Thursday, April 11, 2013

how i get sh*t done

Most of the time, I am too painfully aware of all the to-do "things to remember" lists cluttering notebooks, spilling over post-it notes stuck to post-it notes.  I embrace being   "multi-passionate" which means I have lots of ideas and projects in various stages of incompleteness.

Occasionally, I do pull the lens wide and take in all that has manifested in the course of a season or year and I admit, I am pretty good at getting shit done.

This past winter I knit: a sweater for Cowgirl, 4 pairs of wrist warmers, a cowl and a shawl.  I stamped and sewed 20 (?) sets of prayer flags and got out close to a hundred holiday cards (that I designed myself and had made into a postcard).  More recently, I've sewn letter satchels (3) and some embroidered lavender sachets.  I'm learning embroider right now and have another piece waiting for me to start.  

I finished up a 365 photo a-day project last December and am participating in a new 30 day group.  And - almost forgot! - I ran 2 e-courses, was a contributor to another course while managing to blog at least once a week (while also contributing a few pieces to other sites.)

I don't mean to toot my own horn; rather, I want to point out that my normal soundtrack is why can't I get anything done?

The Husband (who never reads this blog and has little idea of what transpires between breakfast and dinner) might agree.  Or rather, he would plead why can't you get control over the clutter?!

unusual scene in that the kitchen island is oddly clear - not the norm!


Yes, well ... clutter, chaos, big bang and voilá: creation!  (Some might say voilá: shit done!)

i ordered this album a year ago and then it sat empty. when the boxes of polaroids became so unwieldy that i could not close the drawer where I had stashed them all (our of sight, out of mind), i knew it was time to tackle this project.


So here's my secret strategy for completing things: I begin and then, I just do them.

I know, sorry.  No slick trick, no self-hypnosis, no magic mantra or organizational voodoo secret.  If I want to get something done, I finally decide to begin and I roll up my sleeves and do it.

Okay, here is a little something you may not have figured out yet: not doing things takes up an enormous amount of energy.  More accurately, it can be an energy drain.  When there is something nipping at the edges of my awareness, disregarding it takes energy.  So does making up excuses or beating myself up with negative talk.  Now, starting after some avoidance takes an equally enormous energy surge, but here's the payoff: once I push past the inertia, the energy that had gone to not-doing is now available to help me do the work.  And magically, when I finish a project, there is a surge of new energy rushing in to fill the vacuum.  I complete the task with more energy than when I started! 

The other thing that has happened since I've become aware of this energy exchange is that it frees me up from guilt and anxiety.  Somehow I just know - from experience and paying attention - that I will dive in or cycle back to whatever projects await my tending in right time. I know, that sounds a bit zen - right action, right intention. But that is how it feels. When I follow my energy (what calls to me, what would feed me or free me energetically) I fully commit to what I am doing and no longer need to look over my shoulder at the pile waiting for me.  I've come to understand I have cycles and rhythms and I trust I will move through whatever it is I need to do to experience growth and stay connected creatively with life. 

I am thinking this is some kind of universal law of energy.  I could be wrong, it could just be me, but I challenge you to test out my hypothesis and see for yourself what happens. At the very least, you will have made headway in some project and will be justified in taking a well-earn break.  But maybe, just maybe, you will find yourself getting shit done! 

And you know, the best gardens  (which is what creative action feels like to me) thrive on soil fortified with loads of manure. 


  1. oh, lis, this is fantastic! i must think on this a lot...i am a girl of clutter and multiple projects. when you wrote that not doing things takes up an enormous amount of energy, a little light clicked inside my head, a little aha. this makes so much sense to me!
    plus i rather like the zen of this - right action, right intention.

    (also, your polaroid album...looks gorgeous!)

  2. Love your last sentence, Lis - so very true :). I agree with you, I find that I will naturally gravitate to a project that meets my energy level at the right time. I have loads of ideas, but they get written down and when I am ready and they are ready - voila!

  3. there is a certain magic in the Just Getting On With Things, isn't there? i can absolutely relate. i often amaze myself with my capacity for Doing when i've previously spent days/weeks/months? convincing myself i simply don't have the time and/or energy. yes...vast amounts of time wasted in the Not Doing.

    i've also learned that while planning is sometimes necessary for larger projects, it doesn't pay to plan TOO much...because then i spend all of my time planning and then not doing. i'm insidious like that.

    i'm also working on that notion you so beautifully write about as gravitating toward the things/ideas/projects that most feed my soul...and trusting that sinking into the rhythms of ebb and flow, fallow and fertile, will actually be more productive than cracking a whip over myself...

    you are my beacon...just so you pressure...;)