Monday, October 12, 2009

Multitasking - Cluttering the Process

Feed the cats, take out the trash, the phone's ringing, find the calculator, check my account balance... Everyone has daily responsibilities which must be attended to - chores, routines, - as well as the occasional "drop everything and handle it" event, which often seem as though they come daily, too! In the midst of all this, we try to write.

I'm a sporadic neat-freak; I go for days on-end without doing more than absolutely necessary before the clutter piles up to the point where I can no longer stand it, and then I spring into action, doing a dozen chores in a day. Of course, if I bothered to handle these numerous chores immediately, they would each get done in less than an hour. But I have a good excuse:

If I keep these chores in mind, I am too distracted to write.

This is a double-edged sword for me, and it's not just an excuse for not keeping a cleaner house. By letting things go for a few days, I can focus on my writing and nothing else. Once it goes too far, though, the stacks of dishes, bags of trash, empty cigarette boxes, and piles of dirty clothes have to be handled; once it gets to a certain point, the clutter distracts me. It's a fine line that only I can draw; only I know when my writing and projects have to be halted so I can deal with the housework, and that point is different for everyone.

I'm not advocating living in filth - far from it! Like I say, once the chores stack-up to the point I can no longer ignore them, I have to stop everything and handle them. The problem is that, if I routinely empty the dishwasher so I can put the dirty dishes in there as I use them (which I prefer), I'm constantly reminding myself that I need to do that until it gets done. My thought process becomes cluttered and I can't focus on writing.

"Empty dishwasher - Book banned post for Weird Ink - Feed cats - Take out trash - What was I going to post? Oh yeah - Empty dishwasher - Book banned post - Take out trash..."

As you can see, by ignoring these chores, I'm constantly reminding myself that they must be done, which clogs my train of thought, making it more difficult to focus on the creative process. Stopping to handle these chores does the same. So I have developed a kind of "Three Day Rule," which is exactly what it sounds like: I've found I can let things go for about three days before they simply must be done, so I do them all on the fourth day. Of course, I don't get much time to write on that fourth day, so I work "double-time" at least one day of my work week. With blogging, this is easy enough: I just schedule posts to publish on the day(s) I'm handling all of the household chores and so forth.

What do you do? Do you handle things immediately or let them stack-up and do them all at once? Are you compulsive about keeping your workspace clean?

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

No comments:

Post a Comment