Friday, September 13, 2013

Balancing Everything: The Dreaded To-Do List

I really like lists. I'm telling you. I love organization.

So I should probably put my skills to work to figure out my life and make some lists about all my obligations, hobbies, and tasks, right? So I can meet my goals and make some room for things I'm not currently able to do, right?

The goals here are twofold:

1. Maximize my time toward productive things.
2. Make more time for both reading and writing in the coming months.

I think I can do it! But let's look at my . . . well, rather immense load.

However, this is primarily an exercise for ME, and I imagine quite a lot of you won't be interested, so I am going to provide a cut for the blog readers and you can read more after the jump if you really want to see a LOT of unattractive, scary, overwhelming lists. But if the idea of seeing inside my brain and glimpsing what I'm wrangling appeals to you, well . . . don't say I didn't warn you!

 High-Priority Items: For Immediate Completion

1. Finish incorporating some edits for my nonfiction book, So You Think You're Asexual.
2. Finish editing my novel Finding Mulligan.
3. Finish compiling a list of baby names that I've been promising my sister for months.

I believe those will be done by the end of this weekend. I'm pretty good at completing goals if I simply decide I'm going to complete them.

Now comes the hard part. The first things I want to start making time for include reading for at least an hour every day and writing like a bat out of Hell according to whatever schedule takes me. I'm going to start this after the high-priority items are done.


1. Weekdays: Read for an hour after work while eating dinner. (Except Wednesdays.)
2. Saturdays: Read for an hour after weekend errands.
3. Sundays: Read for an hour while laundry dries.
(Wednesdays I'll just skip. I go out to dinner with a friend every Wednesday right after work.)


When things get terribly tight, I can pause the reading schedule entirely or reduce it to only some days.


Write in the evenings/nights, as well as weekends, and do the other things during breaks.

I'll be starting with a short story. I have three short story ideas and haven't decided yet which one I will be tackling, but we'll see if I end up being able to start it this weekend or during next week. Ideally, I will complete the short story, edit it, perhaps look for helpers, and try to submit it to some magazines if it's any good, along with submissions of some older stuff while I'm at it if I discover markets that are appropriate. When I'm done with that mess, I will begin the sequel to Bad Fairy if the short story experiment felt okay in the balance.


Writing needs to be a priority, so I will only put it on the shelf due to scheduling conflicts (see: work, sleep, houseguests, social activities with family and friends, professional obligations/deadlines, and non-negotiable creative deadlines such as my webcomic or one-time requests for feedback that I have agreed to).

So that's it. Those are the two biggies. BUT. I've got a whole lot more.

Most of the other things I have to do/want to do fall into one of four categories:

1. Content Creation
2. Social Media/Communication/Interaction
3. Random Projects

4. Content Consumption

I will now examine those to show you the ridiculousness of what I plan to do and then try to establish some ideals and minimums.


Blogging: I blog in four places: LiveJournal, Tumblr, WordPress, and here.
  • LiveJournal is for personal rambles but has become something of a ghost town in recent years, so I don't use it as much. But I love the community and always update on my life, sometimes privately to a select group of friends. 
  • Tumblr is where I write asexuality-based screeds or reblog and add responses to others', and it's very important to my platform because that is where I carry out a lot of my authentic interaction with my community and remain accessible. 
  • WordPress is my professional writing site, and I usually just put newsworthy writing-related items there or give writing advice. 
  • Blogspot is for my active, writing-related life posts, personal rambles that aren't too ridiculous, writing news, and writing advice.
Publishing Articles: I write articles about asexuality and get them published sometimes. So far Good Vibrations is the only magazine that has solicited my original content, and I'd like to change that.

Video Creation: I make YouTube videos; I have one channel for asexuality-related videos and sometimes singing silliness, and the other one is for writing advice and perspectives. My asexuality videos are very popular and an important part of my platform. I have a decent enough following and appreciative commenters on my writing channel.

Webcomics: I publish Negative One, my ongoing fantasy webcomic, every single Friday. It has been so for over eight years and the story is very important to me. I publish So You Write, my manga toons about being a writer, once a month. The art doesn't take long and is always well received; I repost them to DeviantArt and Tumblr as well.

Singing: I make videos on SingSnap with me singing karaoke! It's quite fun, and it's the only way I really stay in touch with the musician I used to be.

Book Reviews: I have a non-author review account on Goodreads, on Shelfari, and on Amazon (though I only have a few reviews on Amazon, but I plan to transfer all my book reviews to Amazon one day soon, though there are over 800 of them). When I read books I rate them in those places, review them, and update my to-read lists. This helps me with recall on the books I've read, lets me find similar books, and lets me connect with others who love reading.

Photos: I post pictures of my activities or vacations. I like sharing them and creating the albums.


Blogging Ideals: Blog on LiveJournal if I want to share a jerk story, a life story, or the weekly digest. Blog on my pro site if something newsworthy happens. Blog on Tumblr with an original story or essay once a week, not including posted responses to the submitted questions I get. Blog on Blogspot every day to update on writing news, discuss books I like, post fun photos, or to give advice.

Blogging Minimums: LiveJournal Friday digest, respond to direct questions or requests on Tumblr, post really big news on WordPress, post twice a week on Blogspot (even if it's just word counts or links to my other content).

Article Publishing Ideals: Get a new article published every few months. Coming up with content is very easy because I've said a lot of it before and can recycle, and the articles have to be short. I have already asked my contact at Good Vibes to approve one, but I'm waiting for a response. Need to scout out other places that might take a submission.

Article Publishing Minimums: None. This can be ignored until or unless I am contacted and asked to provide content or I find a nice breathing hole. I've been getting interviewed pretty often without trying to do anything, so I'm doing okay with staying in the media.

Video Creation Ideals: Get one new video on the writing channel and one new video on the asexuality channel per month. This could equal out to making a new video every two weeks or just making two videos on the same day (as I have been). I do not release often enough and with a few thousand subscribers I don't want them getting restless.

Video Creation Minimums: None. This can always be postponed.

Webcomic Ideals: Keep publishing Negative One once a week and So You Write once a month.

Webcomic Minimums: Same as the ideals; they're non-negotiable. If I had to, eventually, I would stop publishing them or do it only as convenient, but for now they're not going anywhere.

Singing Ideals: New video or two once a week. It doesn't take long to sing a silly karaoke song and it's relaxing.

Singing Minimums: None. No one is waiting impatiently for me to sing karaoke online.

Book Review Ideals: Update every time I finish a book, and quickly choose a new book and jump in. If I'm able to keep up with the reading goals, this should start increasing.

Book Review Minimums: None; they're depending on how much I get around to reading. But I will always review a book when I'm done.

Photo Ideals: I'd like to have an interesting photo or two every week or so, and full albums anytime I have an event or a vacation.

Photo Minimums: Low priority; they're just icing. If I take 'em, post 'em; if I don't, no big deal.

CONTENT CREATION TO DO LESS OF: Focus less on really involved blog posts that aren't going to be read by many people. Focus less on low-priority items if I'm not meeting writing or reading goals. Don't spend an inordinate amount of time preparing specially modified versions of the same content for multiple platforms. Focus on the fiction creation and asexuality activism content the most, while cutting out the sillier stuff if it's time consuming.


Twitter: I tweet from my writing account and my personal account, but haven't really mastered the platform. I usually use Twitter to connect with others, read tweets from the writing and asexuality communities, keep up on publishing news, see what particular pals are tweeting, say the occasional quotable thing, and provide links to my longer content. I'm not good at being concise so the 140-character limit is a killer.

Google+: I do not use the site really but my Blogspot and YouTube seem to be hooked to it so I just repost everything there.

Facebook: I read Facebook updates from friends/family, post very silly or writing-related updates, and send messages to my friends. I am a little too dedicated to reading everything on the wall.

E-mail: I get tons of e-mail. Hundreds of e-mails a week. Most of them are fairly short but some are VERY involved. I have gotten months behind, regularly, and am currently there.

Blogs: I have a long blogroll and I like to leave comments on the posts I enjoy.

Social Websites: Get ready. Besides those mentioned, I have a somewhat active personal presence on AVEN, DeviantART,, Goodreads, LiveJournal, OKCupid, Tumblr, and YouTube, and a somewhat active author-site presence on Absolute Write, Figment, SCBWI, and YouTube (with an intention of building more interaction on Goodreads, Poets & Writers, QueryTracker, WritersNet, and YALITCHAT). I have a ton of other accounts that I really don't do anything with, too, but those are the ones worth mentioning.


Twitter Ideals: Read Twitter feed a couple times a day at arbitrary times, retweet things of interest, interact with favorite tweeps, and try to tweet at least once every day.

Twitter Minimums: Say SOMETHING once a week, and check in a couple times a week. I really do need to tweet more and it doesn't take very long.

Google+ Ideals: Continue posting content automatically. Maybe look at my wall once in a while and comment on things.

Google+ Minimums: Just auto-post anything I blog or post on a video site.

Facebook Ideals: Post something fun and engaging publicly every day, post whatever strikes my interest privately, and try to share pictures and writing news there. Respond to all private messages and comments ASAP.

Facebook Minimums: Say SOMETHING at least once a week, and check in a once a day to like posts or comment on them, but just give it a cursory glance.

E-mail Ideals: Answer shorter e-mails every day as they come in, and spend one weekend day after Reading Time responding to the meatier e-mails.

E-mail Minimums: Respond to time-sensitive e-mails only, and let the long and non-time-sensitive e-mails wait as long as I have to. Try not to let them get older than a month anymore, but that's not vital.

Blog Ideals: Read entire blogroll every day at lunch (easy enough since most people don't update every day), and leave lots of comments for everything I like. Get ideas from other people's blogs for subjects I'd like to blog on or bloghops/contests I'd like to participate in, and if a friend has a book release, help promote.

Blog Minimums: Really none. I'd love to stay in touch but this can wait if it must. If I can't do it daily, I'll try to do it a couple times a week or weekly.

Social Website Ideals: Oh boy, here we go. I'm going to have to be careful here.
  • Absolute Write: Read it close to daily and try to post a couple times a week; if nothing else, greet newbies and make friends.
  • AVEN: Stop by weekly and comment on hot topics or anything that discusses a subject I've been involved with. 
  • DeviantART: Just post my art and reply to comments when it happens. 
  • Perhaps a monthly daylog, and create update nodes on any books or strange things that strike my fancy. 
  • Figment: Read my groups and give advice in the Query Letters thread if I feel like it.
  • Goodreads: Respond to comments, review books as appropriate, and start an author account to get into the forums. 
  • LiveJournal: Read friends' list along with blogroll at lunch, and comment.
  • OKCupid: Respond to messages the same as I do for e-mail; long ones wait, short ones get quick responses.
  • Poets & Writers: Read the blog weekly, weigh in on interesting threads.
  • QueryTracker: read the blog weekly, weigh in on interesting threads.
  • SCBWI: Read the message boards once a week, respond if anything's interesting.
  • Tumblr: Read some of my dashboard every day and faithfully check reblogs and messages to keep on top of things.
  • WritersNet: read the blog weekly, weigh in on interesting threads.
  • YALITCHAT: I won't actually know until I can pay more attention, but find out what goes on there and play around.
  • YouTube: respond to comments and messages ASAP, and block trolls.
Social Website Minimums: YouTube and Tumblr are at the top of the list because I get specifically solicited interaction, so minimum standards involves responding fairly quickly to those. The others can be postponed as long as needed; they're more voluntary.

SOCIAL MEDIA/INTERACTION/COMMUNICATION TO DO LESS OF: Oh my god, ARGUE WITH ASSHOLES LESS. Spend less time reading EVERYTHING on the Tumblr dashboard and Facebook wall. Stop returning to Facebook and Tumblr over and over to see if something is new; write an e-mail instead, or read the blogs. I have a tendency to go to these sites during breaks, and if I vary my "break" hangouts more, I will be able to interact in more places and feel less like I'm not everywhere I want to be.


Most of these are projects that are creative ideas and technically involve content creation, but they're single-act plays, so to speak. Here are a bunch of things I want to do, and I think I'll just accept that there are no ideals or minimums for these; they're for when I get time, when I need a change of scene or a break.
  • Make those very few recipes on my Recipes Website that don't have pictures yet, and post the pics.
  • Add to the gallery of jerks from the huge backlog.
  • Revamp music website, TV website, food, and comics website.
  • Finish all the books I haven't read by Francesca Lia Block so I can write them up for my fansite.
  • Analyze the comments on the HuffPost article about asexuality so I can make some neat graphs.
  • Do an analysis of the reviews for the documentary I was in, and say something intelligent about it.
  • Listen to the Coldplay album X & Y and draw what I think all the songs look like.
  • Submit older short stories to magazines, rewritten if necessary.
  • Finish writing the last leg of my online autobiography/scrapbook. (Everything up to 2006 is done.)
  • Transfer Goodreads reviews to Amazon, fleshing out the reviews that are sarcastic one-liners.
  • Scan and organize old family photos.
  • Post some of my funny childhood drawings.
  • Learn those multi-part songs I've been meaning to learn. (Why did I buy the sheet music if I wasn't gonna do it?)
  • Make all the videos on my to-make list, including another Asexual Bingo and another Swanky Six video.
  • Read some of the old embarrassing stuff on my websites and make it less embarrassing.
  • Go through my list of favorite bands, figure out whose albums I am woefully behind on purchasing, purchase them all, and enjoy.
  • Go through my list of favorite authors, find out who's released books I don't have or didn't know about, and put them on my wish lists or buy them.
  • Make new business cards with my cool QR codes on them.
All those "when I have time" activities will probably be waiting a while, but I have a funny way of getting around to things!


This is pretty obvious, but content consumption for me means I am in listening, reading, learning, or watching mode. I don't consume content the way a lot of people do; many people who are always struggling to find time to do everything also have plenty of time to watch TV or behave in other passive ways, and actually I think I need to do this MORE because I am always putting content out but not taking it in very much. Here's a short breakdown:
  • Obviously, reading will be front and center. With a to-read list of over 400 books and a massive need to check out authors I've missed and new releases by authors I love, this will be time-consuming, but I'm looking forward to it!
  • I don't watch TV (don't have cable or working reception for TV in my home), but there are some movies I have been meaning to watch and some TV programs I kind of want to get caught up on (way behind on Adventure Time!), though I usually make this a social activity if I'm going to do it.
  • Music: I'm going to get some new music with some Amazon certificates I have and enjoy it while doing my webcomic drawings.
  • Webcomics: This is something I dropped at the beginning of this year. Not consciously, but because I just didn't seem to be able to keep up. I'd like to revisit my favorite comics and pick up where I left off.
  • Magazines: I'm a SCBWI member and I haven't read my last couple magazines.
  • Online content: BLOGS, BABY. I NEED TO READ BLOGS. And newsletters and articles and Tumblr silliness. But that's covered above. 
  • Podcasts: This doesn't take much time, but I love the Welcome to Night Vale podcast and it comes out twice a month, so I want to stay up to date on it.
I guess I feel like this category has no specific "musts." Consuming always gets dumped in favor of communication, interaction, and creation.

So. To Sum Up. 

I am apparently under the impression that I will be able to ideally handle my life like this:

  1. Write on current WIP.
  2. Read for an hour.
  3. Answer short/time-sensitive e-mail.
  4. Read blogroll, LiveJournal blogs, and Tumblr blogs, and comment/promote.
  5. Tweet/Read Twitter.
  6. Blog on Blogspot (even if it's short).
  7. Update Facebook statuses, respond to comments/messages, and read Facebook wall posts.
  8. Respond to any Tumblr and YouTube comments/messages.
  1. Read and interact on AbsoluteWrite, Figment, and Goodreads.
  1. Post something original on Tumblr.
  2. Post Negative One webcomic.
  3. Post Friday digest on LiveJournal.
  4. Record a karaoke song on SingSnap.
  5. Post interesting photos.
  6. Answer meatier e-mails and messages.
  7. Hang out on AVEN.
  8. Read posts on SCBWI, Poets&Writers, QueryTracker, WritersNet, and YALITCHAT. Interact.
  1. Post new So You Write comic (and share on LiveJournal and Tumblr).
  2. Post a new video on the writing channel and a new video on the personal channel.
  3. Post an daylog.
  1. Get an article published somewhere.
  2. Get one of my floating major projects done.
  1. Post news on LiveJournal, WordPress, and Tumblr.
  2. Review finished books.
  3. Seek publication for finished short stories.
  4. Post vacation and event albums.
  5. Participate in contests and bloghops.
  6. Respond to questions, comments, and requests on DeviantART, Goodreads, LiveJournal, YouTube, and Tumblr.
Of course . . . everything may fall to minimums or worse when I am doing things like hosting houseguests (coming up next month), dealing with publication deadlines and line edits (that would be nice, should I get a book deal!), and forgetting everything that's happening in the entire world because I get too caught up in writing.

I have a part-time job, a house to clean, a body to feed, and showers to take as well, not to mention I have parents and sisters and friends who sometimes like to see me, but meeting these goals doesn't seem too ridiculously out of the question. I think, having laid it out and looked at my priorities, I have a better idea of what can be sacrificed where necessary and what's actually on my plate.

I'm looking forward to showing all of you where I go from here.

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