Mastering Time Management

Stock image courtesy of Canva.

The week has flown by, and the weekend is already half over. The scariest part, is July is almost over. Where has our summer gone?

My work weeks never seem to be productive at home, because after spending all day on my feet I just don’t feel like doing much. I probably shouldn’t let it bother me, but it does.

I hate to admit it, but something I struggle with is time management. When I’m working my shift at the library, I seem to get a lot done in a day. But when I’m home it’s a whole different story.

I have been using a bullet journal for about a year and a half (give or take). I have tried several different layouts and have decided simple is best. Sure, the bujos on Instagram are nice to look at, but they must take a lot of time to make pretty. When I started out, I followed the pretty layouts but soon found myself spending more time journaling and planning than doing what I was supposed to be.

I borrowed a copy of Ryder Carroll’s The Bullet Journal from my local library (yes, the one I work at) and his method is super simple. Granted it doesn’t look as fancy and colourful as others I have seen, but there’s something to be said about the simplicity.

I have added a habit tracker this month to mine, because I found myself rewriting some of the same things day after day. I stepped away from the habit tracker for several months, but found it’s something I benefit from. This way I can keep track of how often I do my morning pages, water my plants, vacuum, do laundry and so forth. Plus, I also have the bottom half of it as a health tracker. I like to keep track of how often I walk in a month, how many nights I get to bed before midnight, do my yoga/pilates and even lady days.

Not all planning and time management systems work for everyone, which is why I like the flexibility of my BuJo. I like the concept of the future log, as pictured below. I can plan the major events a year in advance if I like, then add to it each month as occasions and appointments pop up. It’s looking pretty empty right now, but it will fill up as time goes on.

In previous months, I have actually drawn out a calendar but am finding Ryder’s method much easier. The days of the month are listed, one per line, and events, holidays and appointments are added as the month goes on. It not only takes up less space, but I can see at a glance what I can schedule for when.

When it comes to the daily pages, I had been dedicating one page per day, but found some days the pages were almost empty. Now I’m filling the pages with one, two or even three days worth of tasks/notes. I haven’t been doing a task list for each week anymore, but the daily pages take care of what needs to be done each day. I’ve gotten into the habit of filling it out right before bed, or first thing in the morning. That way, I don’t miss anything.

The photo below shows a couple of entries for days earlier this month. The tenth has a list starting on the previous page, but notice what was scheduled, what was done and the notes added to the days.

I know I still have a long way to go to manage my time perfectly (or even relatively close), but having it in writing has been positive for me. I find the more things I have going on, the more I need to schedule them in. One thing I haven’t scheduled in is novel-writing time, and have thus not touched it.

My manager and I were checking out Lynda.com yesterday; an online resource for courses available to library patrons. One of the first I will be taking is on time management. Since I work from home more than the library, I really need to learn some tricks to keep my household obligations separate from my work time (side hustle). I may be doing a follow up post after I take the course, providing I find it helpful.

Do you have trouble budgeting your time? If not, what system (if any) do you use to stay on track?

Photos (Copyright Diane Ziomek 2019) were taken specifically for this post, and are intended for single use only.

The Bounty of Nature

I’m not sure about you, but I love picking wild berries. Saskatoons are my favourite, and right now is prime picking time.

We have several bushes of wild berries on our property, which aren’t the easiest to get to. I’m seriously considering relocating some of them into what I hope will become a small orchard. A couple days ago, I went down the road to a good spot that is easily accessible from the road. I was not disappointed, because I had picked almost a bucketful in less than an hour.

My Blue Heeler was quite excited to go with me, and he explored while I picked. I took him along for protection as well as company. I know he would do his best to ward off a black bear if it decided to go berry picking at the same time.

I’m very fortunate to live in an area where wild berries are bountiful. Once the saskatoons are done, the chokecherries will be ready for picking too. I’m going to try to get enough this year for chokecherry jelly. If I’m able to get more saskatoons this week, I will make a small batch of jam.

Our forecast doesn’t look promising for berry picking on the days I don’t work, which is a little disappointing. Today was a beautiful day, but by the time I was finished with yard work, I was too hot to go pick berries. Our weather has been a little unusual this summer; July is over half over and we have had rain almost every day.

I love living where we do, because nature provides us with berries, nuts and even mushrooms. I’m very careful with the latter, because aside from morels I honestly don’t know which are safe and which aren’t.

I found a small stand of hazelnut trees, but I think the squirrels will probably beat me to them like last year. I guess they have more rights to them than I do, because they have less resources than people.

I think for me, the best part of picking wild berries is going out and getting fresh air, plus knowing the berries I pick haven’t been sprayed with anything. Sure, I can go to the grocery store and buy frozen ones, but fresh are so much better.

Not only are they healthy, but I get a little exercise while I’m picking them too. And that is worth something to me.

Do you enjoy picking berries? If so, what’s your favourite?

Photo taken by me after cream and sugar were added to the bowl full of fresh berries. Yes, I know; probably not the healthiest, but oh so good!

Walking to Stay Healthy

I have to admit, when it comes to exercise I’m the last one to go full guns on a program.

That’s not to say I’m a couch potato, because I’m not. I like to keep busy with my writing, crafts, reading and puttering out in the yard. Since most of the things I do don’t involve strenuous exercise, I make a point to try to walk for at least half an hour each day.

I’m fortunate, because living in the country gives me plenty of opportunities to walk without having to worry about much traffic. The only time we have a lot of activity past our place is during spring and fall; seeding and harvest time.

I like walking on the gravel road, because it gives me the opportunity to see tracks. Usually it’s deer or moose tracks I see, but last Thursday I saw bear tracks. The deer and moose must consider our road their personal highway, and I suppose the bear did too.

Photo taken July 11/19 while out for my walk.

I like to take our dog along, but if I’m planning on walking more than half a mile one way I leave him home. He’s ten now, and I’m sure when he goes too far he aches like I do.

Instead of giving up my walking outside, I will be investing in bear bells. That should keep the wildlife at a safe distance. I prefer to walk outside, because the air is fresh, I can listen to the birds and I have plenty of choices regarding distance and direction. It’s much nicer than being on a treadmill and staring at the wall.

Walking to stay healthy doesn’t require much more than a good pair of shoes (which I need to replace as soon as possible), comfortable clothing and an optional walking partner. And, there’s less risk of injury than when running.

I will power walk sometimes, just to raise my heart rate. I like to keep a steady pace with the occasional burst thrown in. My bursts don’t usually involve jogging or running, because my knees and hips rebel. I will occasionally do squats at the turnaround point, but have to pay attention to what my knees tell me.

Walking is good for you and your health. Being able to enjoy an active life is also good for the mind. Something as simple and low impact as walking may not seem like much, but any activity is better than none. And, for those of us who are on the second half of a century, staying physically active is crucial for weight management. Plus, bone, muscle and mental health all benefit from regular exercise.

Walking for health is my choice, plus I have added in some resistance bands to my daily routine. The most important thing to remember is to start slow, and increase time, distance and intensity gradually. If you go full guns right off the top, you will not only risk injury but you may also become discouraged.

Do you have a regular exercise plan? If so, is it new or have you been doing it for some time?

5 Ways to Cut the Clutter

New logo designed 2019 on Canva by Diane Ziomek

I don’t know about you, but I like to keep things pretty simple. Easy on the eyes; nothing flashy. Those were my thoughts when I designed the logo for my blog. It’s just enough to catch the eye, yet not be overwhelming. And to me, simple also means downsizing and cutting the clutter.

The older I get, the more I realize I have “too much crap” as my significant other has pointed out to me. I hate to admit it, but he’s right. When I left home at sixteen, I really had nothing. Life happened, and now I have tons of craft supplies, books of all kinds (including at least eight boxes of kids books), board games, VHS movies, DVDs, clothes I don’t wear, electronics I don’t use and a bunch of things that don’t really fall into any specific category. It’s time to continue with the de-cluttering process.

I was doing alright until Mom got sick and had to be moved into a long-term care facility (which didn’t end up being too long-term at all). My mom had a LOT of stuff, and my sisters and I split it up between households as best as we could. We each have our share to distribute as we see fit, and my share consisted of the crafty side of things.

As I have been going through boxes and totes, I have come up with five ways that are helping me. I hope they will help you eliminate some of your clutter as well. And if you’re someone who doesn’t have any, you’re my hero! 🙂

  1. Keep only what you use. I know, this is a hard one to get a grasp on. I find myself with appliances and kitchen gadgets that I’ll need someday. If I went through my pantry, cupboards and drawers, I’m sure I could easily part with a lot of stuff. And that’s just in my kitchen.
  2. Label storage totes. As anyone who celebrates any holidays or lives in a climate like we do, there are always items that only get used a few days out of the year, but are too pricey to replace each year. By investing is some transparent totes and labels, you will see at a glance what you have stacked in your storage room. This method also works for the craft supplies creatives seem to accumulate. (Ahem!)
  3. If it doesn’t fit, toss it. This doesn’t mean you have to throw away items of clothing that don’t fit into the trash. There are plenty of organizations that will take donated clothing. If you blew your clothing budget on some higher end outfits, there’s always the option of selling online or via local Buy & Sell groups. When I went through my closet, I gave several bags to a local church. After Mom passed away, we did the same with her clothes.
  4. Sort and file. Although I think about receipts when I say this, it also applies to mail, magazines and anything else we bring into our homes. Whether it be groceries, toiletries or the ever-constant paperwork, it’s better to take a few moments to put everything in its place right away. I do admit, I tend to slack occasionally then spend a lot more time playing catch-up.
  5. Invest in shelving and storage units. Let’s face it, we have to keep some stuff. We need bedding, clothing, dishes, towels and all of the other things required for daily living. By creating a space for the necessities, then keeping those spaces organized, the clutter can easily be kept under control. Whether it’s bookshelves, storage bins or dividers in your closet, having an orderly system for your possessions will be beneficial.

I know it’s often easier said than done, but if we can part with the things we don’t use, we will soon enjoy a less cluttered home. And if you can make a few extra dollars by selling what you no longer need or use, your holiday or retirement fund will thank you for it.

Embracing Creativity

It’s funny how, as we get older, our priorities and interests change.

At this point in life, I am more about spending time with family and friends than taking on extra shifts at work, or burning the candle at both ends at home. I have to admit, I still do the latter occasionally but am getting better at knowing when enough is enough.

As an independent author and all around creative person, I find myself with several projects on the go at one time. I enjoy the flexibility I have to not only earn an income from my job as a library assistant, but also from my creative venues.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am fortunate enough to be able to have an Etsy Shop. It allows me to sell my crafts, patterns and even my digital products. And because I like my customers to enjoy a bargain every now and again, I select certain products to put on sale. I have added a 25% discount on a few select items until July 31, with one of them being my Pipestone Creek Romance Series. The boxed set is not available on any other platform, so for those who like to read a series start to finish, now’s the time to take advantage of it.

The older I get, the more I like to create. Whether it be with words, yarn or fabric, I embrace my creativity. There was a time when I was afraid to show others what I had made or written; now I just do what pleases me. If they like what I do, the compliments and even the sales will follow. If not, they will move on to something else. That used to bother me, but not anymore.

Creativity doesn’t just come in the form of crafts or writing. If you paint, you’re creative. If you like to design houses, you’re creative. If you like to garden, you’re creative. There are so many outlets to let your creativity come through. Sometimes the hardest part is letting yourself embrace it rather than deny yourself the pleasure.

I try to take time when I wake up to write my morning pages. I have found them to be a wonderful tool to work through a problem, or just wrap my head around a project I’m considering. I have been doing them for several months now, and have noticed more significant progress being made; both in my creativity and how I handle daily events. Between my bullet journal, morning pages and evening journaling I now have a better grasp on my projects, don’t feel so scatterbrained and am able to stay on task better.

My fauxdori has become my lifeline, as it contains my bullet journal, morning pages, brainstorming notebook and a notebook for whatever else I want to write down. Without it I don’t think I’d be as organized as I am now; perhaps the most organized I have ever been. Learning and adapting to change as a person ages is a good thing. And, it helps us embrace our creativity; whether we recognize it or not.

Are you a creative person? Where does your expertise lie?

Feel free to post your answers in the comment section below. Thanks for reading, and know that if you have any thoughts on being over half a century old, positivity helps.

Photo credit: Diane Ziomek 2019 Also used for Etsy listing.

10 Ways to Add to Your Nest Egg

Image by SidLitke from Pixabay

Let’s face it; the cost of living keeps increasing while our wages stay the same. This post will show you how to earn a little extra cash you can squirrel away.

If you’re like me, you may be worried about not having enough in your savings to fund the golden years. Pensions for the average person barely cover living expenses, not to mention luxuries such as going out occasionally or taking the time to travel.

As long as I can remember, I have always made a little extra cash here and there when I needed it. That hasn’t changed as I’ve gotten older, but the amount I need to earn has changed. My paycheque barely covers my share of our household expenses, so I supplement it with little side hustles. Below are 10 ways I have been able to earn money over the years, and you can too. Note you will not find links to survey sites or game sites. These are practical ways to earn, and if you put in the effort you can earn a lot.

  1. Etsy. I have had an Etsy Shop for almost five years. I started it in September 2014, and have sold crocheted items, handspun yarn, dryer balls, printables, patterns and more.
  2. Fiverr. Fiverr is a platform where you can post gigs you’ll do for five dollars and up. I am currently taking a break from the site, but only because summer is here and I am unable to commit to fulfilling my obligations. I would rather deactivate my gigs than be unable to deliver them. The site is reputable and they pay on time.
  3. Sellfy. I have been selling digital products on Sellfy for a few years now. Some things have changed since I began, with the biggest change being it is now completely up to the seller to generate traffic to their products. The five percent of the selling price they take as a fee is one of the lowest out there, so the earning potential is great. I don’t earn that type of royalty when I sell a book on Amazon or Kobo, so sales on Sellfy are always a bonus.
  4. Crafts Sales. If you’re a crafty person and enjoy socializing, you can sell your creations at Farmer’s Markets, Craft Sales and Holiday Markets. My personal experience with sales has been positive, although I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert. I found having practical items along with some more specialized items is a good balance. When catering to holiday shoppers, it’s always a good idea to have items in varying price points. Wood workers, fiber artists, painters, jewelry makers, quilters, etc are always welcome at holiday markets.
  5. Pattern Design. I enjoy designing crochet patterns for practical items. If you click on the Etsy link above, you’ll be taken to my shop where you can see how many I have designed. If you like to design patterns of any craft, I highly recommend it. The best part is you just put the time in once, and can sell as many copies as you wish. I have sold several copies of a sweater pattern I designed, and it still sells even without active promotion.
  6. Baking. This isn’t one I have done much of, especially since food handling regulations have changed. In my early days of markets, I have baked cakes and cookies and they sold quickly. If you like to bake and would like to supplement your income, then fresh-baked goods are always good sellers. I do suggest you check with the rules and regulations concerning selling food items in your area.
  7. Clothing Alterations and Repair. If you are one of those people who doesn’t mind hemming jeans or replacing zippers, you could find yourself with a growing customer base. Back when my children were little, I did hemming and basic repairs to help pay some bills. I did it to supplement our income, not because I enjoyed it. I would sooner cut and sew fabric into a quilt than spend hours doing repairs, but that’s just me. Clothing repair is a profitable venture for the right person.
  8. Babysitting. When my children were little, my ex husband said I had to get a job to help pay the bills. After my paycheques mostly went to the babysitter I had to hire, I decided to be a Dayhome Provider instead. Not only did I contribute more to our household income, I was there to raise my own children. I no longer had to worry about whether or not they were being taken care of properly.
  9. Revenue Share Sites. If you like to write, I highly recommend HubPages as a platform. It was the first platform I submitted my own articles on, and I still earn from some of the first articles today. Other revenue share sites have come and gone, but HubPages has been there for several years. They do have a payment threshold, but there’s no reason you can’t cash in every month or two. I suggest tutorials and evergreen articles, as they will earn income over the long term.
  10. eBooks. Once again, if you like to write then there’s no reason you can’t earn an income from your writing. Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, you have the power to publish your own work and earn royalties. I have self-published all of my books, and earn a little each and every month. Some months it’s cents, other months it’s dollars. If you’re interested in taking the nonfiction route, I have written a twelve module course to walk you through it from idea to publishing and beyond.

The above list consists of ways I have (and in some cases, still do) made extra money. I have tried the survey sites and playing games for points, but there’s nothing as reliable as doing some honest work. Plus, when you create your own product, you have full control over pricing, distribution and can make any changes necessary. In the case of babysitting and clothing repair, you choose your own hours and how much you want to do.

I appreciate the clicks on the links I have provided, although you’re under no obligation to sign up or purchase anything. The links are simply provided so you can get a feel for what I do, and what some of the sites I deal with offer.

Thanks for reading, and I sincerely hope you have found something valuable in this post.

Welcome to my new blog!

I have been blogging and online in other forms for years, but I have decided it’s time to embrace what life after fifty has to offer.  

For those of you who don’t know me: I’m a mom, spouse, indie author, fibre artist, part-time library assistant, pet owner and so much more. I decided to start this blog because all of what I do doesn’t fit into my craft or author blogs. Plus, there are other avenues yet to be explored.

I am a creative person, and my creativity isn’t limited to only words and crafts. It carries out into other parts of my life and into my garden. There’s so much to be shared, and since I am now over fifty I find myself feeling short on time. Do you ever feel there just aren’t enough hours in the day?

My goal with this blog is to help you become more about who you want to be than who you feel you have to be. I have spent a lifetime trying to be someone I’m not, and finally decided “screw it; I am who I am and it’s time to embrace it”. Life is about growing, learning and gaining experience. We never stop doing any of those things, because our world is constantly changing. 

I have decided to fight the attitude I had of “growing old gracefully” so today I dyed my hair to cover the grey, started this new blog and am going to make a more conscious effort to drop about twenty to thirty pounds. And trust me, the latter will be the most difficult of all. Plus, I’m going to spend more time living and less time worrying (I hope).

I invite you to join me on my journey of life after fifty; I’m sure I’m in for one hell of a ride.