Tag Archives: social media

where I stop procrastinating and make some decisions

in a fieldI’ve been delaying writing this post for weeks – delaying writing it because in order to do so, I needed to make some decisions about my blog and, despite endless pondering, I couldn’t quite bring myself to do that.

How do I find more time to write? Where do I find more time to do my illustration course? How much of the energy that I pour into blogging could be better used elsewhere? What do I want from blogging anyway? How do I handle social media? How can I be a more present parent? Is this pondering really getting me anywhere at all? Where did I hide my stash of popcorn? All these questions and more have been whirring round in my head for weeks and I need to come to some conclusions!

As I type these words I STILL haven’t finalised my decisions but one thing I have decided is that enough is enough – the longer I delay, the longer the limbo continues. So I’m going to write some thoughts down here and now, and as I do, they will become decisions that I have to honour. I’m going to back myself into a corner, here. Let’s hope it works.

So *clears throat, cracks knuckles, does a few warm up squats*

*decides a walk around the neighbourhood would be a really good idea right about now*

*realises, NO that’s just another procrastination tactic*

*makes a cup of tea, honestly, honestly it helps me think. Honestly*

Right, I’m ready.

Decision one – I want to make the next three months with my youngest son, count.

My three-year-old starts nursery five mornings a week from September and from that point everything changes. I mean, FIVE MORNINGS A WEEK WITH NO KIDS! Imagine that! Ok, some of them will be taken up with work but still… it’s a biggie. And I was all, ‘Oh, I’ll have more time in September, maybe I should just keep truckin’ (and not make any changes) till then’, but then I got a text from a friend this morning (the very lovely Alice from The Filling Glass) and something she wrote reminded me that, sod the changes coming in September, this time is precious. This time right now. So why truck right on through it like some… truck? So I’ve put the brakes on. I need to make decisions that leave me the time, space and energy for him (not to mention the other two!) and that means less blogging and social media. It means:

Decision two – I’m only blogging once a week from now on. 

Well, one blog post plus my What I’m writing linky post (which is largely just copy and paste with a few links to last week’s posts). I’ve been doing this for the last few weeks actually, but having not ‘properly decided’ to do it I’ve kept feeling like I should be blogging more. That’s the thing with blogging actually – I always feel like I should be doing more. There are always more blog posts to write – my head is perpetually thronging with ideas them. Enough of that. One post a week with no obligation or expectation to do more, is fine. Mind you, it’s not just writing blog posts that’s time-consuming, it’s sharing and commenting and linking up. Which leads me to:

Decision three – I’m only going to link up to #WhatImWriting. 

Yes, just one linky – my own. But, but, I love linkies! My fingers are already trembling with alarm! What about The Prompt, my source of inspiration? Or Prose for Thought, where I share creative work? Or From the Mouths of Babes, Or The Truth About, Or Read With Me? Argh! I’ll miss them all! My readership will plummet! it will all end in doom, I tell you. DOOOOOM!

Oh, FFS. I can always reassess things come September if I want and right now, linkies take up too much time. I often lose three or four evenings a week to commenting. And let’s not talk about the time my youngest spends playing on his own while I’m jumping around from post to post. I mean, he’s an awesome little dude with imagination that makes such a situation possible but I take advantage of that far too much. I also take advantage of his love of Curious George and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Enough of that too. Just one linky. Hopefully I can keep commenting down to just one or two evenings and have more time for reading actual books. Ooh, that makes me think of something else:

Decision four – I’m setting myself a book reading target. One book a fortnight for the rest of the year.

A few years ago I would have said, ‘One a book a fortnight? Ha! Easy!’ Even last year I managed more than that, and comfortably, but this year apart from Runaway Girl, The Pursuit of Happiness and The Forgotten and the Fantastical 2, I’ve barely read a thing. I’ve fallen off the reading horse and it makes me sad. Writers should read – it stirs the imagination. I need to make reading a priority. And that’s not the only creative endeavour I need to prioritise:

Decision five – I’m going to draw every day.

I don’t care what it is – I need to just draw. Even if it’s a five minute crap scribble it’s better than nothing. I drew every day for months at the start of the year and it helped my confidence and artistic abilities no end. I need to do that again.

Decision six – regarding social media… *pauses with fingers hovering above the keys*… half an hour a day in the evening. Max. Mostly for blogging and Facebook groups (i.e not just faffing about)

I deleted the FB and Twitter apps from my phone weeks ago. Life is better because of it. You know what though? Having previously not paid it much attention,  I now check Instagram all the flippin’ time because it is the only social media app left! So I think I might put that in a folder somewhere so I can’t reflexively check it in an addicted way.

With all these decisions though, I’m still not sure I’m going to free up enough time to write and draw so, here’s a radical idea:

Decision seven – I do not expect or intend to do any creative writing at all for the rest of June.

What? Am I mad? Don’t I want to write? Yes, of course! but I’ve been feeling so snowed under recently that I haven’t found time and then I’ve stressed about that. Let this be the month to focus on drawing. It’s just a month and experience suggests to me that if I focus on one creative outlet the other might well follow. I’m not saying I’m not allowed to write – if the words flow, they flow – I’m just saying I don’t expect to write a single thing and that’s fine.

Right, so where does that leave me? Oh yes, there’s one big decision I made before writing this post and it’s about time I shared it:

Decision eight – I’m not going to go to BritMums live

This is sad because I was looking forward to it! I’ve got my (free) ‘editor delegate’ pass and everything and I have been looking at hotels and planning meet ups with friends. *sob*

But it’s the right decision. Being a big-time blogger just isn’t the direction I really want to go in. I’ve sensed that for a while. I reached a point a few months back when things were going well with my blog and I kept being approached by PR’s and I started seriously considering monetising it. Then the viral post happened and the #THISislearning campaign and spreading myself all over social media… and then the week off it all and I realised something. Blogging is not where my heart is. Not really.

It has some of my heart for sure – it’s how I’ve found (and created) my writing community. It’s where I continue to find (and, I hope, spread) support and friendship. It’s the place I’ve discovered motivation to write, and the confidence to share my work. Those are the parts of being a blogger I want to keep, But those parts don’t need me to spread myself so thinly. And those parts don’t need me to go three hundred miles to spend time in a room full of (albeit lovely) people I’ve never met before, learning all about how to grow my audience. Even the thought of having to tackle Pinterest and Instagram in a full on blogger way makes me want to scream and cover my ears. That’s not going to get me where I want to go (though I continue to be impressed by those of you who do).

Get me – I made some decisions! Eight whole ones! There are still a few other things I’m considering but I think these will do for now.

Let’s see what the next few months bring. :)

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My week without social media or blogging

riverI’ve just logged back onto social media and my blog after an entire week off. It’s been a good week. Here are some profound insights thoughts that occurred to me as the week went by:

Sharing aspects of your life is addictive.

Sharing the way bloggers or avid social media users do has a compulsive aspect to it, I think. At the start of my week off, I found it really odd not to share things I’d read, or photos of what I’d seen or done, or thoughts I’d had, or funny things the kids had said, or insights into my life or… just, you know, ALL the stuff so many of us share so often. I sometimes wonder whether our generation feels that something has only really happened if it’s been shared online – that an experience isn’t really valid unless we plaster various versions of it over our social media feeds and get ‘likes’. I’ve certainly found that in many of life’s lovely moments I’ve felt that urge to capture and share. This week was like having an itch I couldn’t really scratch. There were a couple of times I sent my husband and friends texts just because “This happened!” (whatever ‘this’ was) and the urge to share was too strong, but as the days went by I started to get used to it. The itch got less itchy. Now I feel a bit weird about sharing again. Writing this feels a bit odd, actually.

Despite how often I usually check my phone for ‘likes’… I don’t really need the affirmation.

I thought I would miss the affirmation aspect of social media – the likes, comments and RT’s, the little hearts and thumbs up – don’t they make me feel better? Isn’t it good to feel that approval? Wouldn’t I miss all those little pats on the back?

Er… no. Turns out, when I wasn’t putting anything out there that people might ‘like’ or otherwise, I didn’t need it at all. In fact it was a relief because I wasn’t looking for affirmation and didn’t need to keep checking my phone for it. Not that when I normally post a photo or whatever I’m consciously thinking ‘affirm my life please, people!’ but I guess that’s basically what it amounts to isn’t it? So, take away the ‘look what I’m doing!’ element of social media and I felt free. Much more secure in myself. And that’s because…

Real life is wonderfully affirming regardless of the lack of a ‘thumbs up’ button.

The best, warmest, cuddliest affirmation comes from the people in your life who you are genuinely connected to. That’s a no-brainer, really. It certainly doesn’t preclude online friends but, leave social media for long enough and I’m betting that those people with whom you have a genuine connection will find ways of communicating with you in the real world anyway. I was really touched by the number of texts I got from people asking how my social-media-free week was going. Of course, texts did then kind of fill the gap a bit – I sent and received an awful (wonderful) lot of texts last week, but meh, I never claimed this was a total ‘no typing’ week.

Having just totted it up, I’ve also realised I had more proper, face-to-face social engagements last week that there were days in the week. And some of them were with more than one friend! Little Miss Introvert here had a rip-roaringly sociable time of it. Heavens.

Social media is a barrier between me and real life.

Ok it’s not an impermeable barrier and in fact it’s also a bridge. A sort of bridgey-barrier (look , I’ve had a week off blogging, I’ve forgotten how to express myself here clearly!) It allows me to connect to people but it also means, in the moment, I’m less present. This week both my husband and eldest son have said it’s wonderful that I’m not on social media; that I’m not always distracted by my phone. And I’m not surprised they expressed that, because I’ve felt more engaged and just, well, THERE with people. It’s been lovely.

I’m a better parent when I’m offline.

Given the time I spend on my phone normally… ouch. But it’s true. See above – I have more time for my kids. I am more present.

When I’m not blogging, I have more time (full stop).

Without having to think about blogging this week I had time for other things. I finished the book I was reading (The Pursuit Of Happiness And Why It’s Making Us Anxious – review to follow – interesting stuff!). I did some of my illustration course and started work on the first assignment. This made me very happy. I also had time to spend with my husband in the evenings – we had conversations! We even watched a Rom Com together – neither of us particularly like Rom Coms but we couldn’t find a suitable Sci Fi. Anyway it starred Ryan Reynolds (have loved him since Deadpool) and Isla Fisher (have loved her since Home and Away 20 years ago!) so it wasn’t a bad way to pass an evening.

Oh, and I cleaned the car. I. CLEANED. THE. CAR! Yep, no more melted Chewits in the glove compartment. Get in.

Phone calls are lovely

Do you remember those hours spent chatting on the phone with friends in years gone by? These days, apart from to a few family members, I don’t spend much time on the phone at all so when the phone rang earlier in the week and one of my friend’s names appeared on the screen, it felt quite unusual. He was phoning me with a question –normally he would have FB messaged me but since I was off social media, he called instead. And it was lovely to talk to him. Actually hearing people’s voices is so different to seeing their words on your screen. I could hear his wife (one of my close friends) in the background and they were kind of teasing each other and saying things to me and I it felt like a snippet of real life. There they were, my friends, just being themselves in a house not too far away – it was oddly reassuring and affirming. And if that sounds a bit soppy it’s because…

Without distraction, I’ve felt life more intensely.

I’ve very much been feeling ‘all the feels’ this week. Admittedly, this is what I’m like anyway – I’ve said before that I sometimes feel like my heart isn’t so much on my sleeve as hanging around my neck on some kind of loose chain that bounces around and catches on things as I go through life. It also has wings and has a tendency to try to fly off – it’s all a bit dicey. Well, this week it’s been that feeling times ten. And its been almost entirely positive too. I keep thinking how amazing people are. All that socialising and those lovely texts helped. It’s been a week of warm fuzzy feelings. Maybe if you put the warm fuzzys out there they get a chance to grow (fuzzier?!)?

There will always be a lot going on in my head

I have a noisy mind – a stream of constant chatter. I’m always thinking something or working something out or getting a new idea. And into this fits social media with its endless stream of other people’s lives and thoughts and ideas that send my thoughts off in seven (thousand) directions at once. I thought that without social media it would be quieter – I thought that without that input my own chatter might die down. Not a bit of it, I could just hear myself more clearly. So I’ve had to accept this is how I am. What it does make me think though, is that given how much there is going on in my head – do I really the social media input? Do I need more stimulation? Answer: big fat no. Which brings me on to…

I feel happier without social media.

I was intending to log back into the hive mind – or ‘dive back into the swamp’ as a friend (lovingly, I’m sure… ) put it – this morning but I couldn’t really bring myself to. I went onto Instagram and hurriedly shut it down. Skimmed though Facebook scattering likes then quickly thought ‘enough now’. I didn’t get as far as Twitter till after six and even then I only responded to one tweet. It’s just too full-on. Despite the constant chatter in my head, it is definitely more peaceful without social media. The nasty demon of comparison hasn’t been able to needle me and I feel better for it. I’ve just been reading a book all about happiness and the damaging effects of social media on it and this makes total sense to me now. It’s been a happy week. Why would I want to risk all that and return to my newsfeeds and timelines? Why? Well…

It has its lovely side… and I’ve missed that

A friend from my ‘What I’m Writing’ group said to me that it was noticeable that I wasn’t around because she’s used to me flitting around the group being supportive and tweeting people’s posts and writing nice comments (Thanks T!). She also said that she and others were stepping up to fill the gap though. And I thought, ‘that’s my gang – all there for each other!’. There is something wonderful about our What I’m Writing group and beyond them the other lovely people in the blogosphere too. Yes, I missed you!

And that means:

Social media and blogging play a role in my happiness.

This part is crucial. I just said I’m a better parent when I’m offline – that’s a pretty damning indictment really isn’t it? If it makes me a worse parent then I should ditch it, run away from it, leave it in the dust… surely?

Well, no (here comes the justification bit… ). The thing is, over the past few years blogging has become a part of who I am. I love the connections I’ve made (my online friends mean loads to me), and the whole experience has been vital to my writing ‘journey’ (inverted commas because I can’t take the word ‘journey’ seriously I but I also can’t think of a better word). I don’t want to just cut and run. Social media is part and parcel of blogging. Twitter also brings me #ShapeChallenge and other creative kicks up the bum which I know are good for me. Facebook can be a great place to keep in touch with real life friends, and both can be a source of intellectual stimulation.

All of that is important to me, and I want to keep it in my life. Giving it up would make me a worse parent for a whole different set of reasons.

But:

Something has to change.

That much is crystal clear to me now. I haven’t yet worked out quite what all the changes will be but, for starters, I’m not reinstalling Facebook or Twitter on my phone (Instagram is basically unusable otherwise so I’ll put that back). I’m going to have to work out a better balance for blogging too. I need to blog less. I want more time for creativity and friendship and being a decent parent. There’s no going back now.

And there’s one final thing I’ve learned:

No matter how much extra time I have in my life, I still won’t do the ironing.

I just won’t.

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And then the fun began...
mumturnedmom

honesty and social media

One Friday morning a couple of weeks ago – the first day of half term to be precise – my sons decided to do some baking. My eight-year-old has always enjoyed making cakes and buns but it’s become a real passion of his recently. On this occasion his younger brothers (aged six and just-about-three) were keen to help and I was told to “Sit down, Mummy or just take some photos of us or something.” So I mostly just watched them.

pretty buns... but what's the other side of the story?

pretty buns… but what’s the other side of the story?

It was so sweet – the three of them were totally dedicated to the task and worked together brilliantly. The older two read recipes together and divided up tasks. They helped their little brother pour ingredients and stir the mixture. They all had far too much (messy) fun with the electric mixer and even came up with a solution when they realised they’d added butter straight from the fridge (instead of ‘softened butter’)… which involved the six year old sitting in front of a heater for ten minutes cradling the bowl of cake mixture in his hands! An hour and a half later they had made chocolate biscuits and buns and were (justly) very pleased with themselves. I photographed the whole thing and shared the photos on my personal Facebook page. I felt so happy and proud of them.

Ten minutes later though, I felt a sudden need to be more honest with my Facebook friends… because although those pictures of sibling harmony were absolutely genuine, they only told one part of the story. In fact, the reason I had been so particularly happy to see my boys working together and enjoying each other’s company so much is because the previous day my older two had had the most horrible, upsetting argument. It was probably the worst argument they’d ever had and it had taken me and their dad ages to calm them down and help them through it. I’d gone to bed feeling like a terrible parent and woken up as member of the Walton family! No wonder I’d wanted to share those gorgeous, harmonious photos!

Perhaps it was the recent furore over the ‘Motherhood Challenge’ playing on my mind (with the idea that posting happy photos can have a negative impact on others*), but suddenly, only sharing ‘part of the story’ didn’t feel quite right. So I went back to Facebook and wrote about the argument the previous day too, along with my reasons for sharing that. I’m not normally that open on Facebook so I felt quite exposed (even though I only have a hundred-odd friends which is by FB standards a mere handful!). But I did it anyway because it suddenly felt like something I needed to do.

You see, as much as I enjoy Facebook, I’m aware of its dark side too. Personally, I can find it really draining. And although I do genuinely enjoy the majority of what my friends post, there are times when it all feels too much. A bit overwhelming. It can tap into a side of me I don’t really like so that where in ‘real life’ I would feel happy for a friend’s success, ‘social media me’ is envious and dissatisfied. On a bad day this ‘me’ sees the dream jobs, the pictures of angelic, perfectly behaved kids, the fabulous holidays etc. and compares my life unfavourably to that.

I know, I KNOW this is ridiculous because I have a lovely life with very little to feel remotely dissatisfied about. I’m also well aware FB provides only glimpses into people lives (those perfect kids probably smeared ice cream all over the sofa three seconds after that photo was taken) and besides which, I project just the same images of an ideal life into others FB feeds. I guess that was why I felt the need to set the record straight a bit on this occasion. I don’t have perfect, Disney-fairytale kids!

That honest post got twice as many likes and (lovely) comments as my post with the harmonious sibling pictures and I don’t think that was a fluke. It’s lovely to see each other’s happy times but without sharing some of the harder moments too, I think we’re missing something. The roundness of human experience, perhaps. And the real part of friendship – the part that makes us see each other as fellow human beings, all on this crazy journey together. Isn’t everything easier when we’re not alone?

How much do you share on social media?

***

*for the record, I had nothing against the motherhood challenge. I was tagged but didn’t post any photos, more due to apathy than anything else. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with posting happy photos. I certainly don’t think parents are smug just for sharing moments like these. I do think there’s a question about the impact of what we share on social media but it’s much MUCH bigger than that one challenge, it’s to do with how we adapt to knowing so many selective details about so many people on the periphery of our lives. It’s a whole other blog post!

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And then the fun began...

seven lessons learned from being without broadband

Throughout December we had extremely patchy Broadband in our house. This was due to our phone line being cut off when parts of our village were flooded. Sadly, the floods caused far worse damage to other people’s property than mere mangled communication methods, so we largely felt lucky… but I can’t deny it was frustrating to be mostly wifi-less. Then on New Year’s Eve we were reconnected to someone else’s landline entirely (!) which meant we had no broadband at all.social media buttonsThere followed two weeks in which the only way of accessing the internet was by S-L-O-W mobile signals (there’s no 3G or anything around these parts). I was able to post the odd tweet and write a few blogposts as Word documents, hopping onto the internet just to copy, paste and hit the publish button, but that was pretty much it. By the time we were reconnected two weeks into the new year I had made some discoveries about my relationship with the internet. I thought I’d share them as I’m willing to bet I’m not alone!

1. I’m dependent on the internet in more ways than I realised…

Twitter and Facebook are tricky without broadband, and image-based Instagram is almost impossible. Blogging is difficult on a mobile signal and you can forget internet shopping (not ideal in December!) These things I realised immediately, but other things took longer to recognise – I was brought up short when attempting to find some Christmas music to listen to with the realisation that NO BROADBAND MEANS NO SPOTIFY! We do have CDs but I use Spotify and You-tube a lot to listen to an assortment of music. I really missed this. The same thing is true of iPlayer – no catch up telly for us. And of course, no Netflix or Amazon Prime video. It was like 2005 or something.

2. … FAR more ways than I realised.

Ah well, Never mind the reduced telly options, I love reading so I’ll just find some new books to read on my kindle!

– Oh no you won’t without wifi to download them.

But hey, I have time now to do some research on that new project idea I’ve had for this year

– Great plan Einstein – remember there’s no internet! Not sure how you even go about researching things these days without going online.

Ok but look, there’s this video I’m supposed to be watching for work, I could just…

– Oh no you couldn’t.

I’ll just download this school newsletter…

– Nope

Upload this…

– Can’t.

Well then, I’ll just sit down and read the Newspaper…

– If you mean the iPad version of the Guardian that you usually read, think again. You’ll actually have to go to a shop and buy a real life paper!

Argh, the frustration! I’ll vent via FB messenger to my husband.

– Or not. Haha.

And on and on it went, honestly you don’t notice how often you use the internet to look up phone numbers, decide where to go for a meal, see what films are on at the cinema, find a plumber when your boiler’s broken three days before Christmas (true story) etc. until you can’t.

BUT I also discovered:

3. There were advantages to doing things ‘the old fashioned way’.

Without iPlayer or Netflix we went and rented some actual real live DVDs! In doing so, we supported our local video shop (yep, we have one of those – how quaint!) which is always a good thing to do.

Without the ability to shop online we bought more Christmas presents in local shops. I always make a point of doing a decent chunk of shopping this way anyway (as an ex-shop owner I understand the importance) but there’s nothing that’ll kick you out into the cold and down to the high street quite so effectively as the knowledge you CAN’T buy online.

I dug out old Christmas CDs to replace Spotify – ah, nostalgia :)

I read an actual book – one made of paper! I do like real books I just read faster on the kindle so that’s always my preference these days. But it was nice to have a bit of a retro, page-turning experience and proper books do look nicer on a bedside table.

4. Life with a reduced access to social media is more peaceful, relaxed and (I suspect) psychologically healthier.

At first I missed social media – I missed posting status updates and catching up with everything other people were doing. I felt slightly cut off – I’m just so used to that constant stream of chatter in my brain.

But then something changed. I realised that it was actually a bit of a relief not to get that glimpse into people’s lives. You know the phrase ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ (which lots of you quoted in the comments to my post a few weeks ago and I was in total agreement with)? Well social media is just a hotbed of comparison. We project snapshots of our own lives and see snapshots of others and I think a lot of the time it doesn’t do us much good. Social media isn’t ALL bad  of course but I can say now that I think my relationship with Facebook was unhealthy. Taking a forced step back was, once the initial frustration waned, like taking a deep breath of mountain air. Good for mind, body and soul.

5. Without the distractions of the internet you have more time – you really do!

The time I waste on the internet is pretty staggering. I realised this as soon as we got our Broadband back and I accidentally wasted half a hour reading about Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and her latest relationship collapse. Urgh. Celebrity gossip is a bit of a drug to me.

While we had no Broadband though, I was devoid of the usual distractions and I focused. I wrote a whole new picture book. Having no Broadband was like getting a Christmas gift of time.

6. Having no broadband for a bit can kickstart new habits without you even trying.

I can’t deny I was thrilled (like, REALLY thrilled) to get the internet back, but I’ve noticed a change in my attitude since. Part of it may be my plan to hide my smart phone between 3 and 7pm in order to be a more attentive parent, but I also think there’s a lot that’s about habits too. Checking FB constantly was a habit that I had really fallen into. Then I was forced not to check it and now, that feels habitual instead. I can’t really be bothered with it the way I could a month ago. I don’t care what I miss. My closest friends all have alternative methods of contacting me anyway (even if it’s in FB groups which are different to reading my main feed – they just are, ok? ;) ). I’m going to try and harness these new habits.

7. The internet is awesome in many ways, but I need to set boundaries.

I love being back online. Everything is so much easier. I’ve managed some of that research I mentioned, watched that work video I needed to, downloaded a new book to my kindle, read the sunday papers on my iPad and had a joyful reunion with Spotify (which has channelled a lot of Bowie this week). But I can’t go back to having it constantly in my pocket flashing its little lights and buzzing its notifications in a constant attention-seeking dance. Just no.

I’ve realised I need to be my own internet parent. A firm but fair one who allows some metaphorical chocolate and ice cream but insists I eat my broccoli and be in bed by 7pm. So I’m going to be spending less time on social media from now on and I’ll try to limit my celebrity gawping and mindless BuzzFeed reading too (although who doesn’t love the odd BuzzFeed list?). I’m about to be even more pushed for time this year (with that new project I keep hinting at) so I need to focus. If I can do that and harness the extra time and mental space then everything can start moving in the right direction.

On that note, I’m logging off.

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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!

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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!

Writing Bubble