Over at Twitter yesterday, I posted this thought: “If you don’t want to do anything on your to-do list, maybe you need a different to-do list.” I confess that I’ve been feeling that way a few days lately myself. Maybe it’s the sudden onset of spring here, which has turned my yard, in one week, from a few tentative shoots to a total riot of flowers. The cherry trees blossomed completely yesterday. The magnolia started yesterday as well and will be in full bloom tomorrow. Such beauty outside kills all motivation to do anything that doesn’t really need to be done. But as I mused on Twitter, maybe that’s not such a bad lens to view life through anyway.
What I am enjoying doing right now is editing my novel draft. I’m even looking forward to some long train and plane rides coming up in order to have time to edit it more. This book has taken shape over the past decade. I completed a draft of a novella about 8 years ago that I called The Cortlandt Boys. It was about a small high school that wins the boys’ state basketball championship. Ten years later, the boys from that team are still living in the reflected glory from that time, until a mysterious discovery, from around the time of the championship, starts yanking their lives into the present tense.
Nothing much happened with the book. I had an agent try to sell it as a YA novel, and it got some serious consideration, but then some places passed. I’m kind of glad that happened now, though, because I realized later I was only seeing part of the story, and the characters and plot weren’t fully developed. I moved the story to a small town in Pennsylvania (hey, that’s where I live now!) and I made it a 3 part tale. There is the championship game, which happens in 1993. Then there is the mystery 10 years later, which happens in 2003, and then there is a third part, which happens in 2013-2014, with the characters 20 years removed from their high school days. Their daily lives still reflect the fall out from the mystery from ten years before, but as their own children hit high school, and as they start to take over the institutions of their town, there is more the question of what it means to live a good life when the biggest thing to ever happen to you happened so young. Or, we learn, perhaps it is not the biggest thing. Life has a way of throwing such curve balls at you (or whatever the basketball equivalent is of that metaphor).
There’s also scrapbooking in here now. An institution called the American Folk Arts Museum. A religious camp for teens, a right-wing radio host, a girl who sings psalms and owns a rifle named Daisy, and some questionable love affairs. I’m enjoying reading it myself, so hopefully other folks will too, someday soon.
My other Thursday thoughts: We are saying goodbye to the high chair, pictured alongside this post. Back in New York, my husband and I ate at a bar-height table that fit well in the curved window of our apartment. When we had our now 5-year-old, he needed a high chair that fit the bar height table, and this beauty from Bloom did the job. It’s lasted through three children, though it’s been frightfully hard to clean. That’s why — now that our 18-month-old has aged into a booster seat — we’re getting rid of it. Still, despite the gunk, I’m a little sad to see it go.
I’ll be traveling next week and will be posting a few guest posts on the blog. I hope you enjoy the new perspectives and topics!
Over at CBS MoneyWatch this week, I posted a few pieces including How women can win at negotiation and For a productivity boost, drink like the Brits (it’s not what you think!)
What parts of your to-do list are you enjoying right now? What are you looking to chuck?
18 thoughts on “Thursday thoughts”
Your book sounds so good! A little Friday-Night-Lights (the TV version) – ish? I mean that as a compliment! I am enjoying taking care of all the little things on my list to finish up our remodel (like moving clothes back into my new closet system – hooray!) but I could live without the million errands and things I need to take care of before leaving town for a trip soon.
@Sarah – it would be awesome if it achieved anything close to the success of Friday night lights. It’s a bit like that in the sense of how seriously small towns take their high school sports.
I need to get back to a better to do list and just picking a few of the annoying tasks to power through each day.
Right now I need to figure out what I *must* do in the next 10 days while I’m still employed 😉
@ARC – hmm… any loans you need to qualify for? Insurance changes that will happen? Appointments to do?
Exactly 🙂 I just need to find 10 minutes to sit down and think about those things.
I’m not enjoying the part where I run down the to-do list and go, “can’t do that, person is out of the office all week, can’t do that, RA hasn’t gotten me the data yet, can’t do that I have to be in the other office to do it, etc.” I am having a very difficult time finding things on the to-do list that I *can* do right now. And it is a very long to-do list. Tomorrow I will be exhausted when I get home from work, and that will make me happier than the time I’m spending right now twiddling my thumbs going through my sub-to-do lists seeing if there’s anything I can knock off while I wait.
I guess I could read the e-book you sent, but I suspect there’s something work-related that I’ll find and be glad (in a week or two) that I did today instead of putting it off.
@NicoleandMaggie- yes, waiting for people makes for time that is hard to use well. Sometimes I just try to make my peace that some days will be crazier than others for precisely that reason, and I should try to enjoy the more relaxed ones rather than worrying about the pile up to come.
And suddenly I get a bunch of emails at 3pm. Yay. Now I can work on at least TWO things on my to-do list.
A beautiful message from Word, “There are no more comments or tracked changes.” And I can cross that off my to-do list for good.
@nicoleandmaggie – I guess better 3 pm than never!
Now I have 20 min before I get slammed by the rest of my day (having done my morning meetings and pumped a couple ounces). Pondering if I should goof off while I can or try to be productive. Goofing off is winning, though if I get any more emails I’ll sort through them. Usually I have small things I can do in those 20 min gaps, but I ran through them all yesterday.
@NicoleandMaggie – this is one of my favorite time management tips: to have a list of things you could do in bits of time. I’m trying to be better about this myself: use small bits of time to read poetry or look at art on the web rather than scroll through my inbox again.
I suppose I could read about how people are successful at work! I think I left that on my other computer though, but I can dig it out of email.
“If you don’t want to do anything on your to-do list, maybe you need a different to-do list.”
NOOO!! Voice of dissent time: You need to just get it done already. (I say this as someone who runs her own businesses and only gets paid when work is done to completion, so YMMV of course.) Do the worst, most loathsome thing on your list first, the very first thing in the morning. No excuses. Then go enjoy your magnolia tree that I am coveting! 😉
I dunno, hush, sometimes that least favorite thing makes me quickly and efficiently do all the other stuff on the list! If I do the least favorite thing then I’m likely to not want to do the next least favorite thing either. Productive procrastination is awesome.
I think optimally one puts off the least favorite thing until it really does need to get done (or some other thing gains new least favorite status).
Or one does it for 15-30 min a day until it’s done. It depends on the thing.
@Hush – so a clarification. Yes, if there is one thing on your list you don’t like, but it’s in the service of something else you do like, and there are other happy things on your list, then sure. Eat that frog. But if you look at your list and there is *nothing* you want to do, which was my feeling the other day, then maybe the day would be better spent on something else. And if this happens frequently, it may be time for a career/job reboot.
Yes, that’s actually a big reason I left my last job. I wasn’t really excited anymore about any of the stuff I was supposed to be doing. I even looked forward to doing housework and laundry, and when doing laundry is more appealing than doing your job, then it’s probably time for a different job!
@nicoleandmaggie – Yes, that’s all true for folks, too – and the common denominator in what you and I are both saying is that, regardless of the order of doing our stuff, it still gets DONE. I lack the procrastination gene and I love my work, so it’s hard for me to understand it when my employees have a sudden bout of Spring Fever, etc.
@Laura – “Eat that frog.” Hmm, for you that’s something awful, to me I think “frog legs” – a delicacy!
“And if this happens frequently, it may be time for a career/job reboot.”
Sure. Or it may not be. Perhaps one should also be screened for depression. I don’t recommend one jettison one’s career because they’re in what just might be a temporary slump! This is also why I’m a big fan of vacations and sabbaticals. And also I’m a fan of just pushing past the pain sometimes (this is why I think running is a great hobby). Studies show that interrupting a pleasant experience, say enjoying that magnolia tree, with something less pleasant, say eating that frog, can intensify your over-all pleasure (i.e. like interrupting a massage heightens the pleasure it gives.)