Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Positive Reinforcement of Checkmarks

It's been almost two months since we've cracked open this new year of 2014. In these two months, I've had to re-think how I do things and what I want to do now.

I don't have everything figured out.

I have to tell myself that isn't the point.

NaNoWriMo was a great month for me. I bonded with fellow writers and I wrote many words. Words that I actually liked. Then, when December hit, something changed inside of me. This went into January-- and it wasn't all good.

I didn't finish my draft when my January 15th deadline rolled around. The novel changed and morphed with my mood, and I finally finished it with a question mark at the end.

I told myself the story is there-- I can go back.

This was the red flag-- I somehow gathered bad habits. I was only seeing what I needed to do rather than rewarding myself for what I have done. My lists were on my computer/phone, so once I checked things off, they weren't visible to me. All that was left was everything that wasn't getting done. At the end of each day, when I closed my eyes, this was all I could see. It was what I woke up to each morning.

I'm a fan of lists and goals. It's one of the reasons why I'm dependable. Except, there's something about seeing the checkmarks, the scribbles, the exclamation points, that soothes me. Handwriting them out, to me, makes a world of difference. I can sit back in  my chair and take a deep breath. It's the equivalent of giving myself a thumbs up.

Granted, the sticker method helped. I could see my writing progress, but there's all those other things. Writing articles for YA Interrobang. Critiques for my writing buddies. Cleaning.

That's when I brought out the markers and erasers, and started again with my whiteboard. Each Sunday or Monday morning, I sit down to write all the things I want to do that week. I check everything off while I do it. My goals and accomplishments are plain sight each night above my computer. I also share them with one of my writing groups so they can see what I'm doing. It's a way to keep myself accountable.

I sleep better at night. I do my work without even thinking about it. I just do it. I'm excited to look at my list since I can see what I can accomplish when I use the whiteboard and place my stickers on my calendar. I don't use the every day to lose what I've done and pile on more items on my list. Instead, I do this each week with not just the thoughts I can do this, but I have done this.


Note: Look for my upcoming blog post of other ways I helped improve my every day habits. I'll include links to some of the articles that proved helpful during this process.

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