Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It works, but pisses me off

While I was sitting on the beach in the rain, knitting and watching the whales go by (bonus!), I was thinking about the level of Chaos in my house lately. The volume of things not getting done. The way that “somehow”, the entire day goes by and I find myself up to my knees in filth and paperwork wondering what, exactly, I was doing, all day long…(Seriously, you know it’s bad when it’s YOU asking that question, and not the long-suffering spouse!) (If he dared ask the same question, they’d never find the body!) (I have that much laundry. I can hide bodies in it. Indefinitely.)

The problem is obvious, which is why it took me a very long time to realize it.

I am not a person who works well without pressure. When I have limited time and a great deal to do in it, I’m a crackerjack. This includes both serious looming deadlines and the day-to-day grind of having to do the same stupid task before the same stupid meeting day in, day out.

However, when I have little or no pressure, when I have all day to do just these one or two things…I’ll sit around on my ever-expanding backside pondering stuff until suddenly and without warning, it is 8:30 at night and none of the kids have done homework, eaten or bathed. Worse, many days would go by with no knitting, none at all! Because I was busy. With the, uh, you know, the…well, there was stuff, and…

So I said to myself that what I needed to do, what this situation wanted, was for me to take a no-nonsense work-style approach to it.

Did I simply set tasks at work and say, “OK, and at some point today, I’ll get around to this”?

Shoot, no. I’d block them out on my calendar (in pencil), so whenever I found myself twiddling my thumbs saying, “OK, what next…” I could glance over and see what I’d thought I would be doing around that time.

Now, I’m not going to schedule doing the dishes for 8:45 to 9:15 Monday through Friday. But what I did decide to do was to give myself certain general tasks for different time periods throughout the day. Housework while everybody (except Captain Adventure) is in school; make the early dinner preparations and clean the kitchen between kindergarten and second grade pickup, and also make phone calls, read endless supply of magazines, trade rags, yarn catalogs and other things marked “urgent” and other “miscellaneous household running” tasks.

After the last pickup, I get into the ‘free play’ period.

It’s actually working out great from a ‘things are getting done’ perspective. Many areas that were hopelessly clogged with dust or toys are seeing the light of day again, and many spiders have been saved from having to pay property taxes – it was a very near thing, as their webs had become ‘permanent structures’ and I’m pretty sure some guy from the city was walking around making notes about them the other day. I’m pretty sure they were two seconds from receiving an assessment notice from the county tax collector.

But I saved them from that hardship. Wiped down those webs in brisk, methodical movements.

The kids are being fed more regularly, dinner is being made, the dishes are spending more time clean than dirty and I’ve made some significant headway on the raglan sweater. Thank goodness, because I am getting almighty tired of the stockinette. I’m most of the way through the front now and will be casting on both sleeves at once for the illusion of being done faster. But I digress.

The thing I hate about it is two-fold. The first is, I don’t get nearly as many hours fooling around don the computer as I used to, and I miss it. I have to be more selective about what-all I do, and spend less time surfing around You-Tube watching silly home movies of other people’s pets doing cute things.

I KNOW. It cuts me to the quick, too.

And the other is, I really kind of despise being disciplined. Being responsible. Doing what I ought to do, what I know I will be glad I did, and leaving all the other “fun-fun-fun” stuff for last.

But of course, I have to recognize that the reason I’m so short on “fun” time is because I’ve neglected my business for it for lo these many months. I’ve put off all the work until “later” while I was goofing off on the Internet or getting sidetracked in any of a million ways.

I am an expert at getting sidetracked. I excel at it. In fact, I’m thinking of ringing up Harvard and demanding that I be given a PhD in Sidetrackology, the Science of Digression. As the Supreme High Priestess of it, I don’t expect I should have to take any classes. Take classes, PAH! One of my superior subject-matter knowledge scoffs at the very idea! Like this: PAH!

Anyway. Yeah, I’m behind because I’ve been messing around and not getting the job done. The housework won’t really take me three-plus hours every weekday to stay on top of, any more than I need two hours every day to read my newspapers and magazines. It’s just that I’m so far behind, I’ve got to make up time before I can make any headway.

The day will come, and it will come soon, when instead of “every day”, I’ll be setting aside two or three days for the housework, and another one or two for the reading and phone-call-making and such.

Already I’ve got more headway than I expected; I just need to screw my courage (and attention span) to the sticking place, and stay firm.

Even when faced with things like cute puppy dog pictures and urban legend emails that need proper researching.


PipneyJane said...

If you find a technique to keep your attention focused, please let me know. I spent so much of this year with so little to do at work that now that I have stuff to do, I can't motivate myself to do it!

- Pam (Queen of Time Wasting)

Helen said...


I DID make myself a list. And the day I made it, I got things on it done...
but it's still there, and things aren't getting done because I'm... well... doing... uh.... stuff, yeah, stuff... and things...
and youtube with Lewis Black and stuff..
a schedule, huh? I suppose I could try that. Then it would give me reasons to STOP cleaning (1 hour cleaning first floor --- oops, time's up...the rest waits til tomorrow's hour)....

Anonymous said...

Are you familiar with She has a thing called SHE, sidetracked home executives.

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog, you speak for many of us!

Stephanie said...

I finally, just this week, decided that I nedded to adopt a modern day version of "Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday..." or else the filth in my own house would get me before the unemployment checks stop. So now I do paperwork (bills, magazines, mail that has accumulated) on Monday, food (plan menus, grocery shop, prepwork) on Tuesday, pick up on Wednesday, clean on Thursday, laundry on Friday, clear out email on Saturday, and rest on Sunday. So far it is working. Or at least, so far the houselet is neater than it has been in weeks. And it takes less than an hour most days. Of course, I'm not hoping for miracles the first week. I'm counting on the cumulative weeks of attention to get things looking like they really should.

21stCenturyMom said...

I can SO relate. Try being unemployed and having an empty nest. I could sit here and read and write blogs all day.

I'm using a 'to do' list now. It's my only salvation. Oh, and I can finally knit! I've finally managed to be able to do it with some reliability. I'm so proud!!

HDW said...

LMBO!!! I keep trying to do something like I was reading your post I heard my mother's words in my head......the reason you don't have more time to play is that you spend too much time lolly gagging at other times during the day. When I was younger I always found things to read and then had to do chores and homework....before I knew it, it was 7:30 and bed time.....MAN what I wouldn't do today to get to bed by 7:30 once in a while!! :)