Sunday, November 4, 2012

Productive Procrastination?

I didn’t think this would be a problem.  I thought if I patched together a whole bunch of projects, I’d always have something interesting to do.  If you like what you’re doing motivation comes naturally, right?

Sort of. I like my new work/life balance. I love freelancing, crafting, running my Etsy store, and I really love having the flexibility to do everything else - visit Amelia at school, pick her up early, make lunch dates, volunteer, bake, etc, etc, etc.  So what’s the problem, you wonder?   
I decide what to do when. That’s right, it is all up to me. And my Type A personality gets in the way of realistic prioritization or real balance.
You see, a long to-do list makes me crazy. If there is something on the list that I can do quickly, even if it isn’t urgent, I do it.  I just want it off the list.  It’s list clutter and it must be gone. I have the same reaction to physical clutter. If I have a project with a lot of supplies that are sitting in a corner, just waiting to be used, that pile is all I see.  Even if the project isn’t at all time-sensitive, I do it first just to eliminate that waiting pile of stuff. Today, that’s what happened.
It is Sunday. I have 3 writing deadlines this week.  Job leads to pursue.  A self-imposed sewing schedule to keep my Etsy store stocked. Laundry. Grocery shopping. Not to mention a sneezing daughter and coughing husband who both need attention. So how did I spend most of the day? Reupholstering my neighbor’s sunroom furniture. 

Looking good!
Back in July, I promised her I would do this.  It’s a promise that’s been in the back of my mind, nagging me ever since. But there has never been any hurry, and we hadn’t even purchased fabric yet.  Fast forward to three days ago.  We bought the fabric.  I told her I’d try to get this done by Thanksgiving. She told me there’s no hurry at all. But since Wednesday, a large roll of fabric has been standing in the corner of my sewing room, and my neighbor’s patio cushions have been stacked in the garage.  We both knew this wouldn’t wait a minute longer than it had to.
I love this cushion fabric
And so it’s done. I spent the day cutting, sewing, and delivering patio cushions across the street. Amelia helped, carting cushions and throw pillows between the garage, the sewing machine, and the neighbors’ house. She pieced together scraps of fabric and watched me intently, asking why we make things for people. I told her it’s something we’re good at doing and she proudly agreed. 
So, was this procrastination? The neighbors are happy. Their sunroom looks great, and I checked it off my to do list.  It was cluttering both the list and the garage.
But other items on the list have deadlines. Long term projects that are harder to imagine completed, yet require steady attention. My “real job” is museum planning and writing.  Often there are months or years of work on paper before there is anything physical to see. It’s fascinating to me to delve deep into a subject, to research objects and stories and translate it all into an experience for visitors. It’s interesting and rewarding, and I work with creative teams. It also requires committees and reviews and edits and lots of patience. I think the appeal of sewing for me is that it is just the opposite.  As fabric runs through the machine, it literally creates a finished trail. Progress is visible and the product is tangible. And so it satisfies my Type A need to check things off and know how it ends. 
So…productive procrastination or work-work balance?
Speaking of checking things off, I needed to write a blog post. Check.

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