Sunday, January 27, 2013

Flex Time

I come from a family of hyperorganized people.  My mom makes lists of the lists she plans to make.  My dad once had me file years' worth of my grandmother's utility bills by date -- on the .00001% chance that we might need to refer to one of them someday.  After years of such an upbringing, I vowed never to be an iota more organized than I needed to be.  The upshot has been that I am usually slightly (okay, often more than slightly) less so. 

I write things on the calendar, but I neglect to look at the calendar.  I often find myself scrambling for childcare because of a forgotten teacher work day; sometimes I confess that I avoid looking ahead because I just don't want to know what terrible scheduling conflict awaits.

There are the planned interruptions to one's writerly day: teaching, laundry, oil changes, dance class, piano lessons, date nights with my husband.There are the unplanned ones: parent in the hospital, dead battery, kid with the flu or a broken shoe or a forgotten lunch or a snow delay that happens to coincide with a class I am teaching that is not, of course, likewise delayed. 

One of my greatest assets as a teacher, if I do say so myself, is my flexibility.  It is also one of my greatest failings.  I know what I need to accomplish in a given week: Get my kids to school and wherever they need to be -- fed, clothed, reasonably clean; make it to class with some semblance of preparedness; grade papers in a relatively timely fashion; and turn in my script so that I can receive a paycheck.  There are many other things that I aspire to do; but sadly, I am fairly satisfied to accomplish the bare minimum.

Needless to say, I do not have a writing schedule; but I do have daily goals in order to be able to churn out a 6500-word script (or two) each week.  If I have a week laden with commitments or a difficult show or an unexpected roadblock, I know what will fall by the wayside so that my writing work gets done:
#1 My own writing
#2 Exercise
#3 Housework/laundry/dishes (and my standards are very low already)
#4 Sleep

Perhaps my priorities need adjustment, but it is what it is.  Apart from the neglect of items #1-4 (above), I think my system works fairly well for me right now.  If I planned to be locked into a particular schedule, given the daily interruptions in my life, I suspect I might have a nervous breakdown.  For example, I have had a productive writing week but have not yet gotten around to trying Carmela's awesome timer trick. But that's okay, right?  There's always next week.    -- Jeanne Marie


Jeanette W. Stickel said...

Of course it’s OK, and if things aren’t better next week, there is always the week after – after all, you are flexible!

Carmela Martino said...

Definitely okay, JM. :-)
And this week, I can really relate when you say:
>>I avoid looking ahead because I just don't want to know what terrible scheduling conflict awaits<<

April Halprin Wayland said...

Like Carmela, I can relate to:

"sometimes I confess that I avoid looking ahead because I just don't want to know what terrible scheduling conflict awaits."

Now I don't feel so alone... said...

Again sounds just like me. It's so nice to read these posts and empathize.