Paper Plates and Productivity

Paper Plates and Productivity

I am staring down a full year. When I wrote out my list of goals for 2014 (and it was a long one) I realized I was going to have to make some changes and sacrifices if I wanted to get everything accomplished. 

I wanted to get organized, for one. I’m a fair mess when it comes to work and the evidence is everywhere. I have book notes strewn between three different notebooks that are used for four different things between two rooms in the house. I have half-finished lists everywhere. I used to get up and just fall into whatever work was right in front of me and scramble to get to the rest before my vision grew fuzzy 16 hours later. I would look up and realize it was nearly 7 pm and I hadn’t started a thing for dinner and (gasp) I was still in my robe.

Something had to change. So, using the energy of the New Year I put into effect some changes that, so far, are still working.

I started putting my to-do list together at night for the next day. I found that I needed to later tweek this to put these things in order of priority. (and actually DO them in that order.) This seems like a small thing, but it has been everything. I am 100% more productive from this one practice alone.

I bought separate notebooks for each novel in progress and am in the process of transferring all notes into one organized file.  (spurred a few new ideas in the process)

I bought new readers. I was getting headaches from the old reading glasses I had and needed new ones. Being super frugal I avoided this since the old pair technically still ‘worked’. This has allowed me to read (and work) longer.

I bought several books I’ve been meaning to read, three of which are technical writing books to prepare for the next novel. I created a daily reading schedule to get them all read in a timely manner.

I started delegating chores to the rest of the family to allow myself more time to work. Even more than that, I told myself it’s okay if it doesn’t get done, (we’re talking teenagers here) and I refuse to allow myself to jump up and do it if someone else drops the ball. If they need to eat cereal with a fork because so and so didn’t do the dishes, fine. In short, my  house is a wreck and I’m coming to terms with that. I don’t entertain much anyway.

I watch zero tv. I used to watch a little. Downton Abbey, The Walking Dead (talk about opposite ends of the spectrum) and anything involving a red carpet were the rare exceptions. I have watched zero minutes of TV this calendar year. The new season of Downton and Dead will be waiting for me when I come up for a breath.

I came to terms with the fact that if I am going to be successful I have to give this 110% and that means a lot of premade box food for my family. This is what gets me the most. This is what is the very hardest to accept on an ongoing basis. Coming from a time when I cooked everything from scratch, spending hours in the kitchen, to where everything is box this and take out that. Now I lay awake at night and worry for my family’s health. BUT I have to keep in mind that this is temporary.  This is while I am busy giving this business everything I’ve got. I WILL cook for them again one day. (since this blogpost was originally published I have begun cooking ahead 2-3 dinners on Sunday. This has freed me of enough guilt to sleep.)

I bought the damn paper plates. Only those of you who know me well know how I detest paper plates. To me, they represent waste and laziness. I stood in Costco staring at them, loathing them, but knowing how they would make my life just a little bit easier. I thought of the precious few minutes I could glean from using them and I bought a thousand. And we are using them. For meals, snacks and leftovers, for everything. And I’m emotionally surviving it.


Whether you work inside or outside the home, if you’re looking for ways to ‘buy more time’, increase productivity and give your work everything you've got, make a list of all the little things that are time stealers and get rid of as many as you can. You'd be surprised at how they add up. Delegate, hire out, go into uncomfortable territory with your house and menu.

My advice? Buy the damn paper plates. With hard work and dedication, you’ll be able to afford to pay someone else to wash the dishes someday.

**This post was originally published on the MLG Writer's Corner blog.

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