by Sandra Bruce
First,some good news about Artistic Alchemy… hot off the press! We have officially been given the extra day by Zephyr Point for our 2015 retreat in September, so we will go from September 7-11th! We are really excited about this, and we’ll be talking about it in upcoming posts, of course. More time with our classes, and hopefully you’ll consider joining us!
Today I am compelled to talk about time management. At a recent lecture I gave to the Fremont, CA quilt guild, I got a question from the audience that I get quite often: “Do you sleep”? I know from my presentation it must appear that I do not have much time for sleep. It got me thinking. In truth, although I do feel that I get a fair amount done from day to day, I do stop and reflect once in a while and ponder how I can become more efficient, while at the same time enjoying life and having some time to myself. Even being able to do “nothing” if I so choose (OK, so that’s a tough one, but I’m working on it). So, I’d like to write today about this subject, and I’d love to hear from you, readers, about how you manage time and feel fulfilled with the amount of each thing you do, in other words….what works for you?
First, the things I think I do well. I am a list maker. I buy a fat notebook at the end of each year as a planner for the year coming up. Every day gets a page, and every morning I drink my coffee and write a list of all the things I want to accomplish that day. Typically I make the list longer than I know is possible, knowing that I won’t cross off every item, but it gives me incentive to be busy and get a lot done. All notes from the day, phone numbers, etc. go on the page. I get great satisfaction from the simple act of crossing off something I’ve gotten done (life’s little pleasures, eh?)
I also make other lists. “Big picture” lists. What I need to do before Christmas, for example. What thread I need to order. Stuff I need from the grocery store. Lists are everywhere. But for me, they work.
I think having been self-employed for so many years has helped me a lot. When you have deadlines that need to be met in order to make a living it makes you do what you need to do. On the important stuff I don’t procrastinate, for the most part. I try to delay gratification, such as “if I finish this part of the project I can meet a friend for coffee”.
Let’s face it, there is an expression “there are only so many hours in a day”, and it is true. I wish I could be satisfied with 2-3 hours of sleep per night, but that’s not reality nor will it ever be, so I know sleeping 7 hours a night is what I need to function and be my best every day. I do what I can to make that happen as much as possible. Sleep is a topic of conversation with many of my friends, it seems like no one is getting enough rest!
Also it must be admitted that there are different phases of our lives where we are faced with different challenges. Some of us are retired, some are working all the time. Some have family responsibilities, some do not. There are many factors that enter into our time management, and each of us has to figure out what we need and what works best. Juggling home and work is always on my mind… my house is not always as sparkling clean as I’d like it to be, and I do not typically fix fancy dinners, but I have a supportive family for which I am grateful. They know when I am working on a Matrix quilt, for example, I will excuse myself from the dinner table and go directly to my studio where I’ll work until bedtime.
One thing that has been really hard to get used to for me is not having big chunks of time to work on a project. It seems like those days ended over 16 years ago when my son was born. I’m still getting used to it, but I have had to learn to be content sometimes with a spare hour or two to work towards something. That’s when it’s most challenging to get my motor going and do something constructive. Or not. Those also seem to be good times to putter around the studio or…..look for inspiration for a future project. Or……………do you know where I’m headed…???
Temptation! Pinterest and Facebook, where time goes down a rabbit hole. I spend time on them both, and find benefit in using them as a tool for business, inspiration, and pleasure, but I have to be careful to hold myself to a limit time wise. It’s just too easy to get lost swimming in pins and posts. So, early morning and late at night, and that’s pretty much it. I recognize my addiction and make it a limited treat. (I don’t watch TV-except for Downton Abbey- nor am I interested in sports, I figure that saves me bundles of time!)
Balance. I guess that’s what it’s all about. Cooking dinner vs. going to a wine-tasting fund raiser. Going to Jazzercise vs. taking a nap. Talking to a friend who needs an ear vs. doing overdue paperwork. Making decisions every single day about what has to be done, what would be nice to get done, and letting go of the items that don’t get crossed off the list at the end of the day. I do wish for more time to read books, and getting exercise has become much more difficult, but I think, important. Recently I had to let go of a pleasurable group activity that I will miss, but hopefully I can return to it at a later time. Admitting I just don’t have time for it was hard, and learning to say “no”.
Approaching a big number birthday next year has me thinking too. I feel a new urgency about accomplishing what I want to do as an artist. I know I have (hopefully!) plenty of productive years left in me, but I do have a different attitude now about getting work done. I’m going to take another look at my time and reflect how I spend it. I think part of my outlook will be that I will choose what I need to be doing at any given time, and find value in it, whatever it is. All in all, I have to say, I love what I do, and am grateful to be able to support myself doing the creative things that really matter to me. That’s the most important thing.
What can you share about your attitude about time and how you spend it?
Thanksgiving is coming up next Thursday. I’m headed to a friend’s house with my family and 2 pies. I sure look forward to a day off with those I love, enjoying the time-honored tradition of turkey dinner. Happy Thanksgiving to you!
Time to say bye for now………..till my next post.