Do The Work Blog - Page 2 of 4 - Do The Work!

New Bullet Journal Class!

I’ve been asked for this quite a few times and I finally got round to doing it, a class for getting your bullet journal set up, and working for you from the beginning.

This class covers:

  • What is a Bullet Journal, and why do I use one?
  • Supplies (basic needs and optional extras)
  • Index, Bullet Journal Key, and Future Planning
  • Monthly Spreads, and creating a Master Task List
  • Trackers – to use or not?
  • Weekly Spreads and how or why to use them
  • Daily Pages

 

Your Bullet Journal Class Download includes:

  • Presentation PDF with notes, links, and pictures
  • Class Video (duration – 40 minutes)
  • Class Audio (for listening on the go!)

 

Usual Price – €17

Current Price just €7! (valid until 31st August)

Click to Get Your Bullet Journal for Beginners Class Download

How to Be a Writer

Isn’t it a question we all ask ourselves? Well, those of us who might end up clicking the post titled ‘How to Be a Writer’, at least.

We’ve spoken before about Writing, and no doubt will do again… but if you want to become a writer, but you’re not sure where to begin, you’re certainly not alone. I get questions on this all the time.

So, I’ve put together a few tips and guidelines about writing a book. (Freelance writing for magazines and such is a little different, but if you’re interested in how to freelance, I still love Carol Tice and her ‘Make a Living Writing’ website.)

If you want to be an author though, to see your name on the front of a lovely fresh non-fiction book, or stunning debut novel, then it’s time to start writing the book.

I know, sounds obvious right? You’d be shocked at just how many budding writers and authors don’t actually get round to this part though, even though they seem to have plenty of time to set up Facebook profiles and send long-winded query letters to publishers!

The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. ― Mary Heaton Vorse

 

Get Writing. No, really.

So, how to be a writer is – you need to start writing, or finish writing, if you’ve already started.

There are two quick questions for you to ask yourself so.

Q.1    Do you have a rough plan, plot, or proposal mapped out, a basic framework or structure for your fiction or non-fiction book?

Q.2    What’s your total word count at now, and what does it need to get to?

 

For Question 1, if the answer is no, then that’s what you need to be doing right now. Stop the research, quit telling your friends how awesome your book will be, and get a plan in place. Start with these resources, and follow the steps:

Do it today!

[Note: the post-it planning method detailed here can also be used for book project]

How to be a writer in the day to day – Word Count

For Question 2, most new writers are a bit clueless. What’s the right word count for your type of book?

It varies of course, but there’s an accepted general guide. Bear in mind, that it can wobble around by as much as 10,000 either side, depending on how well put together and tightly edited your final manuscript is.

The only things that are really frowned on are an author picking the shortest word count because they’re afraid of how to write that many words, or an author not paying attention to proper storyline or editing and leaving the story ramble on for thousands and thousands of words of unnecessary, confusing, babble spew.

Yes, that’s a highly technical term, I’ll have you know.  

Generally speaking then, when you’re writing a book:

  • Young Adult runs to about 45,000 words
  • Short Stories or Anthologies run to about 50,000 words
  • Non-fiction runs to about 70,000 words, maybe 80,000
  • Regular Fiction runs to about 80,000 to 100,000 words (traditional publication costs rise when you go above this word count!)

Taking a look at your book plan from Question 1 (you did that right?!), you’ll have a rough idea of what chapters and sections you want to include, and probably even topic and titles mapped out.

For non-fiction, 10 to 15 chapters is normal, while fiction is a choose-your-own-adventure type of fairground ride, with whatever chapter type and structure suits your work.

Romance might run to the lower end of the word count for fiction, while sci-fi or fantasy fiction often runs higher. There’s no real hard and fast rule for that though.

 

Next Steps to Be a Writer

Now, you have a structure, you have a target, you know what you have achieved, and what you have yet to do.

If you have a deadline to work to, then figure on how many days per week you can write, how many writing days til your deadline, and how many words you still have to write – leaving time for editing and word count for cutting of course.

Good rule of thumb is a month (or two, ideally) for editing, and about 25% more than your targeted word-count, for fiction. Non-fiction has a narrower cut margin generally, but still leave 5-10%.

If you don’t have a deadline, then you need to set one.

You’ll need to figure out two key things:

  • What writing time do you have available per week?
  • How long, roughly, does it take you to write say, 500 words?

Yes, sometimes it flows faster, and sometimes you’re dragging the words like pulling teeth, but give it an estimate at least.

Aim for 500-1000 words per day, minimum, and how many days per week to reach your target word-count, plus extra editing percentage.  

Support Article – Time to Get Started with a Writing Habit.

Now, you have a date. Add 1 or 2 months for editing.

Et Voila! There’s a delivery to publisher date (the publisher will have their own schedule and time frames after that, but you need to write the damn thing before you’re going to be looked at), or a time frame for you to start looking at self publishing.  

Whatever your daily or weekly writing schedule looks like now, set it by word-count, not time spent at desk. And don’t move your bum from that chair til your word-count is done.

Do you want to talk about being a writer, dream about how to be a writer… or do you want to BE a writer?

Then write.

 


Get Started with a Bullet Journal

Like the Facebook Page to Catch up on Older Posts – www.facebook.com/DoTheWorkSystem
Join the Community Group to Share Your Progress or Problems – www.facebook.com/groups/DoTheWorkSystem/

How to Make a Website

You may not think you need to make your own website right now, but, if you run any sort of business or organisation, you really do.

Like, don’t be building that up with just a Facebook page. I’ve seen WAY too many business pages shut down for no apparent reason. If you don’t have your own website (and mailing list, but we’ll get to that in a while), you’re right fucked then, aren’t ya?!

I don’t do website design, and I’ll be honest I’ve moved to WordPress for everything now, but if you’re really new and just need to get a website up and running, I started with www.Weebly.com, and I do recommend them.

Their Starter or Pro packages are available for like, $10 to $15 per month, and have everything you need to get set up. (Check current pricing here.)

Yes, you do need your own domain name. Yes, you do need to pay for your website. But it’s a small price, really.

Eventually you’ll want to get a bit serious, and WordPress is a great way to go for that. It’s scalable as far as you need it to go.

But if you’re starting out, and just need to know how to design your own website or a build an online store, start with Weebly. (I don’t have any affiliate links to them, btw, I just used that platform successfully and happily for the first 5 years of my business!)

Whether it’s for your business, community or charitable organisation, or even your own personal profile, it’s easy enough to create your own website these days. The design is through templates, and you change it or tweak it with simple to learn drag-n-drop methods.

Having your own website means you can establish yourself as an expert, grow your influence, sell your products or services, start a blog for content marketing or personal uses, or demonstrate your achievements.

What are you waiting for?


Like the Facebook Page to Catch up on Older Posts – www.facebook.com/DoTheWorkSystem
Join the Community Group to Share Your Progress or Problems – www.facebook.com/groups/DoTheWorkSystem/

Project Planning

Project Planning can be a bit of a mess at times.

Like, there’s often a load of ideas, and notions, and wonderings, and what-ifs floating around in my brain and it’s tough to get it all figured out.

I often use a sort of Mind Map technique in my Bullet Journal: there’s a resource for getting started with that here

Quite honestly though, I do love ‘big picture’ project planning.

I love having a big blank wall in front of me, or a white board, and filling it with a big ole brain dump so I can see it all right there in front of me… and then starting to put it in order.

So, I found a method that’s been really working for me.

Post-It Project Planning

Pat Flynn has already done a helpful video on this, so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. He says:

Have you ever started something but never finished? In this video, I’ll show you the P.A.T. technique so you can learn how to plan anything and actually get it done.

As an entrepreneur, my day is full of creating plans and executing them, and as more and more fill my plate, I’ve learned a specific planning technique to make sure I finish what I start.

If you don’t have a “plan for planning” what can end up happening is you’ll pile up a number of goals and to-dos that can lead to procrastination, it can have you feeling unaccomplished, and ultimately you might even give up.

We don’t want that to happen.

Watch the Project Planning video now…

 

Project Planning my Ogham Journeys Programme with Post Its

I used a method quite similar to this when planning the Beta run of my Ogham Journeys Programme.

That’s been really successful, and I will definitely use this particular project planning method again this month as I refine the course content for opening it to my mailing list (end of September) for our first full annual Programme run.

[If you’re interested in Ogham – Click Here to Join My Author Mailing List.]

How do you do your project planning?

Show us your own method, or try this one and share the results in our Facebook Community Group Here! – www.facebook.com/groups/dotheworksystem 

Guest Post – Izzy Swanson on Being a Business Owner

Izzy Swanson from Feileacan Ministry had a wee rant on Facebook today, and I thought it was gorram RELATABLE that I asked her if I could turn it into a guest post. So here you go.


My friend Angela said it best “Business owner, it’s not just a job it’s a lifestyle”.

It is a life I am beyond grateful for but it comes with a lot of responsibilities. There are things I don’t think people really know about this life so I want to share a few:

1. I’m always “busy”. Not too busy that I need to hear sympathies or unsolicited advice about how to take care of myself, but my life is scheduled and that means I’m rarely going to have time to do anything random. People constantly say and do things that make you feel bad for this including just not being your friend altogether. This is a bummer but something I am no longer losing sleep over.

2. I have serious boundaries about my down time. If I say I’m not working I mean I am literally disappearing from everything except random social media posts. Posting on facebook does not mean I’m working. Football means I’m not working. As mentioned above I take care of myself. Busy includes self-care time. You would be surprised how much judgement there is about this and how much people don’t respect those boundaries.

3. This is my livelihood. It means that it is my first priority so other things have to come second, except my husband and son of course. It also means that my work is how I pay my bills, it is how I make sure I can feed my child and meet his needs, and is also how I can manage part 1 and part 2 above. This idea that I should be available to provide services for free because it is spiritual is not ok. If you recieve spiritual services and pastoral care from church ministers remember they recieve a salary for that. They are compensated for their time. The only difference here is that I’m pagan and I don’t have a church to pay my salary. I have to work for it.

4. Because it’s a business I have to spend a good portion of my time marketing and my livehood as mentioned above depends on this. Small business owners need support through feedback from the peoole they provide service to so if I ask for a review or a share remember it could mean the difference between paying my bills and not being able to. Try to be compassionate and not make peoole feel bad about the fact that they have to do this.

This isn’t meant to be a rant or target any one person. It’s something that happens in some form on a consistent basis. It’s something that needs awareness and needs to be understood. Thank you for reading and thank you for your support.


You can find Izzy’s excellent business – Feileacan Ministry – at http://transformationreiki.com/

Your Sleep Cycle

I woke this morning at the wrong point in my sleep cycle.

The first thing I knew was an annoying cock crow that confused the fuck out of me. Not a real rooster mind you – I use a random selection of bird noises to get me up each morning. I’m not even sure why… maybe the different sounds stop me getting used to the alarm? And, generally, I do like to wake to more natural sounds than the ‘Reveille’ (that bugle call used by the military to wake everyone at sunrise), or a version of ‘the Auld Triangle’ going jingle jangle, like they used in Mountjoy prison to wake the inmates.

Alright so I know there’s other options for alarm noises to disturb your sleep cycle, but I was going for the most annoying but effective ones I could think of. Your methods may vary.

What is the Sleep Cycle though?

A sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes, and during that time we move through five different stages of sleep – some of which you might already be familiar with, at least in passing. The first four stages make up our non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, from very light sleep during Stage 1 to very deep sleep in Stage 4, where it’s really tough to wake someone from. When we’re in NREM sleep, we don’t have much (or any) muscle activity, and our eyes don’t usually move. But all of our muscles are still functional, which changes when we move to the fifth stage, when rapid eye movement (REM) sleep occurs.

REM sleep is when most of our dreaming is going on, and though our eyes are not constantly moving, they do dart back and forth, up and down. Nobody really knows even yet why our eyes move, but one of the generally accepted theories is that it’s related to visual images we’re watching play out in dreams. During this stage of the sleep cycle, our eyes are going like nobody’s business… but the muscles that move our bodies are paralyzed (except things like the heart and diaphragm, coz obviously we’re still alive and breathing).

This paralysis sounds a bit grim, but it’s actually stopping us from getting up and moving around while our subconscious and unconscious are doing their thing, which is useful for those of us who don’t want to walk out into traffic in our nighties, or attack the person sleeping next to us because we think they’re doing something nasty due to a dream that’s going on. A breakdown of this natural paralysis is why people go sleepwalking or get night terrors in which they do some pretty awful things while effectively unconscious.

Honestly, you don’t want that.

 

A typical night’s Sleep Cycle

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just running together a couple of 90 minute sessions and calling it a night. To understand your sleep cycle, we have to get that they change throughout the night.

During the first two to three sleep cycles, you’ll spend most of your time in deep NREM sleep (stages 3-4), but in the final two to three sleep cycles, you’ll be more in REM sleep with some lighter NREM sleep. It’ll also change according to when you fall asleep, as the earlier parts of the night tend to bring more NREM sleep, and also what stage of life you’re at, as kids tend to get more deep NREM sleep than adults.

 

How to Optimise your Sleep Cycle

Getting woken in the middle of REM sleep, like I was today, is not ideal.

It leads to that sensation of grogginess, a poor reaction time, and general fog that’s actually called sleep drunkenness, or confusional arousal. Being woken from REM can cause significant mood problems, and your blood pressure goes up. Like, it’s not optimal at all at all.

There’s tech you can use to track your sleep cycle and wake you naturally based on finishing one and before you start another. That’s amazing, but I don’t have that tech. (If you use something like that and find it useful, would you mind popping over to Our Facebook Group and giving a recommendation?)

Generally, I stuck with analog, and just tracked my sleep and how I feel the next day in my bullet journal, over about two months (not perfectly, as we’ve seen I’m not good at filling in trackers) to try to figure out what’s best for me.

I came up with a minimum of 7.5 hours and a max of 9 hours, if I can get it. That’s 5 or 6 sleep cycles, respectively. So I figured out that if I need to be awake by 8am, I’m going to sleep by 11pm to get my 9 hours, and that means tech off by 10pm and reading, journalling or talking (or Jon reading something not too interesting to me!) til I fall asleep, which usually takes around the hour to wind down.

Have you figured out your own sleep cycle yet?

Be well

L x


Like the Facebook Page to Catch up on Older Posts – www.facebook.com/DoTheWorkSystem
Join the Community Group to Share Your Progress or Problems – www.facebook.com/groups/DoTheWorkSystem/

In Darkness – with a Guided Meditation

Yesterday started off bad. I woke up in darkness, at 5am, from anxiety dreams. Then my Brain insisted on replaying every single sexual assault I’ve ever experienced, in High Definition visuals and sound.

So that’s not fun.

How do I cope with that? Well, it feels very dark to me, when it happens. I used to (years ago) try to run away from that. Find the light. Try and make it so the darkness doesn’t exist and I don’t have to live there.

But you know what?

These things are dark. There are dark things in my past. Also, dark things in my present, and most likely my future. Because we don’t live just in the light. We need the darkness too. In part, we are the darkness.

So, I went into the darkness, and learned to be comfortable there. Yes, I’m talking metaphorically, to an extent, but also quite literally. In that I cope with these things through Meditation.

Ye know that’s not just some woo weirdness that hippies and mystics are into, right? It’s a really valuable, effective, and vital part of any mental health management programme. Ask any modern psychologist or therapist. They’ll tell ya.

Yesterday morning, from 5.30am to 6.30am or so, I meditated. By that time, I was calm and relaxed and I was able to drop back off into a doze until the alarm went off as usual at 8am.

At that point, I will admit, I made sure Jon was awake so I could have a wee cuddle and feel safe in that. And that’s ok too.

Today, I was working on stuff for my other side project, www.Guided-Meditation-Journeys.com, and I recorded a meditation featuring darkness, which feels appropriate to share. It is the basis of the ‘learning to be ok in darkness’ element of my Journeying practice, and my own technique of guided meditation journeying has developed from it.

You can listen to the Darkness Meditation Here…

 

Be well, and I hope you have balance today.

L x


Like the Facebook Page to Catch up on Older Posts – www.facebook.com/DoTheWorkSystem
Join the Community Group to Share Your Progress or Problems – www.facebook.com/groups/DoTheWorkSystem/

On Writing

Writing books is hard.

I mean, for me it’s hard. I do have a friend who cranks out 5000 words a day as well as a consistent stream of blog posts, articles and translations from Old Irish (I’m looking at you Daimler). I don’t even hate them. Most days.

My writing goes a little differently, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t used to be this tough. Like, for my second book, I wrote it in 3 months – Lúnasa (start of August) to Samhain (end of October). While working a full time job at the heritage centre and raising three kids.

I don’t even know how I did that. How does anyone do that?

Evenings, weekends, early mornings before work, lunchtimes at work. It’s not easy, but I feel like I was more focused back then (all the way back in 2013). So, I know it can be done. I know I can do that.

Have I been doing it though? Have I fuck.

When I got the contract for this next book (Pagan Priesthood, Llewellyn 2019), I thought I’d LOADS of time. I sort of lost myself in research for a while, and fooled myself into thinking I was doing ok.

And I ended up in a situation where I had to get my shit together and do the remaining 60,000 words in 3 months of solid writing. Sigh.

How do you do that?

Well, firstly you give yourself some time off each week. With the best will in the world, it is not ideal to think you can write 7 days a week in those circumstances. That’s a great writing habit to be in, long term. I know there’s a lot of famous writers who do it – write words every day, no matter what.

But under pressure and under my own anxiety around not delivering a book – or worse, delivering a shit book – I decided not to add to my writing pressure.

So for the last 3 months, I had set writing targets of 1000 words per day, five days per week – which is 5000 words per week, four weeks of each month (or split out accordingly, in a five week month like this one).

I have Scrivenor, which is an excellent writing programme, but because I’ve been working across different machines I’ve just put it all in a Google Drive folder so I can access it anywhere. It means I have to manually compile it after wards, as I’ve split it into a doc per chapter, but that’s ok.Bujo Writing Tracker

And I track my targets and word count in an excel/google sheet that I manually update each day (pic above), and a little word tracker chart in my bullet journal. The last is a just to trigger my reward hit though, as I love manually writing it in and seeing the little line rise up steadily. It seems so much more satisfying than just numbers on a screen.

I’m not doing as well this month so far as I’d like to be, but I’m not technically behind as yet. The writing has just been a little patchier than I would have liked. Trying not to ‘blame’ myself for taking time off, but I do feel like I’m not on top of things this week after coming back, and I’m playing fierce catch up.

While still trying to be kind to myself and take evenings off.

Speaking of which, it’s 6.30pm now and I should be done for the day. There’s a stew on the boil downstairs, and the smell is making my stomach a little growly.

The bad news is that I have one more thing to do – record a guided journey for my Patreon – before I can finish up. And I might have to work the weekend, as I’ve got Ogham classes to sort out and teach.

Again with the sigh.

I’m doing my best though. Sure what else can ya do?

 


Like the Facebook Page to Catch up on Older Posts – www.facebook.com/DoTheWorkSystem

If you have a project you’re trying to keep track of, and want a little inspiration or accountability, share it in the Facebook group!

Join the Community Group to Share Your Progress or Problems – www.facebook.com/groups/DoTheWorkSystem/

The Power of Habit

This is my current audio book – ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg, and I’m really enjoying it. I think I will go buy a paper copy so I can really go through it carefully and digest it properly.

I’m going to go ahead and quote you some parts of Duhigg’s website, as it’s important stuff.

[In the book] we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains. We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. We go inside Procter & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, NFL locker rooms, and the nation’s largest hospitals and see how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success, life and death.

At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. Habits aren’t destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

So, apart from the day to day stuff and the brain stuff which I’m finding fascinating and INCREDIBLY useful, there’s also the company/organisation and the society stuff which is giving me IDEAS. Coz like, we need to be changing this world right now. And that starts with me and you.

Here, check out the Power of Habit TEDx talk anyway.

I’m doing ok with my own power of habit process.

Like I said the other day, drinking water is a keystone habit I have to take care of. If I get my morning routine right, the whole day runs better. It’s important stuff.

Most importantly for me, is not having to think about things that I don’t have to spend my spoons on. It just makes fucking sense for me to have as much of my brainwaves as possible looking like that middle bit on the rat in the maze scans, which is less than when they’re sleeping. (Go watch the video, if you haven’t, and you’ll see what I mean.)

That’s the power of habit, and it’s saving my sanity.

Get your copy of the book:

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change, by Charles Duhigg (you can get it on Amazon US here – https://amzn.to/2OoPS1h, and on Amazon UK here – https://amzn.to/2AWMngS)

Maybe There’s Another Way?

It’s 6.30pm and I have NONE of today’s work done yet.

Well, I’ve a good bit done, and I guess it counts as work, but not the kind of work I can list out in my bullet journal and tick off. Not the kind of work I can get paid for.

My youngest is starting secondary school in September. End of this month actually, with the way the calendar is falling.

So this morning was errands and chores for the family. First, the doctor for a repeat prescription order for me (see me adulting?!) and a tetanus injection for Jon. He stood on a rusty nail in a world war II bunker on saturday night. Yeah, it was that kind of weekend away.

The young man needed a haircut, we had some food shopping to do, then we got his specialty crested uniform jumper and a good pair of school shoes. He hasn’t had proper shoes since he was about 7… couldn’t get him out of his runners.

Then we had to go into town and grab the necessary grey trousers and white shirt combo, which my sister had convinced him to try on before buying, with a cautionary tale of my nephew’s clown pants debacle after he’d went on his phone in the changing room and just chosen a pair at random when she called him out.

Nobody wants to start a new school in clown pants.

By that point everyone was worn out and hungry, so we had a late lunch/early dinner before getting home around 4pm.

I sat straight down to work, with my To Do list from yesterday sitting undone as I took care of this week’s lesson in my Irish Magic 14 Week Course. I’d actually forgotten that was due today until I sat down and saw my weekly agenda, and realised it was Wednesday and I hadn’t done this week’s lesson yet (usually I set them up on Mondays, but I took Monday off!)

That’s just gone out now though, so all is well with that deadline… but I have nothing else done. I’m feeling quite overwhelmed looking at the list, so I took the path of least resistance.

Hence, writing this post.

Ye are helping my head too, you know?

In this situation, my usual response is to put the head down and work til midnight, trying to get it all done.

But maybe I don’t do a very good job on things that way? Maybe I end up with half arsed work today and even more half arsed work tomorrow. Maybe there’s another way?

So, I just took some time and chatted it over with Jon too. I’ve a couple of emails to send so I can schedule some client and student time that’s due, and I’m going to close the bullet journal and shut down the computer after that. I can figure the rest out with a good early start tomorrow, fully back on schedule.

I’m finding another way to do things. I am giving myself permission to rest and recharge. My work will be better because of it.

This is new. I’ll let you know how it goes ok?

 


Like the Facebook Page to Catch up on Older Posts – www.facebook.com/DoTheWorkSystem
Join the Community Group to Share Your Progress or Problems – www.facebook.com/groups/DoTheWorkSystem/