Posts Tagged 'routine'

More Problems with the Space Time Continuum

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Last week, back before the election I wrote a post about the need to find a place for my mind, a “space that is free and uncluttered during the day” and said that I had come round to the renewed conviction that I really do have a need for a writing routine… a schedule.

The problem is, I never seem to be able to keep it, once I start it. So what good would it do to set up yet another schedule to follow, knowing I would fail yet again? And what about all those promises from God that He was going to do things? How do I factor that in? Is it me or is it Him? And how can I know the difference?

So I went to Him with these questions and He’s been answering me, though perhaps not in the way I expected.

My first realization was that I’m trying to do too much. In addition to walking the dog, daily Bible class, and the routine basic chores of housekeeping and personal hygiene, there have been all these other things that have come to my attention that I’ve been thinking I’d like to do.

Things like read the Bible through in a year by doing daily chapters; like doing a sketch a day, spending 15 minutes a day decluttering, practicing the piano every day. This in addition to taking care of the small garden I’ve inherited from my mother. It’s not enough to simply care for the two potted roses… I have to fantasize about finishing the brick patio, and doing many other things to improve the look of the yard.

Then there are the projects… the sewing things… if I could just schedule in half an hour a week. And there are the cards. And some paper-crafting scrapbook type projects I’ve been wanting to do with the Psalms. I’ll need to set aside some time to attend to those.

And don’t forget reading. I have a stack of books I’ve slowly accumulated through my readings of the various blogs… all of them waiting for my attention. If I just devoted fifteen minutes a day to them, I could get through them.

Then there are the long-term tasks about the house that need a place on the schedule — shampooing the carpet, washing windows, cleaning out closets…

And of course all the things that need to be done relative to the holidays.

Oh and baking! That’s fun. I love scones and coffee cake and cookies… I can always squeeze some of that in.

Finally, there’s all the TV I’ve started watching — six shows now, six hours a week. At minimum. But this is time with my hubby… so I can’t eliminate that.

Um…

I’m beginning to see some space-time continuum violations here as I’ve laid all this down (well, I saw them when I laid all this out last week, as well). Clearly I cannot do all that stuff. Even if I didn’t have to sleep, I wouldn’t be able to do all that. It’s… lunacy.

Plus trying to break up your day (more like shatter it) into fifteen minute increments provides NO time for any kind of substantive thinking. And I think it’d just be frazzling, having to change gears every half hour.

I think all this may be an artifact left over from my reading of The Artist’s Way  a couple of years ago with its encouragement to think of all these things you’d like to do and then go do them. That is probably not exactly what was advised but that’s the way I took it, and it’s not been good for me.

Furthermore, with all these “projects” or endeavors that I’m intending on constantly doing, I was leaving most of the materials needed to do them out around the house where I could see them and be “reminded.” Well, I was reminded all right and it wasn’t pretty: Oh yeah, I gotta do that wedding card; oh yeah, I want to scrapbook all those pictures; oh, right, I want to do a sketch today. And there’s those books I want to read. And the patio that I want to fix and the closet that needs to be cleaned, and the piano — I need to call the tuner, before it gets too out of tune again and if I’m going to do that, I’d better start playing it, too.

Before long I’m feeling anxious and condemned, wanting to do all the things on my mental list, in some way thinking I should be able to, not really accepting the fact that

THERE IS NO WAY I CAN

and just muddling my way through each day trying to do the impossible. And when I inevitably fail, I heap on the guilt.

So. I decided to make some changes.

First, I acknowledged and accepted that I cannot do all the things I want to do to.

(Yes, I know:  DUH!!!)

Second, I put away all those half-done projects, so I’m not continually reminded that I want to do them. If there’s time, I might do a card. If not. Oh well. I have a book to write. I can do cards later.

It turns out that “Out of sight, out of mind” really does work!

That alone made a significant difference.

Third, make daily writing a priority. That means, “No, you can’t check the email before you start. And no, you can’t take just a minute to check Drudge. You know it won’t end there. And just forget about the blogs ’til later. Really, what do you think you’ll find there? The powers that be will spend all year sorting through Benghazi and the Petraeus thing and you’ll likely still never find out what really happened anyway!”

I haven’t yet decided on what kind of schedule to follow with the writing itself.  I’m afraid if I don’t get in and write immediately upon getting up, I won’t do it. But my hands don’t always work right when I immediately get up. (the CREST syndrome makes them go to sleep if I try to type for long; later in the day there’s no problem)  So I’m still working on that. I think I’m going to go day to day and let the Lord lead me into the one that works best.

Four, cut back on the TV!  Tonight is my first cut: Hawaii 5-0.  Much as I like Alex O’Loughlin in the role of McGarrett, I’m finding this season’s changes annoying. I don’t like McGarrett’s relationship with Catherine (which seemed to come out of the blue), I can’t stand his mother, and Danny’s been driving me increasingly up the wall. Plus staying up for a show that in Arizona ends at 10pm results in me not getting to bed until around 11 and that leads to either a later rising time, or me be awakened by Hubby when he leaves for work and then I get shorted on sleep. Getting shorted on sleep has a direct impact in my ability to withstand the impulses of my flesh to go do whatever tickles my fancy at any given moment.

Finally, I’m going to follow Flylady’s method for establishing a new habit (work every day on the book) and according to her that takes a month of consistent practice. So I get a star for each day I go into the office and get some work on Sky done.

Today was my first day of full implementation. I got into the office at 8am, and actually did get some work done on sky. Maybe about 3 to 4 hours worth (I forgot to note the times). I did not finish my weekly household chores, but I’m hoping to do so tomorrow.

And once I publish this post I can do my stretching and then head straight to bed. And it’s not even 10 o’clock yet!

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Flipping Priorities

Lately the Lord has been giving me lots of messages from various sources about the importance of focusing, of having priorities and following them, of knowing where your heart is by looking at where you spend your money and/or time. They’ve all been urging me to get more serious about the book and making me think about priorities.

I thought I’d already gone through all that, and had set up my morning routine to take care of things that had to be done every day or week as my first priority. The routine is always done and there’s no dithering about that. You just get up and do it.

And I have been. The first portions of it have become automatic. The second half, not so much. Plus I would often get distracted or sidetracked with some other project before I finished the second half. Was my morning routine too long? Maybe.

Worse, by the time I got around to writing — say between 10:45 and 11:45 — I was tired from all the other stuff I’d been doing all morning.

So I decided to change it up. For the last couple of days I’ve done only part of the morning routine and then went straight into the office to work on Sky for a bit, until I was hungry for breakfast. At which time I would do the second half of the routine (which includes hanging out clothes and doing tricks with Quigley)

So far that has been working really well, not just because I don’t end up out of gas before I get to the writing, but because once I’ve started working on the book, I tend to want to get back to it, and am thinking about it and not new housework projects I can work on. The other way, the new projects bombarded me.

Monday I alternated home chores and writing all day long. Today (Tuesday) I wasn’t quite as good on that, because after all the progress I had yesterday, today was more of a stalled out day. I spent a good amount of time being distracted, still, and being blank. But toward the end of the day I began to find a way to at least collect and organize my thoughts (which are mostly questions and possible answers) in such a way that I’m hoping tomorrow will see a few more pages added to the total.

One of Orson Scott Card’s recommendations is to always has why.  Why are the bombers in the basement? Why did she ask Lago to bring the ambassador up to the office to see the video? Why would she ask him to make the bombers go away?

The problem with that, is that I open up a world of questions I often don’t have answers to. Hence the distractions and protracted periods of staring out windows.

Wait. Maybe I should rephrase that.  “The problem with that is that I open up a world of questions I don’t have answers to …yet.  🙂

And tomorrow is another day. As it stands, in two days I’ve moved from the end of chapter 1 to almost the end of chapter 2.

Unrealistic Expectation

Well, it’s been two days since I resolved to be more disciplined and dedicated to getting to work writing “on time.” And both days there were, indeed, problems. Yesterday my husband unexpectedly decided to stay home from work so he could drive to Phoenix to look for  a new car since he’s not been able to find any that he wants here. Before he left there was a strange discombobulation during the making of breakfast, during which I burned the waffles and my bacon fell on the floor right in front of Quigley’s dish — while he was eating!

Needless to say, the bacon disappeared in a heartbeat.

Anyway, after that weirdness, DH took a nap, then left for Phoenix. The original plan was that if he found a car to his liking, he’d buy it, drive it home and then I’d drive him back to Phoenix to pick up the rental he has been driving. That’s a drive of about three hours round trip, if the traffic isn’t terrible, but I was not wanting to do it.  Not only would it be exhausting in itself, but I’d be out of it for probably two days and who knew if I’d be able to make myself report for duty in the office. And even if I did, would I be able to do anything writing-wise in my tired state?

And here I’d just resolved to make writing a priority.

As it turned out, he was able to leave the rental at the Enterprise branch in Phoenix and we didn’t have to make the second drive, which was an answer to prayer — a very specific answer because what I’d asked was that wherever my hubby found the car he wanted could there please be an Enterprise branch nearby? And that is exactly what happened. Only it wasn’t just nearby, it was part of the dealership! He just left the rental right there.

Thank you, Lord!

So, not only was there a cool answer to prayer, the whole situation only made it clearer that it’s time to get back to work and in that strengthened my resolve further.

So this morning I was focused on getting to my desk by 9am. There were to be no distractions today, no reason for everything not to go smoothly, I wasn’t even going to have to fix breakfast because my husband had brought home a sticky bun from his Phoenix adventures and I already had coffee in the refrigerator from yesterday. So I rolled through my morning routine, and was excited to get ALL of it done by 8:40, got out the sticky bun, went to get out the coffee…

Where was it? Not in the refrigerator, though I looked twice. How could it not be there? Where was it? And then it dawned on me… the freezer?

I would have put it there yesterday when I first made it because that’s what I do to get it cooled off quickly. But yesterday, remember, there was that weird discombobulation and in the midst of all the chaos, I didn’t put the coffee in the refrigerator, as I was supposed to,  I put it back in the freezer. So it was frozen solid!

I spent about twenty minutes trying to get it thawed  (couldn’t put it in the microwave because I’d have broken the Pyrex pitcher it was in). Thus the Kingdom of Darkness got in two hits for the price of one with that business in the kitchen yesterday.

In the past I would have reacted, gotten frustrated, given up… but today I put all that aside and told myself I had to just keep trying. It probably was never going to be perfect but as long as I keep trying and keep getting to the desk even if it is half an hour late, that’s all I can ask.  That’s kind of a paraphrase of some of the things Flylady says…  “Housework done imperfectly still blesses your family.”  “Babysteps.” “Your house didn’t get trashed in a day, it’s not going to get fixed in a day.”

It all boils down to perfectionism and unrealistic expectations. Those really need to be ditched. They’re arrogant and unreasonable and really just sap the joy out of life. Rarely will we do anything truly perfect, thus to expect it, or worse demand it, is to guarantee we’ll be dissatisfied.

Besides, if we’ve believed in Christ we’re already perfect through His work on the Cross and there’s not one thing we can do to make ourselves one bit more holy and righteous than He’s already made us. Plus we have an enemy as I mentioned last post. So things are mostly not going to go smoothly, no matter how hard we try for perfection.

A better approach is to just get over the imperfection of our efforts and move forward.

So I did. And I had a very good day. I have finally made a breakthrough on chapter one… cut the first 4 pages, brought the scene on page 5 to the fore and started through it. Things were clicking this morning. It was very cool.

Tomorrow I have no obvious distractions on the calendar, but I’m not going to make any predictions about what will happen. Only that I’m more determined than ever to make writing a priority.

 


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