Free from…

It’s Monday morning – time to tell you how I unplugged over the weekend…

Last week was wackidoodle. I read something about eclipses messing us up. And then Twitter went haywire. But mainly it was because I inserted a big chunk of hospitality right in the middle of the week. So I kinda had my weekend in the middle of the week. Which meant the real weekend wasn’t so much.

Except I needed it to be. Because I was pooped by the end of the week. Couldn’t-keep-my-eyes-open pooped. Let’s-pretend-we’re-sick-and-lay-on-the-couch-eating-snacks-and-watching-stupid-tv pooped. I-wonder-if-I-could-get-my-mom-to-pamper-me-somehow? pooped.

I love playing hostess. I like it so much I often wonder why I don’t do it more often. Until I do host guests or a gathering and then I remember why. I totally enjoy it and it totally wears me out. Like new things, it’s so much fun I forget how much padding it takes – how long it takes my introvert-self to recover.

So I began celebrating my weekend Friday afternoon with a nap. A nap so long I slept through dinner and woke up only to move from the couch to the bed and go back to sleep.

Gosh did I feel better by Saturday morning. Not cured, but better.

And since my sweetheart had to work Saturday, I decided I would to. So I mixed up some domestic chores with some bookkeeping. Sunday included more R&R, but the fun stuff was still mixed in with much the same sort of chores and errands as Saturday, we just did them together. If I had been less tired, I think I would have given in to more work-work (thank goodness for being pooped).

Looking back, the weekend was more of a success in setting up this week than in unplugging from the last. I like the set-up part. I like the clean start. But I don’t like that I spent so much of the weekend doing it. Here at my desk Monday morning, I am wondering how much more of that set-up I can shift to Friday and my closing-the-week ritual.

And since I’m learning a successful weekend of unplugging starts with clear intent and preparation, I also made a little list this morning of what I want for the end of the week. I want my weekend to be:

  • free from the sense that I owe anyone anything
  • free from feeling sick of writing
  • free from arm pain
  • free from exhaustion
  • free from domestic chores
  • free from the ordinary

As I was jotting this down, noticing how it was all coming out as “free from” (hmmm…), I also noticed my Monday-morning anxiety is not about the actual work at hand as much about anticipating yet another week ending without feeling the way I would like to. I am already stressed about another failure. Before it has even happened. I’m just assuming. And that’s taking all the fun out of my job. Ew.

So this week is about shifting that assumption. Because this is doable if I just focus on what I need to do during the week to make all this free-from happen.

Free from the sense that I owe anyone anything…
Finish what you already have said yes to. Empty your inbox. Minimize distractions. And for heaven’s sake, don’t say yes to anything new!

Free from feeling sick of writing…
Writing is only gross when you have committed to more words than you can generate. So don’t commit (see previous).

Free from arm pain…
You know what you need to do: take breaks, do stretches, wear brace, and stay off the laptop.

Free from exhaustion…
Again, sweetie, you know what you need to do to maintain your energy: drink water, eat healthy, regular sleep and exercise – pace yourself.

Free from domestic chores…
So sneak these in during the week. Use them as breaks. Finish on Friday. Make it a game.

Free from the ordinary…
Plan this. Get ready for the weekend as you would for a vacation. Again, use Friday to finish and prepare the little extras that will make it special.

Yes, this is all doable. Just noticing and questioning my assumption that it’s not possible is bringing joy back into my Monday, lessening the sense of dread and resentment of all that is getting in the way of my time unplugged, liberating me from the sense of feeling trapped by my to-do list (which is what I suspect all those free-from’s are about).

Let the experiment in shifting begin…

• • • • •

How do you want to end your week? How would you like to feel? What do you want for your weekend?

• • • • •


5 Responses to “Free from…”

  1. 1 JoVE August 10, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    The idea that we can work a full 40-hour week and not have to do domestic chores on the weekend seem overly ambitious. A recipe for exhaustion.

    When I was employed, I used to work 80% of a job. That’s enough of a job that you can get a lot done. But it also allows enough weekend to manage the errands and chores as well as the relaxing. In fact, I kept my little one in full-time day care so that if I wanted to use that extra day for domestic stuff, I could, thus freeing the weekend to just hang out and do fun stuff together as a family.

    We live in a workaholic culture. One that really doesn’t recognize the domestic maintenance that goes on behind the scenes. And our ideas of a “normal” workweek and “normal” weekend are based on the ideal working man with a wife at home to deal with all of this.

    When we try to move out of that division of labour, one thing we need to recognize is that the ideal — 40 hour workweek and weekend that is solely for leisure — maybe unreasonable.

    • 2 Cairene August 18, 2009 at 11:03 am

      @JoVE –
      You make a very good point. When I worked a traditional 40+ hour/week job (and if you account for time costuming and commuting, it was really something more like a 50+ hour/week job), I rarely had time or energy for domestic chores during the week. And that was when I was single and living in a tiny apartment!

      One of my fantasies about being self-employed was living in less chaos – and I’m happy to say for the most part that wish has been realized. If I had children, that might not be the case. But as it is, it’s just me and my low-maintenance husband and dog living in a reasonably-sized house (equipped w/various appliances of convenience) and I have the flexibility to tuck most chores in between other work fairly easily. It suits my attention span for the tasks and it’s good for me! Vacuuming is a great way to take a break from desk work. Throwing in a load of wash is an excellent way to step away from the computer and give my arms a rest. I’m all for pushing maintenance into the background and doing little bits here and there has been – for me – a good way to achieve that.

      And for all the tracking I do, I have no idea what my average number of hours worked actually is. The longer I am self-employed, the more I move away from a direct trade of time for money, the less I think about this. All I care about is getting done what needs getting done – professional or domestic – without that taking all my energy and waking hours. And protecting my weekends for play has helped me to be focused and very choosy about what actually needs to get done (and how). Which has been challenging, but thinking through my priorities and efficiency from that perspective also has been very useful.

      I might not even separate my time into a traditional workweek and weekend except my husband has a traditional job, so if I’m ever going to see him… Plus I like having long stretches to devote to one kind of activity at a time – I don’t move quickly and easily between different mindsets – so those are divisions that work for me. (In truth, it takes me one day out of the two to actually unplug – so I kinda need two in a row to get the full restorative effect.)

      I guess my counter point is simply that these posts on unplugging are an exploration of what works for me and my family and my lifestyle. They are certainly not offered as a prescription for what everyone should do. I grew up in a household that often devoted Saturday mornings to cleaning – which is a fine way to go. Mix it up however you like. Everyone’s got their own rhythm. Me, it’s all about sneaking in the domestic chores during the week. Maybe for you and others, it’s about sprinkling leisure activities throughout your week. I only offer my example as a way to encourage folks to get that play time one way or another – even if you enjoy your job – because we do live in a workaholic culture and all work and no play is turning us all into dull (and cranky, stressed out, unhappy) boys and girls.


  2. 3 melly August 11, 2009 at 9:36 am

    I would like to end my week being at a state of peace with what i got done. Maybe I didn’t check off the 1,000 item list i have going but my main priorities were completed with style :)

    this summer I have been learning a lot about my patterns & how I approach having lots of free time (which I have little of when I work on a movie). once i get over the shock of it all, then comes the tricky part. what does a day look like when you have no one telling you what to do or just what has to get done. Interesting.

    so what have I learned so far? my energy is boundless when I *like* the task but not so much when i am not crazy about it. I like rewards. my day needs some kind of self-structure (otherwise I just tend to flounder around). i work best when i spend the night before taking time to give props for the good things & plan the next day AHEAD of time.

    Not really what you asked so i will get back to it. I like to enter my weekend with a sense of being free to play. That I don’t have to jump back on the computer to twitter, email, or do that one last thing I didn’t finish. that I could go “off the grid” for the 48 hours. enjoying life.

    Sometimes, that is very possible & others it seems like I am tied to productivity. like oh my gosh, I didn’t do enough, must…do…more….

    where does that feeling come from, Cairene? the fact it is no longer acceptable to have a couple priorities & finish them brilliantly we have to pack it all in. Just something I have been thinking about in my own life.
    I think this manic drive keeps me from staying the course at times.

    • 4 Cairene August 18, 2009 at 10:06 am

      @Melly –
      “My priorities were completed with style.” I love it. Kudos to you for acknowledging what you’ve accomplished and giving yourself some guidelines. A little awareness and structure goes a long way.

      That “must do more” feeling is mostly fostered by our culture. Busyness is a badge of honor in these parts. And we have no idea how much is enough for ourselves. Somehow we’ve come to equate a full schedule with fulfillment. So the question isn’t just how much is enough, but how much of what leaves us feeling satisfied? -C

  1. 1 Mutually Exclusive « How THW Gets In Gear Trackback on August 14, 2009 at 3:55 pm

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Third Hand Works

from overwhelmed to ready for anything | organization and time management for people in their "right" minds | administrative guidance for independent creative professionals [more info]



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