…So, where were we? Oh yes, identifying things that make me happy and, therefore, more productive. I thought about this a lot during the midday preschool pick up/drop off. Here is what I came up with:
Start every day by creating something
Obvious for an artist, you may say. However, I’m finding that often I get so bogged down in the minutiae of running a business that I don’t have time to do the things I really want to do.
For example, on the first working day of 2015, I was itching to come up with new designs for my spring/summer shirts, but I decided that answering emails, and looking up venues to run camps from, were more pressing jobs. Bad call – I spent the whole day staring at a computer, and at the end of the day, I felt drained, uninspired, and as if I had not achieved much. Actually creating something, whether a drawing, a piece of writing, or even a lesson plan, gives me such a sense of achievement that I am motivated to work harder, and happier, for hours, no, days to come.
Go to the library
Everyone has a favorite place. Mine is the library, any library. When I was a kid, my mom would make my brother take me to the library during half term holidays. He was a lot older than me, so he would drop me off in the children’s section and just wander off. I would spend hours nestled in between the stacks, blissfully reading books, and daydreaming. Now every time I step inside one, I feel relaxed and happy. The smell of the books (yes, the smell), the loud silence, the comfy reading nooks, they all make me unspeakably happy. Nowadays, doing my work at the library twice a week, means I get a change of scenery – always a good thing.
When the going gets tough, I have a habit of curling myself into a ball, and hoping the problem goes away. Invariably, when I come out of my ball the problem is even bigger and has fangs, and is now towering over me with clenched fists. I’m the queen of procrastination, and I often wait until the very last minute to sort out my problems. This doesn’t make sense for a person who loves crossing things off her lists. So I’m going to try really hard to not run away from challenges, and face up to them. My husband says I need to sharpen my ‘consulting skills’, which basically means ‘man up’. I’m taking his advice.
When I first came to the USA, the hardest thing to get used to was that my parents and childhood friends, people I had grown up around and gone to school with, were now on a different continent. It was tough starting from scratch, in an unfamiliar country, and I realized just how much I really needed good friends. Fast forward ten years, and I have made many good friends here, but I spend vast swathes of time alone, now that I’m working from home.
I really shouldn’t complain about working from home: I have a very short commute, easy dress code, flexible hours, and friendly boss. But, I can’t handle the lack of human interaction, so I’m going to find ways to be around other grown ups during the week. Catch-up lunches, brainstorming sessions, mid-week gym sessions, subbing at my son’s preschool, it’s all worth it for my mental happiness.
Moving Things Around
I like unpredictability. When I get stuck in a rut, I move the furniture around – which freaks the rest of my family out. Being able to move things around, whether my furniture, my schedule, or my interests, is important to me. Being a parent means that routine is a big part of my life. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t shake things up every now and then, does it?
Embrace the Imperfect
The workroom does not have to be spotless before I start working. I don’t have to wait until I have a whole new batch of prints before I contact shops about my work. The kitchen could use a new coat of paint, but look, that bunch of flowers makes the whole room prettier for now! No, my schedule is not going to open up and magically get easier this winter. I need to get better at just getting on with things.