Word of the Month

September is one of my favourite months of the year. It’s harvest time – is there anything more fulfilling? The leaves change colour and the days are mellow and warm, the mornings and evenings crisp and cool. I start making comfort foods. It’s back to school time – and I LOVED going back to school, cracking open new textbooks and scribblers and sharpening pencils.

So it’s no surprise that when September rolls around, I throw myself into work with a renewed energy. I make goals. I make LISTS (I’m a huge list person). I make things and freeze them.

Suddenly I seem to become rather efficient.

So the word of the month for me is productivity. I tend to be really productive in September. My office is now kid and noise free after the low-key, more relaxing summer months with a looser schedule.  Add that into my energy level and it really is a recipe for getting things done.

To be productive, I break things down into lists. My work list for this month includes handing in my latest book before October 1, updating my website and organizing the October promotion for my next releases (and I have 2 in October, which means it’ll be busy).  Then I have longer term goals – my upcoming projects mainly, and ensuring I hit word counts sufficient to make it happen. One thing that’s really helped me focus is the #1k1hr hashtag on twitter. I get a lot done that way!

I have “home” lists too – like projects to finish before Christmas, and another list – what needs to be bought for presents. I hate trying to cram shopping into the last minute, so by organizing it I can have everything done for family (all of which live out of town) by mid-November. If I do that, I’m ready for any opportunity to send things with people if they visit or get them in the mail in lots of time.

I really enjoy the harvest part too, and find myself spending a Saturday peeling 2o lbs of apples to make applesauce to freeze for eating or using in muffins and stuff.

I don’t use any fancy organizational tools, I just make my lists and take great pleasure in checking things off. What about you? How do you organize your life (or do you?) and what are your productivity secrets?

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Award-winning author Donna Alward has the best job in the world: a combination of stay-at-home mom and romance novelist. In 2001 she penned her first novel and found herself hooked on writing romance. In 2006 she sold her first manuscript, and now writes heartwarming Romances from her home in Nova Scotia, Canada. Donna loves to hear from readers; you can contact her through her website at www.donnaalward.com or through her publisher.

Twitter: @DonnaAlward

17 thoughts on “Word of the Month”

  1. You put me to shame, Donna! And I love the photo, so pretty.
    Living alone, as I do, works for and against productivity. On one hand I’m pretty much free to do what I want when I want to. But I have to take care of everything that needs doing, and I tend to create my own distractions. Lists do help and I often make them. But I’ll never equal that whirlwind productivity of yours. Wow.
    🙂

  2. I LOVE September and October. Fall is my favorite time of the year. The crispness in the air, the color of the leaves, and the Fall produce. We like to travel in the Fall. The summer crowds are gone, the weather is perfect, and it is relaxing and enjoyable.

    I too am a list person, but they just seem to get longer no matter how much I manage to cross off. This was not a good summer for accomplishing much. The weather was too hot to do much of anything outside and both the vegetable and flower gardens suffered for it. My arthritis got bad and I didn’t realize how much pain I was in until I finally went to the doctor and got treated. Amazing how much I can get done when I can actually get up and move.

    This Fall we are concentrating on finishing around the house. We bought an 1898 Victorian farm house that needed to be gutted and redone. It has been 19 years and the end is in sight. The result has been boxes of things that have been shuffled room to room and piled up. Life has been anything but organized. My goal this Fall and Winter is to go through all these boxes, sort things and get rid of what we don’t need (the hard part). The past 3 days I have been working on the family room and sunroom, cleaning out book cases and sorting boxes of books. I have three boxes of books to get rid of. I have lots of duplicates and am sure I will find more when I go through all the other boxes of books I have. I collect old books in addition to all the books I have just to read. 40+ bookcases which are over full and enough books in boxes and piles to fill them again. I need to read faster.

    My husband is finishing up a greenhouse addition to our shed. I’ll be able to get out there and get the shed cleaned out, organized, and ready for Spring. My husband and son are framing and grading the driveway and will pour concrete when the weather cooperates. It was too hat to do it this summer. There is a long list of outside things to do.
    I have another list of things to do room by room. It will be so nice to be able to really live in the house rather than look at everything that needs to be done. This weekend is a good start. A little success is great encouragement to keep working and cross more off that never ending list.

    Hope you have a great fall and get to cross lots of things off your list.

  3. Like Elizabeth, I too live alone and can to what I want when I want. I too make lists, but usually one or two items appear on this list repeately and still never get done.
    I love he autumn because it is Apple picking season and I love to go to a near by farm that has those fresh picked Macs and all the other great varaities to choose from. They also make pies and other goodies baked with apples. There are hayrides for the kids and those young at heart, and all kinds of other fun these to do and see and buy.
    Also the Fall Fair start.. Love those..
    So even though I am sad that summer is coming to an end, Autumn is a good time in life.

  4. Wow, you are a productive, busy lady! I like September and the coming months for the same reasons you do the weather change, the colors and harvesting. But I’m not a preserver. I had enough of that growing up and prefer not to do it. I make small lists. Lists for the day and possibly the week if I have a busy schedule. I’m goal oriented and my writing chapters once a week check in for word count keeps me moving forward when life doesn’t get in the way. I’m the same with Christmas. I like to have things done by Thanksgiving so if my relatives gather, I can give them their presents and I can get the ones to Alaska sent early.

  5. My lists are kept more in my head than on paper, but I couldn’t survive without sticky notes for those little reminders that creep in when I’m not expecting them. I’ve got 3 kids at home, and having them return to school is great, but then comes soccer games, band concerts, math competitions, homework help, etc. Since I work full-time as well, things are actually busier for me when school is going than during the summer. But we find a way to make it work, don’t we?

    Wishing you a marvelously productive autumn, Donna!

  6. I remember lists.
    I used to make lists.
    I miss lists.
    I think I’ll go make a list.

    These days, except for grocery lists, I don’t manage to think enough ahead to do much, let alone list what all needs doing.

  7. I don’t know I’d make it without lists. I make them all the time but the most important is a grocery list. I can’t grocery shop without one. I’ve tried but I always forget certain things and end up having to go back again…or multiple times. And in writing I keep lists of all sorts of things like character’s names, places, events, etc.

  8. Hi Donna. I used to be a very organized person. Made lists, prioritized the items, checked them off one by one. I miss those days. These days I’m afraid I pretty much operate on the squeeky wheel method.

    One of my favorite tools to keep me from missing critical deadlines, though, is Memo To Me. It’s a great website/software tool that allows you to set up email reminders for upcoming events. Couldn’t make it these days without it.

  9. Kathleen – I grew up on an apple farm. I know exactly what you mean. In fact we were talking today about going up to the valley (the Annapolis Valley) to get our apples some weekend soon. Our local market carries fruit from my favourite grower, but it’s also fun to make the special trip.

  10. Patricia, renos and refurbishing stresses me out. As much as I love the idea of buying an old house and fixing it up, it is a LOT of work. I bet your place is just beautiful! There’s something about that old construction that is built to last, don’t you think?

  11. Elizabeth – did I mention that I can’t keep up this level of productivity indefinitely? One of the things I do is SCHEDULE downtime! LOL

    Patty – I don’t preserve much either. Not like we did growing up. It really only works if you grow your own stuff. To buy the produce and then the jars and all the work and ingredients – it’s not always worth it, you know? One of my goals for next year is to have a bigger garden. We have so many critters though that we have to put a fence around it! Bunnies are cute but they ate ALL my strawberries! And the deer ate all my apples!

  12. Karen – I know what you mean. Winnie mentioned Memo To Me. I’ve used that for other things, but honestly my number one tool is my outlook calendar. Everything goes on that bad boy. I also have a calendar in the kitchen that hangs on the side of the cupboard. It is one of those school calendar things that is huge and I write down all the hot lunch days and practices and what not on there so I can see it when I visit the fridge. LOL This year I have 2 in band and at least one in 2 different sports. Not to mention orthodontist appointments!

  13. Mary – lol.

    Linda – I’m an utter failure at grocery lists. I always forget to put stuff on. The only foolproof method is to take the husband with me. He LOVES grocery shopping. It’s more expensive but we rarely forget stuff when he goes! (Not to mention the pkg of gummi bears that usually appears on the cashier belt).

  14. Estella…ok, so I admit, my mouth dropped open a little bit. I’m thinking retired….no organization…lovely idea in theory and kudos to you for being so relaxed! 🙂 I have a sad feeling that as I get older my penchant for organization will only get worse!

  15. Hi Donna,

    I love the fall as well especially since Honey Crisp apples hit the grocery, along with mums and cheery fall stuff in the floral department. I love the crisp days and nights, the scent of wood smoke in the air on a chilly, rainy day. I make mental lists but I also have a day timer for appointments, deadline dates, dates I started a story and dates I finished it, query dates…Back in March I had a professional organizer come in and help me get my office organized. I highly recommend it. She was great and now I have a workable system for both business and personal stuff.

    Hope everyone is having a great day,

    Cher

  16. Hi Donna,
    I’ve been glad (FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE) to see fall come to Oklahoma. We have set all kinds of records this year with the heat we’ve had and the lack of rain. But the weird thing was, we had 100 degrees on Saturday, and then on Sunday a “cold front” had moved through and the high was only in the 80’s, and that’s what is going to be going on the rest of this week into next week. At night the temps will be in the 50’s and 60’s! It’s like someone flipped a switch and fall was HERE. LOL Anyhow, I’m with Mary. I remember lists. I used to make lists. Now that my husband has retired, he wants to make lists all the time…some of them for him, some for “other people.” LOL I’m not nearly as organized as I used to be, and I miss that about myself, but I do give myself a break because I had to do it for sooooooooo long, and now that my husband has retired, I tend to spend more time with him and I’m not really good about saying, “OK, I have to go sit down and WRITE now.” Probably as the weather cools off some, that will get easier. Gorgeous picture, btw.
    Cheryl P.

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