What I learned from the trash truck

For twelve years, every Monday night I’ve taken the trash can out to the curb for early Tuesday pickup. You’d think by now taking the trash out on Monday night would be imbedded in my DNA. Nope, last Monday night I didn’t take out the trash or pick up the mail. No reason for it, I just didn’t think of it.

My brain was on overload. I’m one of those people who want to write my book in a single sitting. Do my taxes (I do them by paper and pencil, the old-fashioned way) in a single day. Create the world in less than seven days.

Right now, I have a novella due May 1st. A book launching today. I have to finish my taxes because I’m moving and need them for records to get a mortgage. I have to pack up the house and get it ready to put on the market. Take care of hubbie, who needs care. Have some medical tests run in the next week or two. Organize the stuff that is going to the community yard sale. Get the car serviced. Take books to the library for their sale. And all the while, avoid throwing anything out until after next Tuesday morning when the trash men return, because my trash can is overloaded.

I decided I had to solve this problem of trying to leap over tall buildings in a single bound or I’d be headed to the funny farm. This is a problem common to many women and many women writers. We want to do it all, and we want to do it now.

And that’s when I thought of taking things in smaller bites.

I’m not a list maker, but if you are, you’ve probably already figured this technique out. The first thing was to remind myself that nothing has to happen in a single day, minute, week, whatever. Getting a few hundred words written on the novella today should get it ready in time. I have some things in place for the book launch, and since the book will be out there for years, I can get the word out over time. Doubling up on my errands should help. Hubbie is priority number one, but he only needs help with certain things and I can build a schedule around them.

I need to stand up straight and take a deep breath. A bite here, a bite there, and while I’ve eaten up some time, I’ll have managed to accomplish more than I expected. Instead of focusing on checking things off my to-do list, I need to practice making progress on the myriad things in my life.

I also need to take a deep breath and remember the trash truck will come back next week. Now, I need to remember to take the trash can to the curb.

Kate Parker is the author of The Killing at Kaldaire House, a historical cozy mystery featuring an Edwardian milliner with aristocratic clients and terrific taste in fashion, debuting today. She is also the author of the Victorian Bookshop Mysteries and the Deadly series. When she’s not writing, she’s proving her lack of organizational skills.

22 responses to “What I learned from the trash truck”

  1. Happy Book Birthday, Kate! Woohoo! You’ve got a lot on your plate, but you can do it step by step. Good luck chipping away at it!

    I, myself, am a list maker – and I even have an app where I can set my tasks for certain days which reminds me that I don’t have to do everything every day. (It even throws me a little party when I complete my tasks for the day.) For me, the satisfaction of checking something off my list helps motivate me.

    Hope you can take the time today to enjoy this release!

    • Kate Parker says:

      THanks, Vivi. I’ve discovered people swear by their apps, and it sounds like you’re one of them. I do my lists on paper, and when I get done, I have a bunch of pieces of paper that need to go in the trash.
      I’ve found I love checking things off the list that I go crazy trying to finish everything today. Must breathe deeply and try not to check things off in a hurry!

  2. Jennifer Bray-Weber says:

    Congrats on your latest release, Kate!

    Busy, busy lady. I feel ya! I’m there with you with the endless tasks and responsibilities. To keep myself somewhat sane, I use lists. I’ve been a list-maker since my early twenties. Yeah, even then I had Herculean mounds of work to do. I can’t tell you how good it feels to mark even the smallest, easiest thing off my to-do list. Little victories go a long way and I get a real sense of accomplishment.

    Happy book birthday!


    • Kate Parker says:

      Jenn, you have a lot of experience with lists. Do you find it keeps you saner and stops you from racing faster than a speeding bullet? That’s when I mess up. Must slow down. And I’m in the South!

      • Jennifer Bray-Weber says:

        I don’t feel out of control or feel like I’m in a race for the end. If I can’t get everything done, I roll over what wasn’t done to the next day. I compartmentalize. 🙂
        Make a list and you’ll find a rhythm that will work for you. Then you won’t be so rushed! You can do it! (((hugs)))

  3. June Love says:

    Congratulations on your release, Kate! You have so much going on in your life right now. And, you blogged! I’m impressed.

    I’m one of those list makers. I don’t do a daily list, but a weekly list. I found that works best for me because certain things don’t necessarily have to be done on a certain day as long as I can accomplish them by week’s end. Any time sensitive items, like appointments, etc. are placed at the top of the list with a day assigned to it. Others are placed at the bottom. More to serve as a reminder than actual chores to be done. Those are the ones that might get carried over to the next week. And, it’s all done on a list pad that I bought specifically for that. Having that list keeps me sane. 🙂

    Good luck tackling your long list of things to do!

    • Kate Parker says:

      A weekly list. Thanks, June, for the idea. Now, if I can only put a week’s worth of stuff on the list. And thanks for the good wishes for Killing at Kaldaire House.

  4. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    Happy Book Birthday, Kate!! Congratulations!

    Whew, your list is longer than mine! But, like you, I think that I’ve finally convinced myself “The List” does not need to be accomplished in one day. I make my list the old fashioned way…pen and paper…& get great satisfaction every time I cross something off!

    Good luck with that list! You got this!

  5. Gwyn says:

    Thanks for this, Kate. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed, especially when yours are the only two functional hands in the household. I, too, have a one-and-done mentality that hates being interrupted, having my focus shattered. I’ve not yet figured out how to get around it, however. Piecemeal makes me crazy. My one cousin says I may have OCD–once I’ve taken the first steps toward a goal, finishing is the only thing on my mind. He may have a point. *G* Anyway, I’m glad you’ve found a solution that works for you. Try not to overdo with the move (yes, I know it’s a tall order, but do try), and Happy Book Birthday!

    • Kate Parker says:

      Thanks for the book birthday wishes. I’m glad to know you are also a compulsive “finish what you started” person. I knew we were twins in many ways. I wonder if this started when ordered to finish something before getting anything else out as a child.

  6. Heather McCollum says:

    Happy Book Birthday, Kate!

    I’m a list maker, but I have to remember to build the list with baby steps, not big finished projects or the list becomes very disheartening. But little steps are “easy” to check off as I munch away at the bigger project. I can get lots of little things done and feel very productive even if the big thing is weeks or months from completion. : )

    • Kate Parker says:

      That’s good advice. Make the list of the baby steps so I can focus on the baby steps and not the big picture. That should take some pressure off.

  7. Tamara Hogan says:

    I love your cover, Kate. So evocative! Happy book birthday, dear sister.

    I am very much a (paper) list-maker, working from two running lists labelled ‘Must Do’ and ‘Nice to Do.’ “Must Do” tasks are the important/urgent ones, and tasks without deadlines stay on the ‘Nice to Do’ list.

    One thing I’ve learned the hard way? Most of the items on my “nice to do” list never make it to my “must do” list. Due to health issues, I never know how much energy I’ll have on any particular day, so my priorities are pretty dang ruthless. And you know what? For the most part, things work out fine. 🙂

    Wishing you the best as you manage what sounds like a very complicated schedule.

  8. Rita Henuber says:

    You got this Lady. I used to make lists but stopped cause I kept losing them. Sigh.
    Love your cover. Congrats on the new book.

  9. Addison Fox says:

    Happy Book Birthday, Kate!!!

    And this post really spoke to me. We have so many things running on a constant loop in our minds…it does all get done. We need to give ourselves a break in the meantime!!!


  10. OMG we are sisters. As you can see I’m late in reading the blog post. Life is crazy at times. I’m looking forward to the afternoon I can spend in the hammock and sun and read. Ahhhh. See I took a mini-vacation in my mind. LOL

    I’m a big believer in lists and setting priorities. Remember all will not get done without you, so remember to take time for yourself and breathe. (((HUGS))) I hope all goes better this week.

    Happy release day!!! I love that cover.


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