Sunday Smatterings

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Hello, lovelies. Happy Sunday to you! 

Sunday Sunday, and it’s hurricane central here at Chez Ellison. The Southern Command is threatened, so we’re watching Hurricane Dorian (Dorian Gray, naturally) quite closely, and praying for the safety of friends, family, and strangers, alike. I admit, I prefer hurricanes to tornadoes, only because you have time to prepare, but still, nothing and no one can face down a Cat 4 and come out unscathed. It’s going to be a long, hard slog for all. Hang in there, and sound off when you get a chance to let us know you’re okay!

Had a fun conversation with a dear friend this week regarding setting up a productivity stream/content management system. She’d hired an assistant and was trying to figure out the best way to delegate, for the two of them to coordinate projects. I gave her a run down on my system using Microsoft To Do—the pale imitation of my beloved Wunderlist, but it’s coming along. 

For someone who’s never used a content management system before, it’s daunting, to say the least. Here’s the advice I gave:

I would open a To Do account, then take 20 minutes and do a brain dump. Every single thing you need to do, might need to do, dream about doing. Everything you want your assistant to do. Get everything out of your head and onto paper/screen.

Then, prioritize it. What has to happen today. This week. This month. Pipe dream. That’s 4 lists.

Once you see all that’s needed it’s easier to say—yes, do this now, do this next month, oh here’s something I’ve always wanted to do but never had time for... 

I laughed to myself at the “4 lists” as I wrote it, because I am the queen of too many lists. And then I did my own mental inventory, because I have a LOT floating around taking up RAM. Two pages later, I was able to take a breath and look closely at how to prioritize my own upcoming work.

How do I set all this up, you might ask? I use a simple three-layer system. 

Project → Task → Subtask

Here’s an example. This is my To Do list for this week, which is updated daily. Look at the Friday Business Tasks. So the workflow is:

JT - This Week → Friday Business Tasks → Actual Tasks

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Yes, I have a LOT of delineated projects. But I’ve been doing things like this for years, so they do tend to build up.

What I’ve learned, though, is if you try to go past the subtask level you get deep into the weeds, which is why Quip and Basecamp and any CMSs that are Kanban board-based aren’t for me. I need the limits to keep myself from going down the rabbit hole of fifty thousand To Dos. 

I do recommend starting with just the three or four main lists you need, like: Today, Upcoming, Dreams. Don’t bite off too much to start. And learn how to prioritize by hitting that Star button that makes it an important task—and then DO the task. The best content management workflows are useless if you don’t actually work your lists.

And with that spot of Sunday advice, on to the links!

Here's what happened on the Internets this week:

A Novel Concept: Silent Book Clubs Offer Introverts A Space To Socialize. This sounds wonderful! It’s not that I don’t want to talk, but sometimes it’s nice to just “be”.

From Baba Yaga to Hermione Granger: why we're spellbound by 'witcherature'. Great thesis here. As a big fan of literary witches, I concur.

7 Great Mysteries about Rare Books and Bibliophiles. Great list!

Business Musings: Expect Success. I agree, fear of success stymies too many artists. It’s probably the number one reason so many people leave the arts.

15 Plot Twists Readers Found So Shocking, They Had To Stop And Put Their Book Down For A Bit. Do you agree with this list?

Physicist Wins Ig Noble Prize For Study On Whether Cats Should Be Classified As Liquids Or Solids. All cat owners know cats are liquid fur. My parents cat, especially, gone utterly boneless when picked up. It’s a riot!

This historic Michigan library looks like something out of Hogwarts. Wow! I want to go, now!

5 Steps to Clear Your Mind and Make Room for Creative Work. Not only is this great advice, it's a lovely piece, and fits well with todays post.

Unexpected: Pinckney Benedict doesn’t fit the traditional stereotype of creative writing professor. This is one of the coolest writing degree programs in the country, and I know firsthand how much work goes in.

Twitter’s Ad Network Is Waging a War Against Anatomy. This is still blowing my mind. I admit to having a rather childish urge to run through the website posting the word Vagina everywhere. But seriously, this is ridiculous. With the vitriol and death threats and horrid language used against women on Twitter, they draw the line at vagina? *insert eye roll here*

28 YA Sequels You Need to Get Your Hands on This Fall. I can’t wait to get my hands on a few of these! I do love me some YA.

Foyles sets up libraries for high-end retirement homes. This is a neat development, and something we should all think about contributing to.

The Wine of the Week at The Wine Vixen is a oldie but goodie from my second trip to Napa!

What I’m Reading:

THE GOOD WIDOW by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

I've had this stellar suspense by Lisa and Liz on my TBR for ages. I have several of their books from Thrillerfest, but I wanted to go to the beginning of their suspense journey, and boy am I glad I did. I totally missed the twist coming, which I attribute not to sloppy reading on my part but a subtle, insidious plot device on theirs. So bravo!

What are you reading?

That’s all for now. Think about making a donation to the Red Cross for hurricane relief, stand up to a bully, organize your thoughts, and I’ll see you next week!

peace and hugs,