Monday, October 3, 2011
After spending the summer eating frogs, being a total slave to a stack of arduous to-do lists, I am trying a new approach, which seems to be working for the always brilliant Danielle LaPorte. I recommend that you click HERE and read every word of this recent blog post of hers. Here is my favorite part.
Time management systems are tricky beasts. They may help us be more productive, but not necessarily less stressed, or more fulfilled, or more in touch with our true nature. We may look freer with our priorities all tidy, but too often, time remains the master and we get "given" time for obeying the system.
I'd rather be fulfilled than obedient. And it turns out that when I'm fulfilled, I'm...fulfilled--whether I'm productive or not. And that gives me plenty of energy to be more focused on what matters most, which makes me truly productive.
My way isn't working. My daily to-do list is physically impossible to achieve, so I wake up every morning stressed and anxious, knowing that I am going to fail before I even get started. Is this any way to go through life? Obviously, the answer is no.
I love Danielle's suggestions for putting time management in its place. I already "batch and chunk," so that one is a no-brainer. I am super excited about trying some of the others. Like NOT keeping a detailed to-do list. Asking myself every morning what it is I really feel like doing. And, arguably most important for me, focusing on the one or two vocational pursuits that really excite me.
Here is my breaking news: I am finally ready to admit that I cannot do it all: teach piano lessons to 40 students each week--a full-time job--while simultaneously building both a handcrafted jewelry business and a writing career AND taking care of my family. Something has got to give. And over a tear-filled breakfast a couple of weeks ago, my friend Denise helped me realize what that needs to be.
Her question went something like this: "If you designed a piece of jewelry that became so popular that making jewelry could be your sole means of support--if it went viral and you could no longer meet the demand for it by yourself and you got to run a factory to manufacture it--would you be happy doing nothing but that?"
I didn't even hesitate. The answer was easy. "No."
Music and writing are my passions. I enjoy making jewelry and hoped that my Etsy store would provide me with some extra income during this slump in the economy and buy me time to hone my skills as a writer, but the truth is that every penny I earn selling jewelry goes right back into supplies to make more jewelry. And sales haven't been great the past few weeks. I expect that will change as the holidays approach, so it makes sense to stay in business through the first of the year, but after that I plan to liquidate my remaining stock. I still enjoy making jewelry; I will probably keep my store open with a handful of select signature and seasonal items, and do special orders upon request. But I will keep my focus where it needs to be. On my personal development as a musician. On teaching my students every week. On honing my skills as a writer, both of fiction and nonfiction.
The relief I have felt as a result of this decision tells me that it is a step in the right direction. Wish me luck.
Are you a slave to your to-do list? Are you fully engaged in the one or two pursuits that bring you sheer delight? Would you be happy doing nothing but what you are doing for the rest of your life? If you don't like your answers to these questions, what are you going to do about it?
Author: Pam Asberry