Wednesday, March 01, 2023

the virtues of monotasking

By virtue of social media algorithms and clicks, I keep encountering some articles by a tik tokker who has been talking up "Bare Minimum Mondays" as a way to combat weekly burn-out, the Sunday scaries, and the general feelings of overwhelm which most of us greet the week. It's something other people I know have mentioned as a way to combat these things, starting off slow and then with a more productive push toward the middle of the week that winds down to Friday.  Because I have more time to pay attention to energy levels and what I do in a given week, I probably already do this just a little, or at least feel like my Tuesday and Weds. are a little more intensive in getting things done. My Sunday scaries are much kinder now, and lately,  I sometimes work through the weekend if I have no other plans with slightly shorter days. It gives all my days a more enjoyable pace (ie with room for naps in all this cloudy weather and dawdling a little more if I feel like it)  I get more relaxed workdays in general and still get the same amount accomplished without feeling too crunched. There's also flexibility if I feel like I need a day off any day of the week without impacting my income too much. 

That same tik tokker also talks a lot in her reels about monotasking, which I guess I've never considered that word for it, but this makes such a difference for me. It was one of the best things about working the night shift even when I was at the library--very few interruptions and spans of time to actually get stuff done without interruptions and phone calls and e-mails coming in. I could deal with all that stuff til around 5pm and then actually get work done after everyone else went home for the day and desk traffic/assistance waned. The days I worked earlier, especially those dreadful 9-5s, but even the 11-7s (I actually learned to abolish some early shifts over breaks entirely by taking well-chosen half vacation days and negotiating a later stay if possible after we closed.) Those days, no matter how much I tried to be productive, I left each day feeling rushed and disorganized and not as focused as my evening spans of time allowed.

The benefit of working on your own, is, of course, you have total and complete control, barring deadlines over rhythms and routines. There is still a lot to do--creative work, editing, design, paid writing.Keeping that monotasking in mind, I try I divide things up as much as I can--certain kinds of writing on certain days, lessons on Mondays/Fridays, design/DIY on Tues/Weds/Thurs,  Antiques stuff on Sat, food writing on Sunday. I fit other projects in and around these focus areas just to mix things up, but those kinds of work have priority with the largest portion of time devoted to them that particular day. The only thing I do make sure to do every day in the week is the entertainment writing pieces since those are more time sensitive and in the moment, but they only take under an hour and are usually how I kick off my 5-6 hour writing blocks in the afternoon and warm up the engine. I usually start the day with creative and press things for 3-4 hours before I take a lunch break and move on to paid work. This gives my initial "morning" energies to the places that probably need it a little more. I do occasionally work on some collages or write an entry here after dinner before I clock out for the night, but the more productive parts of editing my own work and writing poems still happens in those first couple hours of the day. 

When I first branched off on my own, it took a while to find and establish the rhythms, but even with the press work, I find it helpful to devote each day to one aspect. Mondays are slower and more-admin days. Tuesdays are layouts and Weds are cover design. Thursdays are edits and finalization of galleys, while Fridays are website work and updates. Saturdays are usually just e-mails that require more in- depth responses and printing loads of author copies. Sundays are for shop orders & assembling books. This way I can cycle through the things that need to get done without feeling overwhelmed by so much and switching gears.  For writing and art, I do tend to jump around and work on whatever I feel most drawn to, but I may develop some sort of system here too in coming months,  ie, a day specifically for making reels or video poems, a day for editing, a day for submitting.  I try to just pick whatever I feel drawn to do --which today, was pretty much just a rough draft of a new poem and this blog entry.There is also less pressure there to get things done and move more leisurely since I am the only person involved or cares that it gets done at all. The problem is that this freedom sometimes makes me place the creative stuff at the bottom of the priorities for the day, something I have vowed to not let happen in 2023 with some specifically outlined goals in that arena each month. 

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