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?

Cleaning House

This weekend, I was feeling weighed down and buried under. And sure, I’ve got things to be stressed and worried about—but I have a lot of really positive things going on in my life too. As I usually do in these situations, I started looking around and asking myself, “Okay, then what’s the problem?” As I looked at my bed, floor, bookshelves, and dresser, I realized my living space was quite literally buried under stuff. This weekend, I’ve been digging out.

Part of the problem is that I’ve moved back into my childhood bedroom, a bedroom that stayed pretty much full while I lived in Michigan and collected more stuff. Another part of the problem is my chronic disorganization and inability to put my things back in their place when I’m done with them. I’ve been trying to deal with my stuff since I moved back almost a year ago (!!) but then the files I was filing papers in got left in the middle of the floor, mid-file, and became MORE of the problem instead of the solution they were supposed to be. I actually solved my laundry system a few weeks ago, but failed to implement my system after the next time I did laundry, so once again it didn’t help (although the system did work, once I started using it again). Follow-through is my issue; I can clean and organize just fine, but keeping it that may be a life-long battle. Still, having a harmonious workspace is so important to accomplishing anything creatively. This happened in college too. Gotta write an essay or make an illustration? Clean your room. It feels like the worst kind of procrastination, but it’s also the most necessary preparation. Getting your space in order helps get your brain in order. It lets you think.

I’ve made huge improvements to my space in the last few days. I may have put the files in the chest under my bed along with everything else that still needs to be filed. Even if I haven’t finished the filing system, I got it off the floor. The big box of college notebooks and memories that blocked the way to my bookshelf is now also under the bed, and blessedly out of sight. Today, I sorted through cards and correspondence going back to elementary school. I’m trying to create systems for future storage, and I’m trying to make my space more pleasant and functional (how about hanging my earrings on a screen instead of keeping them in crowded boxes on my dresser? And what about framing and hanging those posters?). I’m also working really hard on the follow-through. The most important part of this is that current projects cannot be left out on the floor when I go to bed at night. They must be dealt with and put away.

This photo shows a scrap of the recently liberated floorspace, as well as all the BOOKS I can now access unimpeded.

This photo shows a scrap of the recently liberated floorspace, as well as all the BOOKS I can now access unimpeded. You can’t see it in this photo, but there’s another large bookshelf to the right, behind the door.

So that’s what’s been going on here. It’s not very exciting, but it’s a big deal for my personal well-being. I love being able to reach my bookshelf, and I love actually wanting to spend time in the place I sleep every night.

I know I still owe two Race to the 8th prizes. I hope to get them to you very soon! There’s also some other bits of news I should tell you, but this is all for tonight. Cheers!

-G