Tuesday 19 September 2023: A new gadget!

Image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay

I spent much of the weekend trying to focus on what work needs doing when. I spent a lot of time last week learning how to publish a magazine in Affinity. The first part of the week was learning how to make a pdf.

The second part of the week was learning how to export the pdf so that it’s publishable. Because I spent the entire week on this, a lot of my other work was pushed to one side. I had to bring it back to the fore.

I started by tidying my desk. That mess was there until the weekend and I was obviously finding it very distracting as the moment it was all gone, it was as though a weight had been lifted.

A new gadget

I’d already written down my priorities for September, and some for October and November. But every single one of them was clamouring for attention.

Until I found another gadget.

Oh, how I love my gadgets.

The winner this time is Focus To Do (not an affiliate link, by the way), which is a Pomodoro-based time-management system. I found it at the weekend and I paid for it because it was a very low, one-time, lifetime payment. The initial idea was to see if it might replace ClickUp, and I suppose it could. But ClickUp has too many other features I find particularly useful.

For example, the calendar view for one, and the ability to recur tasks on weekdays or certain days only. There are other far more sophisticated things I can also do on ClickUp, but these two are the two that spring to mind.

What Focus To Do does (so far) is help me break each task on ClickUp down further into achievable, timeable (aka Pomodorable) chunks. It works on my watch too, with watch, phone and laptop all synchronising with each other. AND I can choose to FOCUS on the current task only, shutting out any interruptions on whichever device I’m using it on. Plus, I can choose rain as my ‘white noise’, which is always a bonus.

The free version allows you to try out three projects, I think it was but, of course, three doesn’t even touch the number of different projects I juggle at any one time. You can try the premium version for three days, which gives you unlimited projects.

I had a lot of fun playing with that on my phone and trying it out on my watch.

Also on Saturday, I made a meal plan for this week and we did the shopping. But we had an early tea before I dropped the poet off at the Monkey Dust drummer’s house for their gig that night. It was a long-distance gig that meant the dog would otherwise be left on his own for too long. As he’s not coping too well without the cat, and as he’s not really very well, we agreed that I’d stay at home. It’s the first gig I’ve missed in ten years.


He didn’t get home until gone 2am on Sunday morning, so we were tired and ended up sleeping in until noon. When we got up, the poet started a loaf off and put a shank of lamb in the slow cooker. Then we went shopping to buy me a standard reading lamp for in the living room. We already had three lamps, but nothing by the chair where I often sit. So we went and found me a new lamp.

While we were waiting in the queue to pay for the lamp, I spotted a load of those books that encourage you to write down all of your goals and projects for the day or week, and then prioritise the important ones. I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it because we were already at the front of the queue. So I grabbed a hard-backed A5 one that had ‘LET’S DO THIS!” on the cover.

When we got home, he finished his bread and I made a rhubarb crumble with rhubarb he’d filched from his mother’s garden when we squeezed in a flying visit to see her on Friday afternoon. After tea, we settled down in front of the telly for the evening as we both had busy weeks planned ahead. (This week.)

Before bed, though, I did sit down and write up this week’s diary. This is something that’s been neglected over the past two weeks and I already know I’m rubbish without my diary. I synchronised the week’s tasks between ClickUp and Focus To Do (both on the phone), and I prioritised the tasks in LET’S DO THIS!


Despite a relatively early night, we were both very tired on Monday morning. The poet did very well and got up on time, arriving at work fifteen minutes before he was due to start. I was not as disciplined. I did, however, put some washing through, and by the time I’d finished my breakfast, I was able to hang the washing up. Biblical rain had returned, so the washing went on a clothes horse in the conservatory.

Once at my desk, the first thing I did was catch up on social media and check my emails. Then I quickly rattled off yesterday’s blog post. Next up, I was loading Focus To Do to the laptop to see if it could replace ClickUp, but that just confirmed that it won’t. I did, however, set a Pomodoro off, and I started today’s post.

I shared the gig list on Facebook, as well as a few news stories that interested me, and I shared the last two blog posts to BlueSky and CounterSocial. Then I fired up a Pomodoro that links directly to ‘blog’ and started today’s post.

Using the new layout for each project sticky, I added four stories to the power board:

  • The Ace of Swords
  • The Mucky Duck
  • The City of Glasgow
  • A Winter’s Promise

The Mucky Duck and The City of Glasgow were both already on there, but I’ve changed the sticky around so that they’re much more easily moved along, and I added the details for each of the story:

  • target wordcount
  • where it’s going
  • what they’re looking for in particular
  • due date

The Ace of Swords is Book 3 in my short stories that are loosely Tarot related. These are the backstories for characters in the longer stories. There’s a call for submissions out at the moment, though, that asks specifically for a story that’s loosely based around the Tarot, and the next submission window is for blades/swords. Perfect to give this story the kick up the bum it currently needs. Deadline 30 September.

I should have written The Mucky Duck for the last 12 Stories in 12 Months, but this is the one I completely forgot about. I liked the story idea, though, so I’m revising it to suit the next prompt, which is due in on 4 October. It was originally a September story, and I’ll still start it in September.

The City of Glasgow was written for an earlier 12 Stories in 12 Months, where the prompt was ‘1852’. Readers liked it and gave some good feedback, and now I’m revising it to fit one of the two UK markets I always try. I don’t currently have a deadline, but I hope it will be ready to go out when the next imminent submission window opens. Once it goes off to market, I’ll remove it from 12 Stories in 12 Months.

The last story on the list. A Winter’s Promise, is for a Christmas anthology call for submission. I’m starting from scratch for this one, and it is an October story workwise. But I want to do the brainstorming in September if I can. Deadline 31 October.

For each of those tasks inside each of the projects, I started off a Pomodoro. They literally took minutes each, but the Pomodoro meant I worked on each one at a time and only that one at the time, instead of being a butterfly, which is usually the case. I consigned each of the tasks to ‘completed’, and came back to update the blog.

I paused the Pomodoros for dinner. Then the afternoon was dedicated to Monkey Dust admin. I had to:

  • find out if the next venue has an entry fee (it does)
  • create a new poster for the next gig
  • create an Instagram poster for the next gig
  • create a Facebook poster for the next gig
  • create a Facebook event for the next gig
  • add the next gig to the gig list
  • send the posters to the venue for advertising
  • agree two dates with a venue for next year
  • update next year’s diary with all gigs in so far
  • earmark four dates for gigs we know are coming in but awaiting confirmation

I had a LOT of other work to do as well still, but by the time I finished the Monkey Dust admin it was 5:30pm gone. My ears were acting as though they were subject to a lot of pressure. And I’d had enough. I will start today’s work with yesterday’s. This is the only way, I think, where I can see where my time has really gone, where the energy-suckers are and whether or not I’m overloading myself.

Before I logged off, and because I wanted the brainstorming and the outline to really be on separate days, I quickly brainstormed The Ace of Swords.

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2 thoughts on “Tuesday 19 September 2023: A new gadget!

  1. I’m trying hard not to overload myself, esepcially right before the residency. I might have to, after, because I have to land some more freelance work for the winter.

    1. It’s hard to rein yourself in, isn’t it? When you’re so used to negotiating and accepting so much work otherwise.

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