Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to . . . what was I doing?

So as most of you know, my life has multiplied lately. There's a lot I'm trying to get done. It takes some major multi-tasking. And frankly, it's all more than a little overwhelming.

Anyone else feel like they're always running behind? Like you had a list of things to do floating around in your head, and you know you're exhausted, but all you can do is look around at the chaos and collapse?

Yeah. Me too.

And in the midst of all this, I want to find time to write. I need to find the time to write. I need somewhere for the crazy to go (because believe me, the hubs can only handle so much of it!).

But this is not a life that lends itself to creativity. Right now, it pretty much only lends itself to crashing into bed. At like, 9:15.

I find myself saying things like, "Once I catch up on the laundry, then I'll focus on writing." Or, "once the house is clean, then I'll take some time to write." As soon as I finish . . .

But nothing gets finished, and so once again, sitting down to write falls to the bottom of the list. And really, as much as I'd like this fact not to be true, other stuff, like work and the family, has to come before writing.

One tip for managing all the chaos is cleaning in careful routines. Having specific routines, for specific points in the day, that over time become automatic. So automatic that you don't have to think about what you're doing next. It's efficient. It's brainless. There are no wasted steps. You can do it half-asleep. No trying to figure out what needs to be done next. No getting overwhelmed by the chaos. Just simple, daily routines that free up your mind to concentrate on the things that fall to the bottom of the list, but that are, in reality more important. Like writing! Or having fun with your family!

Do you find yourself saying you'll write as soon as . . . ? What things keep pushing writing to the bottom of your list? How do you manage it? Do you  notice that when you can do things by rote, it frees your mind of its stress (like driving, where so many of us find writing inspiration!). Anybody tried getting into a cleaning routine (I've been scouring the website for days now, and enthralled by this system!)


2nd Chance said...

I'll write as soon as I check my e-mail. I'll write as soon as I answer my e-mail. I'll write as soon as I check in with Facebook. I'll as sson as I update my Facebook status.

Then I'll write as soon as I check twitter and that tweet and that tweet and...

I'll write as soon as I watch the shows on the DVR. I'll write as soon as I finish lunch.

I'll write as soon as I walk the dog. And check the blog...

Oddly, household chores never are on the advotence list...

Marnee said...

I just skimmed the Flylady's site. I'm overwhelmed.

Cleaning, huh?

I do it in waves. I started that when I was pregnant with the youngest. Before that pregnancy, I would do a marathon cleaning once a week. It was exhausting and took a lot of time.

Now, I break it up. Twice a week I dust and vacuum and sweep/mop downstairs (I call this allergy maintenance). Just get up the loose dirt. It also requires I wrangle the chaos that is my playroom.

Once a week I do bathrooms and kitchen. My hubby calls this the "special forces" aspect of cleaning. Detail oriented, fine tuned to scrubbing up the wet/messy funk in the house. Cleaning bathrooms in our house has become progressively nastier as my eldest is potty trained yet, in a manish fashion, probably couldn't hit the side of a barn with his urine stream. (Sorry guys.) My husband insists he's about 95% accurate and I can't ask for more than that. I try not to think about it when I'm using the facilities myself.

The last day is the upstairs. I dust and sweep upstairs, changes sheets, put away laundry.

The other three days I just find time to keep up on little things here and there or attempt to find something that's been bothering me. (A cabinet here, a closet there. the magazine rack. I scrubbed my downstairs carpets last week. Etc.)

Luckily, DH does the laundry and the outside work. He'll help on weekends if I'm way behind and we're living in filth but I try to keep weekends free so we can all be together and relax, do fun things.

Very long explanation, but that's what I do. :)

As to when I write. Well, now (Youngest wakes up between 5:30 and 6:00 most days). He is currently playing with all the toys his brother takes from him when he's awake. So he's in heaven. I read my email and catch a half hour or hour of writing while I have some coffee. Then my life kicks into gear in the morning. Boys nap in afternoon and I slow down and write then. And late at night.

One thing I have mastered is the art of tuning everything out. TV, chaos. When it's writing time, it's writing time, no matter what's going on. Granted, it's only writing time when things are pretty slow here, but if I waited for EVERYTHING to pause for me, well, I'd never write.

Marnee said...

PS, I think this quote sums up cleaning right now.

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. ~Phyllis Diller

Marnee said...

This is too good to not mention as well...

Don't cook. Don't clean. No man will ever make love to a woman because she waxed the linoleum - "My God, the floor's immaculate. Lie down, you hot bitch." ~Joan Rivers

Marnee said...

But I like a lot of what Erma Bombeck said too...

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint. ~Erma Bombeck


Hal said...

Chance - we all have our lists, I think. I love Donna's HOA for all this. "Oh, look at this shiny thing I can do right now!"

Right now, I'm trying to stay off Twitter, but installing Tweetdeck may have ruined it for me :)

Hal said...

Don’t cook. Don’t clean. No man will ever make love to a woman because she waxed the linoleum – “My God, the floor’s immaculate. Lie down, you hot bitch.” ~Joan Rivers


This might need to go on a post-it in my kitchen :)

Hal said...

Marn - I used to do the marathon once-a-week cleaning too. And I'm realizing that it no longer works, at all. Within hours of finishing, I'm not only exhausted, but the house is dirty again, and all I can do is sit and dread the next cleaning session.

I like your plan because it breaks it all up into manageable chuncks. I have to say, I'm adoring this flylady site (although it is overwhelming!), because it breaks things down into routines you can learn to do mindlessly. Trying to work from home, while deal with the baby, pretty much means I have to have my day scheduled down to the minute so that I get enough time in to work. I think this could help me out a lot. And the more mindless chores become, the more time I have to think about writing, so that when I do actually have time to sit down and write, I'm really to rock-and-roll!

Marnee said...

hahaha!! :) Love it.

"Lie down, you hot bitch."


Marnee said...

PS, I like breaking it into chucks because it's forced me to accept that at any given time, there's going to be *some* clutter or dust somewhere. It's about accepting the imperfect. It's not about pristine, it's about healthy and liveable.

Granted, I have considered cleaning the bathtub twice a week now. The youngest insists on licking the bathtub right now. No idea why, some sort of mental impairment I'm suspecting. But it grosses me out.

However, I'm not sure it's fair that I have to clean the bathtub twice as much because the kid has some sort of oral fixation.


Hal said...

I'm with you, Marn. Totally not fair to have to clean it more than once a week.

Licking the bathtub? that's such a funny habit!

Donna said...

Ack. My comment--a long one, of course!--got eaten by CAPT Cha. Let's see how much of it I can remember. LOL

I do the "as soon as" routine that Chance talks about. :) Yesterday I had a ton of things on the Must Do list that HAD to get done before I take off this weekend, and I was thrilled at how much I accomplished. Because there was no other choice.

It made me realize I need to have more of a sense of urgency like that with writing. Kinda like, "That smells like gas coming from the kitchen stove--I better go investigate it!"

The hard part is that some days I'm better writing in the mornings and some days I'm better doing it at night. Unfortunately I don't always find out which it is until it's too late. LOL

Marnee said...

Licking the bathtub? Try licking everything. It just grosses me out the most when it's the bathtub.

*Slinks away, reminded again why she'll never win Parent of the Year.*

Hal said...

parent of the year is overrated. Did I tell you about the time I spent five hours trying to give Carter a bottle, with no idea why he wouldn't eat it and just kept screaming? Yeah, the nipple was clogged. Go mom! lol

Bosun said...

You two are so funny. You're taking me back years! LOL! But now I have a confession to make, and you have to promise not to shoot me.

Promise? *waits* I'm going to take that silence as a promise.

I don't remember being frazzled when Kiddo was a baby. I worked full time and her dad did NOTHING but on the bright side, he was also never around. (Long, sordid story.) I loved my evenings alone with her. And my weekends. I did have his entire family around me on that farm so if I got the urge, I could carry her down to his parents and hang with them, letting someone else tote her around and enjoy adult conversation. But they never came and cleaned my house.

I just remember loving those days. So because I'm life was just as you two are describing your days (minus the tub licking) I'm going with this > In a few years, you won't remember anything but how much you loved those smiles and the giggles and tickle time and seeing them change every day.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. (Note how I avoided my cleaning habits entirely.)

Marnee said...

I can already see how this is going to be the case. The oldest had severe colic. I *know* he cried all day, for hours. But I seriously don't remember much of it now and that was only 4 years ago. Now I just remember that he was adorable and that when he smiled he made my life better. I remember that it was hard, but unless I really think about it, I can't remember how hard.

Marnee said...

*high fives Hal* Go mom is right. In your defense, those first months are so exhausting, I can imagine exactly how this happens.

Bosun said...

Now to the writing, which I should have stuck to. LOL!

I've gotten way better at this. Couldn't get my head around writing while still working on the college degree. After much gnashing of teeth and many self imposed guilt trips, I had to admit that. Now, I have my days.

This week Mother Nature got in my way. Tree down in front yard on Tuesday meant more than an hour outside clearing my neighbor's sidewalk. Last night my cousin's hubby took a chainsaw to it, we loaded it up and he hauled it off. But it was nearly 9 by the time I got in the house, stinking to high heaven. Now I have sore legs, a sore back, various blisters, cuts and scrapes, but no more words than I had on Monday. *sigh*

Which means tonight, it's back to writing. (Though SYTYCD starts tonight, so I must be strong and write early. LOL!)

Bosun said...

I'm sure everyone has done the clogged nipple thing. (Not a euphemism.) I gave kiddo some medicine for a cold once and she didn't sleep for three days. Took me that long to figure out the medicine was keeping her awake. When I finally stopped it, I think we both crashed.

Hellion said...

I don't have kids and I do this. It used to be I'd say, "After I work out at the gym and have supper...", but now I don't go to the gym. When I have supper, I usually start reading or collapse on the couch--and then I wake up in time to go to bed.

So...good news is: I'm making up the sleep that Hal isn't getting. Bad news, I'm not writing. Or exercising. Hell, I'm not even quilting which was my back up creativity plan. I just kinda zone out and stare at the wall like a mental patient. I blame work.

Janga said...

I don't know how those of you with young children get any writing done. The grand weekends are almost always non-writing time for me, and on weekends the two-year-old visits, it takes 48 hours after her departure for my brain and body to return to normal. I adore her, but she exhausts me.

The thing I find so frustrating at this stage is that I took early retirement in order to have writing time, and I'm writing less than I did when I was commutung two hours a day, teaching four classes, grading papers and working on lesson plans most evenings, and keeping up with current scholarship in my major fields. I know part of the problem is the freelance stuff. I can't seem to be productive with two kinds of writing at once. But I also think I may be one of those people who needs pressure to be productive.

Irisheyes said...

I had the same thought as Terri - you two are taking me back! LOL

Seriously, Hal, I think the "no time" thing is just a sign of the times. It seems to be getting worse instead of better. In my opinion, it has gotten increasingly harder for women (although my DH has the same complaint - not enough hours in the day). With the advent of women's lib and "letting" us womenfolk compete in the big bad world it seems sometimes that all it did is triple our workload.

When I first got married you could eat off the floor in any room in my house. Nowadays eating off of my kitchen table is dicey on the best of days. :) It took a lot of years, a few doctors and very supportive family members to get it through my thick head that something's gotta give! So, I'll supply the wisdom my mother gave me over and over and over again: People come to see "you" not your house; when your kids are grown they won't remember a clean bathroom but they'll remember playing with mom; and the most important one of all - If mommy ain't happy (insert here relaxed, rested, fulfilled), ain't nobody happy!

And just a side note - that Phyllis Diller quote is spot on! I flat out said - you either get me awake and coherent or you get a clean house, you pick! He picked me!

Irisheyes said...

As for the writing, I dabble now and then while the kids are at school (something for you to look forward to). But, essentially, the long and the short of it is always - if I want to do anything for me - write, nap, read, shop - something else doesn't get done. And, in the end, being okay with that has been an ongoing process. So, both of you - start now! By the time you're my age you'll have developed good "take time for me" habits. LOL

Hal said...

Sorry I’m so late replying to everyone!

Donna - I function under pressure well too. If there’s a deadline, I can almost always pull together and hit it. If there’s not a deadline . . . well, it sounds like it’s the same for both of us. So yay on getting so much done yesterday (and have an awesome time!)

Terri - That’s a wonderful thing to look forward to. I so enjoy just hanging out with him and playing with toys. I’m glad that those are the things that stick in the mind (though he’s a pretty good kid, so it hasn’t been bad at all). Sounds like you had quite a week – and certainly not the one you had planned! Hope you get more writing time this weekend.

Hellie - Oh, I hate that feeling, when you’re so drained from work it’s impossible to do anything else. Then everything gets piled up on the weekends. . . ughhgghh. Will things slow down for you over the summer with school out? Or is your job crazy year-round?

Janga - You’re a pressure-needer too? I think we all do this – we expect there to be a direct, inverse relationship between free time and writing. If I just have an extra hour in my day, I’ll get another 500 words written each day. But when you ease up on that pressure, it’s like that just vanishes or gets wasted.

You probably also have deadlines on the freelance work, making the fiction writing easy to push to the back of the list. I’ve tried to self-impose deadlines before, but I always knew it wasn’t a real deadline (as in, no actual consequences), so it didn’t really help. Lol.

Irish - what excellent advice! I am (slowly) realizing that I can’t maintain the same standards as before, and I need a major attitude adjustment when it comes to cleaning. I’m also realizing just how easy it is to push what I need or want to the back. I definitely need to start now on becoming okay with letting things wait while I take time for myself.

Bosun said...

The trick is to ask yourself "Will this be important in five years?" Or "After I die, will people look back and remember me as the woman with the immacultately clean bathroom?" I realize there are things that really have to get done, but these questions sure do put those things in perspective.

Scapegoat said...

Sigh. I clean on Friday night and then laundry on Saturday. That's it.

You are shit out of luck if you expect to drop by our house and it be clean. I only clean it - like a real cleaning - when I have in-laws coming.

Hubby cleans the kitchen 2-3 times a week. I don't clean anything in the kitchen but do the cooking. The in-law rules have been whoever cooked doesn't have to clean and thank goodness that passed down to the hubby. :)

2nd Chance said...

You notice I'm avoiding the entire clean the house discussion?

Scapegoat said...

As for procrastination - it's always "let me research a little more" or "I really have to write some reviews/do something for the alter-ego blog"

Speaking of which - I'm totally re-doing my blog design. Think I'm going to like it much more - streamlined and cleaner.

Bosun said...

I haven't forced kiddo to do as much cleaning as I should, but I'm working on it. She does her own laundry and unloads the dishwasher. There are things that bother me, like messy floors, that I have to take care of. I vacuum and sweep the floors all the time. But I can totally ignore dust with no problem. And do.

Since it's just me and kiddo, it comes down to what I can live with. And based on the smell in kiddo's room, she can live with things I can't.

Hal said...

I only clean it – like a real cleaning – when I have in-laws coming.

Scapegoat - I'm the same way. in fact, my in-laws are coming on Sunday, hence all this "oh my god, I actually have to catch up on housework by then" panicking!

Ah, the lure of research instead of writing. That one gets me all the time! Writing-related things are the worst because you're sort-of writing, but not really. lol.

Hal said...

And based on the smell in kiddo’s room, she can live with things I can’t.


Bosun said...

It's bad, Hal. I often fear what it must be like for moms like you and Marn who have boys. No girl's room should smell this bad.

Example convo from last week:

Me: Get up, we're going to be late."
Her: *groan*
Me: Why does it smell so bad in here? I can't imagine how bad it must be to have a boy.
Her: *raises leg and farts*
Me: Oh. My. Gawd. *walks out*

I WISH I was making this up.

Marnee said...

Oh lord. LOL!!!

2nd Chance said...

Farts...the Mom deterrent.

Hal said...

hahahahaha. That's hilarious. I bracing myself for the grossness now, but I'm sure I have NO idea!

Hellion said...

What I really love is how Terri shares these stories on the INTERNET. That child should be suitably shamed into never farting ever again.

Hal, right now it's the crazy season. Everyone wants in for Summer and Fall, so lots of applications. But it should start letting up in a few weeks.

In fact I got a phone call today--at 5:05--from a student checking on the status of her application. I hadn't heard of her. "When did you send it?" "Today." "TODAY?" "Is it too late to get in for summer? I saw something about a March 1st deadline. Is that for real?" "TODAY?" "And I had my transcripts sent to wherever they were supposed to go. There was an address." (She really didn't know where she sent them.) "You can take classes, I suppose, as a non-degree student." "Yeah, I can't do that. I need loans." Right. So lady, you need to be admitted into a program you've just submitted an application for TODAY. Your transcripts aren't going to be matched for 3 weeks, after the start of summer. And you haven't submitted the other two items needed to complete your application--and you're asking me if it's still possible to be put in the program for summer, 6 business days?

I was so pissed when I left work today, I actually called Deerhunter to go off about it. Then I went and spent money at a bookstore, rented a movie, and bought Chinese food. Essentially I went on a bender.