So many organizational systems do not account for a trip to the fabric store, where immediately I have to reshuffle, re-prioritize not only my To Do List, but also my sewing room. I have five red tabs in my Get To Work Book and they read To Do 1, To Do 2 and so on to the fifth one. I have half-filled lists in my quilting planner. A lot is crossed off using my yellow highlighter, but when your organizational lists get out of control, how do you organize and get things done?
Research: I read this article which suggests compiling four different types of lists: Master, Monthly, Weekly, Daily (he describes them on the site). Lisa Jackson recommends a service called WorkFlowy under the post title of A Tool for Organizing Your Brain. Bette has declared this the Year of Focus and has organized segments of the year dedicated to her sewing goals. Sherri of A Quilting Life has a good planner for quilting goals.
And here’s my classic Goals List from over two decades ago. I should frame this–what an ambitious woman I used to be! (I’ve abandoned housework, physical fitness goals and scrapbooks — but did complete most of the quilts in the list. I also got the children raised.)
As we’ve noticed, our lives have shifted underneath us. We kept going, but perhaps our outlook changed, our friendships dwindled or expanded. I liked Brad Stulberg’s article, where he writes:
“Many of us felt seen when, last April, the organizational psychologist Adam Grant wrote of languishing, “a sense of stagnation and emptiness … as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.” There was a relief in having a name for our experience, and a kind of solace in realizing that we weren’t alone in experiencing it. But now, nearly a year later, as with just about everything related to Covid, we’re sick of languishing too.”
Perhaps that’s why when I went to QuiltCon in February, I tried to find things to give me a spark. I loved my two classes from Cassandra Beaver and Verushka Zarate, and enjoyed the lectures. It was fun to see people again in the wild, but there were some interesting moments of confusion in identifying people because we were all masked. And perhaps that’s why — when I went into a real-live quilt shop in Phoenix, and maybe because they gave QuiltCon-ers 20% off, I snapped up a range of beautiful colored semi-solids. Some one in line asked me what I was going to do with all those, all I say was, “We’re supposed to have a plan before we buy?”
Perhaps I was exhibiting Stulberg’s mention of “behavioral activation…based on the idea that action can create motivation, especially when you’re in a rut.” He writes:
“The challenge with behavioral activation is mustering enough energy to start acting on the things that matter to you: Make that phone call, schedule that walk with friends, write that email, get off social media and start on the creative project you’ve been procrastinating on. This may sound simple, but when you are languishing, simple does not mean easy.
“But a mind-set shift can be a powerful tool. When you feel down, unmotivated or apathetic, you can give yourself permission to feel those feelings but not dwell on them or take them as destiny. Instead, you shift the focus to getting started with what you have planned in front of you, taking your feelings, whatever they may be, along for the ride. Doing so gives you the best chance at improving your mood.”
So To Do lists can sometimes become exercises in bloodless planning, an attempt to get organized (which is why my planner often has blank spaces). But walking into a fabric shop now becomes behavioral activation. That, we can all get behind.
So my To Do lists are more random. This was going to be my year of Focus, a la Bette, but then I started the Heart’s Garden Mystery Quilt-A-Long, which I had all sketched out. And which I totally scrubbed after Step One and rebuilt it anew. Which was no where on my Yearly To Do List. Here’s my first sketch:
Yep. Pretty hideous, excepting those EPP circles. I even got the birds around the border, but they look more like quail, than sparrows or finches. I’ve been working on writing up Part 3, which is coming next week, and part of that is making birds over and over, as I perfect the pattern:
So I write — and cross off — “sparrows” on my To Do List, and wander back into the sewing room for some pleasant Behavioral Activation. I wish the same for you.