I really slacked off on the "devote time to my priorities" program. It seems I really do need to keep the calendar and to-do list to keep it working, and until I get in the habit, it looks like that calendar and to-do list need to be on paper. I tried using the calendar on my computer, but while I'm working or online, that's out-of-sight, out-of-mind. I'd try it with my phone, but that would possibly get annoying if I set reminders and had it beep at me. Then again, maybe that's what I need to get myself in line.
There are some priorities I'm already pretty good at sticking with. The main thing I need to work on is devoting consistent, dedicated time to my work when I'm not on a deadline crunch, and devoting consistent, dedicated time to other things when I am buried in a book. That all-or-nothing behavior isn't good for me, isn't good for my work, and doesn't make me happy. I wouldn't need the all-or-nothing if I could be more consistent.
Then I really need to step it up with the marketing, because that's how I sell books. Most of my books now are independently published, so I have no publicist, and I'm not really getting publicity support from my publishers for the others, since I'm not in that tier of author. So I have to do it, and I need to do it consistently. The problem is that it's easy to get discouraged and slack off. When you do what feels like a big promo push for you, and the result is your number of Twitter followers shrinking and your Amazon ranking getting worse, it's hard to remind yourself that these things aren't necessarily connected. What I really need to figure out how to do is break out of my own circle. The people I can communicate with are already on board. But how do I find and connect with the people outside that circle who might be interested if they knew about me? I'm terrible at networking, social or otherwise, and especially online. In person, listening to what others say without feeling the need to chime in unless you've got something useful to add counts for a lot. Online, that's invisible, so staying on top of other people's feeds without inserting myself doesn't do me much good. And yet I can't bring myself to just pipe up for the purpose of getting my name out there. So I need to work on some ideas. I checked some books out of the library yesterday, but anything they had on social networking was hopelessly out of date, with the newest published in 2011, and things have changed since then.
I know I talk about getting my house in order a lot, but it's something I want to do, and I think I could do it if I dedicated consistent time to it. I think I really am a neat freak at heart. The main reason I love staying in hotels is that for a few days, I can keep my world perfectly in order, with no visible clutter. I only have the things I need, and there's a place to put them all. At home, though, this priority falls below other priorities, and then I get good at blocking it out. I think I'd be happier, more productive, and less stressed if I could do a better job at this. I just need to make it a priority and be consistent about it.
And then there's music. Singing is a physical activity, so daily exercise makes it better. I know when I'm keeping up with practicing my choir music, my range extends by a couple of notes on either end. I also would like to get better at the piano and actually learn the left hand. It's something I enjoy that's important to me, so I need to dedicate the time to it.
Theoretically, prioritizing these things and scheduling time to do them will then free up other time to do other things I like to do. But it's very easy to get into the "doom loop" of checking e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, lather, rinse, repeat.
Today, I might actually start writing words on the new book. I've written a synopsis and done some research. I've planned an opening sequence. I have on my "What you do may appear in my next book" writer t-shirt, and I'm using the mug with that slogan for my tea. So I need to put it in my calendar as something to do.