Friday, June 6, 2008

All work and no play

If you read my other blog, you might know that in June I’m trying something different: monotasking. Like most mothers, I am capable of amazing feats of multitasking. I’m also a freelancer, and in my work it’s very difficult to schedule jobs with much accuracy. Often the projects I have so carefully laid out on my calendar come crashing together in a big heap. Add to this the fact that my schedule is flexible and I have a hard time saying no, and you end up with someone who is always trying to do several things at once—work, helping my mom, volunteering, appointments, and so on and so on and so on.

I have been fully booked with work for a long time. I keep thinking it’s a temporary thing that I have to muddle through and then it will calm down, but I’ve been muddling for several years. Right now I’ve got three large editing projects going on in addition to some smaller ones—not to mention writing projects of my own, which are constantly placed on the back burner (isn't it funny how we say "not to mention" as a way of mentioning something?). Because I’m always worried about letting people down, I try to work on everything at once. Instead of making me efficient, this actually slows me down and makes me worry more. So I try harder to get everything done at once and the cycle continues.

During my ridiculous number of years at university, I constantly felt that when I was not working I should be working. And when I was working on Project A, I should be working on Project B. The work was always right there and there were few boundaries between school and the rest of my life. Self-employment can be like that too. Because I don’t have a regular work day and my work time is often interrupted, I feel like I’m never getting enough done. Between my years in school and my years as a freelancer, I have been living this way—never fully focused on what I’m doing and always worried about what I’m not—for over 20 years (I feel so old every time I say something like that).

You know what? It’s not a healthy way to live. So I’ve decided that right now the majority of my energy has to go toward work. I need to get these three big projects done—for the clients’ sake, of course, but also for the good of my own soul. Once I do, I can build the boundaries I need. I’m cycling through the projects, working on just one each day and trying my best to ignore the others until it’s their turn. I’m making significant progress and, to my surprise, I’m finding new enthusiasm for my work. I can also see that in the near future I’ll have more time for the things I love to do and because these projects won’t be weighing me down, I’ll be able to enjoy them more.

But as the saying goes, all work and no play makes this a dull blog (well, it doesn’t go quite like that). I haven’t started my sweaters yet—not even the swatches. My sewing machine is covered by a pile of almost-done baby blankets. I haven’t had much time to wander around the Internet and look for weekly inspiration. I hope the two of you who read this will bear with me. If the coming weeks are as productive (workwise) as this one has been, I’ll soon be crafting more than I have in years.


Sandy said...

Good luck to you in your new quest. I sometimes enjoy working just on one project in order to focus, other times I like to switch from one to another; but even whenn I switch around I limited myself by time, or by projects. Example...I have inside and outside to work to do and projects I want to knit or I might knit half an hour, start in one room and clean half an hour...or I might make it more project oriented like....I'll knit 3 rows, then do one room,, knit 4 rows, do antoher room etc. Sometimes I pick a number (5 is one I use a lot), knit or crochet 5 rows, pick up 5 things in each room and put them away, knit 5, pick up 5 in each room etc. I'm amazed how much I get done that way. Usually by round 2, some of the rooms are done.

If I want to target dusting or vacuming........I dust one room, knit, dust room 2, knit etc.

And now, taking yarn outside so I can accomplish something; but also enjoy the nice weather.

Have a great wkend.

Hayley Townley & Susan Fitzgerald said...

Sandy sounds like a flybaby. I like the rewarding system.

I am trying to do monotasking, but my ADD won't let me (oh look, there's a chicken). I am pulling out only one project on my desk, working and then putting it back, and then going on to the next.

But. I. Can't. Stop. Blogging.

Margerie said...

I am constantly woman interruptus. "Mom I need this!" "Mom he called me a stupidhead!" And when they are at school, I keep up the consistency of inconsistency by finding ways to distract from my task. Call it Hayleyitis. Who knew it was contagious? ;) LOL I have always been this way, just never came out of the closet.

But I don't have any work I HAVE to get done, but lots of things that I WANT to do. And some things I don't, but that is life.

You don't have to search the net to find anything inspirational Susan- I enjoy hearing just about you ;) and your keyboard adventures (bang your head), your crafties, your riduculous years at University and all the rest too.