Attack of the 50 foot To Do List

The last couple of weeks have focused on my wrangling my ambition with finite resources. The issues are quite simply: not enough time, not enough energy. I can't say I'm winning yet, but I am playing with a strategy that seems to be working. 

I have three different areas in my creative life I am working in at the moment: writing, poetry and art. I am clawing my way up the respective learning curves with dogged determination. This has meant journalling every day as part of the process, however when I do my art, I do a separate journal for that too. My morning pages comes out of an exercise made popular by Julia Cameron in her Writer's Way (which reminds me, I must source another copy of that and the Artist's Way). It is cheap therapy in that I get to dump all the day-to-day, boring shit that's in my head, onto paper where it stays out of the way and lets me get on with my creative stuff. Art journalling, is a more productive exercise in that I focus on what I will be doing that day, the media and exercises. 

In each of the different creative disciplines, I have exercises to do. I am currently trying to do my exercises in the creative activities every day and once that's done, focus on one particular thing. I also am very aware that I need to up my reading. Both in poetry and prose.   My personal reading drifts towards genre, the trashier the better. However, if I am to take my poetry and writing up a level, I must also read more. I have now timetabled Monday as my reading day. 

I find the Pomodoro* quite helpful in getting the exercises done. Bite sized chunks and all of that. It also helps in the fact that, unlike many of the great masters, I don't have a loving wife who keeps the household running as I dedicate my time to my art. Or a housekeeper. Or a gardener. Dave has his hands full right now, but I do know when I am particularly struggling, I can call him to put a pinny on. 

I am also using my To Do Lists daily. I can't tell you how good it is, especially when I'm feeling anxious about my productivity, to cross stuff off. 

My current timetable looks a bit like this: 

Monday: pottering and reading
Tuesday: arting
Wednesday: writing prose
Thursday: writing poetry
Friday: free day

I'm keeping Friday as my free day, simply because I have been doing coffee over the weekends with Dave. Also, if necessary I can always swap Mondays and Fridays about.

I started this new regime after I completed my 5-day art course a couple of weeks ago. It is still too early to tell how successful it is, especially since I was out of action for three days last week (long story, don't ask). The timetable, should work with the two courses I will be picking up in September. Should, being the operative word.

And of course, there's the whole exercise and fitness regime to pick up. You remember I bashed my foot? I think I definitely broke something, it still is a bit sore and shoes can be an issue. Thankfully, it is improving, but it will be at least another two weeks before I can go back to the gym. This isn't a bad thing at all. The enforced rest has helped my knee and wrists and it also means I can get my new regime properly bedded in before I start diverting energy to the workouts. One thing is for certain, I can't do all this head stuff without balancing it out with something physical. I'll burn myself out and go crazy otherwise. 

Are you exhausted reading this? I'm exhausted writing this and it worries me. I don't know how else to get things done. My default position is sofa. I am one of the most bone idle people I know and if I don't motivate myself, my arse hits the sofa and doesn't move. I am using my anxiety to push me forward. I am trusting with experimentation, I'll find the best  way of getting things done that fits me (if you see what I mean). 

Part of the problem is I don't see where any of this fits in my grand plan of World Domination. The future is off in the murky horizon. All I have to go on is the persistent gut feeling that I must do this and I must do this now. 
found this on Facebook today...summed things up perfectly

*time management tool that is a tomato-shaped kitchen timer that marks 25 minutes, plus short breaks and includes a longer break every 4 or 5 Pomodoros. 


  1. Ducks be damned! That seems like as reasonable a way as any to structure a week!

    1. Exactly, I would much rather have chickens! :)

      Thanks. I am open to suggestions, if you can think of a better way, do let me know.


  2. I don't think you'd want to see my to-do list.

    1. You're absolutely right; I'm anxious enough thanks with what I've got.


    2. Today, I have achieved an email and a phone call. I'm pretty good with that, actually. Oh, and I had a cup of tea with a good friend :)

    3. Sounds like a good day to me.

      Did you have the cuppa with your good friend, before or after I plonked myself down on your chair and demanded tea?! :)

      It's amazing what a burst of productivity does. I have no anxiety today about poetry day...

  3. Are you exhausted reading this?
    Funny you should ask!!

    Anyhow... maybe there is no need for a grand plan? Maybe the routine is your life... and the routine can be adaptive... but the plan is simply engaging with what you love, and what comes out of it is enough.

    1. Exactly that.

      I suppose my issue is that I've been loving all of these things and want to do them all.

      I am a "have my cake and eat it" kinda woman.

  4. Self-discipline, yes, a big problem. I never made it. There is a heap of papers on the desk, there is an inner calendar - of what I have no idea how it works, really - there is a kind of un-consciousness that puts things in line, determinds the primeness - there is a word for it, when you sort patients or hurt people in line for treatment, I forgot.

    One can (and NEEDS to) train this creative "muscle" - and at least in my experience, things tend to fall into order, to interlock or "mesh", sooner or later.
    You may hopefully allow me to say this, but at the moment I have the impression that you are doing a lot of different things, checking out different possibilities, positions, ideas, techniques, how ever one may call it, and search for the right thing to do. If my impression is correct, I want to say, yes - do it, search, look around, test yourself, embrace yourself, look and feel how it tastes. You'll know when you stumble upon the right thing for you, what makes Roses do Roses.
    This may be shallow trifle, Where does it come from ? I never have seen meself as an "artist" or something, I never have "done art", like for a living, for "Anerkennung", it was never something I would define meself about.
    But I learned to look - and I am still learning. Style, grace, Schönheit - and all the opposite (!) - must be seen, and one sees only what one understands. This is true (at least for me, sorry), It took me some time to understand this. And "see" and "understand" once fall in one.
    Where does this unwanted beer-soaked blab lead to ?
    Try out what is there to try. Trust yerself. And - for heaven's sake - do not put too much on your lists. This does not mean that you shouldn't aim high, seriously not : Learn from the masters, see how they did it, and then try again.

    I blame it on the heat.

    And do not get me started on "the plan".

    1. Pedantic Corner: Triage.

    2. Thank you LX. I forgot the word. It's a brutal practice, but necessary.

    3. Herr Mago and LX

      You have my heart.

      I am looking for a way of following the resonance that comes with doing this creative work. When I have the paintbrush in my hand, or the blank page before me, waiting there is this visceral sound that goes through me. I want more of that!


  5. Whatever you do, stay with your art. Those two paintings (?) are seriously talented. A bit Hockneyish even.

    I hope the foot is soon back to normal. It's no fun hobbling around.

    1. Thanks hon.

      Don't worry, I'm sticking with it.

      Foot is slowly continuing to improve. When I can wear shoes without noticing, then all will be well.

  6. I am an organized creative person. I make lists. I have lists for what I want to accomplish in my business, lists for stuff I want to accomplish around the house and a five point goal list for the year. I keep that posted on my wall by my desk. The lists are broken down by points of things I want to do. I don't work on them every day. The thing is, I am constantly sidetracked. Saying that I'll spend an hour each day on my website is derailed by a request for a proposal. I used to resent that. But HEY *lightbulb* proposals lead to jobs = how I make my $$$. Eventually, the website gets done. I no longer stress about it. Can't get it done myself? I hired someone. I find many old to-do lists on my computer as I clean out folders and AMAZINGLY, much or all of the stuff that I'd set out to do is DONE. I have the proof and there it is in black and white, everything that I'd set out to do was done. (or goals have changed, as priorities do) Also, I'm not sure how that "creative" timeline will work for you. I can't just say "Okay, today I'm going to write poetry!" Why not do a little of each day what you feel like doing on the day creatively? Some days with art, you are not quite feeling it. Same with writing. But you have to do SOME thing each day (unless you are bone tired or ill, not just procrastinating)

    1. You sound uber organised and I'm so glad that works for you. I can see how much your business has grown through the years.

      Every working day, I do my basic exercises in all of the disciplines, but what I have been finding is that chopping and changing through the day, disturbs my flow. Being able to dedicate a whole day to an activity, I'm able to cover more ground.

      At the moment, the struggle I have is with my writing fiction, the rest of it is flowing without pause.

  7. PS: That was me above, La Diva Cucina. Please update my blog link on your side bar, thanks! xo

    1. Yes, that's a good point there are out-of-date blogs on my list.

      Are you going to go back to blogging, or will you be focusing more on business stuff.


  8. Rose, I am blogging again. My blog is now on my biz website instead of blogger.


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