I’ve been taking a little time off from blogging and other work stuff, and it’s been great. The best part is that my awesome friend is in town visiting for a few days, and we’ve been having magical Albuquerque spring time from the moment she arrived. We’ve seen some great music, went to the best birthday party ever (with a deep frying station!), and have had just the most lovely porch and kitchen hang-around time drinking coffee, kicking around with the kids and catching up with each other in the most leisurely way. Fantasy-life, in other words.

I also have been in at major home and life jag which started a few days before my friend got here. It started out with taking a couple days off last week kind of spontaneously, as I was feeling more and more angsty to catch up with all sorts of stuff that was falling by the wayside. Blogging every day really makes it hard to keep up. Home, office, administrative stuff — not to mention children and husband — were looking sadly neglected.

It hit me late last week that shifting gears and giving some overdue attention to these things was really the most important thing at the time — more important than sticking to my self-imposed daily blogging routine — and needed to be prioritized.

Once I got started, I got on a hugely productive tear that would not be denied. In the course of 5 days I’ve gotten our garden prepped and planted; porches cleaned of debris and broken Christmas lights; backyard cleared of Black Widows and dog poop; cabinets purged and stuff schlepped off to donate; Turtle’s bike repair station outfitted with vintage Craftsman cabinet from a yard sale outside the grocery store; guest room cleaned, bed made and flowers cut and arranged for my houseguest friend; furniture moved and dark corners swept, both literally and metaphorically.

It’s kind of hard to stop. But one thing that helps in a big way is how awesome it is to step back and savor a cup of coffee on one of our newly cleaned patios and enjoy the fruits of my labors. With my friend here to do it with me it’s extra sweet and hard to tear away, I must admit. But I’m also feeling the need to switch gears back again and get back to writing. I’m now leaning towards aiming for about three posts a week, so we’ll see how that goes.

One of the things I realized as I let myself take one, then more days off was that when you’re self-employed it’s both a benefit and responsibility to switch gears when you need to. Freedom is great, but it comes with the need to make smart decisions about how to use your time. I’ve gotten better at this over the years.

  1. One of the most important skills I’ve developed is being able to recognize a productive wave of momentum, and once I’ve recognized it, to ride it hard. Sometimes it’s client work — say, editing a report. I usually create weekly work schedules, but if I’m on a roll I’ll throw the schedule to the wind and work until 4am if it feels right. If I’m feeling particularly inspired about developing a new set of business management classes, I’ll let other things fall by the wayside to allow myself the luxury of a few days to work on writing them up and posting them at my site. Momentum is huge for me, and I’ll go to great lengths to let it play out.
  2. Recognize and be honest about when you’re having a productive shift, versus a fucking-off shift. In my heart of hearts I know when I’m just sick of working and want to veg out for a bit and watch Turner Classic Movies for the afternoon. This is not the same as when I feel a creative jag or an organizing jag coming on. It also means recognizing when an organizing/cleaning jag is merely procrastinating, versus when it’s really important or necessary or will some way really be valuable for overall productivity. Cleaning the office/guest room before my friend arrived was totally overdue and necessary, so once I got started I hit it hard, got a ton of important tax and health insurance filing done and now feel about 100 pounds lighter mentally when I walk in that room. (On a side note, a lot of our organizational push in the last several months has been to get our house swap-ready for summer travel plans, and I think it’s just about there. Very exciting as we mull over some possibilities.)
  3. Don’t be a slave to your plans. Making plans is important, and most people don’t do enough planning in their work or personal lives. When I say “planning” I mean things like doing big-picture strategic thinking, setting goals and making specific plans to work towards those goals. But when people do make plans, sometimes they suddenly get all rigid about it and forget how important it is to be flexible and to adapt. Even carefully laid plans should be tweaked or even scrapped if circumstances warrant. When I decided to blog regularly I made the decision and commitment to do it every day, for at least a couple months or so, just to get a habit going and make sure I could do it. As it turned out I felt up to speed a little earlier than that (about 6 weeks), and started to feel itchy to have a little more time in between posts, both so I could have more material to write about and to be better able to keep up with kids/husband/life. So I’m going with that and it feels like the right decision. Time will tell if it is.

3 Comments

  • Yep. Some of my best thinking has been done when I’ve been digging holes, cleaning cabinets and such. Productivity – particularly when you can literally see results (Hey! I planted that tree!) is remarkably energizing and carries over into work.

    • Totally Mary! When you get into that good thinking groove it reinforces that you’re doing the right thing at that moment, doesn’t it? That’s how the last few days have been.

      I can easily contrast this feeling with times I’ve started puttering around the house when I’m procrastinating about some project…those times are just filled with guilt and fretting. When I feel The Flow there’s no guilt at all. It’s oh so right.

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