Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Productivity Rules (Forever, dammit!)

When I look back and muse upon it—which I frequently do each evening as I draw the curtains—the very best kind of day is one that has contained all the following ingredients:

● I created something

● I exercised my body

● I spent time outdoors

● I completed something

● I enjoyed myself

● I felt fit, healthy and in love with life 

Some days are like that. But how to deal with the ones that are not? How to deal with the days when I feel like Stephen Leacock’s character who “… flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.”?
How to deal with the days when, as I draw the curtains, I cannot even remember one single thing I actually did except for eating meals, going to the bathroom and checking email?

How to deal with days when, despite all my good intentions, the piles of paper keep piling up and all efforts to bring order to my chaos fail (again)?
How to feel OK about a whole day spent sitting in an armchair reading the latest Michael Connelly murder mystery when I really should be out there doing Something To Save the Planet (or at least pulling a few weeds in the veggie garden)?

Over  the years I have convinced myself that it is perfectly OK to be erratic, perfectly OK to have quiet days and doing nothing days, perfectly OK to please myself from moment to moment as regards what I do with my day, especially now that I am retired and officially an old woman. Besides which, I’m a writer and writers need quiet gestation time as well as busy scribbling time, right? Yes, I have convinced myself of all these excellent arguments. And yet…

Something I have noticed is that it is heaps easier to feel good about a doing nothing day if it happens to occur on a Sunday. Interesting, isn’t it? Interesting to notice how deeply our childhood conditioning  sinks into our psyches, how it is reinforced throughout our lives by twelve or more years of schooling and half a century's exposure to the industrial culture* and how hard it is to eradicate entirely. Kind of like couch grass.

Anyone else noticed this?

(* not everyone is paid for what they do, more's the pity, but we're all conditioned by the so-called 'working week.')


Anonymous said...

Love this entry.
Oh yes, childhood conditioning.
Whenever my father saw me sitting and reading (which I loved to do)
his comment, could I not find something to do.
Still at times hear that voice.
In 3 score 10 years
I do not like it....

helena said...

Oh yes. You and I are on the same wavelength this week. If I knew how to do it technically, I'd ask to copy your photo of "piles of paper" for the post I wrote yesterday. But yes, writing does indeed require gestation. Thank you for claiming that time!

Elderwoman said...

Those 'critical parent' voices come with us into adulthood-and even into old age-like fleas hitching a ride in our fur, don't they?! I'm writing about this in my new book. And yes, Helena, gestation is as vital to writing as it is to reproduction. Nikos Kazantzakis told a lovely story in his autobiography about the many months he had to wait to birth 'Zorba the Greek.'
(BTW, feel free to copy the pic. Just right click and 'save picture as.' It is in the public domain and needs no accreditation.)

Ally said...

yesterday I swept leaves and pulled dead stuff out of a border, enjoying spring sunshine on my back. A skein of 27 geese flew over to the local lakes, just skimming the treetops against a blue sky, and it was a magical moment. The dust still lies in the cottage, the washing needs sorting but I woudn't have missed my being in the moment with those lovely birds. 'What is this life if full of care?' We MUST make time to stand and stare. Have your Elderwoman and Lily Pad books by the way. Inspirational x

Kelli Brew said...

What a wonderful post - perfect for my day, over a month after you wrote it! This is the hardest thing for me now that I am able to rule my own time somewhat more than when it was governed by the needs of children. How to distinguish between times of incubation and plain laziness? How to loose oneself from old, outdated judgment but still hold oneself accountable to what you want to become? I am learning... Thank you again, for your wisdom and accompaniment.

Vacation Homes said...

It is nice feeling happy and satisfied in the end of every day, but unfortunately that seldom happens. This is why one should continiously strive to make the best out of their day and after considerable period of time spent in efforts, things will strat happening naturally. This is just a regular pattern!