Organizing, Frustration, & Procrastination

I’ve been a little organizing-crazy lately, if you hadn’t noticed. I’m cataloging books and comic books, my stamp collection, and I have plans to catalog and sift through my Smurf collection in the near future, getting rid of some and paring down what I actually bring in. After all the book organizing a couple weeks ago, I decided to get rid of my carousel collection (save maybe a couple carousel horses), and I think I’m to the point where several of my porcelain dolls can be passed along too.

I (like most of us, I’d wager) go through cycles with things like this – taking control of my “life”, so to speak, and cleaning out things, finances, routines, closets – whatever it is that makes me feel like it’s gotten out of control. I let a lot of things just slide for several years (more, in some cases), and now it’s all pretty much come to a head. Time to clean out and organize and pay off and get “life” in general under control again. Parts of it will stay neat and tidy, parts will not, but none of that matters. Right now it’s all about controlling the things I can.

Yes, this sort of attitude is generally triggered by something that makes me feel like everything is spiraling downward. In this case, it isn’t just one thing, but several, and I’m all too aware that I’m using all this organization partly as a procrastination tool, and partly as a way to make time to think about how to deal with one of the things that I really feel conflicted about – my writing. I have more issues with it than I care to outline here, but in a lot of ways I feel like it’s out of my control (even though it’s really not), and a lot of this “control-grab” behavior stems from frustration at choosing to prioritize other things instead of really focusing on building a writing career. It’s a defeatist attitude that I just can’t seem to shake, so…I deal with it in other ways.

Like reorganizing my entire life.

Obviously, it’s a good thing to have things organized. And it’s never a bad idea to overhaul routines and get household things fixed. There are about a million destructive things I could do with this internal frustration, but I’m choosing to be productive while my subconscious works on trying to find some sort of resolution to the cognitive dissonance that I can live with.

But, I’ll admit, I fully plan to try out a video game system as soon as the husband picks it up from his brother – a PlayStation 3 (if we like it, we’ll get a PS4, so I can play the new Spider-Man game that looks and sounds phenomenal). Which I have no time for, and any time I make for it should be going to publishing stuff (the stuff I don’t really want to do, but I don’t want to pay for, either), but I’m going to do it anyways, because I want to, and…well, that’s good enough reason, really.

I’ll figure out how to deal with my writing issues eventually, but for now…it’s time to get my whole life other than that back in order again. Because…I can.

Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Swapped my vitamins back, and sleep is better, when I get to bed on time. Mostly good, and more sleep on the weekends than normal, but tonight, I’m up late posting this.
Goals check-up: No check-in again. Must do that tomorrow, and again next week!

Writer’s notes for this week

Collections & Cataloging…or Not

I’ve been thinking about the stuff I collect lately – what, why, and how. I have several collections: stamps, comic books, smurfs, dolls, carousels, and if you want to call it a “collection”, we can include our fairly extensive library. Not all of my collections are active – I haven’t gotten a new carousel in years, and aside from a Halloween one I have my eye on for our SpookyTown collection, I doubt I’ll add more to that collection anytime soon. It simply takes up too much space, sadly. And while I add a doll to my collection here and there, they’ve been mostly Halloween/zombie dolls lately, rather than the standard porcelain dolls I started collecting as a kid.

I don’t actually have many “good” reasons for collecting the things I do…or most of them, anyways. I collect things because I like them, and I’ll admit to a fair amount of guilt about my Smurf collection, which is 95 percent plastics (the kind that never breaks down, and also spews harmful toxins into the atmosphere both when created and when burned). I started collecting Smurfs because I like them, but also because my mom was struggling with gift ideas and I thought that would be an easy thing for her to get. Which turns out not to be true, because my mom doesn’t shop online, and finding them in town is nearly impossible, though there are occasionally some at the antique malls. So. Backfire in so, so many directions there, though my dad does figure out how to order them online. I think I’ll start asking for only Smurfs that were found at garage sales and/or antique stores. Smurfs that have been around the block, so to speak, or porcelain/metal Smurfs. But I digress…

Why don’t I ask for stuff for my other collections? Because books are difficult to ask for – I generally buy what I want, and I don’t want to ask for anything expensive (say, collectors editions, etc). And I’ve tried asking for stuff for my stamp collection many, many times, and no one will buy me stamps for gifts. Which is all kinds of annoying, but there it is. My other collections are, as I said, stagnant, largely because they require room, and I really don’t have any more to give them.

In any case, I go back and forth on whether to catalog my collections or not. The one main reason to do so is for insurance purposes (in case of a fire or some other such disaster), and the other reason is to keep track of what I have so I can avoid or sell duplicates, and so I know what I still want/need for each. I suppose a third reason would be for records and liquidation in the case of my “untimely demise”, so my husband (or whoever) would know what was valuable and what’s just flotsam to get rid of at a lower price.

On the other hand, cataloging a collection is a lot of work, and very time-consuming. So I tend to put it off even though in the case of things like books and stamps, it would be very beneficial to know what I have before I buy anything new (or old, as the case may be).

Luckily, there’s pretty decent software out there for cataloging collections, and I just bought a really handy stamp catalog program called StampMate this week (and started putting stamps into it). It’s going to take me quite a long time to get all of my stamps cataloged, but I think it’ll be really nice having that information at my fingertips, so to speak. Especially if I ever get to attend a bonefide stamp show.

This coming weekend is Labor Day weekend here in the states, and my husband is *finally* going to trim out the bookcases he made for the office last year. But this means that all the books have to come off the shelves, and then be re-shelved once everything is square and the trim is on. Which seems like it might be a good time to start cataloging our library. I have the CLZ Book Collector app (and the comic book collector app too), and it has a barcode scanner with a pretty decent database on the back end, so that should make the process much easier than if I had to enter everything in by hand. It’s just the old/antique books that will take some manual entry work. That’s not too bad, really.

Will I ever get my Smurfs and spoons cataloged? I’d like to think so, but maybe not. It won’t be anytime soon, I don’t think, because there really aren’t good databases out there already for those sorts of things (that I know of), so I’d have to make my own spreadsheet or database, which is even more time consuming than just cataloging. But I may get around to it eventually. I doubt any of my collectors spoons are worth much, but some of the Smurfs I have are. It would be good to at least have the more valuable pieces cataloged, I suppose.

Do you collect…stuff? If so, do you catalog it? Or do you just enjoy it as is, and leave it at that?

Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Most nights, was at least 5-10 min. late getting to bed or sleep. Not sure what was up there, but annoying!
Goals check-up: Checked in, but not doing so well. Still working on finances, and this week, cleaning too.

Writer’s notes for this week

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Gettin’ Organized, Stayin’ Healthy, Movin’ Forward

Super-quick recap: Magnesium rocks, hormones suck, and aging is hell on the body. Yes, I know I’m not all that old yet, but man…my metabolism decided to just go on vacation once I hit the late 30’s, and now in my 40’s I’m trying rather desperately to drag it back and get it under control. Annoying, but possible, perhaps. Now that I’ve gotten my supplements in line and my focus & motivation back (thank God), I’m weight lifting again, which feels really good, and hopefully will be the final piece in my “put your metabolism back to work” puzzle. I don’t miss much about my younger years, but a healthy, fast metabolism is definitely one of those things.

In any case, the whole “getting my focus back” thing has made me realize just how nutty my brain actually was for the last few years, and also how much I need to put some new organizing structures in place now that I can actually see the way forward again. Some of that is household related – budgeting, meal planning, restructuring routines, and some of it is side-business related – namely, publishing. I started wondering how I’d kept things going for so long in that ridiculously unmotivated mindset, and then I realized, I really haven’t. Which is probably why I’ve been having trouble keeping track of things with this latest release I’m trying to do. I needed to buy ISBNs, and kept forgetting. Had a huge struggle with cover art for a lot of reasons, but one was not having a clear vision of the series as a whole. And then getting formatting scheduled, leaving myself time for uploading and getting the print copy put together and the print wrap done and writing a blurb, getting a couple new web sites up and running for the new alter-ego….

I was sort of drowning in everything, to be honest. And I knew what I needed was something (paper, digital, whatever!) to help me manage my writing projects. I’ve needed something to help me keep track of characters, profiles and important scenes for a long time, and nothing’s worked long term, but while I was looking for project management software this week (and not really wanting to pay an arm and a leg for it after buying more ISBNs), I actually came up with something I think will work perfectly for me, both for publishing project management and keeping writing projects organized.

If you haven’t heard of mind mapping, go check out MindMeister. It’s mind-mapping on steroids, and includes notes, task lists and due dates, and is easily used by collaborators if that’s your thing. And then MeisterTask is a sort of companion program, and you can actually create a mind map, and then export the items into a MeisterTask list in order to have a very convenient and easy to organize “kan ban board” style of task list. And both the mind map and task list have email notifications, so you don’t have to keep checking the list for what’s next if you set deadlines right up front.

Not everyone’s mind works this way, but I tell you what – just using the free versions of those two tools got my latest publishing project organized in about 20 minutes (and that’s just due to the learning curve). I can’t see myself ever needing more than the free version of MeisterTask, and I may eventually pony up for the lowest tier of MindMeister just for the ability to print maps that I make for my series books.

Yes, I get excited about new organizing tools. I love them – always have. I’ve been using “You Need A Budget” (YNAB) for budgeting, which I both hate and love at the same time. I hate budgeting, period – always have. But I need to budget and get some debt paid down and just get control of my spending, so I’m forcing myself. It’s not always easy, and never actually “fun”, but it is working, so I’ll keep doing it. *sigh*

I really need to do the same basic thing with food – “budget”. I’m kind of a food hoarder, so I buy way too much, and then waste way too much. I also spend too much time deciding what to make on any given day for both lunch and dinner (except Mondays, when lunch is always burritos, Thursdays, when dinner is always pizza, and Fridays, when lunch is always…leftover pizza). I need to develop a good solid meal plan and dinner rotation so the decisions are made on the weekends, and I don’t have to think much during the week – just cook.

Note: the calendar software I have already has meal-planning capabilities, so while there are “sexier” programs out there, I’m doing my level best to use what I have. I think I may have the most luck though with a couple of simple menu boards for the kitchen. Sometimes low-tech is still the best way to actually get something done.

In that same vein, I may have just ordered some new cookware for one of my cousin’s online Pampered Chef parties. I have a small kitchen that is overflowing with Pampered Chef (and other stuff), but I managed to convince myself that new bakeware would come in handy.

So. Menu-planning to use food, and now to use/justify new cookware too. Sounds about right. Right?