Monday, May 24, 2010

Waste Not, Live Larger

It's the start of another week.  I've had a lot more energy lately, so I'm going to take advantage and try to finish up a bunch of projects.

Do unfinished projects keep anyone else out there from writing at full speed?  I know I write more slowly when my dishes aren't done, and the house looks like a clutter monkey went on a rampage, and the garden is disappearing in the weeds.  But it could be the other way--that I'm falling behind on all these things because I'm not managing my time well.  Writing ends up being just another victim to my snail's pace.

On the other hand, I think there's a danger for a lot of people to over-schedule to the point that it's impossible to get everything done.  I've done that lots.  Sometimes the only remedy is to buckle down and get out from under your commitments, but it's also important to simultaneously say no to additional commitments until I get where I need to be at whatever energy level I'm working at.  People with disabilities or chronic illnesses are probably nodding their heads emphatically, because they know they can only do so much in a day, and on some days just getting up, getting dressed, sitting for a while, then getting undressed and back into bed is all they can really do.  Some can manage even less.  BTW if you haven't read about the Spoon Theory it's definitely worth a look.

The lesson we can all learn from that is to really look hard at our time as a whole, not just where we think we're wasting time.  Professional writers look at how many words they can write in an hour, and how many hours they can work before they start to bleed out of their eyes or before their heads explode.  Folks responsible for cleaning their own living spaces have a good idea how long it takes them to do a load of dishes, or run their laundry for the week (or the day--around here it's a daily chore.)  If I've been struggling for a while, I try to make a mental tally, but it might be more useful to do an actual physical one--making an actual list that includes all the little stuff, and assigning time to it.  It may be that a list like that may reveal that a particular work load is much too heavy when compared against our very human limitations.

Or it may reveal that I've actually been slacking off, playing too many rounds of Snood or surfing the internets for hours rather than the perceived minutes I think I'm surfing.  If I really do need a break, I'd prefer to make that choice and choose something (which may still be Snood or web surfing) than to just do something out of habit.

And that's what it boils down to:  real choices.  Choosing what you do with my life is a huge gift.  I don't want to waste that gift.  When you have a limited amount that you can do in a day, you don't have many options.  When you have a million options, it's easy to not put very much thought into it, which is a shame.  Because when the sky is the limit, the choices we make can lead us to accomplish amazing things.  


Kai Jones said...

I've been struggling a lot lately with the realization that I'm just getting through my life. I get through my work day, eat dinner, read for a while then go to bed. The days are passing unmarked by anything except having gotten through them. A weekend arrives and I cannot remember the five work days preceding it; a weekend ends and all I've done is the weekly household chores.

Sometimes my health isn't good enough to do more than this, but most of the time I'm just, still, not used to having time I could use if only I planned to. All those years raising children, getting through a bad marriage and divorce, then a new marriage, when my time and energy were used up imposing some order on the chaos, didn't really reinforce my ability to plan beyond the regular schedule of dinner, housework, laundry, child care, yard work, repeat ad nauseam.

So because I'm not beginning with an intention to do something, I accomplish nothing. Awareness is the first step, but discipline is what makes you take the second step (and the next ones). A few weeks ago I articulated a plan to accomplish something every week--knit something, sew something, do something physical, and especially to do things I haven't done before. I'm more satisfied at the end of the week now.

Kami said...

I'm glad you're happier. That's what really counts in the end.