. We don’t like to say no when they ask us to do something, especially something “small.” (Don’t forget the adage about the straw and the camel’s back.) Like me, you may be eclectically interested and eclectically involved. It’s hard to know what to set aside—even temporarily—but it’s a necessary skill.

Assign specific tasks to specific days. Trying to do a little bit of everything on the same day often leads to a sense that you haven’t accomplished anything significant. Completing a single task before moving onto the next one has its benefits, but when that isn’t possible, it’s important to determine how much of one task you will accomplish before moving on. Optionally, you can set a time limit and see how much of the project you can get done in an hour or two for instance. Be content with your progress, and move on, physical and mentally, to the next task.

Beware of mental fog and hair-trigger emotions. We’ve all been there. Unable to concentrate on the task at hand. Snapping at a friend or family member over a non-issue. Feeling that anger, frustration, or anxiety forming in the pit of our stomach. Should we push through? Take a break? Walk away and start fresh tomorrow? Because I work from home and create my own schedule, most times, I have the opportunity to add the task to my next day’s schedule. Even if this isn’t an option, taking a stretch break, reading a novel for 5-10 minutes, or just closing my eyes and taking a few deep breaths can make a surprisingly big difference.

Have some fun. “All work and no play …” and all that. Is there something you look forward to every day? I enjoy watching an episode of a show on Netflix or Disney Plus with my hubby each evening. Instead of watching “just one more YouTube episode,” I feel more refreshed when I take a little time to read. And, of course, being an extra extrovert, I love meeting a friend for coffee and a l-o-n-g chat.

How to you deal with overwhelm in your life?

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at nurtureandinspire@gmail.com; join her Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2725853534313738; or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.

Defining Success (Guest Post)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Defining Success

by Steph Beth Nickel

Thousands of authors all around the globe have participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November.

To “win” NaNo, the author must write 50K words of a new novel or nonfiction book … although there are NaNo Rebels who combine projects or choose their own word count goal.

So, just what is success?

For some authors, they must achieve a predetermined goal, such as writing 50K words in November, in order to feel successful.

Others need a deadline to keep them on course. When they complete their writing goal by said deadline, they consider it success.

This year, many of us have come to realize, if we’re disciplined enough to spend any time writing, we’ve been successful and “beaten the odds.”

One writer cannot define success for another. One writer should not criticize another for not accomplishing what the first writer defines as successnor should the first writer condemn herself for not being able to write every day, never mind 50K in a month.

How can you set yourself up for success, whatever that means to you?

Determine not to compare yourself to others.

Others’ accomplishments can inspire you and give you something to strive for. However, another writer’s productivity and schedule may not work for you. And that doesn’t mean you’ve “failed.”

Honestly evaluate how much time you can set aside each week to write.

Take into account not only your other responsibilities inside and outside your home but also the physical and mental energy you have “left over.”

It’s true that you may have to get up a little earlier or go to bed a little later to make time for your writing, but don’t neglect your need for adequate sleep.

Consider reallocating some of the time you spend watching Netflix or scrolling social media as writing time.

Look for those “found pockets of time” within your daily schedule.

You may have 10 minutes here and 20 minutes there. It may not be ideal, but it’s likely to help you reach the goal you’ve set for yourself more quickly than if you wait for large chunks of solid writing time.

Keep in mind the age-old advice to carry a notebook with you wherever you go.

These days, that may mean writing in the Notes app on your phone or using an App such as Evernote or Google Docs. There are authors who write entire manuscripts on their phone.

Give yourself grace.

Do you wag your finger at other writers and condemn them for not spending more time writing? Do you think they should simply “suck it up” when life (aka 2020) sends them for a loop? Do you determine your favourite author isn’t a success unless they release at least one new book every year?

Your answers to these questions are likely “No. No. And no.”

You see what I’m driving at …

And in the same vein …

If you don’t meet today’s goal, give yourself permission to try again tomorrow.

It can be discouraging if a writer doesn’t meet their daily goal, especially if they feel the goal is achievable.

Even if this describes you, there are days life will happen and you just won’t get around to it, but that doesn’t mean you have to write off tomorrow and the next day and the next.

Each sunrise marks a new beginning, a new opportunity to achieve SUCCESS.

Tweetables

Determine not to compare yourself to others. (click to tweet)

Honestly evaluate how much time you can set aside each week to write. (click to tweet)

Look for those “found pockets of time” within your daily schedule. (click to tweet)

Give yourself grace. (click to tweet)

If you don’t meet today’s goal, give yourself permission to try again tomorrow. (click to tweet)

Each sunrise marks a new beginning, a new opportunity to achieve SUCCESS. (click to tweet)

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at nurtureandinspire@gmail.com; join her Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2725853534313738; or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.

Guest Post: 12 Places to Find Motivation

12 Places to Find Motivation

by Steph Beth Nickel

Where do you find motivation when the only thing you want to do is laze around or lay your head down and have a nap?

I’m not sure if it was the muggy weather, a mild case of burnout, low grade depression, or a combination of all three, but I haven’t been near as productive over the last little while as I would have liked.

But things are  on the upswing. Maybe the following ideas will help you as well.

Make a List

I gave my most recent list what I hope will be a motivating title, Do it Already. It’s my attempt to kick myself in the backside.

Whether you write brief To Do lists so you won’t forget important responsibilities, or detailed lists covering every area of life, lists have countless benefits.

I encourage you to find the format that works best for you.

Exercise

Don’t have time? Lack the desire? Don’t know what to do?

Those who get regular exercise tend to work more efficiently, and therefore, make better use of their time.

It may take some doing to get started, but exercise releases endorphins, which help us feel more positive and motivated. Exercise is definitely worth the effort.

Sign up at the gym and hire a personal trainer—at least to get you started. Buy a new workout DVD, something that makes you think, “Hey, I could do this.” Go for a bike ride, a hike, or a swim.

Regardless of what you decide to do, be sure to check with your doctor first.

Even when you can't do a lot... do something!

Photo credit: Pixabay

Eat Well

What we eat has a direct correlation on our mood and our energy level.

When we’re sluggish, we aren’t motivated to exercise although we know it will give us more energy. The same is true of eating well.

When you’re in a funk, do you think, “Hey, I think I’ll make myself a big salad”? If you’re like most of us, you’d rather grab something quick, easy, and likely not all that good for you.

Take some time each week to plan your meals. Do as much prep work ahead of time as you can. That way, when you don’t have a lot of energy or motivation, you’ll still be able to prepare a nutritious meal for yourself and the family with minimal effort.

Get a Good Night’s Rest

My aim is to get seven hours of sleep each night. I function quite well on six, but after a few nights, it catches up with me.

There are those who say consistency is the most important thing. They say we should go to bed and get up at the same time seven days a week. I have yet to put this in practice. Truth be told, I won’t likely do so. But if you find yourself sluggish, this is definitely something to try.

Limit Your Time on Social Media

When my eldest was just a baby, he loved to be walked … and walked and walked and walked. But he didn’t want to be snuggled. He wanted the freedom to look around. I got the impression he didn’t want to miss anything.

This is like me and social media, especially Facebook. I find, however, that I am far more productive if I limit my time online.

Guard your time.

Read Rather than Watch TV

The more I read, the more I want to read. Over the past few days, I have found myself gobbling up reading material.

Reading a wide variety of books is something that motivates me. How about you?

Do Something You Love

If our To Do List is only populated with things we’re obliged to do but aren’t enthusiastic about, we’ll be overwhelmed just by reading the list.

If, however, we include something we truly love every week or more, it can motivate us to tackle the other items on our list with a more positive outlook.

Do Something You’ve Been Putting Off

I find if I cross something off my Procrastination List, even something small, I have as great a sense of accomplishment as if I’d crossed 10 things off my everyday list.

Listen to Uplifting Music

I’ve found there’s nothing quite like listening to a TobyMac playlist to get me chair dancing. It instantly improves my mood and drives the truth deep inside my soul. I often wake up singing a line or two.

Don’t Neglect Your Spiritual Health

It’s far too easy to let spiritual disciplines slide if we’re overwhelmed or in a funk, but these are among the times we need most to remind ourselves of the goodness and love of God. Reading His Word, bringing our needs to Him in prayer, choosing to praise Him for who He is, and fellowshipping with brothers and sisters in Christ will go a long way to helping us put things in perspective.

Scroll down to the comments form to share your thoughts.

Tweetables:

In a funk? Don’t neglect spiritual disciplines.

When you lack motivation, do something you love.

Even when you can’t do a lot, do a little.

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.