The inspirational title of my day planner for 2020 is “Grand Plans”.
It’s funny how so many sayings about plans are negative ones:
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
“No plan survives first contact with an opposing force.”
“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”
All this to say that, like the Spanish Inquisition from that famous Monty Python sketch, no one expected 2020 to be the year of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Like so many others all over the world, I’m sheltering in place, practicing social distancing, and working from home, all of which I’ve been doing for almost a month now.
Already, it’s had a noticeable effect on my goals for 2020 that I set back at the start of the year.
Every three months, I assess the progress I’ve made to date on my annual goals. The purpose of this is to determine if any changes or course correction is needed, which strengthens my ability to actually achieve my goals.
I use a simple scoring system of either 0, 0.5, or 1 point to grade the smaller sub-goals that make up each overall goal.
My 2020 goals and progress over the first quarter of the year are as follows:
1) Continue to make progress in my writing journey
- Completely finish my WIP – Points: 0.5
- Query my WIP – Points: 0
- Figure out the rest of the plot for my next novel – Points: 0
- Start my next novel – Points: 0
- Read at least three writing craft books – Points: 0.5
- Always be researching in general in support of future novels – Points: 0.5
- Read the first draft of my WIP’s sequel and make general/overall revision notes – Points: 0
- Rewrite my blog bio – Points: 0
Total points: 1.5/8 = 19%
Summary of progress: My ability to achieve most of these sub-goals is largely dependent upon the first one.
Until I completely finish my WIP, I can’t query it, read its sequel and make revision notes that are useful, start my next novel, or even work more on outlining that next novel’s plot in a meaningful way due to limitations in both my mental capacity and free time.
(Because my regular commute to work was only 15-20 minutes by bicycle, now working from home has netted me less than an hour of additional time each day, which I use to listen to the Prime Minister’s daily briefing and other news updates.)
I am progressing toward completion of my WIP, however. I currently have only three more chapters to revise in my current draft.
Once that’s done, I’ll do a quick polishing draft to insert a few ideas into Act II that arose while revising Act III, plus a last bit of line-editing. After that, it’s just beta readers, and then it will be ready to query and I can fully devote myself to my next WIP.
I continue to always be researching in general, although I haven’t been especially targeted about this, which is why I only gave myself half a point. I have a few vague ideas for future novels that need researching, but right now I’ve more so been reading whatever happens across my path instead of seeking out specific sources.
Although I haven’t really gained any extra time in my day working from home, one thing it has done is make it a bit easier to actually take my lunch breaks (because there’s no one here to distract me from it with extra/ill-scheduled tasks or impromptu requests for help).
This is noteworthy because it was during my hitherto non-existent lunch breaks that I was trying to read my writing craft books.
Currently, I’m halfway through two different craft books, one that I started last year (when I also wasn’t taking all my lunch breaks) and one I started just this month. If I keep up my current pace I should be able to read my three books easily.
As for rewriting my blog bio, this is a fairly easy task that I should have no problem achieving, for all that I haven’t started it yet (I actually forgot I’d included it as a sub-goal).
2) Improve my non-writing life
- Explore and sample potential new hobbies – Points: 0
- Create/put myself into situations that allow me to meet new people – Points: 0
- Go on a trip somewhere I haven’t been before – Points: 0
Total points: 0/3 = 0%
Summary of progress: It is in this goal that COVID-19 has had the greatest impact. It’s also the one for which I had so many plans in the works.
One of the potential new hobbies I was looking into was joining a gospel choir.
At the beginning of March, I had looked up all the local choirs and noted their audition dates. I also discovered that one of the choirs was giving a free concert on March 14, so I made plans to go check out their repertoire.
Needless to say, due to the subsequent COVID-19 ban on gatherings, the concert was cancelled. Indeed, choirs are particularly ill-suited to the social distancing existence.
So too is meeting new people. Over Easter I was scheduled to travel cross-country to visit my sister and some old friends, and while there also planned to meet in person with a writer I know from Twitter. That’s out. The entire trip has been cancelled.
Speaking of trips, my parents were scheduled to go to Punta Cana in August and I, party-crasher that I am, was looking into tagging along. That’s been cancelled.
I won’t be going anywhere I haven’t been before now—not this year, Satan—even after the world gets COVID under control.
Because even when we do get COVID under control, COVID can still come back, and there’s nowhere in the world I’m prepared to possibly get stuck if/when that happens other than my hometown where I grew up (assuming I’m even allowed to go there this year).
For sub-goal #3 I’m calling it now and have crossed it right off the list.
The other two, though, might still have legs. It’s definitely possible to meet new people over the internet, as am I theoretically able to either explore socially-distant new hobbies or else wait out the pandemic and see what’s on offer when we’re all free to gather again.
3) De-clutter/Mary Kondo my entire apartment
- Remove excess/unnecessary items from every room – Points: 0.5
- Attempt to give usable items away to friends/family who want them – Points: 0
- Donate usable items that no one wants – Points: 0
- Minimize the amount of garbage generated – Points: 0.5
Total points: 1/4 = 25%
- Living room
[ ] Bookshelf
[ ] Desk
[ ] Armchair
[X] Magazine box
[ ] Couch
- Dining room
[ ] Side chair
[X] On top of cupboards
[ ] Behind the oven
[ ] Behind the fridge
[ ] Coat closet
[ ] Shoe trays
[ ] Storage closet
[X] Shower caddy
[X] Medicine cabinet
[X] Cupboard under the sink
[ ] Closet
[ ] Top of dresser/ornament shelf
[ ] Dresser drawers
[ ] Smallclothes drawers
[ ] Bookshelf
[ ] Nightstand
[ ] Under the bed
Summary of progress: So even though, because of COVID-19, I’m stuck at home indefinitely, and even though I have a year-long goal to Marie Kondo my entire apartment, only so much movement has occurred in this as yet.
The reasons for this are two-fold. One, pre-COVID, I was too busy working overtime:
My last pre-lockdown activity was giving a 40-minute presentation (and accompanying report) to the board of directors on a deadline *I myself* shortened by TWO MONTHS so that I could go away at Easter without all the work hanging over my head… 🙃 https://t.co/oVJDaTMxgh
— Janna G. Noelle (@jgnoelle) April 1, 2020
And two, now living the social distance existence, I’m still working regular hours during the week, while on weekends, I have NO desire for de-cluttering at the moment since I haven’t had a break yet from my two-and-a-half months of overtime.
De-cluttering can wait. It was never going to be a big part of my first quarter anyway.
4) Complete additional long-standing/outstanding tasks
- Get new running shoes – Points: 0
- Make a will – Points: 0
- Try to get a doctor – Points: 0
Total points: 0/3 = 0%
Summary of progress: So, not to put too fine a point on it, but during a global pandemic is an absolutely TERRIBLE time to have a) no doctor, b) no will, and c) very old and beat-up running shoes.
It’s pretty much the worst possible scenario—one for which, had someone even a month ago warned this would be the result of my lengthy procrastination, my response would have been an emphatic, “That won’t happen!”
It’s actually the running shoes that I lament the most—at least at the present moment. That same week of the cancelled choir concert (which also marked the end of my overtime), I was also planning to finally hit up my local running stores to try on new shoes.
Since I can no longer go to the gym, one of the few avenues of fitness still available to me is jogging around my neighbourhood.
I have no love for road-running—asphalt is painful. Even more so in beat-up runners. And I have a bad knee.
But these are desperate times, so making do is the order of the day.
I just might need to also add “get physiotherapy” to my list of goals when the pandemic is finally over.