The last few weeks have been ridiculous: unexpected snafus at my day job; summer storms creating big leafy messes and lots of extra yard work; my car needing new tires and other minor maintenance issues…the days just seem to slide by. Every hour there seems to be yet another new crop of "things to do" that need my stretched-to-breaking-point attention, including my blog posts (sorry for the recent lapse in posting).
To stay on track with my "main goals" for the year, I try to commit to three daily and essential tasks during the work week: the edits for my new book, Overtaken; attending to my day job (got to pay the bills somehow!); and write/draw/create something new every day—even if it’s just 500 words from a writing prompt. But sometimes it’s difficult to concentrate when my brain is buzzing with, “gotta re-do the website,” “gotta sew up that couch cushion,” “gotta get a stock of padded mailers.” The annoying part of all this buzz-buzz-buzz is I’m never quite sure just which extra project needs to be the center of my universe and which one I can put on the back burner. Worse yet is when I go to start one of these extra tasks, I immediately think of yet another thing I’m “supposed” to be doing. Scattered doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Sunday night I decided to take control with a trick I learned from the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors: the Goals Jar. The idea is to write down a goal to accomplish between meetings, put it in a jar with a dollar, and at the next meeting all the people who have accomplished their goals participate in a drawing that rewards the winner with half of the cash (the other half going to LERA for fun things like speakers, etc.). While I was a member, I was pretty good at winning, often coming home with a nice little stash. But it's been over a year since I've had the time to attend a meeting and I don't have quite the same incentive to stick to minor goals here at home. What I do have though is a pottery jar with a wide cork lid sitting on my desk. I love this jar—it’s from Mexico and decorated with pictures from Mexican lottery tickets and tarot cards. Depending on how I place it, I can have a new picture facing me any time I want.
Remembering the same procedure from the LERA meetings, I wrote down a list of the things I need to do (somewhat appalled at the extent of said list) and then cut it into strips. I then folded the strips into tiny squares, placed them in the jar, shook it up, and pulled out my first one: “Make picture for blog header.” Yay! I can do that. (It's now at the top of the page here. What do you think?)
Instead of putting a dollar into the jar for each of my goals, I rewarded myself by putting $20 into the jar for completing the task. I get to spend it and all the other twenties I'm anticipating when the task-strips are all gone. At the same time I'm also going to pretend each task-strip I remove is the ONLY extra task I need to do until it is finished. I'm not allowed to even think about the other chores waiting in the jar. Or the money. Well, it's hard not to think about the money, but you know what I mean!
Tip of the Day: Start your goals jar. You might want to make it yourself. I have a friend who glues collage scenes on old jam jars and they're beautiful. Add inspiring quotes or pictures of things you want to help keep yourself motivated.