Rowing to Change

Hi everyone!

I came to a realization over the course of the week that my goals, while seemingly good, just were not working the way I want them to. The reasons: time and a long list of commitments.

Life requires flexibility, both in thought and in planning. While I thought I had built sufficient flex into things, as I looked over the coming time drains (college and work) I began to hear a little voice in the back of my mind saying: “You really think you can do all this? How?”

Well, I love a challenge, so I began to explore exactly how I’d pull it off. This led me to implement a time management system I’ve been working on for the last several years. See, I love to read, study, and test time management ideas. Like writing advice, some concepts of handling time and schedule have merit. Others less so. The key is to unearth the parts that will work for our needs and leave the rest in the dust.

All of this led me to two things: a need to adjust goals and a desire to share what I’ve found useful in the arena of time management.

First, my newly adjusted ROW goals.

1) Read through, analyze, and recompile all “Ben” material and be ready to start draft #4 by August 17th. Word Count: 3948. Once again, these are notes, and word count was not my goal. This tells me I have the wrong goal. On the upside, I am making progress and several epiphanies during the week have this story coming back to life. Characters are taking shape. Plot issues are smoothing out.

I’ve tossed out about 22k of previous notes and trimmed as much as 80% from some of the former drafts. Why? Ever clean out your garage, basement, closet–you know, that spare area we all have for things we think will be useful, but it really just sits there forgotten and collecting dust? Not to mention keeping a useful room from being used to its fullest. Yeah, it has been like that and I’m happily cleaning out all the things that just don’t fit anymore. In fact, I’m finding that the more I clean out, the more good and cool ideas rush in to fill the void and breathe new life into the story I wanted to tell from the beginning. I’m not only excited about “Ben” once more, but I’m seeing tremendous possibilities where before I’d only seen soul-draining clutter.

I’ve been primarily working on the project for 1-3 hours every morning and will set my new objective based on this. New Goal: Spend a minimum of 10 hours each week continuing to refine “Ben,” until it is ready to draft.

2) Spend 15-30 minutes a day, up to 3 hours a week, writing or editing blog posts. Ship (publish) when ready. This did seem like a perfectly reasonable goal at first. However, time has not been my friend here. My heart is focused on “Ben” and with all the other things I have going, even 15-30 minutes a day is hard to find–blogging is simply not a time priority. So, I’m changing this goal to one that I know I can keep.

New Goal: Post one short article on time management, productivity or other useful subject once per week. The first is written, will be polished later today, and posted tomorrow morning. This is the “second” of the two realizations I had during the week: By sharing what I already know and do, I cut down on the time needed to accomplish the task.

3) The fall semester of college began yesterday. This semester I have 13 credit hours: Financial Accounting, Management, Marketing, and Business Communications. Currently, I have a 4.0 GPA and want to keep it that way. Returning Goal: Complete all college assignments on time and with my best work.

I do have a few smaller objectives, but I’m not going to list them as official ROW goals at this point because they are “do as I have time” items.

The first time management post will be up tomorrow morning. I’ll be focusing on what I’ve found useful. What I actually use and do. And why. My hope is that by sharing I’ll not only be able to help others find tools to manage time and life, but maybe pick up a few tips and tricks from your experiences as well.

And now, time is up for this task–I want to get out and visit some of you more than I want to prattle on. *smile*

Be sure to get out and support your fellow ROWers–it may be the best visit many of us get all week.

Peaceful Journeys.

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About Gene Lempp

Gene Lempp is a writer blending elements of alternate history, the paranormal, fantasy, science fiction and horror for dark and delicious fun. He unearths stories by digging into history, archeology, myth and fable in his Designing from Bones blog series. “Only the moment is eternal and in a moment, everything will change,” sums the heart of his philosophy. You can find Gene at his Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, WANATribe, Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.
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11 Responses to Rowing to Change

  1. One of the things I love about ROW80 is that it’s OK – encouraged, even – to change our goals if our needs or priorities change. Your new goals sound much more practical and aligned with what you want to accomplish. I also enjoy learning new and different ways to get a handle on my ever-expanding to-do list, so I’m looking forward to your time management posts!

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Funny that when I first started in ROW, I had elaborate, set in stone, goals. And pretty much failed. Now I only consider a goal “set” for one week and am happy to flex them up or down at any point. The more I simplify them, the more effective they seem to be. I’ll be doing a post on goals & objectives somewhere in the near future–a concept I picked up from my Business class that has worked wonders with the way I approach all of this.

      Thanks for the support, Jennette. 🙂

  2. alberta says:

    Need to read your time management posts:) am hopeless at it – as for chucking stuff out – soooo hard:( – it does work to refuel creativity I know but still . . . – all the best and good luck for coming week:)

    • Gene Lempp says:

      I have to admit that I was very hesitant to toss anything out. You know, what if I’ll need it–isn’t every word a precious gift from the Muses. Well, no. They aren’t. So out came the part of my mind that loves to trim dead branches off our trees and bushes, and interestingly, I had a nice time (and a few good laughs) pruning three drafts and associated notes. I think now the story can find health and grow again, just like the plants in my yard.

      Thanks for the support, Alberta. 🙂

  3. I’m with Jennette — loving how malleable goal-setting is with ROW80! Right now, I’m mostly getting back into the routine after being out of the routine for so long. Once things are back to normal, I can readjust my goals again, no problem.

    My trick for purging my writing is creating an “outtakes” file — that way, I can imagine that I’m not really deleting it. Of course, it’s very, very rare that I ever look at the outtakes file again (although it has occurred!)

    Good luck with your goals, and kudos for managing both college and writing. 🙂

  4. I love your analogy. In fact I have a story due for just such a cleaning/purging event 🙂 And I’ll definitely look for your time management posts…I’m always looking for ways to improve in that department.

    Good luck with your revised goals, and university!

  5. Odd that you posted about time this week, when it played a trick on me! Sometimes I wonder if we are not living parallel writing lives – because I’ve also had several epiphanies about story, goals, and life in general, and, while I’m not quite in the pruning phase, yet, as I mark up my WIP for editing and rewriting, I am, for the first time, seeing all my color-coded notes as harbingers of coming vast improvements, rather than signs that I have failed….(FAILED?!??! At a rough draft?!).

    However, we part ways some on this ‘time management’ thing…I’m getting itchy just typing the words. I thrive on flow rather than structure (except, of course, when I realize that the unschooling conference a five-hour drive away is THIS Thursday -Monday, and not next week or the one after, like I was thinking it was….okay, I admit it. Going with the flow sometimes DOES benefit from yielding to the logic of the situation.

    I’ve gotten to a point where I see ROW80 as the way I write. I’ve finally claimed my buffet of goals, this week – and the fact that it is a buffet, and items may come and go as my tastes evolve.

    And now, I will leave you to all that goodness, and watch some Enterprise with any kids who want to watch with me…bonding,research, and entertainment. Y’know, the trifecta of time management!

  6. Marcia says:

    Smart man, Gene. Challenging yourself in any way is healthy and knowing when to make changes to better manage time and reach goals is genius. I’ll look forward to your TM posts. Sharing what you’ve learned is a great way to serve your readers! Wishing you a most productive week head.

  7. Shah Wharton says:

    I’m totally here tomorrow for that post. Time-management and organisation in general are skills, even at my age, that I simply cannot learn. And I do love to learn and change, so it’s not that. It’s as though my head doesn’t work that way, which is a pain. Row80 is great for allowing life to interrupt set goals, and for accepting the change in goals throughout, but I’ve found my goals list becoming less and less structured or detailed as each round comes and goes. Soon, I’ll have no goals and spin a bottle! 🙂

    You always make great progress though Gene, and this is just another illustration of how, even under strain, you make something more out of the situation rather sob onto your full agenda. Bravo! And thanks for sharing all you learn with us… we have to keep up some how. 😀

    Shah X

    http://bit.ly/16TEmiH

  8. Reetta Raitanen says:

    Great adjusting. It’s a brilliant idea to blog about something you already know a lot about. And since everyone struggles with finding, nay, making enough time to do all the things we want to, time management is a fascinating and useful topic. Good luck with your goals. And don’t forget to have fun. Is it on your to do list? 😉

  9. Pingback: One More: ROW80 Update, August 21, 2013 | shanjeniah

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