Dear Together Friends, Fans, and Family
If this month’s Together Tips has hit your inboxes, it means I have successfully turned in the manuscript for The Together Teammate. After many 4 AM mornings (yes, there is a video in there!), countless oat milk lattes, hidden retreats in the Pennsylvania mountains, and several hotel writing sessions that maybe found me wandering the lobby in leopard print socks, I am slowly re-entering society. (Also, I think this book is so good and so helpful and you can pre-order here, which is super helpful to authors like me!).
Because I am not a book-writing machine, I have also consolidated ten boxes of Band-Aids found in various spots in my home, attempted to use a paper-based planner as an experiment (that lasted three days. . . now it’s back to Outlook/Evernote for me), spent too much time on a vintage clothing Buy/Sell/Trade website, deleted various old notes from Evernote and digitized every single household appliance receipt, and read countless magazines while eating animal crackers on the couch. Hey, we all get to pre-crastinate and pro-crastinate in our own special ways, right? Be nice to me. I just birthed my fifth book. Maybe my last. Who knows? If you have ideas for other Together Tomes, you can write me here. (But not before I enter a six-week Semi-Sabbatical to put my life back together. . . aka make sure my car actually gets registered!)
Otherwise, it is FEBRUARY. I hope your January was a gentle one; around here the holiday decorations just came down and are safely-ish housed in the attic with squirrels and raccoons, my youngest kid turns 10 this month with an epic snowy outdoor laser activity, my Girl Scout troop completed a lovely Project Linus community service activity, Valentine’s Day is upon us (are you team in or out on that one?), and here in the mid-Atlantic, it is a dark and short month. Given the doozy that was my wedding-Thanksgiving-honeymoon-surgery-Decemberholidays-bookdeadline, I’m considering February the start of my new year. While I’m not on team New Year-New You, I do like some intentionality around emerging from Together Turmoil periods.
So, last November 2022, when I saw the storm that was October-November-December-January-February, I did a few things to buffer myself professionally and personally (not all at the same time, don’t worry).
- Divided the months into very clear phases and communicated my priorities to my team and family (and even my friends!). My kids knew I would have to miss a few plays, not participate in some family ski days, and have some super early mornings, not to mention check into hotels on and off for the final two weeks to completely focus. [NOTE: Huge shout-out to Dr. Together for taking all four kids for close to four entire weeks so I could work and focus.]
- Lightly meal-planned a month in advance to reduce my decision-making fatigue. Remind me to tell you our Island Dinner approach here in Four-Kid-Four-Cat Land.
- Posted an auto-responder naming the book deadline and my commitment to focus, and forecasting when I would be back in touch.
- Followed Oliver Burkeman’s newsletter advice and made an inbox folder called “Deal With This Post-Book Deadline.”
- Said “Come back to me in March” to some people! This one pained me, but I asked people who reached out about favors, chatting, research studies and career chats to reach out again post-February (thanks for understanding, Ron, Matt and Joe!)
- Maintained a list of Rest Activities. I’m here for rest. I’m even pretty good at occasionally relaxing, but like the rest of us, I can fall into a scroll as a break and then emerge a few hours later, not actually feeling rested! I’ve been challenging myself to Pomodoro the rest periods a bit so they are truly rejuvenating. Shows, books, podcasts and moving my body help me feel more rested than Facebook any day.
- Took strategic Brain Breaks. If I was hitting a wall with writing, I knew it was time to re-set my brain so I could get back on track churning out that Togetherness Content!
- Rescheduled or cancelled any meetings not specifically related to my current priorities – teaching, writing, and mom-ing—and placed them in March.
- Asked The Together Team for specific help in certain areas I usually lead and they are crushing it (thanks Kendra, Ana, Lauren, Heidi, Maggie, Cornelius, Chrystie and Tammie!)
- Scheduled 8-min phone calls. . . Sent my best girlfriends an email warning them I’m going under for a few weeks, but I will emerge soon – though I still got in a lot of eight-minute phone calls with them!
- Prescheduled a few catch-up days! If you have the time and flexibility to do this, this can give you some grace to catch up on communications (I’m looking at you, overflowing inbox), or even punt other tasks into this empty period.
PS This summer is the official marker of TEN YEARS of Togetherness. While I had been side-hustling for five years prior, 2013 was when I made it official. Write me here with ideas to celebrate!
Together Treasure Box (I didn’t have time to blog (SEE ABOVE), so we are highlighting some favorite Together Tools from the blog this month!)
- Tiffany’s BEAUTIFUL Later List! This from Tiffany is a great reminder that visual aesthetics matter! An attractive tool is one we want to return to and actually USE!
- James B’s Together Trifold! This from James demonstrates my principle that you should build the tool that works for you! James has a very personalized tri-fold with him at all times, designed by him for his specific needs.
- Dwenette’s One-Stop-Shop System! This from Dwenette is an amazing example of putting your tools all in the same place. Might not be what works for everyone, but she’s figured out a system that works for her!
Top Together Tributes
- Turns out Marie Kondo is just like the rest of us. My laundry issues are long documented around here, and I’ve never been much of a folder (I’m honestly more of a shover. . . or a never-even-put-it-away-er), but this article made me feel affirmed. It’s hard out there for all of us, Marie!
- Focus old-school style. I need all the encouragement I can get to minimize those distractions! Deep reading on paper – yes! (Fun fact: Dr. Wolf was my professor as an undergrad!)
- Support libraries and librarians Great tips from a long-time teen librarian on how to support public libraries during this time of increased book-banning & pressure. Even my fave Emma Straub was uninvited from a book reading about her great new picture book!