Friday, May 15, 2009

time management

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about time, and my poor management thereof, and my lack therefore.

My deep ponderings were started by this recently-finished baby blanket.


This was an extremely ill-considered project. I chose the yarn at 8:58 pm at Michael's, when they were calling for patrons to exit the store (I had rushed in just as they were locking the doors). I was facing a bus trip the following day, and I was desperate to start on a blanket for a baby that had been born 5 months prior. For some insane reason, I thought I could knock out a stockinette stitch crib blanket in fingering weight in no time flat. I chose the only yarn in stock with enough yardage, while failing to consider both the weight of the yarn and its properties. The yarn is pretty, but acidly acrylic. It will likely survive a nuclear attack and live on to keep the cockroaches warm. I kept reassuring myself that it would also survive any abuse the baby can dish out: not a huge comfort, for some reason.

I cast on for the blanket on March 14, confident that I would have it done by April 1. (I love setting deadlines for myself that are completely impossible, thus ensuring that I always feel completely and totally behind the eight ball.) Failing that, I moved the deadline to Easter. Then May 1, right before Maryland Sheep and Wool -- good thinking! I finally finished it last Friday, and thought long and hard about how I managed to toss away almost two months of knitting time on a yarn that I hated working with and a project that probably won't be appreciated for the time suck that it was, through no fault of the recipient.

You think I would have learned something from that garter stitch prayer shawl, a "quick project" that took five months to finish.

I have concluded that my problem is much larger, and involves my conception of time. I seem to be under the misimpression that I have scads and scads of time just lying around, going to waste on a daily basis. I think this mindset stems from my first few days at home with my very young sons, after I quit working full-time. I was living in a new state, with no friends, family, or support system yet, and the internet was still dial-up (plus I hadn't yet honed my computer time-wasting skills). The time yawned before me like a chasm. I planned entire days around going down the street to get the mail and going to the grocery store to figure out dinner. This state of affairs lasted for a month, tops, but has clearly colored my impression of my days as a stay-at-home mom up to the present day.

My default position -- which I am struggling to change -- seems to be: "Of course I have time for that new volunteer position / new knitting project / new business venture / new part-time job / new puppy / new hobby / insert new crazy idea here." I have realized that I need to start thinking long and hard (not my strong suit!) about what I am taking on, and about just how I plan to fit it into a life that already includes a full-time job, a farm, a husband, three boys, unrelenting activities, untended gardens, unclean piles of laundry, uninspired dinners, unbalanced checkbooks, unfinished knitting projects, insert undone task here.

Why is it so hard for me to treat my time as the extremely limited and precious commodity that it is? I complain about others devaluing my time, but if I am completely honest, they are taking the cue from me. It seems silly to set aside a couple hours each day for mundane daily chores, but if I don't, they quickly overwhelm and overstress. They are jobs, after all, and there is little choice but to get them done. The scant time left over should be treated as the gift that it is, and mindfully alloted to valued activities that I really want to spend my time on.

Sounds good in theory, right? So why, in the name of all that is holy, did I just tell someone that I was free to do a "little freelance work" in my spare time? I spend all my days quacking "no time, no time, no time" at my family like some crazed duck, and then I go and offer what little time I have to something that I care little about.

I am clearly out of my ever-loving mind. I am sending an e-mail to that effect to the person who offered me the free-lance work, as soon as I find the time.


  1. I agree, one of the hardest things to do is to say "no". A year or so ago, I made the decision to do just that - say "no" to opportunities/tasks/jobs/things that I truly did not want to spend my precious hours doing. And when I really got down to it, I discovered that some of the things I don't want to do are just as surprising as some of the things I do want to do! For instance, I finally faced up to the fact that for many, many reasons, I loathe doing spinning demos. I realize that is almost a sacrilege in the fiber world, but I am really tons happier not sitting in the limelight pretending to be amused by people's inane comments.

    So try to take a deep look, with no preconceptions about what you "should" be doing or not doing. Spend your precious life hours doing only those things that you truly enjoy, and feel no guilt about the things you don't do - there will always be someone else waiting in the wings to do those jobs.

  2. Sounds like you need a drink, LOL.

    As a person who watched Heidi almost behead a child at the Rutgers Folk Festival, I can vouch for the fact she doesn't thrive on demos.

    I decided after years of trying to peddle spinning wheels, I had gotten sick of showing up at every event that might lead to sales, and put up with people who only wanted free entertainment. So I quit. (before I beheaded anyone)

  3. In my defense.......what Margo didn't tell you is that the little beast first tried to swipe my $90 bobbin winder. She yanked it off the loom that my DH was demo-ing on and started to run. Luckily my DH has good peripheral vision and quick reflexes, and as she was bolting out of the tent, he reached out and took it out of her hand, never missing a beat on his weaving!

    An hour later the monster came back and decided to try to treadle my wheel from the backside of the treadles, while I was spinning. I simply picked my wheel up and moved it out of her reach, missing her head by at least two inches. She then dragged her mother over to show her the mean lady who wouldn't let her spin!

  4. : ) Just say no to people who are not organized enough to buy idoine on time when they know that they will have a lamb anyday now : ). I still feel so bad that you had to do that trip. I know how busy you are.
    Do you want potatoes on your to-do list? I wasnt sure if you did get some potatoes last year or not. Let me know. I will save you some seeds.