Monday, May 03, 2010

new routine

After my last post about my struggles to get work done while dealing with constant interruptions, I decided it was time to step back and take a look at what I could do to mitigate some of the problems. That's how I do it: lose mind, then fix problem. It would be nice if I could deal with my problems before I have a meltdown, but I usually don't notice a problem until the red lights are flashing, the alarm bells are going off, and people are running away, screaming and waving their arms. Some call it denial, I call it supreme focus on what's in front of me.

One of the things I had to look at was my routine. I love my little routine. In fact, I'm married to it. One of the reasons why I work for myself is because I like to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. Many years ago I developed a routine of getting my exercise in the morning and then starting work around noon. So civilized. But the problem with walking into the door at noon is that half the day is already gone, and I'm at my very best in the morning. By 2 pm, I feel the clock is really winding down. By 6 pm I really want to be home. So actually, it's ridiculous that I spend my best brain time at the gym. I've done it that way because then I get the exercise thing off my list for the day, and as the day goes on I get lazier and lazier about getting my heart rate up.

But, something had to give, and I decided that I could try to get into the studio first thing in the morning, before anyone else is there, and then go to the gym or yoga class later. So far, the routine is much better for me as far as getting more done with less in the way of interruptions, though I have skipped the gym a couple of times which makes me feel guilty. But, I think I can work with this new routine and perhaps someday, in the near future, be happy enough with it to marry this one, too.

The second thing I had to look at was my own self-indulgence and lack of discipline. Often, when I am working on something, I'll suddenly remember something else that I need to do and I will immediately drop the first thing and move onto the second thing. I can do this all day. I hate how it makes me feel, all scattered and nuts. So in the past couple of weeks when I find myself about to go pour molds when I'm in the middle of loading a kiln, I won't let myself do it. I wait for the logical break in whatever I'm doing, then go and do the other thing that is calling to me from across the studio. On busy days I've started making an hour by hour schedule for what I want to do that day so I'm less likely to start trimming bowls when I'm in the middle of wedging because I suddenly realize the bowls are getting too dry. I think it's called "organizing." I recommend that everyone give it a try!


  1. Best of luck with your new routine Whitney. I am your exact opposite.

    I prefer to work in my studio from 5 - 11 a.m. Then I may exercise in the afternoon. If it doesn't happen tomorrows another day.

  2. Anonymous6:35 PM

    Hello Whitney,
    Good luck with your new routine. I too am often, (possibly more often than not) guilty of jumping from one task to the other. It's easy to do when you're producing... you're on the right track,don't be too hard on yourself when you don't feel you've done your best. It's a process. It's how we learn.

  3. Hi Whitney,
    I am a potter from Scotland and read your blog all the time. I have the exact same struggles over here with managing myself and my work and it's really reassuring for me to hear other people do too! Thanks for your effort you put into your blog- i enjoy your posts a lot.
    Julia Smith

  4. I'd really like to get on an exercise routine that I did first thing, before I get all grubby in the studio. Maybe I should get up at 5am like Brain. I know what you mean about bouncing from one thing to the next. I've been more aware of that and will often talk to myself and say, Finish this first. or One thing at a time Ron.

  5. I can relate, I feel like I have ADD sometimes, skipping from one task to another. I'm working on a new routine myself. Good luck with yours!

  6. i've SOLVED your problem . . . get a kick wheel and kill 2 birds with one stone ! but you can't have MINE. (whitney and her husband gave me the MOST beautiful kick wheel ever made)

  7. Like Julia said, it's reassuring to hear that other people have the same problems! My friend calls me a hummingbird because I get distracted in the middle of tasks. There's so much that needs attention in ceramics, plus running a business! It's good to hear that you don't have to be perfect to be successful.

    Thanks for the post!

  8. Now I understand what you mean by "strategically lazy". I have a monkey mind myself, which means my mind is thinking about doing 10 things when I am at one thing already. The problem is sometimes my body goes along and I end up being a total monkey, running here and there instead of focusing.

  9. I like to pride myself on my organizational skills. However, yesterday, I realized that I had half finished at least 1/2 dozen projects. !! OK, now I'm back on track.

  10. one of the best things i do for myself is make a list/schedule for every day. When the crazy hits my brain in the middle of something, I run over to the list and jot it down and return to my task.
    I have found that if I block out time for excercise on the schedule, it is more way likely to get done, even if it is the middle of the day or evening, I try to consider it part of the "work" of my day,

  11. Anonymous2:37 AM

    I love how clean and open your writing is.

    I am on the impossible mission of being Perfect for a year, and I noticed I am much happier when I jump from one thing to the next, although, I am trying to work from A to B to C ... .

    This has been wonderful to read how other self-employed people work.

  12. I love hour by hour schedules! Good for you for taking control of your creativity ... often, it seems that discipline and following your hands might not be the best match, but they sure are conducive to productivity.