Sunday, September 06, 2009

Happy New (School) Year! from Kate Walker

At this time of year I get a sort of ‘New Year’ feeling, with a sense of being ready to sort things out, reorganise and plan the next stage of the year. I suppose it comes from all those years of being at school, then university – and then having my son and my husband (as a teacher) starting new academic years at the beginning of September. I love the idea of new terms with all the new notebooks, pens and pencils that go along with them.

Of course these days I’m far more likely to be using a new file on the computer but I still love those new notebooks and pens to scribble down my ideas and an ‘academic year’ diary works wonderfully to help me plan out all the plans and commitments I have for the next twelve months coming up.

So it seems appropriate that I’m working on a brand new book at this time of year. A new story with a fabulous Greek hero – a man who’s scarred in more ways than one. This is a book that I was specially asked to write by my editor with plans for it fitting in to a special mini series that’s coming out next year. I’ll be able to tell you more about that when it is finalised and ready to come out but for now I’m really enjoying working on this and meeting the challenge of the special series it’s in.

And I've been reorganising and updating my web site ready for the upcoming months. I've slightly scared myself when I realised just how many workshops/talks/courses and other events I have ahead of me - and this week I just had two more enquiries. So I'm obviously going to be very busy. (If you're in the UK and able to come to any of these, they're listed on my Events page.)

And in the 'new' spirit, I also have a couple of new books coming up. Well, one of them isn't exactly 'new' - more a new edition. But I wanted to let my American readers know that there is some great news about my How To Write book, the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. This has just come out in a USA edition to make it easier for you to get hold of it. And at first the published wanted to bring it out at the price that Amazon had been charging for it - $27.50. But that was the cost of the import edition and it didn't seem right to have to pay that much for an American edition that is much more easily available. So I discussed it with them and managed to arrange for the price to be brought down to $19.99. If you're interested in this new edition, the details are on my web site too.

And then I have a brand-new novel coming out. Kept For Her Baby is out in Presents EXTRA in October. It's already out in the UK in Mills & Boon Modern and on sale on eHarlequin (in the ebook edition and in print). And it's always a thrill to have a brand-new copy in my hands for the first time. I love walking into a bookshop and seeing my title on the shelves - specially when this book has such a fabulous cover.

And now I'm trying to get the next book finished and off to my editor, while preparing for the next workshop, the next talk. I've even (I'd better whisper this!) started planning and even buying a couple of things for Christmas! My excuse is that I have friends and family in many corners of the world and I have to be ready to post thinngs off to them well in advance - and it is only three months away!

You see, that's what this 'New Term, New Year' feeling does - it makes you start looking ahead and planning.

So what about you? Do you wait till New Year to start making resolutions and plans? Or like me do you decide you can do this at any time of the year - and the start of the new school year just seems to fit?

And what are your very best 'getting organised' tips to help me?

I have a signed copy of my brand new book Kept For Her Baby to give away to someone who comes up with the best and most inspiring idea.
I finally got organised enough to find Sid the Cat and get him to pick a winner from the comments - and the winner he picked is MARY.
So Mary please email me here and I'll organise sending your signed copy of Kept For Her Baby to you.

Thank you to everyone who commented there are some really great ideas there!


chey said...

Like you, I don't always wait for New Years to make resolutions. As for getting organized, I have to make lists and check things off.

Laney4 said...

Hi! Happy "new year"!

No, I never wait until Jan 1 to start my resolutions and plans. I sit down TODAY and decide what I want and how to go about it. For example, we wanted our driveway expanded to fit our two children's cars. I wrote down the steps. (I'm a list person, like Chey.) Call pavers. Arrange estimates. Follow-up with unreturned calls so many days later. Once we had the estimates, we knew who we wanted, but it meant that we'd be paying more for the City to expand our culvert. Called City Hall who referred me to Engineering who referred me to Planning who referred me to Public Works who referred me ... you get the drift. One step at a time. So that I don't forget to do these things, I write them on my dry-erase board in the kitchen AND in detail in my day planner (portable). Sometimes I delay till the next day by putting an arrow to the next calendar box....

Some "jobs" make more sense to leave until the school year begins. Trust your gut feeling on this; otherwise, you'll probably get upset when things don't go well.

I'm currently on my "I haven't had a pop nor had a nighttime snack since Aug 15/09" kick. I've been on these kicks before, but I am more motivated than ever now. There was no way I could put this off till Jan 1/10.

I require visual cues. I leave the empty tissue box on the steps to remind me to bring the new box downstairs ... I write down when I'm down to the last grocery item so I can buy more when they're on sale (I try to go without until they're on sale) ... I label my pantry shelves (and move the labels, if necessary) so I know what's at the back AND front of the shelves ... I rotate groceries and my family knows to always take from the right lineup of cans ... I've labeled my linen closet too, as it includes bathroom, cold, and hygiene supplies, in addition to bedding, etc. ... I have definitive areas in my crawl space for storage (stuff I don't use now but may use later, Christmas, yard sale, wrapping supplies, soaps/detergents, empty boxes) ... and a place for everything and hopefully everything in its place....

There are many days that I "only" do the stuff that "has" to be done that day, rather than the stuff I'd "like" to get done "sometime soon". You have to be flexible. My MIL has the beginnings of Alzheimer's, so there are several times a week when we must/want to bring her to our home. I don't get a lot done those days, but I treasure any time I'm with her (as I always have), and I'm grateful she still knows her family. Having lost the other three parents during the past 19 years, I realize that I'm doing what I can and know in my heart that I won't feel any guilt about not doing enough. I'm "accepting what I cannot change" and embracing it. My DH took his mom on a ferry ride recently, and she thought she'd never been on one before. It was scary for her at first but then quite enjoyable. Afterward, he bought her an ice cream cone. She was SOOO happy. THAT's what matters.

With all that said, at this moment I have a pile of stuff on my kitchen chair waiting to come downstairs when my hands are empty. I have various odds and ends on the upstairs steps waiting to go upstairs, again when my hands are empty. I was two months behind on my newspapers until last week, and now I'm back to being a day behind (which is much better, but still needs work). I have piles of papers all over my office, including on the floor. That's "life"!

I hope your "life" is going well. As Richard Carlson wrote, "Don't sweat the small stuff!" (which is part of the title with a bunch of organizational books for home and work).

booklover0226 said...

To organize tasks, I write a "to do" list, with deadlines. Ask I complete each task, I'll scratch it off with a red pen.

To organize documents/reciepts/mail stuff, I use expanding folders. At the beginning of each year, I "put together" a small storage box and label 12 expanding folder for each month. After paying a bill, I place the receipt in the appropriate month's folder.

For making resolutions, I make them as I see fit. I don't wait until the new year. For example, if I clean out a closet, I "treat" myself by buying a book, or two or five....

Mary Kirkland said...

I don't wait until the New Year to make resolutions or lists of what what needs to be done. If I did that it would all seem like it was piling up at one time and the list would be to big. So I make lists all year long.

To keep things organized I buy those plastic tupperware tubs with lids and label each one. Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Crafts, misc.., ect. Then I make sure to put things in each tub throughout the year for that holiday or for crafts.

I also have a greeting card organizer because there always seems to be a birthday, wedding, baby shower ect...that comes up out of nowhere and I'd have to run out and get a card. So this file box has a place for all the different greeting cards such as wedding, thank you, birthday well as the months labeled. I always buy a card whenever I'm in the grocery store and stick it in the box so I never run out of greeting cards and it has come in handy so many times.

Caroline said...

Phew Kate! Busy busy! Not sure if I can beat the great tips of the previous bloggers but something I learned whilst "on the road" is to try and plan journeys so that you keep the miles to a minimum without going back on yourself. And if you travel frequently to keep a small case prepared with basics like toothpaste, shampoo etc so you don't forget anything once your out of the door! Take care. Caroline x

Mari said...

Good ol' fashioned peer pressure does the trick for me every time! For example, every year I set the same goal for myself---to run and complete a marathon. Yet every year comes and goes and I stand at the side lines handing water to my friends and giving them hi-fives as they pass me by.
This year I made a deal with two other friends in my running club that this year we are going to put up or shut up!
We made a deal and pinky swore that we would train together and finish the marathan that is coming up this fall.
Let me tell you, having two people with you working on the same goal and encouraging you all the way has increased my determination to complete the marathon at last! Not to mention having my phone ring off the hook at 6am reminding me that we are meeting for a run! argh!

A similar strategy worked for me years back when I decided to lose my college freshman (and sophmore, junior, senior) weight once and for all. My old roomate and I gave each other pep talks and talked each other out of junk food, LOL...

Laurie G said...

I have to keep at it year round. I tend to hoard things clothes, books, potential gifts. Usually I forget about them. So now I label every bag, box with adetailed description of what's inside. It really saves time when you go back and don't have to resort through the whole bag looking for one particular item.

i have a to do list and mark off what I've done usually gives me a boost to tackle another chore, not numbered!! Let's me pick at random according to my mood.

I don't schedule!... clean this every tuesday or change sheets every thursday. I'm more spontaneous and prefer to do as they need or I feel like doing them Within limits!

I'm trying to slowly sift through old games, clothes, toys of my children... broken gets tossed, others are put away for my eventual grandkids!

Start small projects, or only work for a limited time 1 hour a week. I'm amazed at how much has gotten done in small doses!

Michele L. said...

Hi Kate,

I make resolutions a couple times a year. Sometimes a break them other times I follow them through. One never knows.

Well, my most creative way to organize is to reward myself with something I really like if I get a particular job done that I don't like to do. Like doing paperwork. I will reward myself with time spent reading a book.

Another great way to get organized, everytime you think of an item you need to do, write it down. Then, make a mental note that coincides with it so you don't forget to do it. Like walk the dog, then put the leash by the front door. Call so and so, and put a note by your telephone so you can see it clearly and will not miss it.

My husband and I when we make our lunches for work we actually put it in the front of the door so we have to actually trip over it to get out. We never forget our lunch or water bottles that way.

Little tricks that way stir your memory and you don't forget what you need to do.

Good luck on finding a system that works for you!

Congratulations on your new book! Hope you had a very nice Labor Day!

robynl said...

I find a 'to do' list is my best bet for organization: I then cross off the things I have accomplished and if I do something and find it is not on the list I add it and cross it off(this makes me feel good). I get up at night to add something I have just remembered I want to do.

I don't need New Years to make resolutions. If the time seems right and my mind is in tune with my body I will do it.

I store many things in totes or suitcases to keep more organized.

Kate Walker said...

Oh wow - so much help and information - ad advice.

And guess what - I got so busy that I didn't have time to come in and answer your comments! Thank you all for all the advice - Laney4 you wrote a whole essay!

I'm going to have to find time to read and study everything

But first i have to go and find Sid the cat and ask him to pick a winner . . .