Posts tagged ‘time management’

October 18, 2016

Grow your online platform with Bloomtask

Michael T. Sheen, founder of Bloomtask and Dandelion Platform Design

Michael T. Sheen, founder of Bloomtask and Dandelion Platform Design


Bloomtask is designed for writers and other professionals to grow their online platform in about twenty minutes a day.

Bloomtask is designed for writers and other professionals to grow their online platform in about twenty minutes a day.

Last year, Michael T. Sheen of Dandelion Platform Design dreamed up a fantastic grassroots way to help his clients build an online platform: Bloomtask.

It started with his clients. Even after he provided some training, many of them weren’t growing their platforms.

“Some of them reached out and did things, but the majority of them would not,” Sheen said. “They said it was overwhelming and they didn’t know where to start.”

Sheen got to work. The result was Bloomtask, a task management center specifically built for growing platforms.unnamed-1

“It’s designed to be done in about twenty minutes a day,” he said. “All of the tasks I’ve created after months and months of research. If you do these things, your platform will grow.”

The task center includes tasks built specifically for Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Sheen recommends starting with two or three channels. Channels can be added or deleted as needed, and the lists can be customized.

The pre-built task lists include five simple tasks per day for each social media channel. Some tasks are done daily, some weekly, some monthly or longer than that. Updating social media profiles shows up every six months. Tasks like unfollowing people on Twitter show up much more frequently.

If clients finish the daily list and want to keep working, there’s a button to add more tasks. There’s also a place to build personal task lists. This section can branch out beyond the social media task lists to include writing endeavors, editing projects, and other marketing tasks—even taking out the trash, if clients want to go that far.

Sheen designed the program to be friendly for newbies as well as for professionals who are already building their following. There are over a hundred video tutorials on the site. Many of them can be found in Bloomtasks’ Learning Center.

The Learning Center includes videos for newbies, like how to get started on twitter and Facebook, as well as more advanced marketing methods for these channels. Sheen says this will eventually be the Bloomtask blog, where he will share marketing methods he continues to learn and success stories from his clients.

“As we grow, we’ll add more advanced ideas,” he said. “We’ll do webinars and answer questions like how to make your own graphics. As we learn more things, we’ll add them, and we’ll review new channels as they come up.”

Bloomtasks’ Inspiration Center is a place for clients to take notes. Writers can keep their editorial calendar there. Bloggers can list their post ideas and even develop full posts right on the site, leaving them and coming back to them as needed. Sheen said he anticipates the site will eventually allow users to post directly to their blogs and social media sites.

“It’s something that we’ll continually add to,” he said.

In the achievements section, clients can track the number of followers they have in each channel. Sheen envisions adding fun activities like friendly competitions to help clients continue to grow.

Because work should always be rewarding and fun, that’s why, and Sheen believes that. It shows in his enthusiasm for his work on Bloomtask.

“It’s been a total blast,” he said.

Sheen talked to several people before he found and presented his idea to Sam Ouimette, Bloomtask’s programmer and Sheen’s 50/50 partner in the business.

“He loved it. He’s been working on it for about a year now,” Sheen said. “He’s put in hundreds and hundreds of hours.”

Hours which, apparently, have paid off, even during beta testing. One client grew her twitter platform with 40,000 followers in ten months. Sheen said every client he’s worked with on Bloomtask has had similar results.

The company had a soft launch earlier this year. Sheen planned to announce the full launch with an e-mail blast, but watch for it other places, as well. Bloomtask is designed for any professional who wants to grow an online platform.

It’s affordable, too, even for starving artists and writers. The monthly fee is $14.99, but anyone can try out a month for free.

Link here to get started.

Sam Oimette and Michael T. Sheen, founders of Bloomtask

Sam Oimette and Michael T. Sheen, partners with Bloomtask

October 19, 2014

A change in my tagline

My well-loved 'Level Up' binder

My well-loved ‘Level Up’ binder

Remember way back when I wrote this post about my semi-secret level-up project?

And then remember when I wrote about journaling my life rather than setting goals?

That’s kind of happening. I am still writing for all I’m worth. I’m also still trying to balance it with volunteer opportunities, running a household, and other great level-up projects that I love.

While I’m still very interested in marketing and plan to continue studying it (and posting about it), it’s begun to take a back seat to other interests. With that in mind, I thought a change in the purpose of this blog was called for.

I recently changed the tag line for my blog from ‘Writing, Marketing and Life’ to ‘Writing, balance and my level-up life.’ I may change it again, depending on how well it fits as I ramble on and on about whatever I want to. It may not always make sense, but it’s always aimed at making me a better person and on bringing as much joy as I can into the lives of everyone I meet. Even electronically.

Meanwhile, week three for the #burgersandbooks giveaway is beginning, and I am celebrating by reading book three in Charles Yallowitz’s Legends of Windemere series. Want to read with me?


August 24, 2013

Personal deadlines are hereby banished



Five years ago, I  paced my hallway floor, venting to my sweetheart.  I was overwhelmed by my writing workload. I felt inadequate as a wife and mother, completely backward when it came to social situations and I sometimes thought I could drown in a constant flood of paperwork, laundry and dishes.

He spoke as kindly and truthfully then as he always does. “You don’t need to take on so much work if you don’t want to,” he said, and “You don’t need to set deadlines for every project you want to do.”

Okay. I sometimes still feel overwhelmed, but his advice has been stewing on the back burners of my mind for long enough that I think I’m finally getting it.

Here’s how I know: As I wandered through the JoAnn Fabrics store a few weeks ago, I realized I didn’t need to buy materials for a new creative project, no matter how much I love the idea, no matter how great the coupons are. I’d really rather be writing.

Beyond that, my creativity cup already runs over.

My shelves at home are still stocked with half-finished quilts, sewing and needle work projects, crochet and knitting endeavors and a plethora of materials for other hobbies. I used to list them out on a notebook page. (It generally took two columns.)

Of course, sewing and craft projects were only part of the notebook. I also had pages for my writing projects, for landscaping and gardening ideas, for recipes and cooking ideas I meant to try, and on and on and on.

I used these notebook pages to set goals, in every area at once, and all of them had target deadlines.  That was a bad idea. Having set deadlines for myself only increased the stress and pressure I felt, and it sometimes meant I got so frustrated that I gave up completely.

It became a vicious cycle of perfectionism: I’d try, fail, get angry, tell myself I could do better, write even longer, more detailed lists and create more unrealistic goals with even more unreachable deadlines. I set myself up for failure.

Finally, I landed on the idea of a personal level up system where I could focus on the amount of time I spent working on a project rather than on accomplishing a certain number of things each day. Even then, I struggled to focus on just one or two areas at once.

It’s taken some time, but I’m getting better at it. I’ve created some rules for myself to help protect  me from my own perfectionist tendencies.

  • I am to hold the perfect Gwen Bristol in my mind every day–not as something I have to be immediately, but as if I already am the way I intend to be. This is a no-pressure exercise. I mean to savor and enjoy what it feels like to already be there, and I refuse to allow myself to even think about how I get there.
  • Beyond my simple housekeeping routines, I can only focus on three level-up areas each day–and one of those always, always gets to be writing. 🙂 Happiness and Joy!!!
  • In writing, I can work on no more than three projects at a time–this includes writing, editing, publishing, marketing…the whole gamut of what it means to be an author.
  • I will accept deadlines from other people, but no more than three deadline-oriented projects at a time. (If I say no to a request, please understand that it isn’t a permanent no…more than likely, your request will remain in a ‘possible project’ queue for me to get to when I can. This is important to me, because I really do love helping other people. I love it so much that I sometimes let what they want get in the way of other things I’m trying to accomplish. In the long run, that’s not good for anyone.)
  • Where my own projects are concerned, deadlines are hereby banished.

Instead of goals, I’m going to track my progress in a journal. More Writing! Hurrah! I’m hoping this will help me celebrate my successes rather than focus on what I haven’t yet finished.

My theory: If I remove the stress, I’ll actually get more done, in every area of my life, but specifically with my writing works-in-progress. I expect all my priorities to balance out and increase my joy.

So here begins my no-deadline experiment. I’ll try this out and I’ll report on it here on my blog when I have a feel for whether this can work or not.

See how I didn’t create a deadline for myself? See?!? This is going to be a lot of fun. 🙂

August 14, 2013

Slow Blogging, emotions, and marketing

Best-selling writing elicits emotions strong enough to move a reader to action. Could this apply to blogs?

Best-selling writing elicits emotions strong enough to move a reader to action. Could this apply to blogs?

About four months ago, I came across an idea called slow blogging. I’ve seen it several times since then, and wondered about whether or not it’s a good idea–specifically when health, hearth and other obligations recently kept me away from my blog for more than two weeks.

As I understand it, slow blogging refers to blogging less frequently, but putting more time and thought into posts–kind of allowing them to age.

I admit, my first reaction was one of skepticism. How, exactly, are writers supposed to develop a decent platform for selling their work without gaining followers on their blogs? And how, exactly, are bloggers supposed to build their followings without writing three or four posts a day, at least?

Then I came across this guest post at ProBlogger, written by Brooke McAlary ( This is what she had to say about it:

I’ve been writing about simple living for over two years, but it wasn’t until I started applying the elements of slow blogging that I saw vast improvement in my work, my community and my readership.

Slowing down, posting less frequently, spending more time thinking, studying and writing my posts, has ultimately led me to attract a much bigger audience. My readers now are engaged, inspired and my greatest champions, and I put much of that down to my decision to go Slow.

I’ll say that part again, because it bears repeating.

My readership has grown as I’ve posted less.

I’m giving the idea of slow blogging some serious thought now, partly because, although my readership dropped when I wasn’t posting, I kept gaining followers.

Mind you, I like getting followers, but that’s not why I blog. I blog because I’m a talk-a-holic, and I sometimes just have to get things out of my system.

I blog because I like the online community of writers, photographers and other artists–everyone has something wonderful to share. I like to be there to enjoy it all.

Also, I blog because I have a nagging need to learn, and it seems like the best way to really internalize what I’m learning is to share it with someone else. Blogging is the perfect medium for this.

I can’t say I don’t enjoy the feeling of attracting readers who think about and dream about the same things I think and dream about. I appreciate the fact that these people form part of my platform, but I really value them as a network of real-life friends that I just haven’t had the chance to meet in person yet. The really important thing about blogging, for me, is not so much the possibility of using my contacts to promote my work as the fact that my blogging friends add joy to my life.

Who doesn’t like joy?

And that brings me to my next point: my recent marketing studies have convinced me that if I really want to get the hang of writing books that sell, I need to get the hang of writing books that evoke emotions strong enough to move a reader to action.

From Dave Farland’s Million Dollar Outlines:

Do you see the relationship between reading and other forms of recreation? Here it is: when we read, we buy into a shared dream, a fiction, and by dong so we put ourselves in emotional jeopardy.

Later he wrote:

At the very heart of it, reading stories or viewing them allows us to perform an emotional exercise. And the better you as a writer are at creating fiction that meets your audience’s deepest needs, the better your work will sell.

(Read more about what I think about this book here.)

From Jonah Berger’s Contagious: Why Things Catch On:

When we care, we share.

This includes sharing things on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets.

Berger also wrote:

When trying to use emotions to drive sharing, remember to pick ones that kindle the fire: select high-arousal emotions that drive people to action.

I’m convinced that emotion-provoking writing is a must for fiction. It’s likely a must for nonfiction, as well–and maybe it’s even more important in that arena.

But how does it relate to blogging, and slow blogging in particular?

My initial thoughts are these:

  • If I’m blogging fast because I’m feeling emotional about something, that’s probably going to be apparent to my readers, and it might be okay to share that. If, however, I’m blogging fast just to blog something–anything–then I may just be blowing smoke and wasting the time of readers I respect and care about.
  • If I’m blogging slow, I have time to savor my own thoughts before I share them with others. Since I tend to be impetuous, this might save me from the embarrassment of sharing things that are too personal. It also gives me time to think about what I have to offer my online friends, hopefully protecting them from seeing careless posts they feel uninterested in but obligated to respond to.
  • The more I control my blogging, the more real writing work I do–and that’s emotionally rewarding on an entirely different level. Conversely, if I’m discouraged about something, I tend to avoid my works-in-progress (and any other uncomfortable challenge) and focus solely on my blog. I have to wonder what kinds of emotions my readers pick up from me then.

At this point, I’m not sure how seriously I take slow blogging. It may happen on my blog by default as the demands of life create new priorities. A quick note here: I refuse to get frustrated by this. 

If slow blogging becomes a bigger part of my life, it won’t be because I don’t enjoy blogging. Rather, it will mean that I’m enjoying the balance of ALL of my life–blogging included.


August 6, 2013

Reality Check: even writers need down time

For me, crashing sometimes involves exploring new and interesting places.

For me, crashing sometimes involves exploring new and interesting places.

It’s been ten days since B.R. Chaston’s wedding, and nearly three weeks since my last blog post, I’ve been wrapped up in family and friends I never get to see, keeping promises to my children and catching up on everything else that was neglected during this time…including my works-in-progress, which I think are now somewhat back on course.

Overall, it’s been very enjoyable…although, a few times, I really was running faster and laboring more than I had strength and means. My beautiful Mom told me once when I get that way, I’m like a car running on empty. I’m sure she’s right. As is normal for me when I let my life get unbalanced, I had to take some time to re-adjust my attitude.

At one point, my sweetheart shared with me something he learned in his certified public management course: You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.

Logically, I know this. Getting my heart to concur is a completely different story–hence my sometimes-obsession with time management strategies.

I suppose it comes from loving life a little bit too much. There are so many things I want to do, so many people I care about and want to help, so many things to enjoy and so many wonderful things to learn that I sometimes overwhelm myself with self-imposed deadlines. My long to-do lists that needlessly increase my stress levels. When my stress gets too high, my body is affected and my ability to do anything productive drops dramatically. This includes my writing.

I get frustrated with myself for not being perfect RIGHT NOW. And I know I would never treat any other human being as harshly as I treat myself, which is also frustrating…

When I reach that point, I have to take time away. It’s no one’s fault. It’s one of those things that simply IS. I do better with my writing, with my parenting and other relationships, with everything else in my life, when I take time to perform a reality check.

For me, this usually involves five steps:

  1. Crashing–a day or two away doing something relaxing, completely unrelated to anything else in my life. In the past, crashing has taken the form of escaping into nature, reading all day, watching Korean historical dramas, sometimes playing video games and in very rare instances, exploring someplace new and different on my own. (Once, when I had no resources for traveling by myself, I spent all day long on Google Earth, exploring Ireland and Scotland and the Shetland Islands.)
  2. After a day or two of these kinds of solitary activities, I’m able to take stock of who and what I am–what my goals are, what my dreams are, and what is realistic for me to accomplish with the time, means and energy I have.
  3. I almost always end up prioritizing my dreams, and usually I find I’ve spread my energies too thin. I have to pull them back, refocus them on the highest priorities in my life and forgive myself for not being able to do it all right now.
  4. As I do this, I tend to take stock of all the wonderful things I already have in my life. The truth is, I really think I have everything I want, right now. When I remember that, I remember also that I don’t want my life to change too quickly. I want to savor and enjoy what I already have, and that means I want to slow down.
  5. This realization recharges me with gratitude. Once my heart is thankful again, I find I have plenty of energy to keep working toward my goals.

For me, it’s a somewhat spiritual process, and the cycle takes at least four days to complete. This time, it took a full week.

I suppose I’ll get the hang of real life some day. I know I’ll have on-and-off periods like this while I try to keep my world balanced. There’s something wondrous and grand and completely mysterious about the whole process. I secretly feel if I can find a way to balance my life and keep it that way, I’ll have gained access to the secrets of the universe.

Meanwhile, I feel very much like this:

July 19, 2013

Writing tip: Don’t lose your timer

This is my office timer and, I suspect, home to Inspiration. (At least, she seems to come out more when I use this timer.)

This is (was) my dependable office timer.  I am currently experiencing a change in timer models, as described below.

I have this issue: I don’t want my toddler to play with my cell phone, but he loves it.

About two months ago, he wandered into my office, took the cell phone from my desk, sat down on the floor and started pushing buttons to make it beep. It was adorable, until he managed to get online. Then I had a terrific idea.

I traded the cell phone for my beloved kitchen timer, the one that gets me started on days when I need a boost.

I got back to work. I vaguely remember him standing up after a while and wandering out of the room with it, headed down the hall toward his own room.

It’s been two months now. Two months, and I can’t find it anywhere. I’ve looked all over the house, and I scoured his room. I’ve checked his toy box, his drawers, his book shelves, behind his bed and under the battered recliner in the corner of his room. I suspect I’ll find it in there someday. For now, I’m giving up.

 I finally broke down and bought a new kitchen timer. I have yet to warm up to it–and I’m amazed I feel so sentimental about my old timer–but I’m slowly getting used to the new one. Slowly. I’m making new memories. I will probably grow to love this one as much, given time and a few productive writing days that feel like successes.

Someday, I’ll look back and laugh and wonder why I was ever so dependent on a timer at all.

Meanwhile, I came across another interesting timer technique on Passive Guy. This one links back to author Ryan Casey and describes his experiences with something called the Pomodoro Technique. It allows him to write about 5,000 words a day.  I’m intrigued. I plan to try it one day early next week.

Also, if you’re interested in how Joss Whedon manages to be so prolific, you can read about it here at Fast Company.

Meanwhile, I’ve learned two important lessons: one, if I don’t want my toddler to play with my phone, I need to keep it out of reach–like on top of the filing cabinet–and two, if I want to use an office timer to stay productive, I really need to keep one around.


May 25, 2013

Star Trekkin’ to deadline, and worlds we love

Star Trek on my television screen :)

Star Trek on my television screen 🙂

I now have less than a week to my next deadline. This assignment has been challenging, both because of the topic and scope and because I used most of my time working on family-related projects.  Somehow I’ve gathered enough information for eight solid drafts.

I hoped to finish a more polished draft yesterday afternoon. Instead, I ate pizza and fun-size Snickers and drank raspberry soda (Friday is my eat-anything day), and then I watched the newest Star Trek movie with my sweetheart. We’re tentatively planning a trip to the cinema latter today to see the even-newer one.

A small part of me wonders whether I should take the time to go, but that’s just a very small part of me, easily silenced by the promise of entertainment. The thing is, even if I stayed at home and chained myself to my desk, I couldn’t do much more than I’ve already done until the people I need to check facts with are back at work.

That leave me until Tuesday morning to enjoy the Star Trek world.

As I listed my priorities for this weekend and for early next week, I realized that losing myself in make-believe worlds is completely therapeutic for me. I found myself mentally counting worlds I’ve enjoyed losing myself in–C.S. Lewis’ Narnia and Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Harry Potter, both Star Wars and Star Trek, Jane Austen’s writings and even occasionally Little House on the Prairie–and the list goes on.

I think it’s partly why I like to write. Authors are world-creators. They spark imaginations, provide a safe escape from reality and allow us the chance to experience something we could never find ourselves doing otherwise.

I fall for great settings, mapped out through action and sensory-experiences: colors and shapes, sounds, smells and the way something feels under fingertips. Even the history of a place, if written well enough, wraps itself around me, and I find myself digging deeper into the story. If these experiences are new, I become an explorer, hiking to the top of the next ridge to see what’s beyond it. I have always loved exploring.

When an author creates a world this alluring, I come back to visit as often as I can. These world-immersions have become a family tradition: Harry Potter in the basement on hot summer days, Lord of the Rings on the family room floor at Thanksgiving.

Today, it’s Star Trek. In the cinema. And I am happy.


May 2, 2013

Thoughts on getting to work halfway through the day

A completely random side note--I'm hungry for Spaghetti Squash and haven't been able to find any in the stores lately. Guess I'll have to plant my own this year!

A completely random side note–I’m hungry for Spaghetti Squash and haven’t been able to find any in the stores lately. Guess I’ll have to plant my own this year!

The dishwasher is running. The laundry is sorted. One daughter is studying chemistry, another practicing for her violin lesson, and my toddler is playing with his cars in his room. What about this seems unusual?

I think it’s just the I’m finally starting to catch up feeling that comes after a huge event.

Not that there’s been any huge event here…just a myriad of little things that seemed big at the time.

Yesterday was incredibly challenging that way. I woke with a knowledge that I had to start a new project, and it had to be right then. Every time I tried to work methodically, this project stared holes into the back of my head until I finally gave up. I spent the better part of the afternoon hammering out a decent outline and a first chapter of something I never intended to write–a political piece.

I promised myself I would never do such a thing. Now I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. I guess I’ll add it to my list of works-in-progress and just see where it goes.

This morning, I ran errands and did some shopping with two of my children, visited with the lovely BR Chaston about her wedding dress and nearly fell asleep on the way home. That meant I napped when we finally reached the house. Needless to say, now I’m staring at a to-do list that will refuse to be completed by nightfall, and that new project is dancing around the edges of my office, waiting for attention.

This time, it will have to wait.

Sometimes I don’t think my time management issues are all my fault. Sometimes I think my projects just don’t know how to take turns. They’re as demanding as any toddler.

I can’t help loving them.

On another note–I found poem I wrote in April but never published in my draft file. Rather than letting it sit there, I’m including it here:

e kingbird log crop

Eastern Kingbird

There’s more to majesty than thrones or crowns,

or crowds of admirers, applauding, lauding praise.

There’s more, even, than power. Freedom rises,

calls the royal heart into the air.

My throne is any place from which I sing.

Have a great day, everyone!

April 8, 2013

Writing first, blogging second

For me, prioritizing is always the hardest part of time management

For me, prioritizing is always the hardest part of time management

Starting today, I’m making a change in how and when I blog.

This is partly because of my Rome Goals. I want to write at least two hours a day on one of my works in progress. I discovered if I blog first and write last, I can wrap myself up in the virtual world so much that I don’t get any real writing done.

It’s also because I’ve been pondering Sheila Williams’ Time For Your Life again. One of the things that’s been sticking in my mind lately is the need to separate ‘work’ from ‘career.’

This is what Sheila Williams had to say about it:

The work zone relates to the time you spend on the primary activities that you carry out on a daily basis. I use this broad definition to include your role as:

  • an employee, if you are employed
  • a business owner, if you run your own business
  • homemaker and’or carer
  • a student
  • a job-seeker, if you are not in work

Sometimes it may be a combination of two or more of these.

The career zone relates to time spent on all those activities that are important to you in developing your career aspirations and your knowledge, skills and abilities relevant to your role zone(s); for example, related skills training or qualifications.

For me, I’m defining the actual writing as my career–after all, I hope to only write each book one time, and I’m hoping that each book will increase my ability to write better and write more.

I’m defining all the other fun writing-related activities–e-mails, social networking, marketing, blogging and everything else as my ‘writing work.’

In order to get anything done, I have to separate the two.

This means I’ll be writing first, blogging second–so my blog posts might not appear until later in the day. I’m hoping this strategy will allow me a little more time to get to my reader, too. I love reading what other people write about. It will be my reward for getting my real writing done.

It seemed to work like a charm today. (I don’t know why I wasn’t doing this all along.) I finished nearly 3,000 words on one work in progress and have time now to go visit other blogs while dinner cooks.





March 20, 2013

Merging my writing time with the needs of a growing family

A random photo from my daughter's photo blog

A random photo from my daughters’ photo blog

Last Saturday my teenage daughters and I had our first-ever, all-sit-down-together Creative Project Planning Meeting.

I’ve mentioned before that one of my daughters likes to write. We sometimes talk about our books, daydream together about what they’ll turn out like, have fun laughing at ourselves and generally enjoy the process together.

Saturday’s meeting was something different. As part of our claiming day, it allowed us all to get an inside picture of the progress we’re making and the challenges we face as we pursue the goals we set for ourselves.

We took turns, starting with the youngest. We talked about all the different projects she has in the works, and I was surprised to discover she’s planned almost as many books as I have. She’s got a lofty goal of getting one story completed by the end of the school year.

While my other daughter likes to write, she’s much more interested in visual arts. She’s got a talent for manga and other drawing styles, but her real gift and interests are all wrapped up in photography right now. She has her own photo blog, which she started as a school project, and she’s involved in the online photography club for her high school. I like her work so well that I’ve asked her to take lots of stock photos I can use when I commission book covers (The Night Ones Legacy will be getting a new book cover soon, by the way). She’s planned some photo shoots and has some really great ideas.

From a time management perspective, this type of meeting was valuable in several ways:

  1. I realized that, tempting as it is, I can’t write all the time. My girls need me to come out of my office and encourage them in their own projects. This means I’ll be doing a little more work in the living room while they finish school projects. My productivity might suffer a little, but their happiness and their successes feel like personal successes to me. I can always come back to ambitious writing projects later. They’re only going to be here in my home for a short time, and I need to make the most of it while I can.
  2. The planning meeting helped us schedule around each other–I knew, for example, that I couldn’t ask one daughter to babysit my toddler son on one particular day. Rather than asking her and making her cranky, I made arrangements with the other daughter to babysit while I conducted a telephone interview.
  3. It’s also allowed me to see that I need to have a backup babysitter outside the home for times when neither daughter is available. I’ve known they were growing into young adults, but it really hit home during that meeting. They have their own distinct interests, which is beginning to translate into personal time tables that deserve courtesy and respect. I can ask them to help, I can even expect it at times, but I should never demand it. With my girls, polite requests seem to result in more help–and definitely more pleasant help–than a strict demand ever would.
  4. Following that meeting, I also knew what kind of help my daughters were looking for. That knowledge was freeing–I realized how easy it would be to squeeze a few minutes in with them and their projects at least a few times a week. It’s been four days since that meeting, but I can see progress already. Overall, it’s been a great week so far–productive and happy for us all. 

We had so much fun we decided to try it again this coming Saturday. I’m secretly hoping it will become a tradition for us.

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