The Calendar is my Friend. Repeat.

Too Much Social Media.jpg

I read this cartoon, from Stephan Pastis, some time ago, and I’ve saved it as it seems like it hits a bit too close to home with that wasting time on social media thing.  But rather than harp on that tired subject again — social media is ruining our lives — I’d rather take it a different direction, and talk about the one thing that helped me manage my social media as it relates to quilting: I made friends with my paper calendar.

In blogging, I used to just write blog posts at random: if I had made a quilt, or ran across something cool to share, I did.  But once another blogger said she scheduled her blog posts, I realized that she thought about them, worked out when she wanted to them to show up. In other words, she used that old-fashioned tool of calendaring her posts.


I use a small desktop calendar, and circle the date and pencil (not pen) in a code word, so I know what’s happening.  It helps me space out things (not always successful on this, but I’m working on it).

I came home from QuiltCon, vowing to work smarter, determined to change up how I used my favorite calendaring book, the Get To Work Book.  Too often I was using it as a journal — you know, writing down the things I did, or needed to do, and crossing them out in yellow marker when they were completed.  Yeah, even if I’d just written them down.


These are the project pages at the back of each month.  Post QuiltCon, I dumped wrote everything that was in my head down on paper.  I then took time to break it down into tasks, slipping a few onto every week of the month. Has it helped?  Somewhat.  I know now what I have to work on. I  don’t know about you, but I tend retreat to social media when I am bored, or perhaps, overwhelmed.   I can also be easily distracted by the wonderful eye-candy on Instagram (but in some ways that’s another topic for another day.)



In his article, “Warren Buffett’s ‘2 List’ Strategy: How to Maximize Your Focus and Master Your Priorities,” James Clear makes the point that even though many things are good to do, if they are not your top priorities, they will distract you from what’s most important, and from what should be given your best and undivided attention.

He notes that “Every behavior has a cost. Even neutral behaviors aren’t really neutral. They take up time, energy, and space that could be put toward better behaviors or more important tasks.”

Some other tips:

  • Simplify your media.  If you do Facebook, get off of Twitter or Snapchat.  Leo Babuta writes: “You can be a part of a social network and not participate all day long…I’ve consciously decided that I’d prefer to be creating rather than always connected to the social stream.” (from Zen Habits)
  • Notifications (from FB, IG, etc.) are a huge time sink.  Bubata recommends turning them off: “Don’t be notified everytime people post things or reply to you or follow you or email you or comment on your blog.”
  • I also liked the tip from Elizabeth Grace Saunders in the article “Front Load Your Week,” when she says “To minimize stress, spend less time worrying about planning exactly how long every activity will take you to do and more time front-loading your calendar by putting your most important activities with deadlines early in the day and early in the week. For example, something due on Friday should start appearing in your schedule by Tuesday afternoon…Front-loading gives you the ability to stay on top of projects that take longer than expected without getting stressed or working into the wee hours of the night.”
  • To follow up with that, front load your day.  Know when your best energy level is, and stack up tasks for that time.
  • My favorite focusing device is to ask myself:  “What do I want to have completed at the end of this day?”  That question alone has propelled me through me many a foggy moment.
  • Humans come first.  My husband is El Numero Uno, then my family, then friends.  After my husband, the order is flexible.
  • I am also a human.  (Obviously I have several firsts, but it all works out.)  By saying that I am a human, I need to be aware of how I feel after sitting scrunched over, reading my small screen. I need to be aware of how good a walk feels, even if it’s in the middle of the day, and only around the block. I need to be aware of how I feel when I can’t get anything done, because I’ve spent too long reading on the web, instead of getting to my work.  I need to be aware of how good it feels to have my life ordered, and not frantic.

Some regular tasks help me order my month, such as:


Gridsters March 2018

Marsha’s block for the Gridster Bee, March 2018

Sewing Obligations, such as blocks for my mates in the Gridster Bee.  I like jumping on it and getting it done at the beginning of the month (see tip about front-loading, above–I like to front-load my months, too!).


Turning the calendar to a new month.  I believe that with all my digital calendars, at times I lose sight of how time can be structured and used.  Bringing forward that new page reminds me to check my project lists, re-order priorities, bring on new tasks.

It’s not harmful to be involved in social media as many interesting and significant discoveries, as well as new friends, can be made this way.  Some nights, when I’m too tired for sewing tasks, I like to read blogs.  I use Feedly and Bloglovin’ to help keep my reading organized and to follow up with people on Instagram, and Facebook.  It’s enjoyable to see what everyone else is doing.

Do you have tips for staying focused?  If you care to share, please leave them below in a comment.


Comments, Blogger, Frustration

For some reason, Blogger has been playing with me.  Not my blogger–YOUR Blogger.

Which means that I’ve not been able to leave comments unless someone had enabled the new blogger (a confusing mess if there ever was one) so that the new format for comments showed up.  I am an avid commenter when I’m not grading (which is what I should be doing now, but hey–it’s lunchtime and I’m taking a break).  But for about the past two weeks, I can’t leave comments.  So I tried to switch to a different gmail, thinking maybe Google had it out for my old one.

Surprise!  They’d deleted my alternate gmail address.  Just because they can.  And no, you can’t have it back.  Not even if you click through at least 25 very unhelpful screens trying to figure out why, but getting the same message over and over and over:

Give It Up.  We Rule the World. You Can’t Have Back Your Other Email. Now Go Away.

Sigh.  So I set up another email to match the web name on this blog, and tried to comment.


I have to set up a BLOG in order to comment.  It’s not enough to have a gmail address–YOU HAVE TO HAVE A BLOG.  I already have a blog.  Like I have about nine blogs.  Like I love the digital world except for when I hate it.  Which is about now.

But remembering that Google rules the world (which is why when I have to search for a sensitive topic, like why mothers-in-law are the most hated people on the planet, or should I hand piece or machine piece, I go to a new favorite: which has a no-tracking policy. You’re welcome.), I knuckle under to their incessant demands that I set up another blog, which if I do all my stuff right should mirror over to this site. And so far, it does.

So if you see a new name on your comments, say like, with the above Gravatar picture, it’s me.  Elizabeth E.  The one and the same.

And now maybe I can stop banging my head against the wall, and finish up grading those student essays.

Quilty Blogs, part 1

I feel like a four-year old girl when it comes to this blog: trying on one look after another.  Maybe this one will settle in, and I’ll like it.

It’s been a long slog through this semester, and sewing time has all but evaporated along with blogging time. I do find it therapeutic to sit at night when I’m beyond tired and look through quilting blogs.  I thought I’d list some here.

I think many quilty blogs these days are all about commerce–selling something–whether it be a book, or fabric lines, or something else.  I like these blogs because it keeps me updated on what’s happening in the quilt world.  Others are blogs that started out with quilting for pleasure and then as the quilter matured in their craft, blossomed into a commercial enterprise.  And the last category are those like me: Quilters who Blog.  Nothing to sell.

For today, it’s Quilting Commerce Blogs.

Anna Maria Horner. She just recently had her sixth child, and her blog is a combination of family life, personal memories and experiences and displaying her fabric lines, a mix of the exotic and the sublime. She blogs from Nashville, Tennessee.

Fabricworm. This blog is from a shop in Paso Robles on the Central California Coast.  Cynthia Mann stocks organic fabrics (her own line: Birch Fabrics) plus many other imports, as well as domestics.

i have to say is from Randi, who runs an ETSY shop, Fresh Squeezed Fabrics. I have ordered from her before and it always arrives quickly.  She stocks a lot of the modern lines in her shop, but her blog is a mix of her personal and quilting life. (Photo use pending permission.)

Me and My Sister. I first started following them (yes, they are two sisters) at Road to California, when they launched their first fabric line and handed out quilt patterns on CD-roms (which I still have).  They live in Arizona, have had many more launches since then, and create bright and airy fabric designs.

Material Obsession is a blog from Australia.  Once, when Dave and I were contemplating a trip Down Under, this was one of the reasons I wanted to go.  I know, pathetic, but that’s how it is with quilters. My latest obsession with them is their ongoing Lollypop Quilt kits, and I love seeing how they combine their Aboriginal fabrics with densely patterned Kaffe Fassett prints into fabulous, richly colored quilts.

Pink Chalk Studio. I’ve followed Kathy Mack for a while–strictly a fabric mail-order business, but she has lots of good sewing tips, ideas, and when she goes to Market–lots of giveaways. (Market is being held this week, so check back to her blog to see if she has some giveaways.)

More later, but I’m stopping because it’s Halloween.  Here’s my Halloween, Day of the Dead creation.  It was a guild challenge to use a theme and certain fabrics.  The “before” is with all everything thrown on, much like those curbside memorials with lots of stuff.  The theme was Black and White and . . . .  and I chose “Black and White and Dead All Over,” not because I’m morbid, but because the theme’s deadline was in October.  I wanted a Day of the Dead Altar.

When I got it back from the quilt show (it was shown at the Quilters Unlimited Quilt Show in Virginia) I decided it was too gucked up.  So I stripped it down, found some milagros–those silver charms that people pin to the skirts of the Saints in churches–and tried a different version.  I kept the Catarina, the Walt Whitman quote about death, and the angel flying off the edge.  Kept the chocolate ribbons (from a candy shop in Salt Lake City that’s now defunct), though.  Speaking of chocolate. . . Have a spooky night!