plans for 2016

I’ve been thinking for a while that I need to figure out a plan for this year. I’m not sure it’s goals or resolutions I’m after, so much as a direction to take and some decisions about what I might need to do along the way.

organiser

I know I need to organise my time more effectively and I know I need more focus. Not only do I have this blog, my work and things I want to do with my writing, I also have a big, new, exciting (and terrifying) project that I want to take on. And then there’s parenting, the most important aspect of my life. My boys are 8, 6, and nearly 3 so still need a lot of my energy and attention. And I always want time for my husband, my family and my friends all of whom light up all the various paths of my life like the sparkly jewels they are.

How to manage all this has been whirling round in my head for a while. Some ideas are starting to emerge and I’m kind of hoping that if I write this post, it will help. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Areas In Which I Will Make Change Occur in 2016 – With Perhaps A Few Set Ideas But Mostly Just Possibilities (Catchy, eh? Bet you all wish you had some of these!)

Parenting

I need to focus on my kids more and not be so distracted by writing stories in my head, planning and thinking about other stuff and especially by social media. I’m finding that the age the boys are now, while easier in some ways (they sleep well, eat normal food and can entertain themselves a fair bit) is more complex and challenging in others. I need to be present and be the best parent I can be. Thoughts in this area include:

  • Banning smart phones between certain hours (mine and my husband’s – the kids don’t have any) in order to avoid the temptation to be ‘just checking’ the flippin’ things constantly (oh, the seductive flashing light that tells you there’s a notification of some kind!)
  • Introducing a ‘family story time’ just before bed. We read to them all when they were small and our youngest still has bedtime stories every night. The six year old often joins in with these (either to read to his little brother or to be read to) but our eldest usually just reads to himself now. All of them love being read to though and stories are so calming at bedtime and such a bonding experience. We need to re-introduce more of these ideals.
  • Planning weekend activities in advance so we don’t spend half the day wondering what do, changing our minds, and waiting ’till we’re all cross before we leave the house.

Blogging

I love my blog but I’m concerned about how much time blogging takes away from my other writing. This has been more of an issue since my toddler dropped his nap as my writing time is now pretty much limited to the evenings. Linkies are very time consuming (especially if you want to be a committed commenter – I spent three whole evenings on commenting last week!) and the social media that comes hand in hand with the blog can be overwhelming. Possibilities for change (and a few extra plans) here are:

  • Only write two (or maximum of three) posts a week – my linkie post (which I’ve now decided to put a bit more content into by sharing some posts from the previous week), the post I link up to the linky and possibly one other post some weeks.
  • Only link up to one other linky a week besides my own (this wouldn’t have to be the same one other linky every week as I have a fair few I like to join in with).
  • Make a structured plan for social media – see below
  • Go to BritMums Live for the first time! I’ve got a free ‘editor delegate’ ticket because I write the Poetry and Prose round up and I plan on putting it to good use. I could learn loads.
  • Arrange another #WhatImWriting meet up!

Writing

This is really being squeezed at the moment hence the need to organise my blogging time a bit. I do have some actual goals for this year in this area:

  • Carry on the push to find an agent for my picture books – this will mean re-submitting numerous times and getting good at handling rejection. Re-writes may quite possibly be part of the process too.
  • Write some more picture books – three more this year at least. As it happens, I’ve just written a whole new one! We don’t have broadband at the moment so my internet time is basically just down to when I can nick my husband’s phone to use as a wifi hotspot. I’m faffing around on social media MUCH less and have more time to write!
  • Keep writing my limericks whenever I can and continue to move towards my self-publishing goal.
  • Consider going to the Festival of Writing in York for a day (I loved it last year!)

Social media

The love and bane of my life. I check FB like it’s a nervous tick. Having no broadband might be frustrating but I’m certain it’s good for me. Plans here include:

  • Remove the FB app from my phone (I’m going to do this as soon as we get our broadband back)
  • Institute a smart phone ban after picking the kids up from school and until they are in bed (that’s a lot of hours! Can I cope? Yes, of course I can – I’ve only had one for five years after all!). This should help with my parenting goals because yes, I do check my phone when I’m with the kids even though I know I shouldn’t.
  • Schedule tweets and FB posts for blog purposes – I’m hopeless at this.
  • Makes lists for twitter. I waste loads of time being completely disorganised in this area.
  • Have a set time of day (an hour in the evening?) when I do all my social media stuff and to stay within that set time.
  • Post more often on my FB blog page. I’m rubbish at this too and my insights page suggests FB hardly shows my posts to anyone. But having just looked at my blog stats report for 2015, it appears that many of those ‘sights’ lead to referrals. So perhaps I should concentrate a bit more on a decent FB strategy? I’ve never put any money into it. Advice in this area is very welcome!

Work

I don’t talk about it on my blog but I’m writing this here anyway because I know I need to make some changes in this area. I’m spending a lot of time at the moment trying to work out what to do for the best.

Reading

I love reading and I’m a better writer because of it. I’m thinking of joining Goodreads this year as a way of keeping track of what I’ve read and maybe writing a few more reviews. I read 25 books last year (I posted yesterday about some of my favourites) which is much fewer than in either of the two previous years (I read 60 in 2013!) so I’d like to at least hit 30 books this year.

Big new exciting thing

This will take time, energy and commitment hence the need to re-think my approach to blogging and writing. I’ll let you know more soon!

***

That was a fairly long list! I think it’s helped a bit to see it written (well, typed) down. I’ll have to start cracking on with some of these now won’t I?!

How do you manage your time? Any tips most welcome!

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10 thoughts on “plans for 2016

  1. Mummy Tries

    It’s great to have a decent set of goals to have in mind Maddy, and lots of these are more things you’d like to change for an overall better quality of life anyway, which can never be a bad thing. Taking a huge step back from social media and not looking at phones in front of the kids will make such a huge difference to family life. Best of luck with getting everything achieved – if I know you, you will give it your very best shot, and that is all you can do xxx

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  2. Rachael

    Hey Maddy,

    Putting the phones away is always a great idea. Mushroom loves it when I ‘don’t do your phone Mummy’! :) As for your exciting new thing… I am dying to know what it is!!! Good luck with all your goals and I hope it all makes that positive difference for you this year :) xx

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  3. Marija Smits

    I think all these are really good ideas. I have to say that I’m glad I don’t have a smartphone because I think I would be constantly checking it too! I have certain periods in the day (e.g. 5 – 6 p.m. after school) when I simply close the laptop and walk away to play with my two children – and it’s working well for us. (Betweeen 4 & 5 p.m. I’m still working at my laptop but present for them while they watch TV, so that I can get them snacks and give cuddles etc.) Bedtimes take us ages and reading dozens of books is always a part of the routine. We all go to bed far too late, but we’re all late risers too, so it’s *kind of* working! As for my writing, I simply have to squeeze it into the midnight zone!

    I’m really looking forward to hearing about your big project too. :-)
    Marija Smits recently posted…Light and dark and the idea of hopeMy Profile

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  4. Emily Organ

    What’s the big new exciting thing? I’m very impatient to hear all about it. This is a very sensible bit of planning, it’s something I’ve done and it works really well when you get into habits. I’ve really cut down on social media and limit FB to certain times of the day. When embarking on something I think ‘will what I’m doing here help me find new readers?’ and if it doesn’t I don’t do it. It’s amazing what I’ve cut out! I could do a bit more with family time too and make time together more productive by planning better. For events I’m doing the London Book Fair in April – you might be interested in that? They have a children’s books schedule of seminars. It’s a way for you to travel though. And I’m really looking forward to your three new picture books!
    Emily Organ recently posted…Why someone else should read your workMy Profile

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  5. Sara | mumturnedmom

    Desperate to know what this big project is :) So much of what you have written here resonates with me. I’ve been limiting FB hugely, haven’t gone as far as deleting the app (yet!) but I have moved it so that it’s in a folder, so less visible when I’m looking at my phone. That alone as made a big difference. I’ve also cut back on linkys massively. I only join a few each week now, depending on what I’ve written, and that’s helped me get a much better balance going. Good luck with it all, looking forward to following along :)
    Sara | mumturnedmom recently posted…My Word for 2016: SimplifyMy Profile

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  6. Alice @ The Filling Glass

    Hehe! I love the title you give these things you want to do in 2016 ;-). Much of what you say could apply to me, and certainly are areas that I want to tackle as well. Do you know what though, I haven’t actually clarified my thoughts as much as this yet – I think need to do so pronto! I am also on tenterhooks waiting to hear about your new project, girl, you know how to write a cliffhanger! I’m sure even though it maybe a bit terrifying, you will be great. xx
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  7. Sophie Lovett

    I really want to know what your big new exciting thing is!!! That aside, though, this is a great list of goals. I REALLY need to rein in my social media butterflying – I’m not even doing anything half the time, just absent mindedly looking at stuff, and it is so pointless! On the plus side I figure if I do manage to be a bit more disciplined in that area it might just free up enough time to get this next novel written… Totally identify with your blogging goals too. I know I have lots of new plans for things to blog about, but I’m consciously focusing them around things that are important to me in ‘real’ life rather than lots of linkies. Apart from this one of course ;) Looking forward to our next meet-up! Feels like there’s lots to discuss… xx
    Sophie Lovett recently posted…Broken beginningsMy Profile

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  8. suz

    It seems like the time of year when we are all reassessing our goals and those pesky plans for reaching them. You have a solid plan here. I wish mine was as good.
    I’ve only recently started blogging with any kind of consistency and it is horrendously time consuming – as is the checking of the phone.
    Good luck with your writing goals.
    suz recently posted…Escape from author overwhelmMy Profile

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