Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I am a chronic list maker. I have to-do lists for the year, the month, the week, the day, the hour, the next 30 minutes, and sometimes the next 5 minutes. My desk and kitchen table are littered with notebooks,  post it notes, and scraps of paper sometimes bearing the exact same list. I even have a notepad and pen in my bedside table so that I can (and frequently will) write notes to myself just before I doze off to sleep.

Just a typical view of my kitchen table.

The other day I had such a list made and I actually completed much of what was on it: I went grocery shopping, got my oil changed, re-skeined and labelled yarn, completed the remainder of my paperwork for my next trip to Romania, vacuumed, unloaded the dishwasher, reloaded the dishwasher, updated my blog, and put the kitchen back together after a previous day of dyeing. I was up at 9:30 and spent two hours on the computer before I even got dressed answering emails and updating my charity website. And yet, at 7:30 when I was all finished with the above mentioned tasks and was setting out for my evening walk I felt like I had been unproductive. I felt like I should have done more, like I should have worked on my CV or my support letter for my trip. Or I should have loaded the car for the festival (even though there are only two boxes to load and it will take all of 10 minutes in the morning). The problem, as I see it, is that my gauge of productivity is off.

When I used to teach I was always going 150 miles an hour. At one point when I was teaching band I was up at 5:30, at the high school by 7:20 to teach a class, over to the middle school by 8:30, taught all day until 4:30, then a brief break and back to the high school by 6 for rehearsal. And I was in the church orchestra and hand-bell choir, teaching private lessons, and spending my Saturdays at band competitions. Then, when I started teaching 1st grade I was also running my charity and my dye company in my "spare time" after work. And still teaching private lessons, serving on leadership at my church, and, for a brief time, dating. I was used to going full out but at the same time it was killing me. That's why I decided to go into business for myself. But now, when I don't have a day where I feel like every moment is jam packed and I end the day feeling accomplished and not dead tired, I feel like something is wrong.

This was what I was pondering over on my walk tonight and I've decided it's time to retrain myself. Just like I had to literally reteach myself how to breathe after my sinus surgery (because I had such a badly deviated septum and horrid sinus cavities) I'm going to reteach myself what normal productivity is. This means that if I accomplish a lot on the to-do list I'm not going to be too hard on myself if there is one or two non-critical things that are still on there. I'm going to allow myself to see answering emails as important (because they are). I'm going to start viewing a clean load of laundry as an accomplishment and not as just something extra that needed to be done. In short, I'm going to enjoy my self-employment for all the reasons I originally intended to.

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