October 16 2017

Invite (Five Minute Friday)

The word this week is invite. So I would like to invite you, if you are reading this post, to take a minute to go back and read another post or two from my blog.

I would also like to invite you to write with me during the month of November when I am doing a new novel for NaNoWriMo.org. I would especially like to invite everyone to help hold me accountable to get my 1,667 words written each day and to strive to write even more so I can actually get to the finish of a new novel.

I would also invite you to check in with me about finishing up the office clean out. There isn’t a lot left to do except to deal with the stacks of paper that I never seem to have room for in the files and never know what to do with.

So, if any of you would like to accept this invitation to be writing accountability buddies, I would love it if you’d email me.

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Invite
The assignment: Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

October 5 2017

My New Helper is a Keeper

The image and title above may have already clued you in to what I am going to tell you about today. A few weeks ago, I was listening to one of Ann Kroeker’s Podcasts. She mentioned something I hadn’t yet heard of, Google Keep. Since I had no idea what it was, I asked Google, “Ok Google, What is Google Keep?” I got the following answer from Google:

Google Keep is a note-taking service developed by Google. Launched on March 20, 2013, Google Keep is available on the web, and has mobile apps for the Android and iOS mobile operating systems.”

Thank you, Google. I went to YouTube and typed in Google Keep and watched a couple of tutorials and was immediately blown away by how powerful a tool this could be. I had to have it! Now! How had I not known about this? Thank you, Ann Kroeker, writing coach for sharing this tidbit! My life is forever changed because I listened to your podcast!

You can listen to it here in about ten minutes start to finish. If you’d rather read than listen, you can find the blog post here: Ep 112: My Best Writing Tools to Get More Done (at Home and on the Go)

I was very excited about all the possibilities, so I went to the Google Play Store and downloaded the Android version right away. I played with it some on my phone and couldn’t wait to get home and see the desktop version of it. It is very easy to use. The only problem I had was accidentally archiving a post when I didn’t mean to, but even that is easily undone.

In the few weeks since I began using the app on my Android phone and the online version on both my desktop and my Surface Pro 2, I have found it to be the one app I would not give up on my phone. Yes, it is that awesome! Did I mention it is FREE?

I have taken notes at meetings, made lists of things to remember to talk over at my next Dr appointment, made to do lists, taken notes on books I was reading including a photo of the cover. I have taken screenshots of research I was doing on a DIY project then attached the screenshot to the note and had Keep grab the text from the image so that all of it is editable, savable and searchable. I have done research online and taken notes which included several source URL links. I decided I might want to refer to some snippets of info and wanted to create a note about them but was feeling too lazy to type them all in on my phone, so I used the microphone on the keyboard and spoke them into text that was typed before my eyes super accurately. At one point I was dictating a note about being a writer and Keep typed rider, but as I kept talking it figured out I meant writer and went back and changed it before I was finished dictating the note, right before my eyes. How cool is that? Google Keep understands what I am thinking, sometimes better than I do myself.

I have color-coded, labeled, pinned and even archived some of my notes. I can reorder the things on my to-do list so the most important ones are on top. I can add blog ideas to my ongoing list wherever I am because my phone is always with me. There is a Keep shortcut on the main screen because I use it that much. I even added shortcuts to my computer desktops for faster access too.

I love that I can use the checkboxes on my lists and check things off. The checked items go to the bottom of the list where they can be quickly referenced when someone wants to know what you have gotten done today. You can also uncheck all the boxes at once or just the individual ones you need. This is excellent for grocery lists. The list items can be sorted by the department they are in such as vegetables, dairy or meat. I could share the list with a collaborator (Hubby) and then Hubby would be able to access the list on his phone and shop in one department while I shop in another to finish the shopping much faster.

I just figured out another cool way to use this on my phone hands-free. I said, “Ok Google, add a note to Google Keep to finish blog article.” See the results below.

When I clicked Open Keep as shown above, it took me to the Keep app where I found the little gem shown below waiting for me. You can see it is super fast by the times shown in the screenshots.

Notice the little play button below the little, dotted line in the screenshot above? If I click on it, I hear my voice telling Google what I want the note to say. When I am finished with this task, I can either archive or just delete the note to keep the Keep notepad from getting cluttered.

So many uses! Did I mention you could dictate portions of your novel into this and save the notes in Keep and Google Docs or that from Google Docs you can pull up your Google Keep notepad and drag and drop parts of any of your Keep notes into an open Google Doc? Story notes, plot ideas, character details, bits of dialog, all able to be easily added to a Scrivener file when you get back to your computer, all searchable and editable.

See what I mean? This is exciting! There are so many possible uses for it. A boss using Google Keep could create and share daily to do lists with several employees, and any and all could make changes to the list throughout the day checking off the things that were finished. Each checkbox could begin with the name of the person being assigned to do the task.

Here are some of the excellent Tutorials I found that explain all the wonders of Google Keep much better than I could because seeing is believing. There are loads of videos to tell you how various people use Google Keep.

Google Keep Awesomeness:

Google Keep 2017 Tutorial – Online Notes:

How to use Google Keep – Full Tutorial:

Using Google Keep to Track Projects:

Google Keep – The Most Beautiful To Do List Ever!:

There are so many more uses I have yet to explore but I am using Google Keep on a daily basis for all the thoughts in my brain that might otherwise leak out through the cracks and be lost forever.

July 13 2017

2nd Quarter Goal Check-in

Way back in January, I shared my 2017 SMART Goals. Half the year is gone and it is time to see how I am doing on those goals. In the past, I have made goals, written them down, shared them with a group, and then forgotten all about them until the end of the year when it was time to make new goals for the coming year.

That system wasn’t working for me at all. Then only goals I got done were the ones that were accidental, never because I planned to get them done. Usually, when I found the list again, I was pleasantly surprised if I managed to get any of my goals accomplished. This year, I am trying something different and if you are reading this, I could really use your help. I need you to ask me about my goals and check in with me from time to time to see if I am getting them done. This is the piece that was missing in the past.

Here are the goals I set at the beginning of the year:

FAMILY FUN GOALS: (2/3)
1) Do a cabin weekend DONE!
2) April trip DONE!
3) Annual Hockey Trip for the kids’ birthdays (not scheduled yet)

FITNESS GOALS: (meh, but ongoing)
1) Get 6 hours of sleep a night (85/181 = 47%)
2) Drink 6 cups of water a day (142/181 = 78%)
3) Continue using MyFitnessPal app (180 day streak!)

HOUSE GOALS: (1/3)
1) Clean out my home office (Real progress on the parts that show)
2) Declutter the landing DONE!
3) Declutter my clothes (1st pass done)

PERSONAL GOALS: (1/3)
1) Do some genealogy (Does tidying up the paper files count?)
2) Take three writing classes DONE! (6 so far)
3) Read for thirty minutes a day (Consistent)  (47 books so far)

SPIRITUAL/CHARITY GOALS: (1/3)
1) Pray daily (Consistent & Constant)
2) Read 15 inspirational fiction books (9/15)
3) Crochet 26 hats to donate to charity DONE as of 7/8! Do you want to see photos?

WRITING GOALS: (ongoing)
1) Finish one of my previous NaNoWriMo novels (working on edits and revisions again during July)
2) Publish something (see writing goal #1 above)
3) Participate in NaNoWriMo (and hopefully win again)

OK, I know I am making progress. I have finished 5 out of the 18 goals I set! Two of those not done are not able to be done until a future date. Five goals are ongoing and cannot really be considered done as long as there are still days left in the year.

Editing and revisions to my 2016 NaNo Novel continue to be more difficult than I expected. The writing goals have proven to be much more difficult for me to feel like I am making progress on. I should have made a writing goal to write at least one blog post a week or 52 posts in the year would have been better. Becoming a year-round writer was one of my goals for 2014, 2015 and 2016. It took a long time and a concerted effort, but I am finally considering myself a year-round writer thanks to this blog. It gives me a reason to write and a place to post and the feeling of accountability and accomplishment.

I think the crochet goals was easily accomplished because it was reasonable. I think I made 30 hats last year and knew my carpel tunnel is getting worse, so I thought I would back off what I knew I had done last year. I chose 26 because making a hat every other week seemed completely doable. The reason for the early success is because we took driving trips over new years weekend and the trip in April, both of these gave me hours of riding in a car with hubby driving. I have discovered that keeping myself occupied while hubby drives keeps me from gasping in fear while he drives so I get a lot of crocheting done and even some reading. The reading goal is helped along because I take my nook with me to work each day and read for the 30-minute lunch break. It also comes along when we go to restaurants and on all trips. The best part about reading on my nook is that every book can be read with a large font if my eyes are tired and I can even read in the dark.

How are you doing on your goals for 2017? What have you learned about goal setting? I learned that I need to set more measurable goals and goals that are not ongoing. Those ongoing goals are nice enough, but unless you do them every day for the whole year you feel like you failed at least a little.

June 17 2017

3rd Update on Office Project

On Wednesday, 6/14, I spent a total of about 3-1/2 hours working in the office. I didn’t intend to work so long, but I had pulled up a video on NetFlix to watch that didn’t really require much actual watching, just listening. It was a two-hour video and I told myself I would just putz around a bit while I watched so I wouldn’t feel so guilty about not doing anything constructive. I started out by moving the boxes of paper that were so overfilled they had become piles. I decided to disconnect my desktop computer and pull out all the wires. I wiped everything down to get rid of the thick coating of dust that had accumulated. I found I had tons of things connected to my computer. A few were disconnected but never reconnected because I want to reevaluate whether I even use them. I figure I will reconnect them if and when I need them.

One thing led to another and before I knew it, I could see some real progress. As the saying goes, things had to get much worse before they could get better. I felt like I was making a huge mess when I moved things out of the way to wipe the desktop and get rid of all dust bunnies hiding everywhere. Apparently, I don’t have a dust allergy. I tried arranging things a little differently but discovered they wouldn’t work in the new places I thought I would put them, so things went mostly back the way they were but without the piles of paper and clutter. Here are the before and after photos.

Right side under hutch (Before)

 

Scanner area of desktop (Before)

Desktop (After)

Continue reading

June 15 2017

2nd Update on Office Project

On Monday, 6/12/17, I put in another 3 hours of sorting and tough decision making to get a lot more accomplished in my office.

One problem I am coming up against is that until I am done going through everything, I really have no way of knowing how I want to store the things I keep.

I started by telling myself I was just going to clean out one easy drawer to put my bullet journal supplies in so they were easy to get to and off the top of the desk.

Top drawer on left file cabinet (Before)

Top drawer on left file cabinet (After)

After that, I decided I needed the other small drawer under this one for additional supplies, so I kept going.

Middle drawer on left file cabinet (Before)
Middle drawer on left file cabinet (After)

Now you might be asking yourself what I did with the weights and such from the top drawer, and that was one of those tricky things I mentioned. I put them on the bottom shelf I had already cleaned. In theory, I am telling myself I will use them more if I see them. They were after all, out of sight and thus out of mind. So here is what that looks like now.

Glass & Metal Shelf (After Phase 1)
Glass & Metal Shelf (After Phase 2)

By this time I was getting excited about the amount of progress I was making and I was enjoying listening to an audio book while I worked. So, I told myself I was just going to try to make a little bit of progress on the left side of my desk because the height of the piles was beginning to make me nervous and they really bothered me. Here is how it looked when I started, and while I made some progress, it will still need another pass or two before I am finished.

Left desktop (Before)

Things go a lot worse as I covered the entire desktop with various piles as I sorted. I wanted to stop a few times but I told myself just another inch of the pile, then I would stack it all back there neatly. It is difficult to know what to do with things once they are sorted because until I do something about the file cabinets and the china cabinet there is no place to put papers I am keeping. I persisted and peeled a few layers off this particular onion and finally got to what I considered to be an acceptable stopping point for the night. After pitching some and recycling some and putting a few things away where they belong, for now, it looks like this.

Left desktop (After)

Now, finally, I am getting somewhere! Now I wish I had tackled this back in January when the piles were smaller. I moved everything that was on that section of desktop and washed the surface and let it dry before putting everything back. Now, I can look and see real progress. It feels good. I have reached the point where I know it can happen and I know I won’t give up before it is finished. Do I have a long way to go before I am done? You betcha! But I can do it. I can see that now. I think my confidence in my ability to finish the project was buried deep under all those piles of paperwork and such on the desk. No worries, I found it. Stay tuned. Now I am wondering how quickly I can finish the whole office. End of June? Fourth of July? End of July maybe? We shall see.