We might be at the start of a new year, but it is still the dead of winter. Everything else in nature is still resting and storing strength for the spring. By then, the grass will turn green again, and new life will erupt from what I call the real new year: when everything in nature renews and is reborn.
I cannot help but wonder why we, as people from the earth, aren’t more like it. Why do we feel the need to rush ourselves through life? What would happen if we took five to six months to rest, plan, strategize, pray, meditate, and think? What kind of wisdom would we cultivate in this space of solitude? How much more impact would we make if we were well-rested and revitalized instead of busy and drained?
I think of this as I return from my break and continue my work. Except for this year, that work includes rest and joy. I’m not panicked or anxious about letting people know what I am up to or doing. I am not swayed by what others are doing on social media or concerned about needing to do more because I recognize I am not behind or late. I am where I need to be, and the things I need to get done will get done, each in its own time.
I am excited about the future in ways I have not been before because stepping back and slowing down will help me be laser-focused on one thing at a time, which will help me accomplish more.
In no way do I intend to be booked and busy this year. I’d instead be paid and productive because productivity includes rest.
In this season, I am embracing the beauty of unhurriedness.
Many people ask me how I manage doing so many things. First, you should know I don’t have a 9-5 and no small children to look out for, so this gives me more flexibility with my day. Here are some things I do daily to increase productivity.
I Walk Daily
One of the first things I do in the morning after prayer and coffee is walk a mile. Georgia is a hilly place and there’s this big hill around my house that will have you dying chile, but is a great way to get the blood pumping. If I don’t walk around the house, me and hubs go to the park and do two rounds around the area.
If I feel like doing more, I come back and hit the treadmill or the AB machine. You might wonder what this has to do with anything.
Physical activity helps to reduce anxiety, depression, and negative moods by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.The way I feel after a good workout and all the creativity flowing through me is thrilling. I feel energetic and happier than sluggish and irritated. It doesn’t have to be over the top. Thirty minutes a few times a week consistently can work wonders. You’ll find you have more mental clarity and creativity after working out.
I Don’t Watch Much TV
As much as I love my black movies and go around quoting them, the truth is I don’t actually watch a lot of TV during the day. Most of my TV watching is in the evenings and on the weekends. During the day, I’m working. If I finish early, I read or listen to a podcast or I’ll have an inspirational YouTube video playing in the background. I can listen to Maya Angelou interviews all day.
I Set Deadlines
This is important for me because I forget a lot. I set dates for important stuff I need to get done. I mark these dates on a calendar and it has to be a literal, physical calendar and not my phone because again, I’ll forget. Setting deadlines also helps me to be more accountable for what I said I would do.
I sleep more now than I did before and it has made a tremendous difference. I don’t necessarily go to bed super early, but I take naps if I am feeling tired during the day. Yesterday, I got a lot of good rest because I went to bed earlier than usual. Slept for a few hours, woke up to eat and went back to bed. It was great. When we sleep, our brain reorganizes and recharges itself, and removes toxic waste byproducts which have accumulated throughout the day. This shows that sleeping can clear the brain and help maintain its normal functioning. If you are not getting enough sleep, it’s like a computer whose battery is low, it will eventually shut down. This means this “No days off, no sleep” grind culture is actually not very healthy.
Schedule Blog Posts
Far as keeping this blog updated is concerned, a lot of the posts ya’ll read I’ve scheduled to go live days in advance. First, I write a draft. When I come back to finish it I set a time I want it to publish. I also have the WordPress app on my phone so I can share the post on Twitter and respond to comments on the go.
Other things that help me is that I drink a lot of water and I don’t smoke or drink hard liquor. (I do drink wine.)
Blogging takes up a lot of time. To arrange a decent post takes at least an hour depending on how long the post is. For posts that require lots of research, it can take several days of research and gathering links before actually composing the post in the WordPress editor. Still, we are told that the best way to blog is to do it consistently. For busy bloggers, those with jobs and children and basically a life outside of the internet, blogging consistently is a real challenge.
You Don’t Have to Blog Everyday
The assumption that you have to publish a post every day is not entirely accurate. While posting every day is cool, that’s not ideal for everyone. Keeping a consistent blog is important but you don’t have to publish a post every single day in order to be successful. Be disciplined but do not obligate yourself to other people’s schedules. Just choose 2-3 days out of the week that you would like to dedicate to updating your blog.
Schedule Your Posts
Not every post has to be in real time. One of the biggest time savers for me is scheduling posts. This requires a bit of discipline since I have to get started days earlier depending on when I want the post to publish. For my Black History Fun Fact Friday posts, these are always scheduled days ahead because it requires research, fact-checking, and accuracy. To schedule your posts, here’s what you do:
Dashboard > New Post > Write out your post
Once you have written out your post, added tags and all that good stuff, scroll over to the publish section of the screen. It should be in the top right-hand corner. Next, to publish immediately, click on edit. The calendar will come up and you can choose when you would like the post to publish and the time. Keep in mind that the time will be in accordance with the timezone you have set. I am on USA Eastern Standard Time but my settings are Central Standard Time because I have moved to another state. When scheduling posts, I keep this in mind. (For those of you in the United States, it helps to choose a scheduling time that is convenient for people in other countries too. Scheduling my posts midnight my time means it will publish sometime in the morning in other countries. I have found this to work well).
Publishing quality posts is important but the quality posts usually take up the most time. You may get something good every so often, but not every day. (I have not published a poem in awhile). That’s why I think establishing segments can help. A segment is something special you have going on that occurs at the same time or day every week or every month. My No Whining Wednesday and Black History Fun Fact Friday are examples. I’ve been slacking, but segments like these help to keep this blog updated and it may help you as well. It will give you something to look forward to and if you are a super busy blogger, will help you to be consistent with your posts at least once or twice a week. I find it also helps with branding. People will get used to your segments and look forward to them. They may even follow your blog specifically for that segment alone.
Choose from the most used tags
Tagging your post can be time consuming, especially if you’re OCD like me where everything has to be perfect. You don’t want to just use any tags but you also don’t have a lot of time to publish this post. Well, once you’ve been blogging a while, under the tags you will see something that says “choose from the most used tags.” These are tags you use often.
You can click on these tags quickly to tag your post with the generic tags (like, blog, wordpress, writers, etc.) and then spend the rest of your time adding authentic tags, or tags that are specific to your post. You can also blog from your phone if that saves time, which leads to my next point.
Install the WordPress App
I am not always at home when my posts publish but I am capable of responding to comments quickly and visiting other blogs because of the WordPress app. It took me a minute to actually catch on (I used to do it the long way by just checking my email) but once I did it has made blogging for me easier by cutting down on time. You can instantly see who has commented on your post and who has liked your post using the app. Am I the only one who still pays attention to post likes? Probably so but this helps me to get to know my readers more actually. I know who the active followers of this blog are and the followers who no longer participate. I am aware of those who used to comment all the time and now do not and I know who the new subscribers are who have taken on that role. I even know some of the followers who have been here since day one. This leads to my last idea.
Pay attention to the posts people are really engaged in, the posts they enjoy most and interact with the most. This will cut down on a lot of time spent drafting something no one wants to read. I mean, I don’t spend a lot of time caring about what people will think of my posts, to be honest, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to think about others from time to time. It’s your blog and you can write what you want and you should but blogging’s not fun without engagement. If you wrote a poem everyone liked, you may want to start to incorporate more poetry into your blog. After all, it’s about being of service to the people and not just in service to yourself.
When running your race and trying to build something it’s most important to block out any and all negative vibes (from others and from your own self-doubt). One of the obvious reasons for this is because you can easily become distracted and lose focus. But, going deeper, you lose focus because you begin to lock into other people’s energy. Whatever the negative minded people around you are feeling, you begin to feel it too. They don’t have to necessarily be bad people but the energy they are giving off can be bad. If you are always surrounded around these kinds of people, their energy can become your energy.
People emit all kinds of energies and some are not even aware that the vibes they are giving off are destructive. People who are not aware of their own destruction are dangerous people because it means they tear down everything around them. As you can see, that makes it difficult to build with these people. You cannot build with a destructive person. You will need to remove yourself from that person’s presence and free yourself from the ways in which their thoughts become your thoughts.
When we take on the negative energies of others we soon begin to:
Doubt ourselves. “I shouldn’t have done that.”
Create mental notes on why said thing might not work
Make excuses for why we shouldn’t move forward with said thing
Reject opportunities (because, you know, said person said it wouldn’t be good)
When we do this, lock into someone’s energy, we take our eyes off the prize and start to come up with our own reasons and assumptions which are probably a far cry from the truth. That said, when trying to do something, write a book, build a business, it’s very important not to take on the emotions and feelings of the people around you if those emotions and feelings aren’t uplifting and productive to what you are trying to achieve. This is why it is advised to keep things to yourself because people tend to reject what they do not understand and will begin to project that energy onto you. Even if you have to walk alone, this is sometimes necessary because no one else may get your vision. That doesn’t mean your vision is wrong or that you are wrong. It just means that the vision was given to YOU which mean it’s not for everyone to understand right now. It’s for YOU to understand and to carry it through.
People will pick out the pieces of you they like and understand. That’s life. Everyone does not like you and you shouldn’t expect them to. Expect to be misunderstood by some. Hated by some and looked down upon by some. Underestimated by some. Expect it because that’s real and that’s life. Your job is to love yourself regardless to INCLUDE the parts of you that others reject. Personally, not worrying about what people think (negatively) has been a game changer for me. My stress levels are lower and I find myself being much more productive.
The truth is that I know what I have been commanded to do and what I bring to the table behind the scene. I am secure in that and being secure in this is a daily practice of constant focus and a whole lot of ignoring! (You gotta learn to ignore people for a little bit sometimes and focus on you.) In this, I can block out all energy that is not conducive to what I am trying to do and where I am trying to go. I can turn my back on it without regret and without apology. I can be who I was purposed to be without being held back by other people’s negative opinions, thoughts, and limitations. I can be free. And so can you.
If you use more than one image in your posts, then use WordPress Publicize to automatically upload your post to Twitter, Facebook, etc, or, manually upload them, the image last inserted into your post, is the one that will be displayed on your media.
To avoid the wrong image being displayed, either:
Insert it LAST
Select it as your ‘Featured Image’
Authors especially would probably prefer their Book Cover being displayed, rather than some other, random, image.
WP TIP 2
If you opt for using a Featured image, or, have the same image appear more than once in your post (as I’ve done on this post):
You DO NOT NEED to upload the same image for each separate appearance!
Select the same image to be inserted wherever you want it to be shown in the post.
This will save taking up unnecessary space in your media…
We are officially done with summer (boo) and are entering the fall months. We are headed to what I like to call the darkest times of the year. I call it this because lots of negative energy is released around this time. Lots of stress, suicide rates climb, and people lose their minds. So, this is just a random Thursday word but, I’d like to remind you as we come into the later portion of the year that no one has an obligation to respond to negativity. There is no written rule that the loudest voice is the most courageous and I’d like everyone to remember that its OK to be cool, calm, and collected. Poised if you will. Balanced.
Being angry is easier than being kind. Anger requires little to no effort at all. Anger robs you not only of peace, but of physical and emotional energy. It is a sign of weakness and low self-esteem. It takes more self-control and self-discipline to be kind when others are being mean. It takes more strength to be still in the face of adversity, and to sit back and be silent when others are in confrontation. Kindness is a sign that someone has done a lot of work to improve their personal self and have come to great self-understanding, humility, and wisdom. Learn and practice being the kind, centered version of yourself. This is the most inspiring and productive person.