Keeping On Top of Things: Choosing the Plates to Keep Spinning

One of the toughest things when trying to get your life organised is being ruthless about the volume of stuff you’re doing. Even when you try and thin down to what looks manageable, you can still wind up with a ton of things to deal with.

Still, as I’m looking to get a move on with the things I want to do, some organising and prioritising is vital, even if organisation and setting priorities are skills I’ve had trouble with in the past.

So let’s take a punt…

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote out a big list of the things that I’m trying to keep on top of. I realised in the meantime that there are one or two more things to add:

Extra Plate: Video and Board Games

Let’s face it; I do enjoy these, and as much as they’re a pastime, they’re deserving of an “on my plate” status; if I don’t treat them as something deserving of due care and time, they’ll be a guilty indulgence creeping in at the edges, something I won’t be able to do right because I don’t want to admit I’m doing it. And respecting my interest in games also means respecting the folks with whom I play.

  • Above and beyond the Heroes of the Storm writing project, there’s the time I put into gaming in general. Playing Heroes of the Storm has petered out a little bit and I just recently picked up the Legendary Edition of Destiny for the Xbox 360. They’re both fun to play in their own ways, although at the moment Heroes of the Storm is better act connecting me with folks I already know – a lot of my Xbox buddies from the Halo days have gone and upgraded to the Xbox One, which Xbox 360s can’t talk to. So I’ve held off from renewing my Xbox Live Gold subscription until I find a bunch of folks to hang out with.
  • Then there’s the board gaming crew. After selling my Infinity miniatures – let’s face it, I’d not played a game with them since shortly after buying them and had barely touched them painting wise since 2013 – I put the cash toward a copy of XCOM: The Board Game, which I’ve played a couple of games of with the Cairns Boardgamers crew at The Wicked Goblin and solo (the Earth was doomed each time). Playing the stuff others bring along, like Power Grid and Viticulture, is also great, in good part because I get to catch up with some fun folks!
  • And finally, I managed to get Neverwinter Nights 2 working on both Vickie’s and my PCs; when we both have the brainpower to spare, we’re looking forward to revisiting the fun we had playing Neverwinter Nights over a decade ago!

Spinning Plates

So let’s work through this lot and see if I can narrow down to five:

Vickie, the Dogs and Getting More Sane

Yeah, this does look like three things in one. Maybe I need to split them out. Anyway, let’s see how we go:

The main downside of an eight thirty to five thirty office job: I have to spend a good chunk of my life not with the woman I love, not to mention our two kids of the four-legged, furry variety. So in the midst of all this prioritising, I want to make sure my plans don’t eat much into the time I spend being with my wife (and not letting my to-do list or worries distract me from listening to what she’s trying to tell me). And, of course, there’s making sure I play with (and exercise) our woofers.

I think the trick there is to keep weekday evenings and weekends as free as possible, especially of the stuff that might require concentration and problem solving.

Then there’s the general sanity front. One thing that the last week showed me is that I could be better and more confident about stating what I’m feeling. I tend to be a bit diplomatic and passive-aggressive when it comes to handling my emotions, but some experiences last week showed me one of the places I get those traits from.

Exercise might well help with this. I’ve already got a fair bit of walking in my routine, but I’m starting to get a bit extra around the belly again; adding some body (shoulders, chest, core, abdomen) exercise to my routine would help with that.

But the main thing is meditation – being aware of my breathing, and then everything else, both internally and externally – and there is one place that’s pretty good for that: My daily commute in the car. It’s a great time to make sure I’m aware of what’s going on around me, and I have nothing else to do but sit, watch, listen, steer and breathe.

The Vege Bed and Food

Generally, this is pretty good. I’ve got out of the watering routine a bit because it’s been raining well lately, but because of that the vegetable bed has also gotten weedy. So it’s time to pay that a bit more attention. Usually the best time for me to do that is after I get home from work and with the days getting longer and my going onto early shifts three days a week with daylight saving coming in down South, I can get it done while it’s still light in the evenings.

The food preparing bit needs work, of course. Salads seem easy to prepare – gather, clean, cut, dress – but I still need practice. I also want to learn some recipes for things I can do with veges, like turning our tomatoes into salsa or pasta sauces.

Friends and Gaming

I’ve bundled these two in together because when it comes down to it, they’re really the same thing. As much as I like to play games for their own sake, I like playing with other people, both via electronic means and sitting around a table, and they’re deserving of my focus as much as anything.

On the general mates front, I’m lucky that I have a handful of good mates in town who run shops and are more than happy for me to swing by and just hang out while I’m on my lunch break. While I acknowledge that it can help their places look busier, it still feels like an incredible privilege (I’m sure there are business-y things they could otherwise be putting that time toward).

Then there are the folks whom Vickie and I don’t see as often as we’d like, but with whom getting together can be tricky.

I’m already going to board gaming at The Wicked Goblin every other Thursday evening, and as I mentioned once before, Heroes of the Storm is great for keeping up with Pierre in the States (and hopefully one or two other folks as well). While most of my online mates who play Destiny are on the Xbox One (which means my 360 won’t talk with them), I’m still hoping to virtually meet some other Xbox 360 folks who enjoy the game.

When can Vickie and I get some Neverwinter Nights 2 time in (when she has the concentration)? Can I put a time in my schedule where I can say with confidence that I’m going to be online for either HotS or Destiny? And when can Vickie and I get together with our mates?

Voice Work

While the Heroes of the Storm guide seemed like a good idea at the time, and I enjoyed working on it, I feel like I need to accept that my time is limited, and I want to focus on what I know is working; i.e. paying. Birdy and Mike are great clients, but ultimately they’re only one “client.” Fiverr showed me that I can do a variety of things, but I want more consistent and better paying work.

So I need to devote some time to brainstorming, marketing and experimenting, not to mention researching and implementing routines to train and take care of my vocal cords.

I have another income stream in the folks who cover The Paid to Play Podcast via Patreon, but I’m not quite sure how to grow that, or what I can offer. I have a few ideas, like making the Podcast into seasons (to give me time to work on other things) and giving each season a specific topic, but how then do I carry one season’s audience over?


Although writing could well be one of the things that keeps me sane, I mention it as a separate priority as it supports a lot of other stuff too, like the Podcast – it’s also an avenue for freelance work. Plus, it’s good to keep this web log updated on a regular basis!

So, when do I devote some regular time to butt-in-chair, fingers-on-keys? And when do I edit what I’ve done so it’s presentable?

Just When Am I Going To Do All This?

Ultimately, this is the main thing. I can set priorities all I want, but unless I set out times when I’ll turn up to do something about them, then – well, I won’t do anything about them.

So here’s a rough outline of my schedule, minus times. This gives me what I need to plug into my calendar (which I will, of course, need to make sure I check every morning).

  • Weekday mornings:
    • Throw ball for Sookie
    • Writing time
    • Meditation: Driving to work
    • Brainstorming: Walk from car to work (use phone voice recorder app)
  • Weekday lunchtimes:
    • Editing on netbook
    • Research at library
  • Weekday evenings:
    • Brainstorming: Walk from car to work (use phone voice recorder app)
    • Meditation: Driving home
    • Weed and prune the vege bed
    • Walk Sookie and Ziggy
    • Vickie time
    • Prep for tomorrow: Clothes, lunch
    • Exercise and shower
    • Board Gaming (Thursday Fortnight)
  • Weekends:
    • Vickie Time
    • Vege Bed Maintenance
    • Lawn mowing
    • General house care
    • The Paid to Play Podcast:
      • Scheduling Guests
      • Editing the Chat Episode / Recording the Video Log
      • Writing / uploading web log entries

Bloody heck, that’s looking pretty full already!

I think I’ll have to be a bit more ruthless with this list. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself, it’s that I tend to run away when I get overwhelmed. So, next update, I’ll come back, review this lot and see what I can shift to the back-burner.