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Ronda Bowen

Author, Editor, Blogger, Consultant, Scholar, Volunteer, Maker, Photographer

#MotivationMonday Create Habits to Make Repetitive Tasks “Mindless” Tasks

When you have a lot of daily tasks, it can be daunting to check them off. Sometimes, too, we develop bad habits with regards to daily tasks. When you have a lot of repetitive tasks, it makes sense to track them as you would a habit, so that they become automatic to you.

Define The Task

Give some definition to the task at hand. Determine what you need to do to call the task complete, and write it down. This will help you to have defined start and end points for your new habit.

Create a Habit Tracker

Many people are using habit trackers in their bullet journals and planners. Consider using a habit tracker to ensure that your tasks get done when they need to at the intervals in which they need to get done.

Don’t Skip It!

Just like skipping teeth-brushing can ruin your dental health, skipping your repetitive task can be damaging to your productivity and can inhibit your ability to meet your long-term goals. Even if it’s going to be done late, do it! It’s always worth it when you do.

Do It Well

Don’t just go through the motions. Aim to complete your task to the highest of your abilities. Take pride in your work – no matter how repetitive (and boring) a task may seem to you at the time. You never know who is watching.

Create a Trigger So It Becomes Automatic

If you cannot automate the task yourself, you might as well figure out a trigger task that will make your repetitive task automatic. Trying to keep on top of budgeting? Go out for a coffee on a Monday afternoon. Trying to keep up with your weekly review? Put on your favorite music to rock out to for a soundtrack.

How do you make repetitive tasks automatic?

Share your favorite #MotivationMonday tip in the comments section.

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#MotivationMonday The Fine Art of Writing a Crappy First Draft

I’m working on a novel, Dances With Crazy, for NaNoWriMo (You can follow my journey here), and I’m 10,009 words in. Those 10,009 words are very rough, they make up what Anne Lamott in Bird By Bird called a “shitty first draft.” Giving yourself permission to write a less than stellar first draft is perhaps the most important thing you can do in order to boost your productive writing time.

Just Get Words Down on Paper

It doesn’t matter if those words will wind up in your final draft or not. But if you’re editing while you’re writing, you’ll take much longer to finish your project than you would if you wrote the first draft straight through. When you already have the words down, it becomes much easier to edit those words and move them around on the page. Whenever you write anything, your first goal should be to get as many words down on paper as possible.

Don’t Edit, Don’t Delete!

Now is not the time to perfect what you’re trying to say. Don’t go back and fix the spelling error; don’t go back and delete those extraneous words. Not yet anyway. Wait until you write the last sentence of your piece before you start the editing process. Remember, it’s a completely separate step in the writing process.

Set a Timer

If you have to, set a timer and race it while you write. This is especially handy if you’re not like me, and you don’t have a built-in toddler timer who will start eating the paint instead of putting it on the paper if you take too long writing your shitty first draft. See what you can lay down in 10 minutes.

Give Yourself Permission to Make it Terrible!

Seriously, you’re not trying to write the best thing that’s ever been written right now. In fact, the crappier the draft, the better. That way, you’re not too attached to it when it’s time to edit. Sometimes, the simple act of saying “It’s okay. I’m going to write a messed up, horrible first draft” is all the gas you need to get it done.

If you write, and you haven’t yet read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, I strongly recommend it. While this is one of my favorite pieces of advice coming from the book, there is a lot of good information in the book. You can purchase it here. (Affiliate Link)

So tell me, do you give yourself permission to write a terrible first draft when you sit down to write?

#MotivationMonday: Enlist Others on Your Journey

You can’t do it all alone. You might try, but it’s rough. Even if you’re a practicing solopreneur, you’ll need people in your corner cheering you on when things get rough – and they will get rough. When you’re trying to be productive, knowing that someone is waiting to hear whether you met your goals can make all the difference between a day spent on the couch and a day making things happen. This is where an accountability partner or a mastermind group can really help boost your success.

What is An Accountability Partner

Years ago, when I first started getting super-serious about the whole success thing, I read “Find A Writing Partner; Make Yourself Accountable” by Anne Wayman at About Freelance Writing. I wound up meeting my first accountability partner through the post, and it was a great experience. We would check in with each other Mondays and Fridays, bookend things we were trying not to procrastinate on, and support each other virtually through our writing ups and downs. Then life happened, moves happened, and very unfortunately, we moved on in our accountability journey.

I do have an accountability partner now, and like clockwork we meet on Mondays and check in throughout the week for “water cooler chat” while we work on things. This makes the whole working at home thing a lot less lonely and isolating – and it helps keep us both on track for our goals.

What is a Mastermind Group?

A mastermind group is a small (under 10 usually) group of people who meet to go over their goals and what they need to do. I run a Facebook group for women who would like to boost their efforts to do well. Mastermind groups usually meet either weekly or monthly, often over coffee or lunch (or virtually), and they answer four questions:

  1. What successes did you have?
  2. What challenges or obstacles did you face?
  3. What opportunities did you come across?
  4. What is your next set of goals?

People in the group work together to ensure that they help build everyone in the group up by answering questions about strategies for overcoming obstacles and challenges and by cheering one another on.

What’s Best for You?

What’s best for you and your situation will depend upon your goals, the stage of life you’re at, and what your preferences are for getting together with others. Accountability partners and masterminds can be virtual or in-person meetings.

Have you had an accountability partner or worked with a mastermind group before? Post about your experiences in the comments.

What I’m Working On October 2017

Happy Fall!

Right now as I write, my 22 month old is throwing a tantrum because the toy he is playing with isn’t doing what he wants it to do. The 3 1/2 year old is dancing in circles (literally) around him as he stomps, and the 5 month old is napping. A city near my hometown where I grew up is on fire, people are still reeling from last week’s shooting, and Puerto Rico still needs a lot of help. There is a lot of chaos in the world – both adjacent to where I am writing my monthly update from and at large. In fact, a lot of places in the world could use some love right now.

It’s easy to get bogged down in what is going on around us. But, even as I’ve written this first paragraph, the tantrum has calmed (with no intervention from myself), building has resumed, and everyone is happy again. Sometimes intervention is needed, and sometimes it is not. Sometimes the chaos causes me to stop what I’m doing, stand up, and redirect. Sometimes it causes me to look over, sometimes it’s just background noise.

The world is like that too. It’s all-too easy to let another news story go past without paying much attention to it, but sometimes, there’s a lot all at once, and it causes an egregious amount of human suffering, and we pause, regroup, and get back at it. September was like that for me. So much happened, that I had to stop for a minute, get my bearings back, and regroup. It meant I did not progress as far as I’d wanted to on goals I’d had, and I had to step back from a couple of projects I really wanted to work on. But here I am, back at it. Here’s what I’m working on this month:

Consulting Work

I’ve been continuing work for the recovery center. I’m about to write some recovery through the holidays articles for the center.

If you haven’t already seen them, check out my two articles for the EVG Campfire Blog that have come out in the past several weeks:

Keep your eyes out, because I’m finishing up another article for the Campfire Blog that should be out soon. Also, my stock images article was highlighted by the Content Management Institute’s newsletter.

I’m also going to be doing some blogging work for Creative Mindscapes starting this month.

Independent Scholar Work

Oh boy, do I have a lot going on in this category. I have some things that I need to put the finishing touches on, but here’s a list of current work in progress:

  1. Philosophy and Wikileaks – “They Can’t Handle the Truth: Plato’s Republic and Wikileaks”
  2. Encyclopedia of Sexism in American Cinema – Entries on Supergirl (1984) and Tank Girl (1995)
  3. Chicana and Chicano Movement – Entries on Chicana/o Poetry and Political Repression and Voter Rights
  4. Critical Perspectives on 21st Century Friendship: Representations, Identities, Roles, Work – an essay titled “‘I Mom SO Hard!’ Social Media Mom Groups and Competition, Drama, Education, and Friendship Between Moms”
  5. Music Around the World – entries on Acadian Music, Northwestern Coast Music, Inuit Music, Great Basin Music, and Bolero

I’m excited to be getting back into some of the research work I’ve been missing.

Magazine Work

The latest issue of Equanimity Magazine is out, and I have four articles in it. You can access the Fall Special issue here. Here are my article titles:

  • “Keep Growing: An Interview with Italian-American Singer and Actress Cristina Lizzul”
  • “The Voice’s Youngest Finalist: A Chat with Singer Aliyah Moulden”
  • “Rising Out of the Shadows: Philip Bowman’s Transcendence from Mischief to Ministry”
  • “Authentically Masiela: An Interview with Masiela Lusha of The Lopez Show and Sharknado 4

Blogging Work

My blogs have been a bit quiet lately. I’ll be posting more on them soon.
I’m also starting a partnership with a progressive startup. I will be writing about Kansas politics and activism.

Non-Profit Work

Our monthly JB Dondolo board meeting is taking place next week. We’ve had a lot of success recently, and I’m looking on sharing more information about that soon!

I’m sure I have a lot more to share that I haven’t listed here, I can’t wait to share it with you soon!

What are you working on this month?

#MotivationMonday Beating the Blues

When you’re feeling down, it can be hard to get things done. That’s why it’s so important to beat the blues and combat depression when you’re a person who wants to accomplish big things. But getting through the muck that is depression can be rough-going. Here are some ideas that can help you get back to making things happen – even if it’s only a little bit at a time.

1. Break Big Projects into Bite-Size Chunks

It’s no fun trying to get things done when everything you need to do seems so big. That’s why it’s important, especially when you’re trying to pull yourself up and out of a slump, to break those tasks into “micro-actions.” Instead of “cleaning the kitchen,” try “clean the clutter off the left counter.” Instead of “write the article,” try “write part one of section one of the article.” Julia at The Business Bakery runs a 100 Day Goal Challenge, and one of the biggest factors for success in the challenge is breaking the goal down into micro-actions that move you closer to your goal each day.

2. Keep Moving, Even if it’s at a Slower Pace

When you’re down, it’s tempting to stop and “couch and fondle the remote control” (Brownie points if you can identify what movie that’s from). But, at least for me, that leads to more feelings of despondency and despair – especially when you have goals you’re working toward. When you stop, you watch as your goals further move from you, you let people down who are counting on you, and the anxiety piles on. Instead, even if you have to slow down a little, try to get one thing done each day that moves you forward.

3. Enlist Help from an Accountability Partner

Sometimes, to get things done, it’s important to seek a support figure. If you don’t have an accountability partner, or if you’re not part of an accountability group, find one to be part of. (I run a Mastermind group for women on Facebook. The group exists for women to network and support one another; there is no advertising or selling allowed.) An accountability partner can help gently prod you into action, and can help remind you of what your goals are.

4. Play the “For Just Five Minutes Game”

It’s hard to get stared when you’re head isn’t in it. Try using a randomizer tool like this one. Select one small task from your list and commit yourself to it – for just 5 minutes – with a timer. The benefits of this are two-fold: There are many tasks that can be completed in under five minutes and sometimes five minutes is all you need in order to get jumping on a task.

5. Tidy Your Work Area Up

When you’re not feeling like doing much, sometimes it’s because you have a lot of clutter in your visual space. Try tidying your work area up just a bit to see how that can help. A lot of the time, it will feel like a load has been taken off – even if all you’ve managed to do is clear off your desk.

6. Revisit Your Goals and Projects Lists

Look them over. What has to be done? What can go for now? By looking over your lists, you can make some judgment calls that can help alleviate some of the overwhelm that can happen when there’s just too much to do.

What do you do when you’re feeling down but still need to get things done? Post your tips in the comments section.

 

#MotivationMonday Should You Push Through When You’re Exhausted?

I’m TIRED. I have small children who seem to never sleep, a student off at college embarking on his own adventure, a husband to hang out with, two businesses and soon-to-be three blogs. I help with a charity, I work to publish my own original work, and…

You get the idea.

Some days, I just want to climb right back into bed and nap the day away.
I’ll be honest, some days, I have to do just that.

In the United States, we have a culture of productivity and exhaustion. It almost seems like a competition, particularly in the mom set, to see who can continue to work while exhausted for the longest period of time. Heck, I’ve been known to really push myself when deadlines loom.

But over the years, I’ve learned something really important. If you work yourself to the bone, soon, all you will be is all-bone. You’ll stare into space, tune out, and feel burned out. You may even find yourself sick with some sort of respiratory infection (at least, for me, that’s how stress and exhaustion manifest) and knocked out of commission for weeks instead of hours.

Sometimes, you can get away with pushing through fatigue – but not always. At some point, it really does catch up with you, either in the form of all-out exhaustion, or illness, or burnout.

Sometimes, you really should stop and rest – even if you don’t want to. Sometimes, the best thing is to forgo a project or push back the date of a launch if you can.

So, dear readers, I throw this question out to you: Do you push through fatigue or do you stop and rest to save energy for another day? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

#MotivationMonday Make Getting Things Done into a Game

Not too long ago, Zulily had Fitbits on sale at a good discount. Mine finally arrived, and I’ve been wearing it for extra motivation to make sure I move each day. After a few days, I was like “meh, whatever.” Partly because I didn’t have the results I wanted on the scale Sunday morning, partly because the novelty of a wristband that tells you what you’ve done was wearing off. But then, Monday morning rolled around, and a few of the ladies from my pregnancy group have a work week challenge. Seeing the challenge up pulled out my competitive side and motivated me to get off my duff and keep with it.

Sometimes, we need a little healthy competition to push us along and keep us motivated. This can come in the form of an actual competition, as with the Fitbit challenges, or it can come in the form of the way we frame our work. For example, I often set a timer for how long I *think* something will take to get done, and then I see whether I can beat my estimate.

When I get really stuck for motivation, I’ll play a little game to get started. I’ll randomly choose what task I will work on for what set amount of time (5, 10, 15, 25, minutes). It helps to get into that mindset of “conquering” the tasks on my list and helps me to steer away from decision overload. This can particularly be helpful on days (like Mondays) when I’m not particularly feeling it.

What kinds of games do you play to boost your motivation? Share your thoughts in the comments.

What I’m Working On August 2017

Happy August! I’m glad we’re getting closer to fall, as autumn is my favorite season of the year. I’m sad we’re getting closer to fall because it means that in 11 days, my oldest will be moving to college. He’s going to have a great time, though, and he’ll get to study what he loves – music and theater. Things have been slow-ish around here, as they usually are during the summer, but the momentum is picking up. Here’s what I’m working on this month.

Blogs

Getting the new blog, Just a Sec(ular) Homeschooler, up and running has been taking a little longer than I’d like, but I’m happy to say, it will be debuting its first post at the end of this month.  Yay! Don’t worry, I’ll make a big announcement about it when it launches.

I haven’t posted on Activism My Way in a little while. That will change soon.

I’ve posted a lot of book reviews on Wining Wife® recently. If you are looking for a good read for the last few weeks of summer, you’ll want to head over there and check it out. I also wrote a review of Bean Box. I love coffee as much as I love wine, and we loved the trial of this coffee subscription box so much that we decided to continue it.

I also started a weekly “Motivation Monday” post on this blog.

Non-Profit Work

J.B. Dondolo is hosting the “To Give Is To Love Gala” in Dallas on November 10th. We need to sell tables of 10 to companies. If you or someone you know would be interested in attending this splendid event, you can purchase tickets here. Proceeds go toward getting clean water to Igusi Hosptial. you can read more about J.B. Dondolo here.

We’d love to get a couple more fundraising events going as well. Please, if you’re using Amazon for a purchase, choose to do so through Amazon Smile (smile.Amazon.com) and select our charity. There is no additional cost to you for doing this.

Equanimity Magazine

The summer edition of Equanimity Magazine is out! Lumbie Mlambo, CEO of the magazine is on the cover. You can find the issue here, and be sure to check out my article, “A Five-Minute Productivity Solution.” I have a few interviews to write up for the next issue, including a chat with a new Christian rap music artist.

Ronda B. Handmade

I just got in a bunch of fabric so that I can make some fun things. I’ll be participating in a couple of blog tours in September. I’m also looking forward to sewing to stock my online shop. You can join my Facebook group. It’s quiet right now, but I’ll be loading more into it soon.

Now is the time to place orders for Halloween. Please contact me through the group if you’re looking for a custom Halloween costume in order to allow plenty of time to get the costume.

Consulting

I’m continuing to work for EVG, the recovery center, and a new app developer. You can read my latest EVG post here “How to Emergency-Proof Your Content.” I have an academic abstract to finish editing for a client as well.

Independent Scholar

I had an abstract accepted for the upcoming Wikileaks and Philosophy volume. I’m really excited about that. I’ll be working on my essay between now and then.

I’m sure there are things I’m leaving out, but those are the big projects on my horizon this month. So now, I turn the tables and ask you, what are you working on this month?

#MotivationMonday: Kick-Starting Your Week

It’s Monday! That means it’s time to get a good start on your week. Last week, we talked about motivators that get us moving on our goals. This week, we’re going to talk about great ways to kick-start your week to a good start. What sorts of things do you do to get ready for the week ahead?

Planning for a Great Week

The most important thing, when you’re trying to make progress on goals, is to have a great week. I use Monday mornings to look over my goals, my projects, and my action items. I then plan out what I will do for the week. By reviewing what’s going on each week before I dive in, I can be sure I’m not overlooking something important on the horizon.

Keeping Accountable

If you have big goals, and you don’t have an accountability partner yet, you’re missing out on a key way you can become more motivated. Every Monday, I check in with my accountability partner. We go over our “wins” from the previous week, our continuing projects, and new things we’d like to accomplish in the coming week.

Meal Prep

This is new. It’s something my husband and I have started to do on Sundays to keep us eating healthy for breakfasts, snacks, and lunches all week long. It now means that there is no excuse for either one of us having a healthy lunch or snack while in the trenches of tasks – and a well-fueled body is a productive body!

Getting a Big Win Out of the Gate

It’s also important to me to complete one big task off my action item list on Mondays. It sets the tone for a great and productive week.

By engaging in the above habits, it helps me to look forward to Mondays (as much as one can look forward to ending the weekend). What do you do to ensure you have a productive week? Share your Monday prep-work in the comments.

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