Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Too much time on my hands

by Rick Blechta

In these most novel of times, everyone has had to face new realities and new ways of doing things. Hell! We have had to come up with less than new ways of living our lives. The pandemic shutdown has locked us all in cages, nice ones if you enjoy your living quarters, but cages nonetheless.

One seemingly good offshoot of this is time. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job where you can work from home, everyone should have more time to do things that they normally wouldn’t. If you’re unfortunately not working, well all you do have on your hands is time.

But something is going wrong.

I was speaking with a musician-friend yesterday. He was lamenting that even with hours on his hands every day, he wasn’t getting much done. Sure, he was practising a lot, but he had other musical goals (recording, arranging new pieces, learning a new recording program he’d bought, but somehow he never got around to these things in any meaningful way. “I feel completely stalled.”

That really resonated with me. I, too, seem to be spinning my tires more than would expect. Part of that is due to the curse of the internet. Even though it’s like watching a slow-moving car crash, I can’t resist reading about current events on various platforms. It’s appalling and fascinating at the same time. Like being in the middle of a great novel, I’m constantly thinking, How is this all going to end? At least we don’t have a TV…

That’s my main time-waster, but there are others. We have bird feeders right outside our back door and I can easily spend a half-hour dawdling over a cup of coffee and watching our guests — especially since a pair of Baltimore orioles arrived last week. There’s also another male hanging around, so there’s lots of chivying going on. (Birds can be really quite nasty to each other.)

You get the picture on how much time can be wasted during the day. I’m sure many of you have similar stories to tell.

So this morning I woke up and vowed that I was not going to allow myself to keep being distracted, keep myself on a schedule and actually accomplish the things I want to accomplish — and above all, not waste so much time!

First off, make a list. Always make a list when you wish to Get Things Done (that’s my mom talking).

Here’s today’s list:
  1. Write Type M post: 1 hour
  2. Take birthday present over to our granddaughter (she’s 4 today!): 2 hours
  3. Practise! : 1.5 hours
  4. Record 2 flute pieces for darling wife’s students: .5 hours
  5. Change water in fish tank: 20 minutes
  6. Make dinner (ratatouille): 1.25 hours
  7. Finish song arrangement and print parts while waiting for dinner to cook: 2 hours
Get the picture? You don’t see anything on there about writing, do you? This is how all my days seem to go. Sure, it does take more time whenever you have to go out to the store. It’s not currently a matter of bopping our to the , grabbing what you need and arriving back home in under half-an-hour. It just doesn’t happen.

Something’s got to change or I won’t be able to call myself a writer anymore.

Starting today, I have a timer at my desk and I’m going to use it. Need to ? I set the timer for my budgeted time and when it goes off, I stop cold and move on to something else.

And no looking at the internet between tasks!


Anna said...

All our to-do lists have a family resemblance, don't they? My list for today includes this item: "Consolidate all the to-do lists and sticky notes and other notes that have been piling up." Alas, as I dig down to mid-level I discover submission dates that are months old---for which I have exactly the pieces that would have been right for those venues.

Rick Blechta said...

You're probably correct, Anna. I got through all but one of my list on Tuesday. Yesterday was not as good because two things took longer to complete and they were the kind of things that, once started, have to be completed. As for things that I've fallen behind on, I'm afraid I'm in the same boat you are. I was supposed to provide a blurb for an author over a month ago and it completely fell off the table. So embarrassing! Thanks for the comment!!

Martha Knox said...

I agree. After listening to the SPA Girls podcast on creativity I vowed to accomplish a small goal every day. 500 new words over 7 days is 3,500 words is 14K in a month and 56K in 4 months+ a new book! A small goal accomplished daily results in more things accomplished. My granddaughter gave me a pen and paper old school weekly diary broken down from 6 am to 6 pm. I can get daily household chores (dishes, dog, laundry, pick up the house, shower breakfast, etc. in two hours. I make myself get up from the keyboard every half hour. I ran across the Pomodoro method-old school but practical. I Used it when I was an outside advertising sales rep for a newspaper. 1000 miles a week. I was very organized. I've made a commitment to write from noon to 6 pm. I'm a retired teacher. I was used to 12 hour working days all my life, and now it seems like I need that old get-the-job-done commitment to writing.