Tuesday Tidbit: Vacation Vows & Giveaway

This contest is now closed—thank you to everyone who visited and/or commented! The winner is Steph M; Steph, I’ll email you directly about your prize.

I make a lot of vacation vows. While strolling on the beach or playing a leisurely board game with my kids, as I sip cocktails with friends or spend an hour or two “just browsing” books or clothes, I think, I’m going to learn from this. When I go back to my desk, when the kids go back to school, I’m going to take things slower. I’m not going to overcommit us. I’m not going to get sucked into my inbox, drowned by my obligations, or tyrannized by my to-do list.

Ha.

This vacation, in particular, I made some vows. I knew going into this holiday break—sixteen days off from school for the kids—that it might not be the most relaxing vacation ever. I had a Christmas blog tour for Heating Up the Holidays, a new release for Still So Hot! and I have a manuscript due to my editor at the end of January (my June release, Hold On Tight). So I knew I wasn’t going to be able to drop everything and eat bon-bons for sixteen days. And I knew I’d have some struggles with figuring out how to balance much-needed quality time with my kiddos and the obligations that weren’t going to disappear just because school had closed.

I decided to cut out as much of the non-writing work as possible for those sixteen days—all the promo and business and administrative pieces, including, except where fun and necessary, email and social media. I told myself I would give myself two small blocks of time each day, one early in the day and one later, to write, and that in between, I would relax and enjoy my kids and my vacation.

Lo and behold, there was a productivity explosion. In those two short blocks per day, I got more writing done—by an order of magnitude—than I had during all the preceding weeks when I’d been writing (or theoretically writing) for four, five and six hours at a time.

I also discovered that I enjoy writing with my laptop on my lap and in locations I didn’t realize I even could write happily.

So I vowed to try to make my real life more like vacation. That means prioritizing walks outside over “productivity,” and short periods of serious, intensive writing over long periods of time theoretically producing words.  It means always knowing what I’m doing when I sit down with my computer and not allowing myself to get sucked into other tasks. It means writing at cafes or even while I wait for my daughter at basketball or gymnastics, even if writing on my lap isn’t ergonomically correct and writing in the evenings isn’t part of my routine. But it also means knowing when I’ve gotten out of myself all that it’s reasonable to expect for a given day, and when it’s time to just be with my kids (or clean my house).

Probably this vow won’t last much longer than my New Year’s resolutions, but the reason I think it stands a chance is that I saw firsthand how well it worked. Being more relaxed and Listed covereasier with myself made me get MORE work done, not less.

What did you learn about yourself, your family, or your household on this vacation (or, if you didn’t get much or any time off, during the holidays)? What New Year’s resolutions or vacation vows did you make? Do you feel like they might stick?

Comment below and be entered to win a complete ebook copy of Noelle Adams’ serial novel, Listed, which I read and loved over vacation (the heroine is in a unique position to think about how she wants to live her life, and makes a set of vows, of a sort). You must be 18+ to enter and live in the U.S. or Canada (or somewhere where I can gift you an item from Barnes & Noble or Amazon). The contest runs through 11:59 p.m. PST on Thursday, January 9.