Since you were all so helpful last time

I am going to ask another question.

To those of you who get shit done (paintings painted, plays produced, frocks stitched, essays footnoted, gardens sculpted, projects generally conceived of then see through to the end), how do you do it?

Because myself, I have: determined what it is I want to achieve; written plans; started meditation; got up early; stayed up late; installed programmes that block my ‘most distracting’ websites; baked another cake; explored the flaws of my personality and the dark secrets of my past which underlie every moment of my self-sabotage; written it all out in pencil; written it in coloured markers; written it on whiteboards; written it on post-it notes; bought another set of folders in a shade to match the drawers; finished the laundry; ignored the laundry; re-examined my goals; asked myself what it is I want to be remembered for; given myself a stern talking to; stopped drinking; started drinking; stopped drinking again; even, from time to time sat down and done something that isn’t faffing about on the internet. And I still have pretty much fuck* all to show for my time. Unless you count the shitload of dishes that all this baking is creating. (And don’t say, ‘But you’ve got the cakes’. The cakes have disappeared long before the dishes are done).

*Sorry, I know some of you swear less than I do, in fact prolly most of you swear less than I do. I’m trying to cut down, truly I am.

31 thoughts on “Since you were all so helpful last time”

  1. I get reviews written and I edit theses for cash.
    Do I qualify?

    Seriously, I cannot see any flaws in your workplan. From one wordsperson to another, you know I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you to trim the fat, but honestly, it all looks pretty ship-shape to me. Have you thought about cutting down on sleep? Just a suggestion.

    By the way – did you the two comments (now three) I’ve left on your blog today?

      1. Sounds like you’re on the right track then.

        I think.

        Let me go research cracked, tvtropes and hit the wiki random button until I can give you a concrete answer.

  2. dishwasher?

    solves the fall-out from my cakes

    (and you might not have the cakes but you did make us laugh)

    (seriously at some point it will all come together – you know that)

    1. No kids.

      The post-it notes are good. Set internal deadlines way ahead of the deadline so you are likely to finish before it. Go into lock-down while you are in the throes of finishing something. Avoid talkers, needy types and other time-wasters during lock-down. Put the internet USB key in a drawer or somewhere you’re unlikely to pick it up and plug it in quickly. Sometimes going to work in another location (cafe, library) helps re-focusing.

  3. I just get all the distractions that are bothering me out of the way until the distraction bothering me is the thing that I actually have to do. Sounds like you are on the right track. Don’t forget that apart from all that above you are also mothering and being a wife which also takes up a lot of time that we don’t usually count when determining our output.

  4. I swaer way more than you and I seriously get fuck all done, believe me.
    In the last six months i seem to have narrowed my achievemnets down to almost nothing. I havent finished a painting, washed the floor, gotten up early, made a cake, written a blog post, written anything really. I barely managed to get through teaching my couple of courses in the end of year semester.

    I put it down to burn out from the first half of last year when I wrote a thesis, had an exhibition, kept the house clean and family alive if erratically fed, gave a few papers, taught seven courses…
    now I cant manage anything, and the teaching semester is creeping closer. I cant even find a complete pair of shoes. Clothes billow down the hallway unfolded. The bath is full of dust. The cats have taken to hunter-gathering for food. I stick up a post it and it falls on the floor and gets lost in the mess.


    I’m no help.

    So, yeah.

  5. Ha!
    Tonight i’m choosing between doing a weeks worth of dishes, writing a job app, writing an article for a friend, and just sleeping (cos the baby decided not to, last night).
    I can tell you the only reason the article will EVER get written is because my friend needs it, and that trumps everything except the baby.
    For me, the trick for getting stuff done is having to front up to other people – if i have to read something to a class, or contribute to a friends’ mag, it’ll happen. otherwise, nada.
    and even then, i have to get out of my space to write. cafe or library – it just won’t happen at home with all the tempting kitchen just there. and the tv.

  6. Could you add grieving to your list? Don’t underestimate how much of your energy it takes up. I was rubbish for ages, it’s a gradual process. One day you’ll realise you’ve finished something and it wasn’t all hard work.

  7. But all that craft! It is testimony to not just your creativity, but also your productivity, no?

    There’s lots of continental-style kissing and embracing round these parts, and I tell you, it freaks me out. As soon as anyone comes near me, my immediate thought is, ‘But I stink’. Even if I’ve only just had a shower and cleaned my teeth. Though I guess a virtual embrace would be safe.

    1. There are waves of productivity – I spend months feeling like I’m drowning in crafty works in progress, the garden is overgrown and weedy and the dishes need doing – then every now and then the stars align, we get a weekend where do don’t have to drive to Melbourne, the kid plays happily by himself, and I finish several things and blog them all at once so I look productive. Mostly I knit one or two rows at a time, put them down, forget where I was up to, rip it all out, knit a row, forget which size I was supposed to be knitting, repeat.

      It took me years and years to finish the Masters that was supposed to take 18 months and I felt dreadful about how long it was taking when everyone else seemed to sail through. I had to keep reminding myself that I’d had a fairly monumental string of life and death distracting me. I’d always been a fast reader, and a fast writer, but grief turned it all into hard slog. I’d read things and take none of it in, not just for a few weeks after the death but for two years.

  8. I have the advantage of a germanic background, but I think it comes down to making a proper decision. Just decide to do whatever it is. If you’re not doing it, you haven’t decided to.

  9. I only get things done if they’re being employed as procrastination for other things. If I start doing housework voluntarily then I know I’m REALLY in trouble.

    At the moment I’m doing wonders with the P&C blog but have run out of clean bras and have abdicated from school book covering. Luckily my husband has done some washing tonight so I’ll be able to get dressed in the morning and he tackled the contact wrestling last night so he wouldn’t have to listen to the 9 year old nag.

    1. You don’t like the contacting? Really? I thought everyone liked the contacting. At least until they got the first air bubble. Or the grit from the table, because no one has wiped down the table for about three days.

      1. I used to like the contacting, back when I was a teen and they were my books and I was better at it than my mother 🙂 I now suspect her of deliberate incompetence.

    1. I cannot believe I had never heard of it. I thought I knew all of these tools every invented anywhere. By the time you are reading this, I will probably have been unable to stop myself buying that book. Even though I already know what it says, and am probably doing all of the things it tells me to do.

  10. Oh, yum, cakes…

    Sorry, what were you asking? Oh, right. I just finished something (well, still have a third draft to get onto, after I let it sit for a while, so I can look at it like a normal person & not someone who’s so far immersed that all sense of the realer reality has fled) & achieved this by ignoring the internet for all but research. And, so now, with this break, I start again with the blogging and surfing of other creatives, telling myself it is good for inspiration etc, and the hours flit away like the remains of my sanity and I seem to have fled from the realer reality yet again.

    Mmm. Cakes.

    But don’t ignore the interwebs and therefore stop blogging. Please. You’re achieving way more than me regardless so good on you and swear to your motherfucking heart’s content say I. (sorry, have only commented on you blog on occasion so perhaps I shouldn’t be swearing, gosh darn it.)

    1. Please, swear away. It is good to have swearing people around me. My children are convinced that I am the only adult in the world who swears. Apparently every other adult knows better. ‘Except your father, our grandfather,’ eldest lad said to me the other day. ‘It’s no wonder you swear so much, Mum.’

  11. Yes, yes, what Mim said. I could only get any work done on my PhD when the house was utterly filthy and really did need cleaning. Or when I should have been marking essays. Now I get work done by being horrified at the thought of letting people down, but I don’t advise it. Too much tears and stress. Also, I don’t have a PhD.

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