Revamping My Schedule

Prepare yourself, friends. Here comes another I gotta get my life together post.

I need accountability and since I have none of that in my real life, I’m using this blog.

I’m overwhelmed and at that point where I’m just sitting — staring at the piles and trying to settle my brain and decide what task needs to be done first.

A friend was telling me about a book called The Best Yes, by Lysa TerKeurst. Apparently it’s about putting the most important things first and learning to say no. She also warned me — “It’s WAY too religious for you. You’ll probably have to work hard to get past the ‘God speak’.”

I’m certain I’ve mentioned it, but I seriously struggle with mainstream religion — especially since I grew up in the heart of the Bible Belt. I do believe in a higher power. I go to a Unitarian Universalist church/fellowship/congregation and the kids and I are fairly active, but frankly, even it’s too much for me. It’s a mixed bag — Christians, Atheists, Agnostics, Seekers. I’ve been going regularly for the past three years and I’m at a point where I feel like it’s actually hindering my spiritual life. More on this later. Back to the book…

I like the idea of this book. I think I’m pretty good at saying no, especially when I talk to other women friends, but today I began looking at my schedule and I realized I still have a lot of things on my plate that I’m doing more out of obligation rather than because I want to. I’m also letting things slide that I feel are important, and perhaps if I let go of some then maybe I could put my energy into areas that desperately need attention.

I’m off the cuff here, so work with me. I’m going to attempt to schedule my week, use my time better and hopefully make some progress.

This house is driving me a bit batty. I’ve told Gil this before, but as soon as I walk in the door, I feel irritated and annoyed. It’s too big. There aren’t a lot of rooms, but the rooms are big. It’s open and always feels cluttered and messy. If I were to build again, I would make the rooms smaller and the storage spaces more plentiful.

I feel like my only space is the master bedroom, closet and bathroom. I usually keep these areas tidy, but lately they’ve become cluttered dumping grounds, too. My “office” is also in my bedroom, and up until about a week ago I was working there close to 40 hours each week. The mess is screwing with my Zen.

I’m taking less work now, and I might be quitting altogether. Amongst other qualities, I’m occupationally challenged of late.

I’ve been spending entirely too much time on this job for what it pays. It was fine in the beginning, but it’s not worth the hassle anymore. My boss, Linda, is a friend/acquaintance who offered me the job, as in she contacted me and asked if I’d be interested — this was about a year ago. Last week I had a frank discussion with her about where this was going and told her I needed more money if I was going to continue taking on more work.

The conversation did not go well.

She acted perturbed which flat out ticked me off. She was dismissive towards any of my concerns and told me that maybe this job wasn’t a good fit for me if it was taking the amount of time to churn out the amount of work I had been doing.

Yeah. She said that. And yeah, it made me feel like shit and I spent the two days after our conversation feeling defeated and unproductive. I immediately began questioning myself and my abilities even though prior to this conversation she had nothing but praise for my work.

When I’m not working, I’m thinking about work and rearranging stories in my head. Most of Linda’s clients are self-publishers. Some are decent and experienced writers, but lately it seems that many are paying her to do their dirty work. I often feel like I work harder on their stories than they do.

I had a situation a few weeks ago where I had to be extremely direct with an author. Her book didn’t flow. Her characters were not adequately developed and she was telling us that this was her final draft. Linda does the copy editing and final proofreading while I help with story ideas and flow — I like this arrangement because I get to be somewhat creative instead of deciding whether or not a comma is necessary. Linda does all of that. Anyway, this book was awful. My choices were to spend an ungodly amount of time re-writing it, further developing the characters and rearranging the plot — creating an actual plot is more accurate.

I called Linda and told her this was going to take longer than I originally planned. She suggested that I talk directly with the author. Perhaps this woman and I simply had a personality conflict, but when I suggested that two of her characters needed to be better developed, she snapped my head off. “You and I obviously do not share the same vision!”

I don’t know, you guys. Maybe she was right. Maybe I was being too perfectionistic. She was self-publishing. If it worked for her then perhaps I should have read through it, okayed it, and sent it on to Linda for final proofreading.

I just couldn’t do it with a clear conscience. It was that bad. At the same time, here is a woman who is pushing to get her work out there. She’ll be producing and selling and handling her own marketing and she’ll have a book with her name attached to it. I have to give her some credit. Personally, I just couldn’t put work out there that is that lacking.

Which brings me to this. What have I done? Maybe produced is the better word.

I write. I have novels that if I were this person, I’d self-publish and get them out there. In my mind, they’re not ready. But how long do I wait? How long before I believe they’re ready?

Good writing doesn’t just happen. It’s a lot of work. But I learned something dealing with this author. I need to continue writing and improving, and I need to put my stuff out there. I need to set a schedule for myself, and I need to do some editing on my own work. I think I’m wasting my time trying to make other people’s stories better, especially if it’s not important to them.

It is important to me when it comes to my own work, but I’ve always had trouble with complete follow-through. I get excited about my stories in the beginning but rather than continue to work on something to completion I start something else. I detest this about myself.

If I had spent the amount of time working on my own stories over the last year that I’ve spent on Linda’s clients, where would I be? My stuff would certainly be better.

But then there’s the money issue. As little as it is, the extra income has been nice. I don’t feel as strapped, and it’s a job I can do at home. It’s just not working any more. I need a mindless job at the moment that has nothing to do with writing, and I need to use my writing and editing energy on my own work.

I want to believe that I can set a schedule and stick to it and apply the time that I was working for Linda to my own work.

Some days I don’t even know if writing is for me. Ugh. Okay. This is long. I’m going to be posting a lot in the next few days as I work some of this out.

How do you work if you’re self-employed? What’s your daily schedule like? Do you find accountability difficult?