Hello Lovelies, and welcome again to another quarter end. As usual, I will spend some time going over my quarterly goals set back at the beginning of the quarter. This is because I want to celebrate what I accomplished, figure out what I didn’t do, and see if there’s anything I want to keep or throw off the list.
First, let me show you my Trello board. I use Trello as a digital Kanban-style board, though I use it for other writing-related things as well. Also note, I am writing this post on 09/25, a few days shy of the end of 3rd quarter.
Wow! So there it is in all its glory. Well, Glory might not be a great term for what happened this quarter. Let’s go over the particulars.
I have 7 cards in the writing category, and as you can see, I smashed through almost all of them. I started with far less cards at the beginning of the quarter, and added more cards the further into the quarter I got. There are 267 line items, of which I completed 258.
This category came out the best overall, and I am happy with it. Writing is the most important of the goals I want to accomplish, so anything relating to my WiP is top priority. And it paid off. My novel #ODUM is as complete as I can make it now after many editing passes, critiques, and drafts.
On the business side of it, I didn’t do great, but it made sense to me in the moment not to worry about the business side too much since I got so much actual writing work done. I had 82 line items here, and only accomplished 35 of them.
What happened was I made a huge push to get #ODUM completely finished, because it didn’t make a lot of sense to be querying agents with an incomplete novel. Well, it wasn’t incomplete, but my first few queries were using a novel that I could still have improved. Now, I feel like there’s nothing more I can do with it, and it is the absolute best its going to be until I have an actual agent/editor take a look at it.
Still, I researched and queried. I participated in #PitMad on Twitter, though I got in late, near the end of the pitch day and got lots of retweets but no actual interest from agents. As for finding both a lawyer and an accountant, I knew those would be lofty goals. I don’t need them just yet. I won’t need them until I sell a novel, so I’m still just thinking and planning for this eventuality.
This is the category I tanked the most in. When I look at the numbers it doesn’t seem like I did so bad, accomplishing 20 of the 33 items in this category. (If you’re counting 19 it’s because I did one more thing in the email marketing category but it doesn’t go out till the end of September so it isn’t checked off yet). If I’m being honest about it, I had solid reasons not to query an agent, get a lawyer, etc. For the marketing stuff, I didn’t have an excuse. Yes, I know, I barreled through the writing stuff this quarter and I’m super proud of that, but I have to wonder how much more could have been accomplished on the marketing side if I had taken more than a week between switching novels.
As of this post, I was able to keep up with the weekly blog posts 100%. This is a huge accomplishment for me, who tends to like starting projects but has a hard time seeing them through. Who wants to write a blog post when there’s a scene you’re burning to write? However, I’m stubborn, and I’ve made it a habit at this point. One blog post a week really isn’t that bad. I wish I could say that I consistently batch my posts like a super-productive A-type would, but honestly, I don’t. I don’t often write more than one post at a time. The furthest I’ve ever been able to get ahead is three posts, and I can only do this if I’m actively writing a series of posts or if I know I’m going to go on vacation for a week or two.
While I am still proud to have continued to make weekly blog posts a solid habit, I can’t say I did much else. I really did the “bare minimum” in this category, and I know it. Some of them were easy tasks too, like adding a link to my website and email opt in at the end of my email signatures. That’s been on my list for a while now, I think since second quarter, yet I still haven’t taken the 5 minutes to log in and update everything. Stupid, right?
I think I’m going to start adding in a “Power Hour” category for these little tasks that don’t really get accomplished, and just work on them once a week. Take an hour every weekend, and work on whatever items are in that checklist and see how much I accomplish.
Travel, Training, Meetings
1 out of 1 isn’t bad. In fact, that makes 100% in this category.
I wanted to do some write ins this quarter, but there haven’t been any in my area recently due to COVID-19, so I didn’t miss out on anything.
I was able to get to my local Westword Writers group meeting in September. They recently changed the dates from Monday afternoons to Tuesday afternoons, a day that works a lot better with my work schedule. For the first time in months, I was able to go to the meeting and I was totally inspired by all the traditionally published and self-published writers in there.
I’m a little bit bummed about the way the healthcare category turned out this time around. I am considered overweight for my height and I have not been able to get the weight off with exercise alone or diet alone. Whether I go to the gym three times a week or whether I completely and radically change my diet, I cannot lose more than a few pounds at a time, and often gain them back if I slack even a little bit.
I have not been able to make the model of both diet and exercise stick, and I am afraid that working hard to do both will still not get the results I want. Most humans, myself included, can only make one big change at a time. Changing both at the same time is near to impossible when you weren’t doing anything with your health before.
And I’m not really that active. Sure, on a workday I’m up and about and I nearly always make my step count goal, but when I get home, that level of activity tanks. I sit almost exclusively when I’m at home because I read, write, and play video games in my leisure time.
On the mental health goal, I have 26 of 26 marked. The problem is, I can’t specifically say what I did this quarter that was mental health related. I spent two nights watching movies with friends, we held several in-person tabletop sessions, but that accounts for only 6 or 7 of those tick marks. I feel like this quarter, I would evaluate at the end of the week, or on a good day when I was already pulling up Trello to mark something accomplished. I’d assess my state of being at that time, say to myself, yeah I’m doing good this week, I’m fine, everything’s fine, and just mark it off.
I think what’s disappointing is that in doing all of these Kanban boards there has been “proof” that I am accomplishing things. When I tick off something in the writing category, it’s because of something concrete that I accomplished–write a scene, edit a chapter–whereas mental health is more tenuous than that. I want to get more concrete than “do you feel mentally stable this week and do a thing or two you enjoyed?” I think I’m mentally stable right now, but that doesn’t mean I’m not stressed or full of anxiety.
I think I’m going to try something different next quarter in that before I check the week off I need to edit the checklist item and specify what it was that I did for joy that week before I can check it off. Other ideas might be making a different checklist for each category and writing in when I do them so I can see how often I am binge reading books rather than spending time with friends.
This is one reason I do a quarterly Kanban. It forces me to both be concrete and specify tasks in a better way. Did I do this specific task list item, yes or no? You either win the day or you lose.
In Quarter three, just by numbers alone, you can see that I accomplished 342 of the 414 line items I had for this quarter. This is almost twice the amount of task list items I had originally planned for in the quarter. I reached an 82% task accomplishment, possibly my highest so far.
Here again is another reason to do Kanban boards. Look at those incredible numbers! I felt really bad about how most of these categories turned out, and was trying to be totally honest about why I didn’t accomplish some things. If they got put on this list, they were all important to get done, weren’t they? I thought I was right to be bummed about all the 0 and near-0 categories.
But we see now, I smashed through some really important things too, and have had one of my best quarters ever in terms of both task load and accomplishments. It is easy to be hard on myself for stuff I’m not doing well, but it is equally, and maybe even more important, to celebrate the stuff I am accomplishing.
So what do you think? Do you use Kanban boards to keep track of long-term goals? How do you keep track of your mental health? Do you have a quarterly goal plan, and do you revisit it regularly? How did you do this quarter? I’d love to hear all your goal-related things because I love trying something new. Let me know in the comments below!