Ah, Sweet Rhythm

… at last I’ve found you.

It’s about damn time.

Besides the lack of a deadline, another of my challenges in making progress on any kind of project—be it paying, non-paying (such as this endeavor), or pro bono professional, or even household-type, personal projects—is that I prefer to face the project task fully stocked with a relatively large block of dedicated time. I like to know that I have a stretch ahead of me that is unobstructed by distractions or nagging, if not competing, priorities.

Impostors of importance assert their due. They clamor at the edge of my consciousness until I grant their claim on my attention.

So I prefer to deal with all the “little” mundane and/or unrelated tasks first, to remove them from contention for my thoughts. In other words, I like to get the little stuff out of the way before turning my full attention to the important.

Dangit if all those little tasks don’t often manage to eat up the block of time that I could have spent on the more important project! How did that happen?

Still, my work ethic is such that I believe the “large” important projects demand and deserve my undivided attention. Because I can’t know how long my attention will be required at one sitting, I like to be prepared to fulfill the project’s desires for as long as it bids me… (or until I get tired and call it quits. I am in charge here, right?)

The flaw in this work pattern is that it can easily conjure up the P word. Procrastination.

… which surprises me still. In grade school, homework was always my first priority when I got home from school. None of this chatting on the phone or watching TV, leaving studies for later. I always dove right into homework, fearing that if I didn’t give it the larger part of my attention, I would run out of time. I took care of the “large” stuff first. That ethic stayed with me through college.

What happened between college and all these many years in the workforce? Have the compulsions derived from being required to produce on someone else’s schedule warped my sense of time management on a personal level? Have I lost the ability to set priorities for myself?

Perhaps, but the result of thinking out loud in this thread of blog posts About the Book is that I’ve broken free! For this project of personal importance, I’ve learned to exploit the times that seem disguised as mere snippets. I reject the notions that I have other nagging tasks to complete first or that my devotion might be cut short by something beyond my control. I take hold of the time I have in this small moment to use it productively toward my goal.

Setting aside adult-acquired responsibilities, I can ignore the beckoning voices that become fainter the more I dismiss them. I take back my time to purpose it for the larger assignment at hand. The little stuff can wait. It will still be there after today’s muse has quieted. I choose to entertain her first.

In return for my allegiance, I am collapsed and expanded within her giving. And she spills out of me.

I am released to rejoice in her coming and her going.

The little stuff can wait.

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    • Tim
    • February 23rd, 2011

    I like to keep the little things around like I do my socks when I’m packing. Then when I work the big things and there is just a little time left then I’ll stuff a couple of “socks” in there to pad out the day. Or that’s my goal anyway…

      • Paula Robertson
      • February 23rd, 2011

      Great analogy, Tim! That explains why I’ve seen you sometimes wearing no socks!

    • Techquestioner
    • February 23rd, 2011

    I agree that you have to focus on the big objective first, or the little niggling things will eat up all your time. I also recognize that sometimes I’m too tired or distracted to focus on a major or complex project, so then I give myself time off from the major project to handle some of those nagging little things that have been bothering me, but don’t require any creative concentration. Then I’ll have less distraction when I return (rested and refreshed, I hope) to the big objective,

      • Paula Robertson
      • February 23rd, 2011

      It is indeed a daily balancing act. P

    • Chris Biggs
    • February 23rd, 2011

    Paula,
    I feel like a voyeur peering over your shoulder. Keep the rhythm going. What are some of your goals for your writing projects?
    Regards,
    Chris
    PS. It’s wonderful to be back.

      • Paula Robertson
      • February 23rd, 2011

      Welcome home, Chris. If you feel like a voyeur, then my spell is working. 🙂
      My primary goal is to publish this darn book that has a life of its own. The blog is commentary along the way to keep pulling you in. P

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