Thursday, February 10, 2022

switching gears

As I close out my first week of working wholly for myself, I will give a massive shout out to the ability to actually complete things. I mean, like to the end. I've pretty much lived the last 18 or so odd years in a state of half-finished.  Half finished projects, half finished layouts, half finished orders strewn about.  When I had the studio, I could spend a couple hours working, but always had to switch gears and go to work.  Ditto the last couple of years. Even when I worked on things at night, I was at the end of my day and less productive, and had to often stop to go to bed.  Or weekends, to do whatever of my own stuff (housecleaning, errands, etc,) that badly needed attending. And then of course, there was the energy wasted shifting gears, moving from one things to another, whether it was an e-mail interruption or a phone call or a suddenly pressing task that needed to take precedence.  And even when you moved back to the original, it took time to refocus (if you could at all.)  I think only  in the absense of such circumstances do you realize how not at all productive they are. How much they cut away, not only from the quality and quantity of output, but your general mental drain and feelings of burn out. 

This week, I actually have been just catching up from the past month, not yet forging ahead. In my mad dash to finish up at the Library, and foster my freelance efforts, January was mostly a wash for other things like the press and creative works, so now I am getting to orders and author copies I put off, to new layouts and things I'm already behind on.  There is a lot, and my days are pretty long (though admittedly less long than before. I usually work solid about 7-8 hours instead of 8 hours and then another 2-3 on top.)  And its a more focused sort of working,  I'm testing whether it's best to devote entire days to one line of work (ie, one day doing the freelance work, one day doing design, one day on assembly/production, one day on my own writing and editing, one day to new product creation to the shop, or whether to do little bits of each day, but it's nice to have the space to figure out what is most productive for me, whatever that is.  Scared that I will become a shut-in, I've even managed a couple trips out to to the corner mail box and to walk around a bit, though it's a little too cold and snow to go on those lovely long walks I am looking forward to in spring. 

I've talked with friends about the energies it tales to constanly be switching gears, and how much time and energy it takes. To pause, refocus on something else, to go back, then refocus again. At the library, distractions were constant, even when I purposely tried to ignore the dinging e-mail notification on my pc and the phone. I'd be working steadily and get interrupted by a student worker question or needy patron or broken printer.  Come back and get distracted by the news or social media, and then get back to what I was working on and then get interrupted again.  This was actually less difficult and more micro  than the shifting I would do during the day at large. Writing in the morning, press work, commuting, library (where I could potentially be working in three different modes and for three different jobs). No wonder I was mentally exhausted all the time. Sometimes I tried to devote days to one or another line, but some things, like ILL processing had to happen every day or get backed up to move smoothly. And e-mails. Sometimes 3-4 accounts to check.  Egads the amount of time to just get through them (and I feel like I never really do.) If I had an exhibit to hang or web pages to build on top of that, it was even more intense. 

So needless to say, despite feeling a little strange that I am spending so much time alone (which is fine as an introvert, but I don't want to become Miss Havisham levels of mad) things are going quite well. I even consented to a pre-Valentines outing to a movie and maybe dinner after.  and  it occurred to me that weekend plans were usually NO because I need to reset and rest, but now I will not hit the end of the week quite a s frazzled, so am much more open for outings, especially as (hopefully) the covid rates continue to fall.