Feb 112011

Last week I mentioned an accumulation of ideas that has brought about a massive shift in my perspective. I’ll start with the idea that I came across two years ago that really put all this into motion.

I found that idea in a blog post by Sonia Simone of Remarkable Communication and CopyBlogger. That post was called Beatrix Kiddo’s Guide to Making It Happen. Now, I loathed both volumes of Kill Bill and anything remotely to do with QT, but I somehow I managed to have seen these movies and Sonia’s analogy made a lot of sense to me. Sonia talks about focus and how Beatrix Kiddo (The Bride) was the epitome of focus, particularly when she slowly and methodically punched her way out of a buried coffin. Millions and millions of little punches, again, and again, and again. Sound a bit like writing a novel?

If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s focused. I am the queen of multi-tasking. I’m usually reading three or four books at once (fiction and non), and reviewing them, writing two different fiction books and compiling material for some e-book or course or the like, plus “maintaining” or contributing to several blogs, websites (this one and two BellaOnline sites in the past), over 100 lenses and hubs, affiliate marketing ventures… not to mention parenting my toddler who has made it his goal to pull his mummy away from the computer* whenever she “just needs to check something”. Hell, scrap “queen”: I’m the joker, juggling a few dozen balls and hardly noticing all those I’ve dropped along the way.

I read Sonia’s post when I was pregnant and realised I would need to find some of that focus once my child was born because my time would be much more limited. So I cut back on a layer of stuff that I no longer absolutely loved doing (goodbye BellaOnline). What I didn’t realise, though, was the definition of “much more limited time” due to a baby is more accurately “zero time”. A baby is a vortex. It was actually a good chance to shed even more of that stuff that sucked up my now very precious time at the computer; anything else that I hadn’t missed when I was “offline” could go as well.

When my child finally began sleeping during the day, I found myself with real, genuine, super-concentrated, cold-pressed, 100% pure, Time. I used it well to begin with. Anything that could be done when my son was awake could wait until he was awake. (Thus I now have a toddler who helps me unpack the dishwasher, fold the laundry, and push the vaccuum cleaner around.) Nap times were reserved for writing, painting, or sleeping. I became quite strict with myself, knowing that I only had an hour or two at the most. I made myself a schedule split into “Priority” tasks involving my family, my health, housework, and my fiction writing, and “Venture” tasks, which included chasing opportunities to make some pocket money online. Priority tasks got assigned first, venture tasks happened if and when there was extra time left over.

I thought it was a pretty good system. I certainly felt more focused for a while. But I still had a lot of balls in the air. So many interests, so few hours in the day.

But like all things, as soon as I came to rely on having “that free hour when my child has a nap” I began to find ways to waste it. I have a weakness for online conversation. I hadn’t realised how opinionated I was until I started tracking how much advice I was dispensing on various forums. I knew I had to stop when I caught myself digging through my browser history and hopping from one site to the next and back again to check if anyone had responded to my comments. The next thing I knew my baby was waking up and I’d spent an hour going in circles.

As Miss Snark once put it: “Discipline, grasshopper. Discipline.”

*And who can blame him: I hate being ignored in favour of a screen too.


Elle Carter Neal

Elle Carter Neal is the author of the picture book I Own All the Blue and the teen science-fantasy novel Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin. She has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, holding childhood slumber-party audiences entranced until the early hours of the morning. Elle decided to be an author the day she discovered that real people wrote books and that writing books was a real job. Join Elle on her new publishing adventure.

  4 Responses to “I’m Just Kiddo-ing”

Comments (4)
  1. Do you know me? Kidding aside, everything you described here pertains to me. And I thought I was so unique….

  2. Nice to meet you Henya! Thanks for visiting 🙂

  3. Discipline. I wish I had it. I Think you were talking about me too. Haha.

  4. You have more discipline than I do, dear Sel 😉

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