Saturday, January 24, 2015

Life Organization

I’ve been on a Life Organization kick. I’m not sure how or why this started, but I’m certainly glad it did. It’s made me more productive.

I’ve always been a list type person. My normal MO is to start with a “brain dump” system using a spiral notebook that sits on my desk — and this won’t change. I do need somewhere for whatever I’m thinking to “land.”

Where my process has morphed is in how the information is applied after the initial “dumping.” 

I came to the conclusion a long time ago that if I want to be productive, my lists have to reside on my computer(s)/phone. That’s where I look all day. That’s where I go to find junk. And my lists are constantly reprioritizing. If I write them down on paper, I’m constantly rewriting, etc. And do you know how hard it is for me to remember to bring the lists I’ve made when I run out of the house? Impossible.

Plus, forget bringing a huge binder/organizer with me. I already carry my camera, as I’m sure most people don't. I really don’t want to add on any more weight to my purse.

My organizing re-vamp focused on what I’m doing (because that obviously works for me) and tweaking it to make it better.

It started with collecting the items that come into my life. In an accessible place so that I can quickly refer back to things without too much trouble. I wanted a place to gather: calendar, email, receipts, journal entries (because I’ve always been a big journaler, but I found that I’m much more likely to journal if I’m typing. The quickness of putting the thoughts out there and such), blog posts, notes from the kids’ schools, every other piece of paper that “collects” in my office. Plus I needed to organize the notes on my phone: The To Do lists, bits of quotes that I’d like to think/reflect on, links etc.

I looked at several different programs and nothing fit what I wanted. Those that came close were expensive. And I’m cheap (let’s face it). If it’s not exactly what I want, I not going to spend the money.

I kept saying: I need something like Scrivener, but for my life. And then, after checking out hundreds of programs, it hit me: just use Scrivener. I already owned it, first off. And second, I know how to customize it to do everything I want.

Yeah, I wasn’t too swift with that lighting bolt idea. Ha.

Side note: Scrivener is AMAZING. I honest to god don’t know how anyone manages to put together a novel in Word. I used to do it, used to love it, and now after switching to Scrivener… yeah, impossible.

The organization kick started with making a Scrivener file where everything could land. I have the daily section (organized by month) where every day gets a new page that I can journal on. Hooked to that are things that happen each day (PDFs of important email, blog posts, status updates, notes from school, kids grades, receipts that need to be saved — everything is scannable), so that I can look back and/or reference them later.

I split the screen for my daily To Do. So it’s always there on the right side of my screen. On my To Do I have today’s list as well as sections for “future,” and other areas like “house projects,” “office,” or “random.” Things that have to get done at some point, but not today. That way if I have a little bit of time, I reference it. Works great! I’ve knocked some long-term items off already. And others stay on my mind so that I’m planning towards them.

Inside the binder portion (outside of the daily), I have sections for things like: copies of past calendars (I do look back to reference stuff — and my calendars are all synced online. I have one calendar with Steven so he can put anything on his phone and it auto updates to my computer), blog stuff, any notes that are not needed on the go, like copies of field trip notices, tax stuff, or random ideas.

Scrivener also has the ability to create collections. Collections. Are. Awesome. Both in a general sense that if you’re writing a book it’s great to be able to look at, let’s say, one specific timeline instead of the whole novel. Using a collection when you have a daily journal allows you to collect highlights, or things you don’t want to lose, or pretty much anything for easy finding.

Seriously, why did I not do this a long time ago?!

I also created a separate scrivener file for my book ideas. I had always been pretty organized with those. They were categorized. But creating a Scrivener file allows me to flip through them without having to open individual files. I also can store all the photographs that inspire ideas there (either attached to the page, or in a separate picture section). I can scan and store all the doodles I make in this binder too. Or collect news articles that inspire an idea.

There are notes I want access to all the time. Things like grocery or store lists, or furniture ideas with measurements (for some reason I need to know the measurements of certain areas in my house a LOT). I also collect a lot of links in my notes because I see an article online and don’t have time to read it right then.

For those things I started to use Evernote. I opened up an Evernote account in 2009 and then promptly did NOTHING with it. That wasn’t my brightest moment. I know that now that I’m actually using it. It’s an amazing program! And you can set up the clipping feature to auto save the links to web pages you want to come back to. Seriously fantastic.

People. My desk is clean. My phone is clean. EVERYTHING IS CLEAN! And I know where all the information is when I need it. ;)


Friday, January 23, 2015

Snapping with the Fuji X-t1

I promised myself I'd write once a week this year. Which should be doable in theory. But I find myself now, on a Friday when I should post a blog, feeling like junk and not knowing what to write about.

Seth is home sick. Apparently it's hitting his school pretty hard. He's already shared his virus with me. He's a good kid like that (ha). So... I'm miserable. He's miserable. And I'm waiting for Bekah to start complaining that she feels awful too. Should be a fun weekend. ;)

His reaction when he saw I had a camera. LOL!

I got a new camera for Christmas (Fuji x-t1). I LOVE it. It's not something I'd recommend if you don't use your manual settings. You certainly have to know what you're doing, it's not an out of the box friendly camera. But. Seriously so, SO tiny. Perfect for taking with you outside the home instead of lugging a big camera.

There are some other drawbacks, like it doesn't handle light (or I should say lack of light) as well as a full framed DSLR. And because it's mirrorless the batteries run out fast. There's also a quirk that if you take out the memory card it will give you an error message when you replace it, so you have to reformat. Still. AMAZING camera.

I wanted it because my mother is taking all the girls to Paris this year. I'm so excited! I began to think about the need to capture amazing pictures (which meant I couldn't just bring a point-and-shoot), but the thought of carrying my huge camera for a week made me want to cry. This was the best compromise.


I need to use the Fuji frequently so that I can learn its quirks and become confident that it's the only camera I need to take (BIG camera I mean. I will take a P&S as well). So far, so good. The more I use it, the more I love it.

Though I did have to switch back to a prime lens (these pics were with the 23mm 1.4). At the time we purchased it, Fuji hadn't come out with a comparable 24-70. They did announce one at CES and that makes me excited! I can't wait for it to be in stock.

Until next week!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Five

Ack! Is it Five Thing Friday already?! How did I ever manage this blog thing on the daily?

1. The oldest kid turned 12 this week. We had a sleepover which was fun and rather lower-key than I expected. Score!

He pointed out that next year he’ll be a teenager.

Someone hold me.

2. I’ve had a constant headache this last week. I wonder if I need a new prescription for my glasses. That, and I probably need more sleep.

3. We have to put together Bekah’s Science project this weekend. The one we picked seems rather straightforward. But so did last year’s and that turned out to be a disaster.

To say I’m not looking forward to it (because I fear that we’ll screw it up again) is an understatement. Worse, my wonderful husband pointed out that Bekah went with MY idea, so if it doesn’t work, it’s all my fault.

[Is this the time to admit that last year’s was my idea as well?]

Here’s to hoping that it’s going to work.

4. I got an edit letter from my agent last week, so I’m knee deep in edits at this point. First let me say, it’s pretty much the best edit letter I’ve ever received. I agreed with everything. But, uh, that didn’t stop me panicking that I had no idea how to fix any of it.


I always go through the same crazy pattern to figure out how to make changes to my novel. It involves lots of things I know I can’t do (like fantasizing what to rewrite, or creating new scenes — FYI, that is NOT WHAT THEY WANT. DON’T DO THIS UNLESS THEY SPECIFICALLY ASK FOR IT). After that’s out of my system, I go back to figure out what I’m really going to do.

There’s the whole week following an edit letter (no matter how good the letter is) where I feel like: I can’t do this. I’m going to screw it up. She’ll figure out what a hack I am! 

And then, it’s an amazing thing, it all clicks. I come around to the point where I think: This is going to be awesome! 

After that pitstop in neurosis land, everything in the world is okay again. This is the stage I’m in (thank god!). I just have to finish the edit now.

4. Which leads my to the last inevitable point: I’m eating way too much sugar! You know, as a result of sitting on my butt editing. And worse — WORSE! — I’m eating all kinds of other crap food (like dairy!) just because it’s there. I feel awful. BLAH!

Today it’s going to be a broccoli and hummus kind of a day. I need to detox.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Five Thing Friday

1. I have workers in my master bathroom reattaching my sink, cabinet, and mirror to the wall.

The other night (at about 1am) there was a loud CRACK!!!!! It freaked me out. I couldn't figure out what it was. Once I realized that no one had broken into the house to murder us, and I got my heart rate under control, I went back to bed.

Turns out my bathroom mirror had popped off the wall. It's shocking it didn't break. It snagged on my medicine cabinet, hanging on the counter by millimeters.

Further investigation revealed that the reason the mirror detached was because the counter and cabinet were never attached/ had separated from the wall. As that had been bearing the weight of the mirror... boom.

So much fun! (not really, ha!)

2. Not working on my main computer brings me to my next point: I love cloud syncing. Seriously, how did I ever live without it?

3. I shared this with Facebook yesterday. I thought it was funny.

Me at Starbucks:

Me: With soy, please.
Dude: Do you want whipped cream?
Me: No. No milk.
Dude: Whipped cream isn't milk.
Me: ....

4. I've questioned myself how in years past I've had the ability to write and edit (several passes) up to three books in a year. It seems like the last few years have been agonizingly slow. Last year I managed an edit one book and completed another.

This year... well, let's just say I'm willing to meet in the middle. My resolution as far as work goes is to stay off the internet because it's a BIG FAT TIME SUCK. I have the worst self-control when it comes to all thing internet related.

5. Resolutions for 2015

I always pick a word that best incorporates the change I'd like to see in my life. This year that word is: FOCUS.

And because I'm in a sharing mood, here's my complete list of resolutions:

  • Celebrate all my achievements (no matter how small).
  • Speak kinder to myself.
  • Keep and "Awesome Journal."
  • Praise myself (visualize what I did right).
  • Offer PEACE to myself.
Reading between the lines it's pretty apparent I'm a perfectionist who only focuses on improving/what I can do better next time. This year I want to try something different. :)


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