Ready for the Holidays?

Whether I’m ready or not, they’re coming. I was able to wish my good friend a Happy Hanukkah before sundown, which also happened to be my (favorite) sister-in-law’s birthday. [It doesn’t matter that I only have one sister-in-law; she’s all kinds of awesome, and that makes her my favorite.] And Christmas is very soon!

When I was a child, holidays never stressed me out. It was a break from school, time to read as many books as I could fit into the time, and time to be excited about exchanging gifts.

Somehow as adulthood approaches, there are more pressures. We want things to be special for the kids- and in my family we have a great 7-year Santa tradition that none of us want to miss. Each year since my daughter’s birth we’ve sent out pictures of at least her with Santa. This year’s holiday card had a picture of my daughter hugging Santa, plus one of the four of us (my husband, my daughter, Santa, and me).

My husband and I were super organized during our recent relocation, and we had the labels printed off before we moved as well as a short letter to explain our recent developments (baby due in January, promotion and move). We had the cards printed and ready to send out by 1 December, but it took me another week to buy stamps. Some years the holiday cards feel like such a strain to get them all out with everything else going on. Yet I love receiving them from others and seeing how others change.

Then there’s always the question of gifts. I love shopping and finding a great gift someone on my list will love. Because I’m due in less than three weeks and a little restricted for travel, it changed how we normally celebrate the holidays. Most of my shopping was completed Black Friday and most of our gifts exchanged on the next day.

This year also marks a change in my attitude. We moved for my husband’s job about a month ago. We’re in temporary housing so we didn’t have to worry about all that while the baby was imminent. There’s only so much we can do at once, right? But with these two moves (one to temporary housing, one to a more permanent residence), it has me realizing that it won’t be a permanent residence, most likely. Just a more permanent one.

That makes me more willing to part with items that clutter up our living space, and more selective on the things I want to purchase for gifts. So part of my daughter’s gift was a museum membership (that we’re already enjoying). My husband often asks for clothes, so it makes it easy to keep him happy and well-dressed.

One of the few things I’m not willing to part with, or even entertain a discussion about getting rid of, are my books. No, they’re not easy to move. They’re heavy and bulky and I have a lot of them. Many more than goodreads would have you believe. One day I’ll catch up with that, but it won’t be in the near future. I love books and reading and writing.

“I cannot live without books.” Thomas Jefferson

I have been modifying some of my writing techniques, but I miss my printer. I have been accustomed to writing in a digital setting for some time, but I don’t always have access to my saved copies. Most of it is again at my fingertips, but I’m still using different computers than I’d gotten accustomed to in my home office. Not to mention that lovely iPad 2 I got for my birthday and the bluetooth keyboard I (already) received for Christmas (from that favorite sister-in-law).

The questions become how to keep it all compiled nicely where I can find it, and also how do I bypass the print and edit/revise/proofread step(s). At home I had novels trapped in binders that I could take with me to writing groups or simply lend to a friend who wanted to read the one up for revision. But those paper copies make it so easy to mark notes in margins and replace words I don’t like.

My current issues are organization of my digital files and keeping tabs on the draft copy I’m revising. Once I moved I realized I wasn’t sure where my best copy of in-progress revisions were hiding. Oops. While that’s partly under control, it tells me what else I need to do in order to be more productive.

Yes, productivity and efficiency are at the bottom of everything, from holiday shopping to organization to making a new place feel like home. Or maybe my household is just practical that way.

Happy Holidays! May your new year bring in many wonderful things.

Organization, Continued

I’m still struggling with my plan to organize the tasks that need to be done around here. Everyone struggles with the part where there are so many things to do and yet only 24 hours in a day.

Anyone else want to sign the petition for the 30-hour day? I’m dedicating my extra six to sleep or something else equally fulfilling.

On my path to organization, this week I cleaned my office. It’s not done yet, but I have more uncluttered floorspace than I might have ever had in this room since I moved in. The books are on the shelves, though I still have a list of things I’d like to accomplish for that, too.

I dream big. It’s how I accomplish as much as I do – I keep failing to achieve all I want to do, so I try harder. Determination is good in this sense because failure doesn’t mean you stop trying. Just mark it down like the great inventors – you found one more way that doesn’t work.

My brain isn’t big enough to carry a list of everything I want and need to do around with me, but a paper and pen list (scratched off as I complete it) is enough to focus me for what I need to do. Most of the time the list only covers what I need for the day, but I’ve started making notes for items farther out so I know what’s coming.

Most of you who’ve met me or heard about my collection of digital gadgets might wonder why I don’t use one of those or even something on my computer. The computer doesn’t travel with me, and I really like having the list on me to mark off what I finished and see what’s next. The iPad often travels with me, but I just haven’t found an app that works for me that way.

Plus there is definitely something satisfying about crossing something off. It’s finished and it shows progress. at the end of the day, I can see half my list completed, though I generally have to add items I did that I don’t think about at the beginning of the day. It also makes it easier to see that, yes, I did complete something today.

What methods do you use to keep yourself on track?