Tag Archives: schedule

What Day of the Week Is It?

clocksAt first, I started wondering if it was just me who was losing his marbles.

For someone who has always kept a close eye on the clock and the calendar to ensure the timely completion of tasks, rarely did I ever lose track of the day of the week… except maybe around national holidays which often messed up the natural order of things.

But in retirement, it’s a different story. With fewer deadlines to anchor my sense of time, there have been weeks when I couldn’t tell my Tuesday from my Wednesday.

It didn’t take long for me to see the sharp contrast between my work life and my retirement life to understand why this happens and how logically, it makes perfect sense… at least in my mind.

The routine before the pandemic

Before the pandemic, it would have been unthinkable to go a full work day without checking my calendar at least a few times. Just the process of keeping an eye out for that day’s deliverables and the ones in the coming days provided multiple reminders to reinforce what day of the week it was.

On top of that, each day of the week had its fixed milestones, such as weekly meetings, the delivery of weekly status updates on key files, or the completion of time sheets at the end of the week. Each of these tasks served as additional points of reference in the constant juggling act of time management. Continue reading

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Eight Benefits of Banking Blog Posts

piggy bankI’d like to let you in on a little behind-the-scenes secret. Since the summer of 2017, to stay on top of my blog’s weekly posting schedule, I have been maintaining a “bank” of completed blog posts.

The original intent was to have enough blog posts stored up for the summer to enable me to pursue another creative opportunity without having to step away from the blog and risk losing momentum or followers.

For more information on how I was able to accomplish this, check out my post: “My New Blogging Strategy: Banking Blog Posts.”

When the summer was over, with the satisfaction of having spread my wings creatively while still keeping the blog active, I appreciated how it improved my relationship with time and with my creativity.

Over time, the benefits of this practice started adding up:

1. Benefit: Ongoing adherence to my blog schedule
One would think that producing one quality story for the blog every week is pretty easy. For the most part, I think it is, but there are weeks when life presents other unexpected priorities.

Similarly, there are some weeks when inspiration is not at its peak. Haven’t we all been there at one time or another?

When that happens, instead of skipping a week, or posting at a different day or time, having a stock of material (completed ahead of time) allows me to continue posting new content each week at the same time.

2. Benefit: Better focus
Weeks when inspiration and free time are in abundance, the goal of developing a stock of extra stories provides a great outlet to channel any excess creative energy.

3. Benefit: Better quality
During a week when inspiration might not be at its best, having extra blog posts means I don’t have to force myself to produce a post when the words don’t come easily, and potentially, for it to not be my best work.

Also, by having a number of stories sitting at the finish line (sometimes for a few weeks at a time), it allows significantly more time to go back and review posts with a fresh pair of eyes.

By stepping away from a finalized post, I am better able to return and catch editorial details that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks for a post that was published soon after completion. It surprises me how I can still catch little things several weeks after a post was considered completed.

4. Benefit: Better adherence to my mission
Stepping away from a completed story and returning with a fresh pair of eyes also allows me to run the material through many personal filters, ensuring the post is consistent with the overall direction of the blog: light, fun, uplifting and kind.

Given the state of the world, news cycles can be pretty gloomy, day after day. The opportunity to reviews posts a few more times helps me to ensure that the negative energy of current events didn’t accidentally spill over into my content.

5. Benefit: “Oops! I forgot something”
In the early years of the blog, how many times have I published a post, only to be struck by an “aha!” moment a few minutes later? Having a post in queue for publishing allows the creativity to keep simmering on the back burner. If perfect wording only hits me later, the opportunity to adjust is still there. Conversely, I have also gone back and removed wording that didn’t sit well with me days or weeks later.

6. Benefit: Confidence
What surprised me was that after more significant “post-production” work has taken place, a sense of confidence sets in. When my blogging process has allowed for benefits #1 to #5 to take place, and I get to a point where I am no longer tweaking a given post, I can move on to other material and to truly feel in the moment when working on it.

7. Benefit: Spending more time on more challenging posts
When I know that the coming week’s blog post is taken care of, it allows me to clear my mind and not worry about the week’s deadline. With that clarity, I can truly give a more challenging post the time it needs, whether in the form of research or intense literary engineering, to keep working at it until it strikes the right chord.

8. Benefit: Opportunity to reject, revisit and rework
Similarly, a solid bank of blog posts also provides me with the freedom to take a draft that I am struggling with and to potentially return it to the “ideas” folder when it just isn’t coming together organically. I am convinced that inspiration will strike when I least expect it.

In retrospect, there was nothing wrong with the way I started my blogging process. Producing a blog post every week, for publication that same week, was a beneficial discipline building exercise in itself. It also helped me in learning how not to overthink a post and when to move on to the next one. However, it was not without its pressure cooker moments.

Over time I realized that working on the blog is not always a linear process of writing a post from beginning to end.

When I have an idea for a post, I never really know how long it will take to get from an idea to first draft to final. To give an idea its full due diligence can sometimes take longer than a week.

Also, the creative spirit has its own ebb and flow. Some weeks, I feel very inspired and can produce several first drafts. Other weeks, my frame of mind might lend itself better to editing those drafts and moving a story (or two) (or three) across the finish line.

By having several posts in queue, ready for publishing, I find myself feeling less pressure about deadlines and can truly focus on the craft of writing.

The bottom line is that when I know that my weekly post is polished and ready, whether I am more inspired to develop new ideas or to finalize posts that have been drafted, I have the peace of mind to go with the flow, creatively speaking, and to confidently produce my best work.

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, your likes and shares are most appreciated.
If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Reprogramming the Cat

At Ivy-the-Wonder-Cat’s last vet appointment, I was told the news that I suspected was coming: It was time to start watching her weight.

I always thought that when it came to her diet, she was pretty much self-guiding. I was reading product labels for calorie counts and I kept an eye on the amount of wet and dry food she ate. Between the days she ate more and the days she ate less, it seemed to average out to the target calorie range… or so I thought.

But it also averaged out to one extra pound every year that she had been with me. If I wanted Ivy to have a healthy, long life, we needed to curb that increase.

After going over our daily routine, the vet and I came up with some solutions. I was apprehensive that Ivy would put up a fuss, but the vet reassured me that cats like structure, and these measures were just going to reinforce what they crave anyway.

When I think about it, there have been times that I could set a clock to Ivy’s behaviour, like when she is heading upstairs between 9:58 p.m. and 10:02 p.m. because to her, it’s bedtime. I don’t even have to suggest it.

Even as I wrote the first draft of this blog at 9:00 am on a Saturday morning, she walked by, yawned and crawled into her cat bed. She’s pretty punctual. Maybe these changes will work.

The first step was to have just one feeding station. Continue reading

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50 Reasons Why I Love Having a Cat in My Life

1. For a cat, life is pretty simple.
2. She doesn’t linger about the past.
3. She doesn’t worry about the future.
4. She lives in the moment.
5. She is a constant reminder about keeping things in perspective.
6. She reminds me not to sweat the small stuff.
7. She doesn’t judge me… or at least, I don’t think she does.
8. Transporting those 33 lb bags of kitty litter keeps me fit.
9. The loud meowing greeting I get when I get home from work is always a treat! It could be that maybe she’s just hungry and wants her food now, but I hear “I missed you” in every meow.
10. When I come home from work and I need to make the immediate transition to cat dad, it helps me to leave the office at the office. Continue reading

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My Love/Hate Relationship with Software Updates

As a blogger and as a writer, a well-functioning computer is absolutely essential to ensure the smooth flow of ideas from the brain to the device.
But to get to that point, do the software updates have to be so long, painful and intrusive?

Whether at home or at the office, it seems that computers have a mind of their own when it comes to updates. Even though I have Windows Update on a strict schedule to seek, download and process updates in the middle of the night (an option for which I am so-o-o-o grateful), it’s the other software applications that need to take a lesson if they don’t want to be deleted from my life.

How many times do I have a glimmer of creative brilliance, only for my keyboard to stop responding in the middle of it, as a dialogue box pops up telling me to save all my work for an urgent update that will download in 5 minutes? Of course, as Murphy’s Law has it, updates like this happen most in the middle of corporate emergencies with tight deadlines. Stupid machine!

On another occasion, I showed up for work knowing I had a meeting 5 minutes after my arrival. I just needed to see where the meeting was being held and I would be on my merry way. But no! My computer wouldn’t allow me to check my calendar as it needed to make an update as soon as I got in. Why couldn’t it do it just before I arrived, when it was on but idle? Stupid machine! Since then, before leaving the office, I review my calendar for the next day in case of early meetings… just in case! Continue reading

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Enjoying the Holidays without Overcharging the Senses

When I wrote the blog post “How I Became an Early Christmas Shopper”, I suggested that the reason why I felt more inclined to shop earlier and avoid the mayhem of malls in December, was perhaps a question of becoming more sensitive.

One year later, after a series of discussions with a therapist, I realize it may not be a question of “becoming” more sensitive. In all likelihood, I always was.

Even though I stand right on the line between introvert and extrovert, with one foot well into extrovert territory, it is still easy for me to get overwhelmed. There is no shortage of events in the month of December to overcharge one’s senses:

– Faster pace: The office often gets busier with a surge of activity in trying to tie up loose ends on projects and produce the last status reports of the year, before everyone takes vacation time.

– More activity: The social calendar tends to fill with holiday parties and lunches with family, friends and co-workers.

– Sensory stimulation: Shopping malls with lights and decorations hanging from every nook and cranny, with the aroma of hundreds of perfumes hanging in the air, as music blares from shops like they are nightclubs, while kids scream from being hungry, too warm, too tired or all of the above.

– And on an empathetic level, as much as people romanticize it as being “the most wonderful time of the year”, there is no shortage of negative energy in the air to soak up through people’s rushing, their impatience, their aggressive driving and their temper tantrums in stores. Continue reading

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When a Writer Gets Cold Feet

Aside from writer’s block, could there be a worse feeling than a sudden bout of analysis paralysis over hitting the “Enter” button to send or publish a written work?

Over the course of 204 blog posts, I am very fortunate in that it has not happened often, but it does… and it freaks me out each time!

When I published my first few blog posts back in 2013, I think it was perfectly understandable to take a moment …or two …or three to think twice before hitting “Publish” in my WordPress application as I was sending my work on the World Wide Web to be seen and read by anybody with a computer and a connection.

Does my post say anything that might inadvertently rub someone the wrong way? Could something be taken out of context or misconstrued? Could a blog post cast a negative light on anyone or anything, even if I went to great pains to ensure it did not? Will it generate any negative mail?

It’s a lot of pressure to take in as a new blogger, more so than the idea “will anyone read it?” Frankly if the latter was my problem, there would be little pressure.

But over time, as my written works were met with a warm reception, kind comments and a generous spirit of encouragement from readers and fellow writers, the pressure mostly passed.

But when I write a piece, especially one that has been incubating in my mind and on paper for several days, weeks or even months, why is it only when I am about to hit Enter (or even worse, shortly thereafter) that I get cold feet? Continue reading

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25 Ways to Jinx Things

On a recent drive to work, I marvelled at how traffic seemed unusually better. It was mid-week, there should have been more traffic, there was a light snow falling, the roads were a little greasy, there could have been accidents, but I was making it to work in record time. I was one exit away from my destination when I dared to say out loud “Wow, I made it in good time!”

BIG MISTAKE!… HUGE!

As soon as I turned the corner after that big overpass, there were line-ups galore. There was indeed an accident ahead, backing up traffic in all lanes. You would think I would have known better.

It just seems that I have a talent for making joyful upbeat comments like that and then for something to come along and prove me wrong… within seconds.

I think it’s a talent, my partner thinks otherwise. Funny enough, he knows exactly when I am about to say one of those, as I don’t even have to open my mouth and he will interject with a smile, “Don’t say it!”, pre-empting my overly positive observation. But he is absolutely right.

Similarly, have you ever noticed how a fresh litter box will usually get a cat’s bladder or bowels (or both) moving within minutes? Or how a clean kitchen floor becomes an instant food magnet? These are the types of situations I am referring to.

I am not suggesting that the litter box or kitchen should not be cleaned. Quite the contrary, keep those spotless, but don’t forget to laugh when your bright and sunny achievement is suddenly obscured by big dark clouds. It is just proof that life itself comes with sense of humour too.

I hear I am not alone. Do you recognize any of these sayings which usually lead to less than ideal results?

1-“It’s late February and I still haven’t caught a cold this season”.
2-“That wasn’t so hard” (before the task has been fully completed).
3-“I haven’t had a speeding/parking ticket in x years”.
4-“I haven’t had an accident in x years.
5-“Hey, it’s been weeks since (insert name of pet) has jumped on a counter”.
6-“That has never happened to me!”
7-“We made good time (before arriving).”
8-“Oh good, the line/queue is finally moving.” Continue reading

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