Filling the Jars Update – 1st Quarter of 2016

I’ve been blogging for about three months now. It’s time to update my blog and household goals, talk about how things have been going, and contemplate whether or not I plan to make any changes.

 

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Blogging Update:

 

What I love:

  • Getting to know new people and read new blogs. It reminds me that the world is a large and fantastic place full of interesting and talented people.
  • Working with graphics, even though I spend far too much time searching for photos and researching font licenses and such.
  • Writing a post that helps someone or makes them think.

 

What’s surprised me:

  • Time involved to create just one post. I had expected it to take about an hour or less, when in reality it’s about 4 hours.
  • The desire to tweak my website and how frustrating it is when I can’t figure how to do it. There are a lot of technical aspects to blogging.
  • How closely related social media is to people actually finding and reading my blog. Somehow, I had thought it would just randomly be discovered. Not how it works at all. While I have really surprised myself by how much I enjoy Twitter, I’m not very happy with the time I spend overall on social media.

 

My blogging goals for the 2nd quarter of 2016:

  • Begin batching my work and developing workflow schedules in some sort of program like Evernote, Trello, or Google Docs.

Related from Melyssa Griffin: How To Create Time-Saving Systems for Your Business and Blog
Related from Nora Conrad: The Complete Guide to the Perfect Workflow
Related from Jen Carrington: How I Intentionally Schedule My Week as a Creative Business Owner

  • Complete more of the Elite Blog Academy class. I’m having a difficult time getting as far ahead on content as I would like to be.
  • Connect more closely with some bloggers. Sometimes social media and “making the rounds” becomes quite a whirlwind. It’s good to be able to stop and really connect with a few people.
  • Create more posts to encourage and help people, especially focusing on saving and making money, organizing, and simplifying. (Leave a comment below to let me know what you would like to see here!)

 

Household Update:

To see the original goals I had when I launched Filling the Jars, read this — Filling the Jars: Family, Home, Money, Life and this — My Buzzword for 2016: Positivity.

 

Home:

Now that spring has finally arrived, I’m looking forward to begin work on some DIY projects! The priorities are:

  • Redo the master bedroom. The last time we did any work in there was 15 years ago. Time to refresh! I have pinned some ideas on my Pinterest Bedroom Decor Ideas board. The main projects will start in late June when I begin summer break from my part-time job.
  • Build a new pumphouse. We live in the country and our wellpump is in a small shed. After years of water issues, the building is falling apart and we need to build an improved version. We also need to fix some of the water lines.
  • Build a walkway from the house to the driveway. My plan is to make this happen at the same time as doing the base for the pumphouse. I have spent years researching different walkway versions, mostly trying to figure out how we could do something for free that would not need maintenance. My husband, smart man that he is, has always said, “Let’s just get a truck in here, pour some concrete, and be done with it.” My mind immediately thinks ugly and expensive and too much prep work, but that’s probably what we are going to end up doing. And I’ll probably like it just fine.

 

Money:

When I started Filling the Jars, I had been unemployed for several months. I decided to begin freelance writing as a way to replace my former income. I did some writing in January and February, but my time investment was too large in proportion to the pay. I only made about $30 total for several articles. Plus I felt strange writing about subjects chosen by other people, so I haven’t done any freelance writing since February. I still want to eventually write as a way of creating income, but would prefer to write my own pieces from my point of view.

At the beginning of March I went back to work half-time, which has been good for me mentally and helped the family budget. Construction has been steady, so my husband has been working and we have kept the money flow on track.

Our current budget is something we can survive on, but I’m going to have to continue to step it up and create more income for us to accomplish the goals set out at the beginning of the year:

  • Pay off the home equity loan. Funds that I had planned to use toward this have temporarily been redirected toward other necessities — new riding mower, rebuilding the pumphouse, and installing a walkway from the house to the driveway.
  • Fund Roth IRA’s for this year. Still trying to figure out how this will happen. My husband and I do both contribute to retirement plans through work. His pension plan is better than my tiny 401k, but neither one will be enough to live on.
  • Help out with college expenses for our older son. Claiming him on our taxes earned us a credit on our return this year, so we will contribute approximately that amount toward his tuition expenses. We would love to help more if our own retirement accounts were fully funded, but that is not the case right now. As every financial book I’ve ever read says, “Your kids can borrow money for college. You can’t borrow money for retirement.”

 

Life:

Beginning a blog was a huge life step, and I’m learning more every day!

I have begun working on moving toward minimalism and simplicity. I have no intention of being one of those people with 43 belongings that all fit into a backpack, but I have a house and garage that still seem too full despite rounds of decluttering. It’s time to let more go, and have less to think about.

I wrote about rediscovering the joy of sitting down and writing without thinking in the post The Magic of Getting Up Early and Writing 500 Words. This happened parallel to blogging and has taken part of my blog in an unexpected direction. I post my random writings every Monday. At some point, I would like to put enough sparks together from those posts to ignite my desire to write a whole book.

  • Overall, I want to strongly focus my life and blog on this statement: “Build Your Best Life by Planning, Simplifying, and Taking Action.”

That pretty much covers it. 🙂

 

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15 thoughts on “Filling the Jars Update – 1st Quarter of 2016”

  1. Amy Bellows, Ph.D.

    I completely agree on the social media aspect. It is the one piece that I think surprises everyone when they first start blogging. The amount of time you spend connecting and sharing can get out of hand if you don’t create some guidelines for yourself and your daily goals and limits!

    1. Hi Amy, thank you for visiting! Somehow getting to my daily goals never matches the time limits I try to set. 😉 I’m completely in awe of those who create a prolific schedule to Pin, comment, Tweet, etc. in 30-60 minutes a day. Someday I will figure out the secret!

  2. Kudos to you! I love blogging, I love connecting, but it does take up a lot of your free-ish time. I think I spend the most time editing pictures, sometimes I don’t even use them if I end up hating them. I guess the point here is that I get in my own way sometimes…. whoops!
    Wishing you all the best on your goals and DIY adventures!!
    XOXO
    http://www.mrsaokaworkinprogress.com

    1. Hi Dean! Your photos are always so great! I can’t imagine you could take one that’s not usable, even without editing. Yes, that’s the term – we “get in our own way.” Those are the exact words I was looking for! Here’s to getting OUT of our own way and ON to completing our goals!

  3. I wanted to complement you on your goals very nicely done and professional. That is the aspect I need to work on. Right now I don’t really feel very professional especially since I feel like I don’t really have a dedicated schedule. I started using an online program for my blog organization this week. However, I had no idea the right was to so what I’m doing, searching for keywords, making spreadsheets ( I hate spreadsheets), using he ( still can’t figure them). What I love is the creative aspect, just trying to figure out how to balance everything.

    1. Hi Jennifer! Thank you so much for your comment! Which online program are you using? I love spreadsheets for tracking what I’ve already done, but I also like actual paper for a lot of my planning – to-do lists, calendars, post ideas & editing, etc. I can’t seem to go completely digital. What is your blog? I would love to visit!

  4. I didn’t know you were doing Elite Blog Academy as well, so am I. I’m still in Unit 2 trying to organize my 500 posts into categories and pulling out the best posts. I think I’ll be stuck there for a while. I can’t believe you’ve only been blogging 3 months, I think you’re doing a great job with your writing, design and images. I’ve got a free blog planner on my blog too if you want to check it out, a massive spreadsheet to help get you organized.

    Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday Linkup. Pinning to our linkup board and hope you found some great posts to visit this week!

    1. Hi Tanya! Wow, I can’t imagine working through 500 posts. Thank you for the compliments. 🙂 Your spreadsheet is great! That’s how I first found your site, a Pin popped up in my feed about your spreadsheet and I just had to sign up to get it!

  5. I love that quote! I am in a similar process of redefining how I want to work and refocusing my life so that it all flows naturally together! Great blogging tips, as well! I’ll have to check these out. 🙂 Thanks for sharing on #FFBH!

    1. Let me know when you discover the secret to the natural flow! Sometimes it all seems like a LOT of work! *LOL* Thank you so much for the visit and the comment!

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