Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The January thing

Every January I get this urge to organize my life and my surroundings. This year was no different. I joined the hordes at IKEA on Sunday buying magazine boxes and bins for sorting paper. I understand it. I do it. I can't help but notice that with Facebook and blogs and the internet in general that this is the time of year that lots of people want to help you with this urge. They want to demonstrate how wonderfully efficient they are at scheduling and organizing and prioritizing and deciding "what matters in life." Just follow their example and you too will see your productivity soar. There are all those very authoritative lists: "How to get more done in 2013." etc. etc. I have been reading a blogger's series on how she accomplishes so much. No TV for one thing. Cooking and freezing meals for months at a time at one go, letting (encouraging? requiring?) her teenager  cook her own meals and do her own laundry. Not sleeping much. Multitasking. All fine. All helpful if you are truly looking to streamline your efficiency.

In the interest of showing another model, I thought I would post my secrets for "not getting all that much done and enjoying the hell out of life."

1.  Watch TV. Not mindlessly, of course, but contrary to some thinking, there is a lot of great stuff on TV. Shows that challenge, that inspire, that make you laugh (and you know that is very good for you) and blow your mind with their beauty and creativity. Especially if you are an artist, you should expose yourself to other artistic minds. Don't tell me "everything on TV is junk." Not true.

2. Go to movies. Go to plays. Go to concerts. Read books for fun. See #1 above.

3. Go to museums and art shows. One of my most favorite ways to "waste time." Tapping into what other artists are doing is thrilling. Yes, thrilling. It makes me want to be better. It feeds my need for visual excitement and it makes me think. It gets my adrenalin pumping.

4. Cook something really good. Preferably for people you love. And for yourself, of course. I know cooking is a drag most days. If you do it right it seems like it takes a lot more time than it should. But sitting down to something really good and sharing it, is very special. It is totally worth the shopping and peeling and chopping and stirring. Not every day, but often enough.I don't know this firsthand, but I suspect this is especially gratifying for people who live alone.

5. Spend time with your family—especially the kids. Duh. You know why this is important. And good for you. And good for them. And good for the world. And fun.

6. Allow procrastination. Sometimes something beckons on the way to the waiting task. Sometimes it turns out to be something great. Don't take the chance that you will miss it.

7. Allow yourself to be sick. Sometimes you are. Get over it and take care of yourself. The other stuff can wait.

8. Doodle. Sometimes great things emerge when you let your subconscious take over.

9. Sleep if you need to. There is nothing immoral about an afternoon nap.

10. Stay in your pajamas until noon. Sit in your most comfortable chair. Drink coffee. Watch the birds outside the window.

I should probably add "don't feel guilty." I'm sure there are many more ways not to be marvelously efficient. What are yours?

38 comments:

  1. Boy, did you nail me on #10! The feeders are right in front of my desk. I sit with my coffee, newspaper spread before me. When the cup is empty and no page has been turned, I realize that I have spent 20 minutes watching the birds and squirrels. Guilt, not really, the time card doesn't get punched anymore. I also find that when I treat myself to a trip to an art show or museum, I am energized when I return home. I also like to iron fabric. For some reason, it gets the ideas flowing. Too bad ironing hubby's shirts doesn't do the same, although there are a couple I'd like to take scissors to for their fabric. :)

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  2. What fantastic advice!

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  3. OH, Terry, I so get this! It's so wonderful to NOT live with the pressure to be efficient and produce miracles every day. And I don't feel a bit guilty about it either!

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  4. Your list is one of the many reasons why I love reading your blog. You are one of the most reasonable women I know. These past months have forced me to do many things on your list. I'm hoping to continue now that the construction is over...with the addition of fabric, sewing machine and assorted supplies. Letting the guilt go is a major step.

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  5. Best tip from a friend: never make lists of things you haven't done but DO make lists of things you HAVE done - and congratulate yourself on having done them!

    Also time management course which gave things you want to do equal weight with things you ought to do!

    Loved this post.

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  6. This is a really great post. Too much efficiency and "productiveness" squelch Life~! You gotta find the balance between streamlining and smelling the roses.

    Other than things you mention, what pops in my mind of how I am not at all marvelously efficient (and on purpose) is that my sewing work is really spread around in a way that I have to get up a lot and actually walk from my machine to my iron, and even upstairs to my cutting station. I cringe every time I see someone post a super-streamlined sewing setup where they never leave their seat - they simply turn to press or to cut something. Fast, yes! But that situation day in, day out, will literally kill you over time as it impedes your circulation and encourages varicose veins, clots in veins, and pelvic issues. Not to mention cutting down your calorie expenditure. This is one example where efficiency robs you of vital movement. Some things are better done in a more work-requiring manner. :)

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  7. Wonderful post , thank you !
    It was just was I needed today :-)

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  8. I was just reading from several bloggers about actually doing LESS! Less ambition and business and more time for relaxation and exploration. I've long felt that I lack real ambition and don't push my kids enough to excel nor fill our days with activities. That I don't invest enough time and effort into cooking (I manage only one of two from scratch meals a week, the rest is leftovers, eating out, and pre-prepared stuff). Now I'm thinking that maybe I've been ahead of the curve and only now is the rest of society appreciating my moderate pace.

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  9. I've been reading the same blog and find there doesn't seem to be much "me" time which I find so important. I agree with your list but would add a couple of things.
    1. Spend time with girlfriends.
    2. Take some time for pampering...mani, pedi, etc...now and then.
    3. Pick up some new magazines...quilting, art, etc. and spend quiet time just browsing new ideas.
    4. Visit the local quilt shop. Although mine features mostly traditional quilting on the walls, there always seems to be new fabric and colors and gadgets that get me excited.
    5. I take a power nap every afternoon. If there are time constraints I set the timer for 20 minutes. Close your eyes and don't open them. Even without the timer (which takes away any worry about not waking up in time) I wake up in 20 minutes feeling refreshed. I think I've perfected it!

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    1. Susan, how could I have forgotten "spend time with girlfriends!" That is one of the best ways I know of to boost a feeling of well-being. We all need friends who make us laugh, IMO!

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  10. This is, hands down, the best list I've seen. Love it!

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  11. I agree with everything you wrote and it's refreshing to read it. I am still working full-time outside the home and so time is a concern but when I started trying to portion my time by becoming way too organized I lost of the fun of daily living. I do not feel guilty for taking time for myself, and this weekend I will have the joy of cooking for one of my sons and having good conversation over a home-cooked meal. I had to laugh about the nap because if I'm napping over the weekend and someone calls and wakes me I will deny that I've been sleeping like it's not allowed. From now on I will turn off the ringer when I'm napping. If you don't mind I am going to copy and print this part of your blog and put it on my studio bulletin board. It is definitely a keeper. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. What a great list! Sometimes doing "nothing" is some of my most productive time spent. Creativity needs to be fed and all of your suggestions do just that!!!

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  13. Your post made me shout out load! I love it!

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  14. Now this is a list I can relate to, a way to enjoy life! Thanks for sharing it.

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  15. Fabulous list! I'm right with you.

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  16. Eat slowly. Pay attention to the taste and texture of each bite.

    Breathe. Stretch. Breathe again.

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  17. The first two sentences of Dee's comment are exactly what I was gong to say! Thank you for taking some of your valuable time to share via your blog, and please continue to inspire us in all the ways you do.

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  18. I love this list and Susan's additions. We all need to be reminded or get permission to do this once in a while.

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  19. ROFL! Thanks Terry - I'd read that other blogger too and wanted to give her a big raspberry. I just don't have that kind of energy and while I can admire her work ethic, I would not be a happy camper if I tried to emulate her.

    I think you've hit the high points, especially important any that emphasize doing a lot of things that on the surface look like they have nothing to do with helping you to make art, better art, more art. The brain needs stimuli from many different places. As for the cooking from scratch, I've always found the chopping, mixing, kneading very therapeutic, and even if done just for me, it is so worth the end result, if shared with others, even better. Here's to a great year of enjoying the hell out of life!

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  20. Oh I so agree with it ALL! What a great list!

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  21. Great post! My not being marvelously efficient: going to work by public transportation and just staring out of the window, letting my mind flow. Love that! Liz

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  22. Thank you. There is too little of this out there right now.

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  23. Here I am sitting with my "list". I put 10 numbers down the left side and so far (after five days) have written nothing next to the numbers. I was too busy sitting around in my pajamas (all day) drinking coffee, reading fluffy romance novels and making homemade meatballs and marinara sauce to think of things to write. I am now going to fill it out using your suggestions.

    I don't think, on our deathbeds, we will be sad to remember all the days we did nothing in our pajamas. And I don't know about the others but if I filled my freezer with meals--I really don't think most of them would get eaten. I would forget all about them. January is a time to rest. Oh, and I liked the idea of getting a pedi.

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  24. Oh there's definitely snuggling a corgi on the couch while sipping tea, and reading a book. The tea can be switched out for scratching ears. It's the most relaxed multi-tasking I know of.

    I still punch that darned timeclock, so I do like the freezer meals idea. Not for all of the meals, but there's many a weeknight that having something nearly ready gets me out to my studio that much faster.

    A most excellent list!

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  25. This is a keeper and I just may make an abridged version in a cross stitch sampler for my less than neat crafting room. You got the essentials for sure, way to go!!

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  26. Couldn't agree with you more.

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  27. I LOVE your list, I am also going to print it out - then I think I will re-write it with my favorite colored pens and add some doodles and designs, and maybe a few of my own favorite pastimes. At work I always schedule time to just sit and think... and I do the same in my sewing room too. I love to surf all the beautiful blogs for ideas and inspiration. Thanks for the reminder to slow down and notice all the little things around us.

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  28. Finally... someone who "gets" it!! I have quit reading the "I'm perfect and I'll show you how to be, too" blogs because they were truly just weighing me down. I thought there must be something wrong with me because I don't want to overachieve or be disciplined. That doesn't mean I don't want to do good things or live a fulfilled life. I just don't want to do it by scheduling every minute and feeling depressed when I don't reach my "daily goals". I think I will spend this morning in my pjs.... and relax and enjoy what happens.

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  29. Love your list! I read and admire greatly the blog you refer to, but read that list and was wondering what she does for "fun" or when she "relaxes".

    I'm not very efficient and I can't multitask, but I still get things done. There is always more to do, but you have to find the balance.

    This has been a good reminder, especially this week when I have been working at the museum and then coming home and working on my artwork to meet a deadline. But I still pack my daughter's lunch in the morning and make dinner at night.

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  30. Just wanted to leave you a comment and say I love this! Why do we always feel like we need to accomplish more? We need to enjoy life and spending time with family and friends should be right at the top of the list. And I agree - Laughter is the best medicine!

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  31. Oh, Terry, this has made me smile. This is much more my style and my philosophy of life! Your list is great -- and I'd add:
    sitting in the sunshine and listening to the nature noises;
    roaming around with a camera to take pictures of whatever takes your fancy;
    leafing mindlessly through magazines to just look at the pictures;
    just hanging out petting a dog or cat.

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  32. Yay! Best January list ever!

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