NaNoWriMo and Goals

November has begun and winter has started. Or so it feels in the chilly suburbs of Chicago. [Where are you Fall? You were late to come and quick to leave!]

But November also marks the advent of NaNoWriMo mania- the time of the year where writers across the globe buckle down to attempt their masterpiece. I should know. I’ve had an account with NaNoWriMo from 2011 and also a few Camp NaNoWriMos. The point is simple. In 30 days, write 50K words. Just write. No editing. No second guessing. Write from your outline or write as you go. Zone in on the topic and genre of your choice. You can flow chapter-wise or jump from scene to scene or simply ooze the words as they come to you. Pen 1667 words every day or 50K on the last night. Every novelist is free to scribe as they like.


Sure, the end result will not be epic. But this version will act as a suitable clay that can be moulded to the shape we like, as opposed to the annoying blank page. If you want more words of wisdom or motivation, sign up for NaNoWriMo now and get pep talks from the inspiring volunteers who manage and support the different regional groups in your inbox. There are actual meetups and virtual write-ins too, to bolster the feeling of community and cheer one other.

So, have I started on my next great novel? Maybe a sequel, prequel or series from my darling “365 Days of F(ib)B-ing“? Good question. Sad answer. Nope.

This year I shall only be a participant in spirit. Given the many study assignments I have, I realize that signing up would be certain “Yes-icide“. But, I am inspired by the spirit of buckling down and attacking a project with a set timeline. Timeboxing as we called in my software professional days. Laura Vanderkam puts it much better in her newsletter. [Susbcribe if you did not already!] Or you can read her past posts on the subject on her website.

To elaborate, I have decide that I shall tackle a long-time aspiration of mine. I shall craft thirty blog posts : ten each for my two personal blogs and ten for my newly created professional blog. I have, a few times in the past; had a queue of posts that served me well during travel and vacations. The surprising by-product was the freedom it gave me to write more and better. Without the dread of a deadline [even if self-imposed] and the agony of a blank page and possible writer’s block, it’s easier to draft a great blog post and also pander to SEO and other luxuries like Featured Images.

Especially for my professional data science blog, I have a bunch of portfolio projects that I plan to articulate. I have been meaning to convert them into blog posts to showcase my efforts and learning. November’s NaNoWriMo enthusiasm is the perfect setting to materialize those good intentions. After all, even the best of ideas wither away without action.

And if I meet my goals, who knows? It might just stir me up to attempt a night of crazy writing and complete NaNoWriMo too!


All the best WriMos! May the Force be with You!

Share your plans in the comments below or tap me as a buddy. I go as ‘nirupamaprv’. Enjoy NaNoWriMo!


Spare Moments 


One of the interesting concepts I learned from Laura Vanderkam’s books : 168 hours and I Know How She Does It is the concept of ‘time confetti’. 

Coined by Brigid Schulte, author of ‘Overwhelmed: Work, Love, And Play When No One Has The Time’, she explains the idea of “time confetti” – a fragmentation that impacts our health, quality of life, productivity and creativity. This fragmentation amounts to “contaminated time” that prevents pure enjoyment, relaxation, focus, and mindfulness. 

Interesting as it was, coupled with Laura Vanderkam’s excellent suggestion to keep a list of 100 dreams and activities to indulge in during our spare time, I am totally inspired to use all my spare Moments wisely. Considering that as a SAHM, my schedule revolves around ensuring other people’s schedules, it becomes even more important for me to keep energizing and progressive tasks at arms reach. Thus began the ‘Spare Moments’ posts: for accountability, commitment, encouragement and the clarity that comes from a written chronicle.

This week was full of spare Moments. 


  • The time at the car service station when T fell asleep and Hubs was on call. I made conversation with a fellow car owner and also read two chapter of ‘Business, Networking and Sex (not what you think)’


  • A friend came over to play Lego with T (an earlier promise to T that was made good 🙂). So, I got half hour to read Gretchen Rubin’s ‘The Four Tendencies’.
  • T caught a kind of stomach bug and was home with me for two whole days. While they were upsetting, it meant that I crooned a lot more than usual. So, my plans to practice singing got fulfilled. 
  • We are transitioning T to a separate bed. Hubs took charge of two days, meaning I got an hour’s worth of readibg done. I used this time by reading the Four Tendencies and a Harlequin Romance. 
  • Since, T was home and needed to be distracted from solid food, we did some great coloring, got some photos put up in her room, and enjoyed Lego building. We are in the process of making different castles from our imagination.

While these are not wonderful examples, I do feel ennerved that I spent the unexpected chunks of time on inspiring activities rather than wondering what to do or scrolling through social media.

Have you made a list of activities to do in spare time? Do you keep a 100 Dreams list? Have you read these books? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Time Tracking

I had taken Laura Vanderkam’s Time Challenge in the second week of September and had fun finding out how exactly I spend my time in the new school year. Read bout that here.

With the 168 hours up (and another too), I finally analyzed the time slots. Here. are the results:

Category                          Weekly                                Average(Daily)

Family                              35.25                                    5.0

Work                                  15.25                                   2.2

Friends                              2.75                                      0.4

Cooking                             13.75                                    2.0

Chores                                36.5                                      5.2

Entertainment                  7                                            1

Sleep                                   57.5                                      8.2

Total                                   168                                        24

Conditions/ Assumptions:

Being an SAHM, I multi-task often. I have to or we would barely get anything done. Plus, my schedule is predominantly about making Hubby and Kiddo’s schedule go smoothly. Hence, I typically weave my tasks around theirs and club chores together. T is still in Pre-K and school just began (at the time of tracking), so, transitions did cause us a bit of grief and upheavals. (parenthood and childhood are both frustrating!) So, I have added my 15-minute time slots in categories based on what tasks it predominantly was composed of.


When it came to activities with my child, like reading to her, playing Legos and Pretend, coloring (for learning or fun), conversations about science and Paw Patrols  and WonderWoman, I found time slots where I was completely immersed with her and those where I also got mindless chores done. (like folding laundry and ironing) I put both under Family time because the chores were secondary. I even added one bathroom stint because T and I had an excellent conversation planning out mock-drive-through-play while on the commode. After all, inspiration strikes anywhere. 🙂 With Hubby, it was mainly conversations over dinner and snacks. I did not add watching TV together in this category, though we do typically catch a half hour episode on Netflix together.

When I looked at this time sheet, more than the numbers, I am happy about the kind of activities we had together, kiddo and me, Hubby and me and together as a family. This was one of the goals I had envisaged with my last time tracking. About improving the quality of family time. I felt I was a bit embroiled in the grind of everyday activities and could certainly do better in the quality of family time.


For SAHMs, work is supposed to be zero. Despite the fact that we are always on duty. But, I shall not debate that point in this post. Suffice to say, every family makes choices best suited to them and parenting is plain hard. So, wishing everyone success and strength to follow their duties and responsibilities to the best of their capabilities and within the myriad constraints we all have.

Coming back to my work, for me, it is is studying (my online classes) and my blogs :2 personal and one professional tech-related. Research and data analysis for my professional blog also comes under work. I did about two hours on average, and hope to bump that up with T being in school for a solid four hours. (My total drive time will eat forty minutes, but it still gives me  about 3.5 hours.)


This is one sphere that I really need to boost. An average of 20 minutes seems good enough, but the details showed me two bursts of forty-five minutes. This is one key takeaway for me. To improve my friendships and community relationships.


The one unsurprising category in my time sheet. Being Indian, we cook a lot. My actual kitchen time is greater, but this category includes time spent exclusively in cooking, not multi-tasking with cleaning or packing lunches or chatting. It does seem a lot but happy that kiddo is eating her food groups and so am I.


I am horrified to see that this made up the bulk of my day, surpassing even Family time! Argh! This includes Driving time, Cleaning, Getting the Kiddo ready, packing lunches, ironing, and of course personal activities like showering, getting ready, etc. Obviously, some activities cannot be cut down (like brushing) or multi-tasked (like driving). But, I did see certain activities with potential to be outsourced (kiddo and dusting) or eliminated (web surfing) or multi-tasked (more ironing while listening to child talk about her day or folding laundry with audio books). This again will require planning and determination. I did finish off reading/ listening to three books with a few multi-tasked activities, so, I know this can be done with a little more practice and deliberation. All the Best to me! 🙂


Mostly TV time with Hubby, it also included time slots where I ate and read books, or simply watched videos for fun. Hurray! I am delighted to note that I do have solid time chunks for entertainment and not just spare moments grabbed from my time confetti-like days.


I sleep 8.2 hours on average. Weekends definitely improved my average. But, compared to last year, I gained more minute-wise and quality-wise since T is sleeping a lot better in the nights. No more disturbed sleep nights. Yippee!!! Definitely this was the best part of the tracking. Ah, blessed sleep!


I gained a lot of insights by tracking my time once again. Knowing where I am spending my time, I have set the following goals to improve my life and relationships:

  • Arrange to spend more time with Friends
  • Aim for three hours of ‘work only’ while T is at school
  • Streamline chores to free more time for exercise and family
  • Add exercise [right now I only managed forty-five minutes of walking every weekday. Since, these were leisurely nature walks that involved more talking with Hubby and kiddo, I clubbed it under Family time]
  • Continue time tracking for a fortnight to gauge if using time better because of self-consciousness  and accountability

So, how do you spend your time? Did you take the Challenge? What did you find out?

TimeChallenge and more… 

Today is the last day of Laura Vanderkam’s 168 hours challenge. I joined her Challenge this week and am happy to be following along again. I had joined last year too and found it to be immensely insightful. With the new school year and new schedules, I am sure that I shall get many useful insights to improve my time management for the coming months ahead.

As a citizen of today’s super frantic, noisy and distracted world (plus a safe), my free time is indeed like ‘time confetti’  (a term found in Laura’s books on Time Management). So, I try to use my spare Moments wisely. You can read more on that here.

This week, I used my spare moments to make a dent on few treasures in my reading list:

Own The Room

Eat that Frog

Yell Less, Love More

I also re-read a few of my favorite Agatha Christie novels. Plus, I ascertained my personality/ tendency type via Gretchen Rubin’s site and got my personal evaluation. Yay!!! All those minutes here and there really added up.

I can’t wait to analyze my time sheets tomorrow and find vital time chunks to utilize better. Hurray!

On a hopeful and inspired note, it’s adieu until tomorrow’s Mute Monday!

Investing Time and Other Musings

A number of my recent posts have been about managing time and using all those spare moments that make up the bulk of this Stay-At-Home-Mom’s day. Following this quest, the book I am currently reading is Laura Vanderkam’s ‘I Know How She Does It- How Successful Women Make the Most of their Time’.

I am only half way through the book, and already am delighted by the many inspiring but practical techniques to follow. One concept that stood out to me is mindfulness and measurement. Being conscious of your time and the need to log your activities makes one really mindful and cognizant of what we are doing. I know this by personal experience because I logged my time for a few weeks. Read more on that here. One of the best benefits of time logging was how involved and engaged I was. I actively tried to maximize my time, energy and tasks. This means batching tasks and mindful multi-tasking.

Also, from my recent Positivity Ratio tracking, I realized that planning my day and time with T to include a mix of routine and novelty keeps her and me both happy. Planning what I will do in spare moments, being prepared for all those spare moments keeps me away form distractions. After all, time is like salary. Like my father (an accountant) is fond of quoting:

It is not about how much you earn, but how much you save!

Or more appropriately:

It is not about how much time you have, but what and how we invest that time in!

I am hence trying to invest my time in high return activities:

  • health : cooking, exercising, eating consciously
  • career: studying, doing personal projects, working on my online biz presence
  • reading: keeping books of all formats at hand, saving book lists and finding which are in my library.

I would also like to mention her how I tackle the books on my reading list:

  • I maintain a list of books to read on my iPhone.
  • Whenever free, I check if it is available in my library.
  • If yes, I add the accession number.
  • On my next visit, I know what aisle to head and grab the book.
  • If not, I check if available on Hoopla Digital, the online platform. I access it via my library and borrow if available.
  • If not, ask around: interlibrary loan, friends. Usually: works!
  • If not, check a different book. 🙂

Being intentional helps me read the books I want to and not just any fluff. Plus, it keeps the preschooler form whining as I search for the books I need as opposed to carting her off to the kiddie section.Win-win!


Spare Moments

As a Sahm, who has been tracking her time, I realized I do have time: just in frequent, tiny bursts. Taking a lead from Laura Vanderkam’s tips to plan activities for leisure; I decided to be deliberate about how I spend my free time (or more appropriately freeze time)!

Like spare change, spare moments add up to so much! 

What better than this blog to monitor my efforts and share my tiny triumphs! And what better time than now?

Today, I got some ‘freeze time’, as my child napped on me. Getting up would wake my angel and cause a tantrum, and deprive me of some down time. So, I used that time wisely. Thanks to my stash of ebooks, I raced through Chandler Bolt’s bestseller Book Launch! Yayy! Win-win!

Hoping to inspire others to plan their spare moments and motivate myself to stay focused by sharing this publicly, Thanks for Reading! 

Do share your methods and techniques to use your spare moments in the comments below. I can always use handy tips!

Planning for 2017

I watched Laura Vanderkam’s TED talk today and am inspired to act on it. It will be a grand and useful challenge to imagine next year and act on future goals.

While I am still pondering on my resolutions and challenges for next year, her simple exercise seems a great way to outline my goals and set priorities.

Do watch the video and share your steps to plan for the future and set goals in the comments below.