Blogger ate my Monday post. Here it is now.
Alternative post title: If it takes me 6 hours to knit a mitten . . .
Lately I've been realizing just how much of my life revolves around unrealistic expectations and guilt. It's not a fun way to live, you guys. It really, really needs to stop.
You see, the thing is, that I always think I should be doing more. I should be making more money, writing more, exercising more, cleaning more, being more giving of my time. That's where the magical thinking about, "If only there were more hours in the day" comes in.
Because I work from home and most people do not, I tend to believe that if I am to be accepted by the outside world, I need to work eight hours day at my desk, just like everyone else. Good God, I wouldn't want to look lazy, would I? If I spend an hour out of what is technically my eight hour day starting a batch of bread or cleaning the bathroom, the guilt starts to seep in. "Real people" do not clean their bathroom on workdays, I think to myself.
Happily, I think I might be developing some methods to finally let all that heavy, mucky guilt go.
The first thing that happened was my friend Rose introduced me to Leonie Dawson last week (this post specifically) and I keep going back and reading and re-reading Leonie's 15 hour work week post over. It makes so much sense to me and feels like just the affirmation I needed. When we focus on doing instead of working it's amazing what we can accomplish. Although I'm sure you are an excellent employee, chances are you could accomplish everything you get done in a 40 hour work week in your outside of home job in a 20-25 hour work from home schedule. That's just the way things are.
For example, in my early days of being homeschooled, (gosh, I really should be pretty good at this "work from home" thing by now) we tended to have 3-4 hour school days. That is, we managed to accomplish everything you would have done in a normal 7-8 hour school day before lunch. How? There was no walking down the hall from classroom to classroom. No wasted time when you were done with your work and had to wait 15-30 minutes for all the rest of your classmates to finish up. The same thing goes when you work from home. You can let go of expectations about how long something should take you and focus on the finished result instead. (Also, no meetings!) If you accomplish everything you need to do in a day, who cares if it took you eight hours or not?
The secret to these condensed school and work days is focus and tuning out distractions.
I just love this quote about focus from Leonie's post:
Great,” I hear you saying. “I know, I know, I’m supposed to focus. Seriously, that’s like the most overused productivity word ever.”
To which I say “That’s nice, but are you fucking doing it?”
I'm making "are you fucking doing it?" my mantra for the week and we'll just see what happens to my productivity. (Good things, I hope.)
Stop me if this sounds familiar, but here's what's been happening when I sit down to "work" lately. I get everything cued up to go. And then suddenly I have an urge to open up approximately 6-7 tabs in my internet browser. I check my stats on Etsy. I read a few blog posts.All of these thoughts start rushing through Am I thirsty? Am I hungry? Do I need a cup of tea? Should I go to the bathroom? Maybe I should research a designer for a new blog design. Did I get around to those social media posts I've been meaning to do? Then I go back to my blog post and find a blank screen and a blinking cursor.
When you work with that level of focus, let me tell you, sunset comes around pretty darn fast.
I've been spending all of this time thinking I ought to act like I was working when in fact, I was really just posing as someone working. There's another mantra I like to pull out at times like these when productivity starts to take on sort of mythical elements: "Would you pay yourself for what you're doing right now?"
I got another big nudge towards focus and productivity last week when I committed to knitting five pairs of mittens for bridesmaids at a wedding the second weekend in December. It takes me approximately 6 hours to knit a single mitten, so that's pretty easy math: 10 mittens at 6 hours each = 60 hours of knit time. The mittens need to be shipped by December 1 to give them enough shipping "wiggle room" to arrive on time so that means between Saturday (when the yarn for the mittens arrived) and December 1st, I need to find 60 hours of knit time along with keeping up with all the rest of my work commitments.
At first such a task seemed impossible, ridiculous, "what was I thinking?", etc. etc. And then I realized, if I let go of the social media surfing and the other mindless time wasters, 60 hours in the span of 15 days isn't so bad. That's just 4 hours of knitting a day and I don't ever get any work (other than knitting) done between the hours of 4 - 10 p.m. anyway. If I stay on task, everything will get done just as it should be. In fact, the first pair of mittens are already done.
Focus on the end product. FOCUS. Wring more out of the hours you have and stop wishing you had more of them. Let the guilt go and enjoy what you get done.