Sunday, November 11, 2012

What Works

        I've just poured my third cup of coffee  and settled back against the microwave heated pillow.  It's one of those herbal scented, buckwheat-stuffed things I got as a gift several years ago from a good friend.  Little did I know how valuable a gift it would turn out to be. It's lost most of its scent and looks a little worn, but leaning on it relieves the pain and also forces me to sit straight, therefore avoiding the hunching that put me in this shape to begin with.
  Silly artists!  I'm here because I stopped swimming and started sculpting sitting crossed legged on the sofa in front of the television.  Months of this back-straining position combined with an over enthusiastic game of Frisbee and voila! an injured muscle that leaves me slightly skewed, so that I seem to lead with one shoulder as I enter the room like a drama queen from some forties flick.
  I'm fixing this as I type, sitting with excellent posture in a chair that allows for such.  I'm thinking of the little repetitive things we do that trip us up.  Sometimes the stumbling is moderate - like my being incapacitated for days.  Sometimes it's the big trip - like getting lung cancer after all those little cigarette breaks.  But more often it's accumulated time and quality lost in by repeating damaging or, at the very least, inefficient behaviors.
 Life is full of those.
  Here's another one:  I have a herd of cats. That's as inefficient as it gets, but I love this herd and they bring a whole level of warmth and entertainment to this house.  I recently relocated their feeding area to the back of the house, near the garage studio.   All this time I've fed them in the kitchen - why?  Because their food arrived in the grocery bags with ours and it seemed convenient to feed them in the kitchen.  But it's not.  Given that we have white tile floors, every speck of food shows and it's time consuming to keep it spic and span enough for a kitchen where we humans eat. 
  But in the back, near the concrete-floored studio, out of sight of where we take our meals, once a week is good enough.  A big tub of dry food with a scoop, a stack of cans, a trash bin for the empties and the studio sink for water and clean up.
  Yes, this is a small thing and boring.  Stay with me. 
 All of us creatives complain that we can't get to the 'real' work because 'we don't have enough time.'  If time is so valuable, why do we waste it on these little things?  My challenge to you is to go through this week paying attention to the little repetitive time-wasters in your routine.  Pick one and fix it.  The broken drawer on your desk, the scissors or keys or reading glasses you're always looking for.  The object you have to walk around that could be moved with a little room rearranging. 

  Minutes add up over time.  I wish I could get back the ones I've spent cleaning the stupid cat area two or three times daily.  But I don't want to waste  more time looking back.  I've just saved myself somewhere around twenty-eight hours per year. That's more than a full day of cleaning kitty kibble.  And that's just one little thing.  What if I fix ten?
 Fix something that nibbles at your time.  It might lead to fixing something else.  You might eventually find yourself with a little extra time to do something that makes you happy, or to sort out something else that trips you up.

Have a good Sunday, fellow traveler.




Brandy said...

The other bonus of moving the cat feeding area to near the studio is well, you're nearly IN the studio, may as well go on in and do some work!

For me, it was moving the alarm clock across the room, near my bathroom. I HAD to get up out of my cozy nest to make the evil noise stop, and I was already closer to a hot shower than the bed. No more snooze bar!

Taking ONE day to really clean, organize, put away, store stuff has not only given us an organized space, but we HAVE space now to move around and do our little tasks and projects.

I hope you feel better soon! Sore muscles SUCK!

Sarah said...

Second bonus of moving the cat feeding area is you get to have cat company while you work, you may not get much more work done but you just know it'll be entertaining :)

Cathy McArthur said...

Great post! I just stumbled upon your blog. I have had a real wake up call lately - broke my leg (fibula) and am spending two months on crutches or on my dad's jazzy scooter around our small house - this smacks home the sense of where things are and how I must plan ahead to get to them, all the while navigating around my two kitties. I sculpt, too, and will take your posture comments to heart!