Category Archives: Prioritizing

Time is a four-letter word

The Rolling Stones had it right in their song about time not being on their side. It certainly isn’t on mine and from what I see and hear around me it isn’t on anybody else’s radar either.

Sure, the digital world we live in and this constantly being connected has something to do with it. But  too much coming at us non-stop and too much to do have a lot to do with why we feel frazzled and feel like we are running an endless race at Indiana 500 speed.

If I go back to when I was a child (back in the grey ages, of courses) in the 1950s and first half of 1960s, things seemed to be moving a lot slower and there was less to concern ourselves with. But that’s looking at it in hindsight and considering that back then I saw things as a child.

Life was not without its big problems, the main one being my father having cancer (that’s a topic for another post). But I don’t recall my parents, and certainly me, juggling so many balls in life as people do now.

A friend of mine, who is in the same age bracket as me, said she has three quarters of her life’s worth of information running around in her brain. That is part of it.

We also seem to have to do too much and need to learn to slow down – or at least cut some of the crap from our life. We need to ask ourselves what is important to us and that includes the bad as well as the good. If we have financial problems, we can’t say that isn’t important because we don’t like our situation. It stays in – at least as something we have to do something about.

But irrelevant things such as irrelevant phone calls and emails. Do we need to bother with them? Ignore! Ignore! Delete! Delete! Life is too crazy and too short to be bothered with what isn’t important.

Draw up a list of categories or areas in your life that are important to you. Keep it down to a half dozen or less. Figure out what under those areas are important and focus on them. And not all at once. One day it may be your family; one day it may be your health, one day…well you get the picture.

And yes, I know we all get the unexpected surprise – good or bad – and unless it is something devastating like Hurricane Harvey (for another post), you need to stop and think – is it necessary for me to concern myself with this? And if so, is now the best time?

It might help if I could follow my advice.

For those that wonder – my list of important categories is (in no particular order) Family, Health, Work (which includes my soon- to-be published Beyond Faith mystery), House and Garden, and Finances. Anything else shouldn’t even make the priority list.

Of course, some of the above often become mingled.

So it’s out intomy garden I go.

And that’s life.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Delete, Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Organizing and Deleting, Prioritizing

Streamlining my life or why no blog post last week

Only Child is doing this in her life

Life is getting too complicated and I am running around in overwhelm too much lately. That is why I didn’t even have time to write my weekly blog post here last week. This is the first time ever I have missed doing a blog post. I also missed doing my author blog post last Thursday. A lot of it seems to be things coming at me from other people and other things – what I supposedly can’t control

Well, maybe I can. If something or someone is stealing my time with their demands, maybe it is time to dump them or dump the organization I’m involved  in or at the very least cut back on what I do when for them. Because what is happening is I am not doing what I want to do because of all this outside stuff coming in.

Last Friday I started to draw the line and did that with someone who was actually helping me and the writers’ group I run with all the stuff to get a special event going. But she does want things done right away. I can’t do that anymore so emailed her that I can’t deal with anything related to that until Monday. She was fine with that and I am grateful that she has been dealing with the city bureaucracy involved in one aspect of it. In fact another organization had the same problem with the city so I’m wondering if it isn’t the same city jerk there causing all the problems.

I am also emailing a potential new client that I cannot evaluate her manuscript until fall  – originally I had estimated June but I just  finished the third rewrite of Beyond Faith and am now back to doing a very heavy edit for the novel of a very understanding client. I had also suggested this this PC (potential client) could also go to another editor near where she lives and someone she, as well as I, know. When I didn’t hear back either way from the PC I presumed she had gone to the other editor. Meantime a repeat client emailed me that she would like me to do another evaluation of her manuscript since she has rewritten it based on my previous evaluation – of course for a fee. Not hearing anything from PC and realizing that my considerate client’s ms was again behind schedule (he knows and is not upset), I gave her a tentative July to meet with her. However, imagine my surprise when last week PC emailed with wanting to email the manuscript, although she did ask if she could email it now. As for fee (and I had mentioned that in my previous email), she mentioned she could mail a cheque or a gift card. Huh. No way for the latter and I don’t just start an editing job without a deposit and without a signed contract.  Guess I will have to email her this week. And if she decides to get another editor, that’s fine with me. Today I also have the handyman here fixing house and property stuff plus deal with the writers’ event planning and do some more editing on the considerate client’s manuscript.

You can see some of the stuff I’m dealing with, some which I don’t really have time to deal with. Last night was the first night  in months I got seven hours of sleep – if you count the half hour I fell asleep watching the news and weather on TV. Sleep is important to me and I’m tired of being tired and not being able to think straight some times.

So, in my quest to decide what to scrap, what to cut  back on, what to put in pending indefinitely I am re-reading this wonderful book by Elaine St. James called Living the Simple Life. She has other books in the same vein and I have one of them – if I can find it in my overfilled bookshelf by my bed. Although the book is written in the mid 1990’s, it is still relevant – she does a whole list of possible time stealers for people and except for Publishers clearing house junk  mail, she is right on. Yes, email and the Internet are on her list, but we can just add more up-to-date time -stealers like our cell phones and other devices and social media. Her chapters are simple and short and very helpful and you can pick and choose which chapters to read.

So with Elaine’s help and my determination (and stubbornness and persistence) I am going to cut the crap and try to live doing things one foot at a time, one thing at a time and where possible I decide the priority. If people don’t like it they can lump it.

And that’s enough cliches for now.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Garden serenity when things get hectic

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Filed under Decisions, Overwhelm, Planning, Prioritizing, Problem solving, Uncategorized

Only Child on gratitude – for a change

Sometimes we get into overdrive in complaining about what’s wrong in our lives and the world – mea culpa here. But a few recent events and also some info learned have made me stop and think – hey, I do have some things to be grateful for. Below are a few.

One with a problem that could have escalated into a big roadblock. For a change I’ve started early doing my year end business accounting – all the adjustments and then seguing to tax returns. But one, the info sheet for tax credits hadn’t arrived – credits for travelling on public Toronto transit with my pass. Usually the info sheet arrives mid February – this year it hadn’t arrived by early March, so I called. The customer service lady said that they had just sent them out the previous Friday (which was March 3) so to give it a week. I gave it to yesterday afternoon so I could check my mailbox. Only a magazine and junk mail, so I called – it was five minutes after they closed for the day. For some reason I looked in the mailbox again a bit later – another magazine and the TTC tax credit list. But the envelope was date stamped February 27. Post office or pre-stamped at the TTC. Go figure. Just thankful it is here and I have all my tax slips.

I now have a new guy shovelling my snow when we get a lot – which we are now although a temporary lull right now. Also I have lots of people who for a reasonable price, will do repairs, etc. around the house. No one to clean the house – can’t afford that although with my dust allergy it would be a good idea to have someone to clean the house weekly.

The two tooth extractions (although not welcome or wanted) were successful. Now it is on to the next medical issue – annual eye testing and wondering what that will reveal.

My son’s US tour with his band Beams went very well on all counts. They had a work visa, so no border problems. They had great gigs, met a lot of interesting people and the weather, unlike now, was good all over – and they travelled through New York state, did gigs in Chicago, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Austen and Dallas. And their new van didn’t break down, although Martin flew home from Dallas because of work (his day job) commitments.

And after hearing stories from friends about their house and finance problems (sorry, what they are and who they are is confidential. Not my place to spread it around), I guess I’m somewhat lucky. Sure I still live below the poverty level (although that may show otherwise when I do my taxes), but I seem to know how to manage my money to suit my situation (so far; toes crossed).

Despite much juggling and bellyaching, I do like the life I have and what I like least I am endeavouring to cut back and/or eliminate doing. And I prioritize. That includes setting a timer every morning when I do email.

What are you grateful for?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Balance, Family and Friends, finances, Gratitude, Help and Support, Life Balance, Life demands, Life learning, Only child, Prioritizing

Only Child becomes frenzied gardener

Only Child on the patio of her backyard garden

Only Child on the patio of her backyard garden

I love gardening. To me it is life and without it a lot would die inside me.

So why the past week have I turned into the frenzied gardener? Setting aside time slots on weekends, mornings before work, evenings and rushing outside to frantically dig, weed, trim and plant?

It’s the weather folks. And having too much else to do. And dealing with ongoing health issues. The latter and all the extra stuff I have to do for them is something I resent. If nothing else, with all the thing going wrong with my health in the last year, I learned that you can spend too much time dealing with health stuff – finding out what the heck is wrong – including making medical appointments and dealing with medical professionals’ bad judgements and the fallout from that, and of course what I have to do for my health.

First of all, I am not a big fan of prescription drugs, but I am thankful for the double content prescription eye drops my ophthalmologist prescribed. Not only have the drops stopped the eye pressure from decreasing, but the actual pressure has decreased. The latter is not something that is supposed to happen.

No, it’s dealing with all the nonsense related to my digestive disorder – this one has no cure and I’ve been living with it for years and since then it has taken on tentacles, so to speak. I’m not even going to go into my daily regimen for that. Suffice to say, to help ease the pain, help ease the situation, I take a lot of natural supplements and the like. And yes they help. But when I go to make what used to be a simple breakfast, it turns into a major production.

So, my garden is my lifeline and if I’m out there pulling weeds and digging up a storm, please excuse me. It does make me feel better and even drives the digestive disorder pains away. I get great joy looking at my garden and once the tomatoes are in the garden (yes, I’m over a week late with them thanks to the weather – too dry and fluctuates between too cool and too hot – more the former), I plan to sit out more in the garden and just read and enjoy.

And  yes, I’m taking yet another look at what (besides the aforementioned health stuff) is stealing my time and some of it is either going on the back burner or going out the window. I also have a lot of client work (for which I’m grateful) now and that is a priority. So is family, reading and walking. Too much social is not – I’m cutting back or at least spreading it out and that includes replying to email. Don’t get me wrong. I love email – it and the Internet were my first forays online back in the mid-1990s and except for blogging (which I love doing) I much prefer email and  searching on the Internet to trying to keep up with social media. And I’m cutting back on one thing with social I seem to get roped into – arranging work and school reunions of small groups of old friends. I still want to get together with them, just not do all the organizing.

It seems no one else wants to or has the time to organizes these lunches or dinner get-togethers either.

So, it will be one-on-one (or two or three) with friends getting together. That way I’ll see some of them, at least.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Roses in bloom late spring

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Family and Friends, Gardening and depression, Gardening health benefits, Healing through gardening, Health, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, Prioritizing, Time management

Bad luck comes in fours, good luck in threes

Only child ponders luck and health

Only child ponders luck and health

Both good luck and bad luck are said to come in groups of three. I find that is true of good luck. However, in my personal experience and what I see happening “out there,” four is the word for bad luck.

Although I think it is not right, the latter makes sense. The word “four” has four letters. I know three doesn’t have three letters; but good luck seems to be so evasive, so hit and miss, so what do you expect?

On a personal level, I’ve noticed for years that whatever category of bad that is happening, it always seems to come in fours. If it is house problems, I get four at a time. (Note: by at a time, I don’t necessarily mean one right after, as in the same day, but withing a week or two).

My latest group of the bad four is in the health area. I have four major health issued to deal with – all at once apparently. Some of them have many tentacles and some people may consider each tentacle a different health issue, which would make the bad even worse.

I have been trying to juggle around all  these health problems. After the latter half of last year trying to deal with all health problems as they hit  me, I decided that was too much. So, I am trying to deal with one a month.

The health issues and medical professionals have other ideas. But I’m trying to stay my ground.

January was supposed to be get my bad eyesight tested – the annual. February is supposed to be the last dental appointment in the string of appointments for the fallout from last December’s dental emergency. March was supposed to be allergy testing.

Well, the eye exam and the optometrist just screwed that one up. But I am trying to stick to my resolutions here. I found that dealing with too many health issues at a time raises my anxiety level beyond high and sends my mind into a frenzy. Friday at the eye exam I got into a discussion with the optometrist – first he wanted to know why I didn’t come back last year for another check so he could send me to a specialist for some pressure in my left eye.

Huh? I wanted to wait until I got my new glasses and then afterwards I got busy with other important stuff and just forgot. However, if he or his receptionist had bothered to phone me and remind me – even a couple of months later, I might have made an appointment with him – as long as it was before late June when all hell broke loose with the big sinus/ear health problem.

When he asked me on Friday, then I remembered – but he had said nothing at the previous annual eye exam about sending me to a specialist. It was only maybe eye drops. Now he wanted me to go this week to the specialist.

I informed him I had a book to finish to publisher’s deadline by the end of this month. Because of the multiple health issues the last half of last year, I lost some writing time on the book. (I had given him a short litany of all the health issues. His reply? “Yikes.”) He kept pushing. So I asked him, “can’t you prescribe the eye drops.” (Yes, optometrists can prescribe medication). He had no answer.

I said I could go in March but needed to see a calendar. Had to look at his wall calendar as I had left my small calendar at home. So, there we were rhyming off dates in March when I could go. He phoned the specialist I had seen before but got a recording – closed until Monday. So, he left a voice mail message.

His secretary called yesterday morning. She had a booking for March 8 but asked me if I could come in yesterday. Well, no. I didn’t say why.

It wasn’t just rewriting the novel. One of my other big four medical issues had just returned – the sinus/gland issue. And it seems to be affecting my fourth issue – digestive system problems.

Sheesh. Somebody out there or up there doesn’t like me.

Since Friday, I had also remembered that I have to go to the dentist this month.  Book and dentist are enough for this month. Doing too much just makes me sicker, more anxious, and more cranky. And we all know that is just a “great” recipe for life (said sarcastically).

So, who knows when I’ll get to book allergy tests, let alone have the tests.

That should be my first priority because I suspect they are a big factor in the sinus, etc. issues.

But because bad fallout can happen (and has happened) from medical visits, doing the multiple thing is too scary.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again with an addition. Getting old is no fun. And more and more from not just my experience, but from what I see in my friends and elsewhere, quality of life may be more important than quantity. I have seen too many people who live to a “ripe old age” with so many health issues, what’s the point? Yes, there are exceptions and those are the ones enjoying life still – probably because they have the good quality.

And on a personal level, both my parents died at a “young” age – Dad at 66, and Mom at 63 – both had serious illnesses and were compromised in living because of them. Dad died of brain cancer and Mom of a brain aneurysm caused by a fall because of her arthritis.

Food for thought anyway. What do you think?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Balance, Good and Bad Luck, Health, Health Seniors, Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Prioritizing, Stress

Only Child struggles through 2016 goals

Teddy points out my time being wasted

Teddy points out my time being wasted

I am finally setting up my goals, hopes and the like for 2016. I use a separate form for my business, but for the personal I use four forms:

  • Want to do, have to do
  • Don’t want to do, have to do
  • Want to do, don’t have to do
  • Don’t want to do, don’t have to do

They are from a book on putting balance in your life – the title escapes me and my copy is somewhere in the shelves of books by my bed.

 

D is my favourite. Unfortunately it is the shortest list. A and C are the next favourites in line. Unfortunately B seems to be taking over with a lot of health and house issues. And stealing my time from my business of writing.

 

With the house one of my windows is having trouble with the controls. It is under warranty so money isn’t the problem. Unfortunately God’s bloody weather  with the white crap and sub-zero temperatures is the problem. The window is frozen shut and today’s appointment with the technicians at the manufacturer’s had to be postponed – we got snow (which I have to shovel – no sign of the fellow who used to shovel snow last year for a reasonable charge). The lady at the window manufacturer’s says many of their clients are waiting for spring to get the work done or I can watch the weather report and then phone – but they need a couple of week’s notice.

My vacuum has to be replaced. The hose has come loose from the end near where you hook it up to the main part. Both my son and I have had sessions taping it up with duct tape and in doing so shoving the loose part back in. But when I vacuum, the hose twists and pulls, opening the break inside the duct tape, sometimes the dirt sticks to the duct tape and there is a blockage. This weekend I had to clear that out by removing some of the duct tape, pulling out the dirt and waiting over 45 minutes for the vacuum to cool off. I turned it on and the motor worked but still no suction. I changed the dirt bag, which wasn’t even full. Then it worked.

I emailed my son to see if he could drive me to Canadian Tire when he and his girlfriend are coming here for dinner later this month. Told him I was doing online research and would narrow the vacuum choices to three but I need to eyeball them. He phoned back immediately and said he would pick it up and I could pay him back after (I can afford a vacuum within reason – just can’t cart one home on public transit) but I need to let him know which vacuum (model number and Canadian Tire product number). Now I need to find the time to finish my research.

In the health end, the list of health professionals for various health issues is long. I won’t go into details now as they are all fodder for future posts, expanded into the medical side. I know, former journalist here but the habits don’t disappear.

The health list at this point:

Get eyes tested for one-year time-line (been reminded by phone between Christmas and New Year’s of all times).

Return visit to dentist (from the emergency back in early December) – get the filling on the second tooth  replaced – a normal filling – by end of February.

Allergy tests

A little note here – the medical centre I go go have called twice on the allergy tests (again, one during the Christmas holidays) and I’ve assured them I will be booking early this year. Trouble is all the other health issues to deal with. But the medical also called (during Christmas holidays) to say they have a booking for me to see an ear, nose and throat specialize.

Wait a minute here. I did not authorize this with the doctor I saw at the medical centre. He suggested it but I said I wanted to deal with the allergies as I believe they are a big cause. He agreed with me and said nothing that he would be booking either ENO specialist or allergy tests – in fact he told me to book the allergy tests. So I told the medical call centre that I wasn’t going to an ENO now and to cancel anything there because I was focusing on allergy testing and I would be doing that.

It’s my bloody body and I’m way more than old enough to make decisions here. Perhaps later I’ll decide to see an ENO but the allergies (and the rest of the health enchilada) have to come first.

But now I have  sinusitis – probably caused by the allergies – I’ve researched it online and that seems to fit – it is also something reoccurring with me.

But I’m still going to do what is on my list.

Getting old is no fun. I know there are worse health problems – some of my friends have them. But I’m being general with that first sentence.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Weather reality

Weather reality

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Filed under Decisions, God, Health, Health Seniors, Life Balance, Life demands, Lists, Prioritizing, Problems, Snow, Weather, Winter Weather

Only Child deals with time stealers

Teddy points out my time being wasted

Teddy points out my time being wasted

I am so fed up with unwanted and unasked for time-stealers. Over the past four months it has been difficult to get things done. Sometimes I feel like I am in freefall, in overwhelm, running around in the proverbial circles. Was it ever like this, even remotely, for my Mom and Dad when I was growing up? You know back in the grey ages in the 1950s and 1960s.

I don’t think so because the world, society moved at a slower pace then and there just weren’t as many “things” happening, so not so much coming at you.

Well, I’ve had way too much going on – a lot of it bad, some of it good, but it needs to be sorted so it’s not all happening at once.

First, the bad – only a short list or we’d be here until doomsday.

My health – this summer I’ve had to deal with sinus/gland infections (still traces but I see improvement with the third natural remedy I’m taking), being stung by a wasp and getting a localized allergic reaction. I’m now on wasp alert and when I killed one the other day I felt a lot of relief, felt the situation had evened out (I know, probably not the actual wasp that stung me), and getting injured from a fall caused by some careless dingbat leaving a picture hanging wire outside. Somebody got cursed then.

Consumer stuff – this is an endless list but I’m only going to focus on travel. The business with VIA rail delay because of US/Canada border problems when I was returning home from Grimsby earlier this month. Now, a much bigger issue is happening locally – Toronto Transit in its “wisdom” is upgrading/renovating two consecutive subway stations at the same time, including closing them to buses and bus platforms and moving the bus boarding a few blocks away in one case. I will enlarge on this one in a future post. Suffice to say I’m composing a letter to the CEO of Toronto Transit about that.

Too much in my life personal and writing going on at the same time.  And much of it not asked for, not expected.

That’s enough complaining for now. So, what am I doing?

First of all I am focusing on the most important to me each month, each week, each day. The rest can go to hell or limbo – for now. I will only take on so much at a time and let others know. If they don’t like it, too bad. My health issues this past summer have taught me that. I have also started to say “no” to things, even if I’ve already signed up for them. Case in point. Signed up for an entrepreneur seminar all day later this month. No cost. But when reason finally prevailed, I realized it starts too early in the morning for me to get out. No, not get up, get out. Some of my health issues are worse in the morning so I can’t get out of here until after 10 a.m. at the earliest. So health first. I’m not attending this seminar.

House and property work (excluding gardening) – I have made a list of who does what and that includes the two handymen. And I ride herd on either of them to get them here to do the job. Also hinging on the when for the main handyman is when I book a furnace cleaning, so the two don’t happen the same day. See what I mean by too much going on at once? I’m also following my cousin Ron’s advice about housework/housecleaning, i.e., lower my standards about what I do and do less. So just basics weekly on weekends – laundry, vacuuming and cleaning kitchen counter, sink and stovetop. Dusting only every four to six weeks and cleaning the bathroom – maybe every two to three weeks. Sorting stuff out – winter project. We are still in fall.

Have also made a gardening – fall cleanup list and am going through it now – this one is a pleasure. Also connected to this is preparing food for the winter and that is not going well – time problems again. I want to dry some of the oregano that’s in the garden and try to dry some apples and bananas. I’ve at least bought the dehydrator (used to have one until it died a few years ago). For fresh vegetables and fruit for the freezer – so far a few corn-on-the cobs I bought at a farmer’s market, plus local wild blueberries purchased from a greengrocers, and the black raspberries and rhubarb from my garden. Still need beans for sure. Problem? Finding time to get to a farmer’s market including when I can actually prepare the vegetables right after purchase. That’s being sorted out after….

I sort out my writing and book promo and speaking engagements. Too many too close together although I’m not complaining about doing well selling  books at Word on the Street on Sunday. But it’s the upcoming stuff – two big ones. Now I plan to focus on one per month – for October my East End Writers’ Group 15th anniversary celebration/presentations. The other one I’m involved with doesn’t happen until the end of November, so my participation in organizing my group’s part (not EEWG) will not start until November 1. I also have to use my timer more – sometimes when a lot of email needs answering (not today – so far) I set the timer and when it rings I only finish the current email. Then there’s my third Beyond mystery book, which I’m not spending enough time writing. That is changing this week.

Some help from God would be appreciated.

To pull it all together I’m doing an update on the A, B, C, and D charts I use. Each has headings like “Don’t want to do/don’t have to do.” That one ties with “Want to Do/Have to Do” as my favourites.

My mother would be proud. She was very organized.

I’d like some comments on how you cope with time management (outside of shooting the clock).

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

What Only Child is doing with unwanted chores and the like

What Only Child is doing with unwanted chores and the like

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Balance, Gardening, God, Health, Help and Support, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Prioritizing, Time management, Writing