When I’m deep in the tired mind blahs, mindlessly wandering through my Feedly list can sometimes yield nuggets that flash in my brain and perk me up. I follow Zen Habits, and this week Leo Babauta’s words plonked into my brain with a spark.
What caught my eye was How to Have More Focused Hours in Your Day. I see a lot of these change-your-life-in-the-new-year articles. After having lived a few years on this planet, I usually just ignore their advice, but I did like this:
[Any] success I’ve had in increasing my focused time comes down to three habits:
• Asking myself what meaningful, impactful work I can get done today.
• Creating space for the meaningful work instead of just doing busywork or being distracted all day.
• Working in fullscreen mode and diving in.
So I was interested to see that he and I have the first thing in common. I’ve used something similar for years: after I’ve ditzed around for part of the day, I ask myself “What do you want to have done before you quit working today?” and after identifying that ONE thing, I get to work on it. It’s cured a lot of procrastination issues when I use it.
He expands by noting that “Most of us just dive into our inboxes, social media, favorite online sites, and busywork to start our day. We might have some bigger tasks on our lists, but they get lost in the woods of our day. It’s an incredible habit to take even a few moments at the beginning of your day (or the end of the day before) to give some thought to where you’d like to concentrate your attention. What is worth doing today? What is worth focusing on? What is worth spending the limited time you have in this life?” [italics are mine]
He approaches the second idea — of creating space — in a more roundabout way. It’s almost like we have to trick ourselves. He says “Set aside the next 20 minutes for writing, or getting moving on a big project. I don’t have to do the whole project in this time, but just the act of giving myself more space to focus is a huge shift. This is more of a mental act than a physical one: you just tell yourself that it’s time to focus on this important task. You breathe, and say, ‘This is worthy of my attention and effort right now. Let’s put aside everything else and give this some space.’ “But it’s also hard to get going when your sewing space looks like this.
Notice the chair is clear. I can still do some work. That’s what he means of working in the third idea, fullscreen mode: ignore everything else around the edges, and just focus in. I used to only be able to work in a very clean, very tidy sewing room. But I got over that. I still like to clean it up, and did leave it sort of clean when we went up to Utah to help Mom and Dad clear out their condo of 30 years, in preparation for moving to a senior community, but I brought back various sewing things, a small Viking sewing machine THAT WAS MADE IN SWEDEN (I know, I know!) and I just plopped them around.
I spent three days quilting My Small World, and now it’s ready for borders. I need to put a slim border around my Temperature Quilt before I move forward, and just like that…I am making a list in my mind about what I want to do first.
It’s also helped that the busyness that has been present in my life since — say, about September — culminated with our First Monday Sew Day this past week (pictures, above). It’s quite gratifying to see Hayley, a beginning quilter, turn out such pristinely perfect pinwheels (lower left corner). She’s only been sewing for about a month, and puts me to shame!
Here’s our flier from that day, where we covered snowball blocks and half-square triangles:
For the handout, click on this title: FirstMondaySewday_Jan6_2020
Still working on revising Home, Sweet, Home–there are lots of new illustrations to make — as I will be teaching this a lot this year and want a shiny new version to take with me when I visit Guilds. I also began new duties as VP of Communications for our local Modern Quilt Guild, and have my first board meeting next week. I’m impressed with all the service I hear that you give to your Guilds and wanted to do the same.
Finally, I always begin the new year by writing my thank you notes. These, from Quiltfolk, were perfect. I hope you all have good beginnings to your new year!