Something clicked this year.
I was working my tail off on projects around the home (the studio, mostly) and adding other projects on top of unfinished items – for example, Exhibit A, the console table. At the end of my work day, I’d find myself feeling unsettled; it seemed nothing was getting completed to the fullest. I was pulling myself in ten directions, poorly multi-tasking and I self-induced my own crazies. If I wasn’t working, I was thinking about work – what I didn’t do and what I needed to do tomorrow.
I like to work, and I’m always going to want to make or do something new – case in point, the living room. I enjoy a full plate (edit: I thrive on it), and that’s okay.
But when it comes to juggling work vs. down time, Scott is always so calm, so collected. (This, among countless other things, is why I love him so.) He’s unflappable, and I wanted that, too. I wanted to relish in my down time, like him. I wanted to allow myself down time, period. When he would see my mind wander, he would ask me if I ended the work day by re-evaluating my lists (rather than stew on ideas late into the evening), and had I kept them do-able? He’d remind me to break my list up into smaller tasks, prioritize, and if the least important items didn’t get done – if those last 3 to dos don’t get the big check mark – in the grand scheme of things, what would happen?
He’s told me this many, many times in our 9 years together. And after a mid-week concert a few months ago, I allowed myself the next morning off. We went to breakfast, we enjoyed a moment of unexpected down time together, and when I inevitably felt rushed to get back to the studio, he reminded me again: What have you lost in the last 2 hours? Enjoy this time we have right now.
Finally, 30 years in the making, it clicked. It was my own little a-ha! moment. Is it because I was ready to listen? To learn? Isn’t that what they say?
I’m trying this, oh, new thing where I work to my fullest during the day, and I relax, have fun and unwind (to the fullest!) when I close my studio door. I still have big, long lists, but if something isn’t done by my imaginary deadline, so far, life has gone on. One thing at a time, then move to the next. I’m stepping back and un-learning how to multi-task. It’s learning again, but backwards.
My productivity ebbs and flows and some days are better than others – just like everyone else. And after months of giving this thing a good, hard effort, my balanced days are starting to far outweigh the frazzled ones. (Scott, do you agree?)
How do you handle your long lists and self-induced frazzles?