19 March 2008

Doing Things is What I Like to Do

I began the new year by resolving to finish one project a month. I thought that was a nice manageable goal. I am a good obsessive however, so rather than finishing just one project in one month, I have finished nine projects in three months. And I have no intention of stopping. I can see the bottom of my UFO pile and believe that I will conquer it sooner rather than later.

Turning raggedy UFOs into snuggable quilts feels great. But the lessons I am learning about myself and time are actually more important . Some lessons I've learned before but forgotten. Others are simple common sense that had eluded me. What I'm learning now from my newfound productivity is having a positive impact on the rest of my life.

Small moments of time add up. Take fifteen minutes here and twenty-five minutes there and soon you have real progress. Those little pockets of waiting that I usually cast away to the internet have become finished quilts.

Momentum overcomes inertia. Even when I feel like doing nothing, sometimes just a hint of action can beget more action. This is also known as the kitchen-timer trick in my household. So I choose a task (whether it be free-motion quilting a wallhanging or the more mundane chore of cleaning the kitchen), set the timer for a small amount of time (usually somewhere between six and fifteen minutes), and then work on that task until the timer beeps. Ninety percent of the time I find myself shutting off the timer and continuing work.

Reading is a time filler that doesn't always satisfy. This lesson is controversial, I know, but it was a big one to learn. Everyone knows that watching TV is a time filler. That doesn't mean that there isn't a place for TV in our lives, but that place may be smaller than we think. I've found that reading is much the same. Many books I read just for something to do. Now when I feel lost for something to do, I reach for a quilting project instead.

Quilting in the early morning is not a recipe for disaster. Almost every article I've ever read about time management has recommended getting up early and working on things before the day begins. I believed there was no way I could overcome my natural morning grogginess to piece precisely or quilt beautifully. But over the past year, for a variety of reasons, I have become a morning person, and have come to find that early-morning quilting feels luxuriously sinful. There's nothing like heading off to work knowing that I've already piecing 18 rag quilt blocks or sewed the borders on a new wallhanging.

Eating the same meal five times in a week won't kill us. This is a lesson that both my husband and I are learning. I love to cook. Beyond quilting and supporting Liverpool Football Club, cooking is my favorite hobby. I would happily try new recipes five nights a week. But, as much as I love cooking, it's not as big a priority as my quilting. So on Sunday, my husband makes a double-batch of something and we intersperse eating that with other meals. This week, he made lentil soup, and we'll have that for three dinners and two lunches. That leaves me with a lot more time for sewing.

I chose my resolutions for this year very carefully, making sure that they were manageable and concrete. Finishing one project a month was a reasonable and measurable goal. But the lessons I have learned from fulfilling just this one resolution have changed my life immeasurably.

Ah, look at the time! Time to get dressed and get an hour in before work. Ta!

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