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Archive for January, 2009

inmyshadegarden

In My Shade Garden

Don’t you love it when good things actually happen for good people? When the lottery winner seems nice or when the the person who wins the door prize seems genuinely happy? Well, I am thrilled to share this with you!

My friend and colleague, Kathy Lincoln, has a quilt featured in the new issue (February/March) of Quilters Newsletter! Her quilt, In My Shade Garden, is featured, along with directions. And they’ve included a detail shot on their Table of Contents page! Too cool!

Kathy Lincoln

Kathy Lincoln

If you’re a subscriber, you have probably already received your copy. If not, you’ll need to wait until the Dec/Jan issue of Quilter’s Newsletter comes off the newsstands and is replaced with this one.

Kathy offers a workshop that features this quilt and includes timesaving tips and tricks.  Check out her website: www.KathyLincoln.com.

Good stuff, good people. It’s all good.

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Command Central

Command Central

When I typed that title, I worried that it promised some profound wisdom, some insight that will allow us all to slay our to-do lists and spend our leisure hours making things that make our souls happy. Hmm. Instead, I want to talk a little about personal productivity and explore how I can be more productive in that limiting 24-day that we all have.  Seriously, we all have the same 24 hours; how are you getting so much more done than I am?!

And so, why am I not as productive as I’d like to be?

  • I expect too much of myself.
  • I am distracted and need to focus.
  • I need to be better at prioritizing my activities.

Hmm. Does any of that sound familiar? Thought so. I recognize that these are things I need to work on so that I can escape this too-busy-to-think run-in-circles mentality that I’ve developed.

First, how much can I reasonably expect to accomplish? My to-do list is pages long. That’s not hyperbole; it’s really pages long. I write everything down in the hopes that nothing will be forgotten, even if it’s not a task that I expect to accomplish for days or weeks.

Okay, if my list is too long, how do I make it shorter? I’m learning to say “no.” Unfortunately, I don’t say it often enough and I don’t say it to myself. If a new project looks fun, I say yes. If a new project may provide my company revenue, I say yes. If a new project will allow me to learn something I’m interested in, uh-huh, I say yes. The hardest lesson for me is saying “no” to myself.

I’m keeping my very long to-do list so that I don’t forget some of my long-range ideas and plans, but I try not to look at it too often.

overviewWhich leads me to…prioritizing. At the beginning of each day (you can do this at the end of your day if that works better for you), I sit down and compose a short list. What absolutely must get done today? And if I had an extra half-hour, what would make my heart sing? Truly, I do write the short list, but I need to work on guarding that half-hour so that I can fill the well and remember why I stay home in my studio. For the short list, I try to be reasonable. I list what really needs to get done and then I assign priorities. In a perfect world, this would work. That means I’ll have to put an end to my current practice of “Productivity Through Avoidance.” (Let me know if you’d like to hear more about that and I’ll blog on it later…when I’m avoiding another task!)

The distractions should be simple to avoid, but it takes more self control than I’m currently using. My distractions include NPR on the radio or TV, e-mail, housework (since my studio is in my home), the kitchen, and my unwillingness to focus. I’m not unable to focus; I honestly believe I’m unwilling. Not sure why, though.

To avoid distractions, I believe it will help to control my environment better and to structure the day. First, no more radio and TV unless I’m officially off the clock. I have an iPod that has two weeks’ worth of music on it. Seriously. I’ve set up a series of playlists that will set the tone for the day and allow me to work. I have a very calm, lyric-free playlist that I listen to in the morning when I’m writing. I have a more active playlist that I listen to when I am cutting, sewing, and working a little more physically. And I have a rockin’ playlist that I listen to when I have to really move. I dare you to listen to my active playlist without dancing. Really.

No more housework in the middle of the day. No more “I’ll just do this load of laundry,” or “Let me just clean up these dishes.” No more “just.” Why is guarding my studio time so hard?

img_0962And, at last, my electronic distractions. My husband says I should turn off the Outlook feature that notifies me when I have mail. I’m not sure I can do that, but I do plan to try to ignore the computer when I’m working on other things. This will be the hardest.

Productivity. It’s the holy grail, the elephant graveyard, the intelligent life in the universe that so many people seek. It’s elusive, but I plan to pursue it in 2009. Now it’s time to finish this and walk away from the computer!

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