The second part of my New Year's resolutions is all about time. (You can read about the first part here.) Which is kind of just a nice way of saying that in 2013 I'm planning to GET ORGANIZED! But while organization - scheduling our days and activities more tightly, being more on point about how I spend my time - is certainly a component of this resolution, I know myself well enough by now not to phrase things that way. Just GETTING ORGANIZED is boring. And authoritative. When I say it, it feels in my body like something to panic about. This is not a good recipe for a doable resolution for me, since boring = something to give up on immediately, authoritative = an invitation to rebel, and panic makes me want to dive back under the bed covers. So instead, I've got to go a little deeper into why. Why get organized? What do I want to get out of it?
I've been thinking a lot about time this past year. Being on time, using time well, not procrastinating... these have never been strengths of mine. And while I've given myself a lot of grief about this over the years, none of the grief has made me better about it. Time seems to be hard for me because of the particular combination that I am (and that I think many creative types probably are) of dreamy and driven. I can easily get lost in a moment or a feeling and lose track of time. And, as I wrote about in the Home half of my 2013 resolutions, I am also easily led down the wormhole of perfectionism, so that I really, really want whatever I'm doing to be done completely - a dynamic which either overwhelms (so that I procrastinate getting to it) or makes it hard to stop when I need to. But honestly, I don't particularly want to change these things about me. I like that I am dreamy and (within reason!) driven to do the best job I can no matter what the task. These things ARE strengths of mine. So, no more grief. Instead, this is about a shift in perspective that makes something newly possible. What I'm learning, and what I want to keep learning, is to change what time means to me, so that instead of it feeling like a big chore that I need tons of self-discipline to manage, it occurs as an opportunity that I have natural responsibility and authorship over.This shift began with me starting to really understand that time is not something we can make more of. Everybody on earth has the same number of hours in the day with which to work... and play. It's obvious to the point of cliché, and yet the language we consistently use to describe time belies our hope that time is something which can, with the right alchemy, be multiplied: "I will try to make time for that," or "I just couldn't make the time," or my favorite, "Someday, when I have more time..." The truth is that time is not made, it is allocated. It is a form of currency that we spend on the things that are either truly important to us or that we believe we deserve. And this can work either for us or against us. For example, as moms, I think many of us can say that we'd like to spend a little more time on ourselves, but while we might rationally know that doing so would probably be OK, our beliefs are already locked in that mothers sacrifice for their children and are always available. So reallocating some of those 24 hours for our creative pursuits may be something we want, but not something we are willing to spend that currency on.
This concept is the key to working with my time deficiencies. What do I want to spend my time on? How do I want to budget my days? It is up to me. And here's where the resolutions come in. I have a lot of resolutions for this year that contain the word MORE. I want to paint more. I want to sew more. I want to blog more. I also want to spend more present, quality time with my kids and husband. I want to be more patient with them. More loving. It sounds really easy and great - those should be doable resolutions, right? Since I really do want them? I mean, I'm not saying I want to floss more. (Actually, I do want to do that, too..) But where is all this MORE going to come from? My desire to do these things, however strong, will not magically manufacture more time for them. I have to take that time away from other things I am already doing. And THAT is why I want to be better organized.
When I look at how I already spend my time, I have to admit - there's some flab. Some extraneous facebooking and magazine reading and oh-crap-there's-nothing-in-the-fridge emergency grocery shopping that could be tightened up. Most importantly, I know that when the kids are at school, that's my chance to do my creative work, and when they are home, that is when I want to be able to focus on them... but where does that leave the housework? So often, the three things (house time, me time, kid time) get mushed together and everything gets short shrifted. I run around wishing I had a time factory that could make more hours so that I could get everything done. Which, hello, doesn't exist!
So my big practical resolution, to back up the true, emotional resolutions, is to once and for all systemize and schedule the housework so that a little bit gets done each day, the same day each week, first thing in the morning after the kids go to school, if possible. And then the rest of the day - the creative time and the family time - needs to be sacrosanct.
This is what I'm thinking:
- Monday: groceries
- Tuesday: clean the kitchen
- Wednesday: my busiest day out of the house, so just some general tidying up
- Thursday: dust & vacuum
- Friday: clean the bathroom
- Saturday: deeper cleaning and organizing mini-projects, whatever needs doing that week - windows, closets, stairwells, exterior, etc.
- Sunday: laundry day (this is already the case, not messing with it)
So we'll see how it goes, and I'll report back. This schedule is intended just to be a structure to work from. I know that not every week will look exactly like it, and that's fine. If I deviate from the schedule one day, I can return to it the next day. The point is to stop trying to do everything all at once and then wish for more time. The point is to budget wisely so that the rest of my day is freed up for the important stuff. Making a housework schedule is certainly not the fun, whimsical or pretty part of a creative life, but if it'll help me give the perspective shift on time a good shove... if it'll help me reallocate time to actually CREATING... then it'll be the best investment I can make right now in my creative work.
What about you, friends? Have you made any resolutions about time or organization? Have you had any success making a weekly housework schedule, or do you try to bang it all out in one day like I usually do? Do you feel a sense of freedom when you have a routine to rely on, or does it give your inner rebel the heebie-jeebies? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
(By the way, the photo at the top of this post is from a series I used to do called Thank You, Winter - link in left sidebar - to get me through the cold months with my sanity intact. So far this year I haven't felt the need to repeat that series, but I can't promise it won't make an appearance here in another few weeks!)