Time Management 101

It’s Thursday, and I have the day off. I was working Thursdays for several months, so I’m not used to this yet; it feels perilously like a Monday, and I have to keep reminding myself that the weekend will arrive sooner than I think. I’ll get some stuff done today. Important keeping-the-ship-afloat stuff like laundry, dishes, and tidying up the apartment, and I’ll do some writing and artwork on down the line as well.

It’s hard for me to arrive at the place where the story and the canvas are the only things that matter. I get overwhelmed by everything else, and even within my own work I get overwhelmed by the choices. Should I write today, or paint? Is this editing the most important thing, or should I be writing new scenes? Should I be working on this painting that’s for improving my skills, or should I be taking reference photos and getting at the meat of a new illustration for the book? Decision-making is not my best skill, and it takes mental fortitude for me to even decide where to begin. And, if in addition to my pressing need to be someone who actually makes books and art rather than just talking about it all the time, the dishes also need doing, the floor needs vacuuming, the laundry needs putting away, it becomes even harder to choose my work over the work that keeps me happy and comfortable in my space. (I’m not a very good housekeeper, but I also get miserable when the house is a mess. It’s a constant battle, and the more I lose the less I feel like cleaning or doing anything.) This doesn’t mean I’ll actually do all the dishes instead of writing all the things when I get home from work; it just means I’ll feel bad about not doing either and watch another episode of House on Netflix. When I get home from work, I’m just too tired to prioritize and make decisions. I’m not too tired to do stuff—if there’s a scheduled event I’ll change into some nice clothes and go back out there—but if that stuff I’m trying to do is solely for my own happiness and personal improvement, then it becomes ridiculously hard to rally.

Today, I’ll get to the art because I have time to do the dishes first and pack up the laundry. I’ll do some writing at the laundromat, and then I’ll come home and have a cup of tea and keep working. I have all day, so all the things I want to do are more spread out and a little less pressing. I’m not so overwhelmed by the stress of deciding which to tackle in an alarmingly short space of time. I’d rather work only on my days off than never work at all, but I think my task for the upcoming weeks is to find a way to remove the stress of decision-making from my process when I get home from work. To transition from day job to vocation in a way that doesn’t open the door for all the doubts and decisions that I just can’t deal with at that point in the day. Does anyone have any ideas?

Do day-to-day decision hinder your workflow too? How you deal with the conflict between the creative and the mundane, when they’re both fighting for the same real estate in your 24-hour day?


3 thoughts on “Time Management 101

  1. That’s a tough one, Grace. It kept me from doing much of anything for a lot of years. There were so many things I wanted to do that I just couldn’t decide on a direction. Doing nothing ended up being the default and that was completely unfulfilling. That’s why I finally started a blog with some definite goals to keep me motivated. I still resisted, but it felt good to meet my goals in the end. My new goal is different. It called out to me and begged to be my one and only this year. This is the year I will concentrate on learning to paint. It feels great to have that decided. I may or may not do other things, and I will have to do the day-to-day things that keep the wolf from the door, but when I have free time, my first thought is to paint. I wish I could offer you advice, but I’m not sure how that happened. I know the blog commitment helped, though.

    • I’m trying to follow your example with a little more blog commitment! This week, I’ve been using the blog as a warm-up on the days I know I want to get creative; it at least puts my head in the right place at the beginning of the day (and having writers block with the blog was one of the directions stressing me out, so it’s nice to know I’ve already accomplished something there as I move on to the more important things). I love your single-minded focus on painting this year, and I’m certainly jealous of the amount of work you’re turning out! 🙂 I’m going to spend some quality time with a digital painting today, but I get so frustrated at how long it’s taking to finish (when if I just worked on it every day instead of getting frustrated I would finish a lot sooner!)

  2. Pingback: Weekend Retreat | Grace Makley

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