Moving Out

Shortly after my last blog post, I found out that I would need to be moving out at the start of August! My parents finally received an offer on their house – a good one – and they accepted it. So they are closing on August 2, 2019. There are now less than two weeks left, so most of my time will be spent packing up the things that will follow them to their new place and the things that I will want to keep close to me.

After some back and forth, I decided to move in with my aunt and uncle for at least a month, and I will have some extra time to decide if I want to move into an apartment in September or December. The main thing holding me back has been the need to sign a lease for x-number of months. I’ve not been sure how long I want to put down roots in this area. I don’t know what else might come up! I’ve done some more job applications, here and elsewhere. If I receive a job offer in Austin, I’d prefer to be able to relocate quickly and with no hold ups.

What I’m currently thinking is that I still plan to apply to graduate school this fall, so I would not mind signing an apartment lease that would end in August 2020. I can also see myself halting the job search for the time being to focus on my current work and graduate school applications for the rest of this year. Then next year, if I have the time, I can start applying for jobs that could potentially uproot me before graduate school would.

Over the next seven days, I will be preoccupied with work, packing, and moving into my aunt’s house. I don’t think I will have extra time to blog, but one of my goals for the summer was to always prepare for fall blog content. If I have time to spare, I will use it to start planning blog posts. I’ve had so many ideas, I just need to find the time to execute them. I’ll essentially be working 40 hours a week now, but I do think I will have the time and energy to pursue the things I’m passionate about.

August Plans

Although summer is nearly at its end, I am finally going to have time to apply myself to the goals I set at the beginning of July. In my spare time outside of work, I will begin to polish old student work to use as writing samples and working on other materials required for graduate school applications.

It seems like I may have spare time at my new tutoring gig to work whatever I would like to on my MacBook Pro, so I will take advantage of that opportunity whenever possible. Right now for instance, it is slow so I am taking time to write this little life update! I will probably work on graduate school applications today and start making a plan for blog content if I don’t have too much to do this morning or in the afternoon. Yesterday no students walked in for the last three hours I was working. Of course, I realize it won’t always be like that!

End Note

I’m currently at work as I finish up this blog post! I have spent the morning looking up PhD Programs in library and information science. I am recording all the application requirements and making sure they have generous financial aid that will allow me to focus on my studies and professional development. I will probably apply to about 4–5 different programs for safety, and the best case scenario will be that I will have options to make the best possible choice for future opportunities. In case you are curious, one of my many blog plans is to share more about this process over August.

Thank you for reading!
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Juggling Two Jobs + Austin Dreams | The Job Search

I decided on Tuesday that it was time to work out my summer plans. I don’t what you may have gathered about me if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, but I like to make plans. I like knowing what to expect and what I should prioritize with my free time. This year has been trying, because I have felt like I’m driving slowly down an isolated forest road with a light fog. I haven’t had a clear idea of what summer would be like after working the 2018-2019 school year.

Thankfully the seeds I’ve been planting over winter and spring have finally begun to sprout in the form of job opportunities and work experience! Just last week I was contacted about an interview I had thought at the time would lead to nothing and a job I had forgotten was even a possibility. It’s so frustrating that it takes so long for good jobs to become available!

Before I talk creative plans on the blog, I felt like I needed to provide this insight into my life.

Last Week

A lot of this post was written in a blog post tentatively titled My Summer Goals. I realized that I had a lengthy update and it might be better to break it up into two posts, starting with an update on my job situation at the moment. I mentioned last month that I had just started an office job at our county elections office, but there have been recent developments of note that I wanted to share while they’re still fresh!

Last week two things happened. First, I received an email from an office specialist at a place where I interviewed via Skype in May. It was for an office assistant position in Austin. I hadn’t been confident the interview went well as it was really formal with no extra chit chat. Anyway this woman emailed me inquiring if I was still interested in that position. I said “Yes!” thinking it meant I had the job. No, not quite yet. I was just being informed that my application would be moved to the next stage of the process if I consented to a background check, reference contacting, fingerprinting, etc. So that all happened over the last few days.

On Monday I visited Austin, which is about two-and-a-half hours away, for a day trip with my parents to fill out some paperwork in the office. It was a really pleasant drive and a nice day overall, even though it rained. I filled out some paperwork for an impending background check and signed some legal forms making sure I was aware the position was dependent on a grant and would be temporary (six months) and I’d work less than 29 hours per week. Yes, that was all clear. I was out in about 45 minutes and won’t know if I got it until August (really).

I have no idea if I would actually be happy at that job, but I do now know I would love to live in Austin! I’m going to start applying exclusively in Austin, unless I stumble upon something really that sounds really magical nearby. I’m not a fan of the climate in Houston, so I’m not eager to find any more reasons to stay. However, I do know now that it would be possible for me to stay on my own in Houston once my parents leave.

The second thing that happened last week is I was finally called by our local community college about a writing tutor position I had applied for back in January! My interview was Tuesday morning, and after a really casual chat with just a few questions about my resume, I was hired on the spot. I need to talk to one more person, but it sounds like it’s in the bag! The pay is really good because I have a Master’s degree! I’ll be making about as much money there with reduced hours (less than 20) than I would at the elections office (currently 24 hours). Plus it will look great for future writing/academia jobs!

My mom thinks I should stay here for a year because it’s cheap and would be good experience, but I honestly don’t know what I’ll do if I get the Austin job. I think I would be able to find another job in the city, maybe even a full-time one.

The Current Plan

Juggle my two Houston-area jobs for the summer and save up. I recently changed my student loan to income-based repayment plan so my new monthly payment is like nothing, but I do want to continue making regular payments while I can so that the interest doesn’t keep compounding.

I also want to be able to save money for future living expenses. Some apartments I’ve looked at require a monthly salary of three times the rent, which would be impossible for me until I’m a full-time employee most likely. All I can really do right now is save so that I have a few months rent set aside in case I am ever stuck in a lease without a job.

I’ve not had a lot of money in my accounts since February, so I’m hoping that if I do stay in this area for my two new jobs that I will not need to spend too much on living expenses. I’m very fortunate that I have my aunt somewhat close by who I could probably rely upon while I build up a nest egg.

Look for college/writing jobs in Austin. I have a lot more confidence that I may be able to find a job in writing after being a college writing tutor, so I want to really find out what is possible and honing my skills toward my interests. I feel like I’ve been so open anything that I’ve been too passive in waiting for the right things to come my way. Now I feel like I’ve gotten the kick I needed to take the idea of a career in writing more seriously.

I also want to start exclusively applying for jobs in Austin because I love the area and know that there would be a lot more for me to experience with less travel or personal effort required to partake. At heart I’m a lazy person, and I know that putting myself where things are happening is the best chance I have to live life to its fullest.

Because of my new job, I may be able to squeeze out more writing-related content like I originally anticipated when I started my blog while still in college. I always wanted to give research project tips and paper writing advice, but once I was out of school it felt too late. Maybe I’ll have study tips that intersect with my bujo content. I also want to continue to write about my job search journey, which will hopefully be helpful to any other English majors out there so they don’t have all the problems I’ve had post-grad.

Now I feel like I’m ready to talk definitively about my plans for the summer. I am determined to make the most of this time in my life.

Thank you for reading!
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How to Avoid Blogger Burnout + New Blog Schedule

Welcome, one and all, to The Inky Saga! Today I wanted to talk about a topic very close to my heart: blogger burnout. If you’ve been around for a while, you probably already know I have never been the most consistent of bloggers. I’ll either be all about the blog for a few weeks or a couple months maximum, then something will derail me and I’ll take a long, often unannounced break. I’ve never worried much about it in the past, because I’ve never taken blogging seriously until recently.

I’ve been doing a lot over the past month to build my blog into something that may ultimately become profitable, and I know from all my research that’s not something that will happen overnight. Consistency and perseverance is essential. So if I go all out and exhaust myself in the first month of this project, then I’m not going to get where I want to go in the long run.

I’ve been really mindful of how much time I’ve put into my most recent blog posts, including the time spent planning them, writing them, making graphics for them, and promoting them via Pinterest and Twitter. It’s honestly been a lot of time for just 3-4 posts per week. On Friday I estimated that during spring break about 40% of my waking hours was spent creating the blog posts in the screenshot below.

Recent Posts: April BuJo Theme IdeasLeslie Knope & 10 Books on Her TBR | My Favorite … Feminist T.V. Character5 Things I Did to Grow My Pinterest Blog Traffic

So with all that in mind, I decided last Friday that I needed to come up with a better system. I go back to work this week, which means about 25 less hours that I’ll have to fiddle around with blog stuff. That doesn’t even count time that I will put towards Red Cross volunteering, applying for jobs again, or building up a writing portfolio for a freelancing business I want to start!

Out of everything I have going on, blogging feels like the most selfish at the moment. But it’s also the activity I’m hoping will yield the best returns over time.

I do not think my blogging struggles are unique to other bloggers out there, particularly fellow adults with more significant life commitments. We can all benefit from learning how to make the best use of our time and not let ourselves become overworked at something we love to do. The following are my tips for avoiding blogger burnout, plus the blog schedule I’ll be following for the time being.

1. Be a more efficient blogger.

Being more efficient means getting better work done in a shorter amount of time. It doesn’t mean cutting corners or being lazy. It means that you make the most of your time. If you’re making the most of your time, it means you are saving time and energy in the long run.

The first step in becoming more efficient is estimating how much time you need for blogging. It may be easiest to record the time you already use to blog in a notebook or Excel spreadsheet. Write down the Date, Activity (e.g. outlining a post, drafting a post, making graphics, promoting), Start Time, End Time, and then add it all up. You’ll know how much time you spend on average working on your blog posts, and then you’ll be able to decide how well that time fits into your life.

After you’ve done those activities, you can start thinking about what you might’ve done differently to work faster and/or smarter. For example, I’ve learned that if I’m doing a tag or meme, I can work faster and smarter by entering the newer WordPress editor (not the block editor), going to the More Options tab, and copying a similar post to Overwrite.

I’ve also realized that bookish posts are harder to promote on Pinterest, so I don’t waste valuable time creating vertical pin images for them (or blog tags for that matter) unless they’ve got a gimmick to them that I figure will attract readers, like my Leslie Knope & 10 Books on Her TBR post.

I also save time on Instagram by keeping the hashtags I use for bullet journal and bookish content saved in my iPhone Notes folder so that I don’t have to type them out each time and risk forgetting any important ones that help users find my content.

If you know that your making the best use of your time, it will be harder to slip into negative feelings that your blog efforts don’t matter or are not worth it. Anyone can be overworked and exhausted by what they do, but it’s self-doubt that will cause blogger burnout to sink in.

2. Make the blog posts you want to read.

I think most people blog first and foremost for themselves, not to become super popular or rich. Those who have ulterior motives are often easy to sniff out and won’t make it, because it’s easy to tell who is authentic and who is not. If you want your blog to have readers, authenticity should be your highest priority. It takes less mental energy being your authentic self and also produces the best results.

The easiest way I can think of for being authentic is by producing posts that feel the most natural to make. They are the posts that you yourself would want to read. It’s easier to blog with an audience of you in mind, because it’s more fulfilling that way. You feel like your efforts are not in vein when you blog for someone, even if they’re imaginary. It’s also the best way to attract the followers that you want; your ideal audience.

3. Don’t stretch yourself thin.

It’s hard to know when you’re overdoing it until it’s too late. When you’re doing something you love, it doesn’t always feel like work. It’s work that you feel is worth doing, at least until life gets in the way. When something unexpected happens or other life priorities demand more of your time, it’s a mistake to try and keep your regular blog pace. It’ll just make you resent your blog or the other big parts of your life.

A way that you can avoid stretching yourself too thin is by periodically doing an audit of everything you do for your blog. Then decide how much time you can dedicate to blogging and when you can reasonably squeeze it into your life without letting any other parts of your life suffer. Make sure you leave time for self-care (e.g. hot baths, dog walks, exercise), other activities (e.g. bujo, reading, chores), and the unexpected (e.g. family emergencies, power outages, interviews).

Blogging shouldn’t take up your whole life. You need to have wiggle room; time that you can binge-watch that new Netflix show or have that impromptu brunch date with your friend that you don’t get to see very often. If you’re someone who has trouble reigning in the blogger enthusiasm, you may consider implementing a blog schedule.

Blog Schedule

I did the math, and I decided if I don’t want to spend more than 20% of my waking hours working on blog posts each week, then I should only be dedicating 25 hours maximum to drafting, polishing, promoting blog posts. Right now I’ve been blogging whenever I feel like it, but with more things that I need to start doing, I decided to become more regimented with when I do blog work so I know I’m making the best use of my time.

I’ve decided that I want to post no more than 3-4 posts each week, ideally closer to three. I want to write two evergreen posts each week, meaning posts with content that stays “fresh.” These posts are relevant throughout the years, rarely needing updating. For example, this post might qualify as evergreen because people might be searching for advice on how to avoid blogger burnout at any time during the year.

I also want to have at least one personal/fun/miscellaneous post each week in which I can engage with the communities I consider myself a part of. These may be bookish memes or blog tags. They may also just be blog/life updates or event announcements. I used to really enjoy writing weekly updates in my Week in Review format; maybe I’ll find a way to bring those back without taking time away from other posts.

While I don’t want to commit to an actual publishing schedule, I do feel like I need to set up a blog work schedule so that I have other days open for miscellaneous projects. I may need to adjust this schedule a little to accommodate unforeseen problems, but I think I’m off to a good start.

MondayFriday: Promote & blog hop daily
Saturday: Write 2-3 of next week’s blog posts
Sunday: Create horizontal & vertical blog post graphics

During the week I’ll also likely choose a day where I will allow myself to start working on future blog posts, whether that just be planning and scheduling them or actually beginning to draft them. It would be great to get a little ahead of schedule if only for those weekends that I want to do nothing.

I hope you found this post helpful and informative! I plan to write more about how I plan blog content and my blog post workflow in the future, but I felt like this topic was a good place to start my blogging series. It also gave me a great opportunity to explain why I decided to give myself a blog schedule! I feel like it might take a few weeks to get in the routine, but it will save me a lot of time in the long run.

Thank you for reading!
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26 Goals

I didn’t expect to take a week off of blogging. In fact, I had planned to celebrate my blog upgrade with a full week of blog posts! But you all know me; I like to work on a bunch of different things at time. So I ended last Sunday with a bunch of half-finished posts. Then the week started and I had little time for blog productivity.

I had an interview this week for a new part-time job that would pay a lot better. I finally filed my tax return so I could receive my tax refund, and I definitely need it this year. I also began my Red Cross volunteer application! I have a phone interview this coming Monday for a communications position in my region. It would be the dream experience, and I’m so nervous that I’ll be rejected.

Also it was my birthday on Thursday, which inspired this post. I had planned to share 26 goals I wanted to accomplish while I’m 26 last weekend, as a way to focus myself for my “new year.” I had the list written out in advance, but I wanted to add some commentary before I sent it out into the world. I feel like this post is a legal contract; I’m taking it very seriously!

  1. Get a full-time job. Ideally this would’ve happen last year. It needs to happen ASAP to be honest.
  2. Run a 5k. I came close to running one last November, but then I had my nasal surgery and it just wasn’t a good idea anymore.
  3. Avoid future back injury. I am now officially prone to back injury, but I truly believe it is 100% preventable. I am better a-tuned to the warning signs and know what to do in order to stop it, so I want to prioritize my body’s self-care while I’m 26. Losing weight, exercising regularly, taking hot baths, all these things can help me prevent another back strain.
  4. Visit my writing buddy Sara. We made this a joint new year’s resolution! We haven’t seen each other in person since 2015. We’ll probably try to find something practical as well as fun to do to meet.
  5. Attend a conference or convention of some sort. This item goes with the one above. Ideally, Sara and I would go to some kind of useful writing conference.
  6. Start a small business. This has been an idea of mine for the past year or so, especially as I began to realize how dissatisfied I am with the current job market. I don’t feel like I’m the most obvious person to start their own business, but that is something that actually inspires me!
  7. Upgrade my blog. I actually took the plunge here a few days before my birthday, but I would say that this goal is not entirely complete. There are more things that fall under my idea of a “blog upgrade,” including building a blog identity (logo, imagery) and maybe even a newsletter for those who follow my blog by email as it is.
  8. Build an online community. I feel like I have a handful of bloggers who I semi-regularly interact with but I want to do more to make my blog a place where it feels like a community of peers. I feel like I, and a few others, are on the outskirts of the YA book blog community. I want to do more to help others my age who love writing and books to feel seen and be inspired.
  9. Collaborate with others online. I feel like blogging would be so much more fun if I was less of an island on my little blog and branched out/invited others into my corner for collaborative activities. I’d like to have guest bloggers write specific blog posts on here.
  10. Meet online friends in person. I know a lot of the bloggers I’m closest with live in far off lands I would love to visit. Australia, East Asia, the American East Coast. I think it would great fun to meet-up with others and feel the comfort of knowing people who already live where I want to travel regardless!
  11. Write a novel. Bleh, no comment.
  12. Start a YouTube channel. I’ve dabbled in vlogging a few times in the past, but never for long. With the expanse of new vlog content, I’m feeling really inspired and like I can figure out a way to vlog that works for me. Since my old channel is associated with my job-search and real name, I’ll be starting again from scratch, probably sometime soon, to talk whatever is on my mind.
  13. Move out on my own. I feel like this goal might happen sooner than I would’ve thought. It doesn’t need to happen so soon, but I feel like it’s something I really want and need.
  14. Use my passport. I got it last year and I want to use it! Even if it’s just countries bordering my own for a quick day-trip. Ideally I’d go overseas, but I need a really good reason to go since I don’t have a lot of money at the moment.
  15. Learn to make a good quiche. This one is kind of silly, but I just made a quiche that was go terrible. I love a good quiche. If I go out to eat breakfast somewhere that has quiche, I’ll almost certainly order it. I want to be able to make dough from scratch.
  16. Start saving for retirement/investing. I feel like I don’t have the money to start setting aside right now, but the bigger problem has been that I’ve never worked somewhere that offers the option of a 401k, whatever the hell that is. I feel like I’m just going to have to take the initiative on my own and start my own official savings, especially if the whole small business thing takes off.
  17. Get good with money. I think this one speaks for itself, but the main thing I want is to stop being so careless with expenses. I want to be more mindful about where I put my money and keep better track of where it goes. I want to start budgeting monthly expenses.
  18. Volunteer. I already have the ball rolling here with reaching out to the Red Cross this week. Not only would be it be great experience that I need, I think it will be good for the soul. In many ways I feel like an incredibly selfish person, but I love feeling like I’m contributing to a worth-while cause.
  19. Become fluent in German. I feel like this is another silly one, but I feel like it’d be good for the mind. I miss school, and learning German has helped give my student-oriented brain something to focus on. I continue to go weeks without studying, so hopefully this goal will help push me to be more consistent.
  20. Start an entirely new hobby. It’s time to learn something new, something that has nothing to do with my current life goals or interests. I feel like most of my hobbies that always fallen into the realm of usefulness. I want to start a hobby that is completely useless.
  21. Establish a makeup routine. I used to hate the idea of needing to wear makeup, but I feel like it’s never been more fun to use your face as a canvas. Plus, I need it to protect my skin from the sun and cover my natural redness. I now watch as many beauty channels as other kinds of channels on YouTube, and I feel like I’m at an age where I really should know what I’m doing and have a few really good go-to products.
  22. Create a capsule wardrobe. I’ve long hated how many clothes I have, especially since I only wear a few. The unfortunate truth is that I have multiple closets in one. I’d say all the clothes I own encapsulate different visions of myself: present, past, and future. For years, I’ve shopped for all these visions without quite realizing it, for by telling myself it’s too good a bargain to pass up, that my future self would thank me. I really want to stop doing this and only have clothes that I can wear at the present and feel confident.
  23. Get a tattoo. I was never someone who wanted to get a tattoo, but I feel like there’s a lot of different options for all kinds of people and that it might be a fun experience to share with someone. I think it would also help me figure out what matters to me and who I am. I feel like part of the reason I’ve always been so disinterested is because of the permanency. I think getting a tattoo would force me to really think about myself.
  24. Read 10 classics. I feel like there are a lot of classics I have at my fingertips and that I really ought to start reading some of them. I feel like it would be good inspiration for the writer in me.
  25. Go to a party. I have been invited to parties in the past and been very quick to say no. I’m cautious about hanging out with people from work that I don’t know very well, because I’m a square and maybe a little bit of a snob. I worry about people getting to know the real me! But I figure I need to get better at socializing and casual parties with people I don’t care about very much might be good low-risk practice.
  26. Get a new pet. We lost Apollo this month, and while I don’t believe in replacing pets, for I know first-hand that every dog different in temperament and personality. We still have little Ty-Ty, but he’s my parents’ dog. I want a dog I can call my own. That would be the benefit of having my own place. If I live on my own, I can adopt my companion. I’m not sure my first solo pet should be a dog. A cat might be a better choice…I’m not the biggest cat person, but I have enjoyed kittens in the past. Maybe I’ll just become a foster until my life is more stable.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post! Let me know what goals most resonate with you. I’m not sure how I’ll track my progress on these goals. Maybe I’ll do a corresponding blog post before my 27th birthday and share everything that changed in my life while I was 26.

I’m not going to be miserable if I don’t get to everything on this list. My goal is simply to live more fully. I want to stop feeling like my life hasn’t truly started yet because x, y, and z haven’t happened yet. I want to be more pro-active. I’m coming to the realization that things are not just going to fall into my lap. I have to make things happen myself.

Thank you for reading!
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