Neither Joseph nor I have a standard paid job right now. We are each the central organizer of a loosely arranged mosaic of paid and unpaid projects (ahem, house-building!), each with different responsibilities, timelines, and collaborators. This is a pretty awesome way to live, and I am grateful that we get to do it. And also it’s sometimes surprisingly hard. Hard to keep track of everything that we are doing, hard to know if I’ve worked “enough,” if I’ve really “earned” a day off…
Which is really what I’m working with. Externally, our main project is: How to build a tiny house from green-ish materials. But internally the question that I am working on, and have been for a few years, is: How to work and take care of myself at the same time.
When I start getting anxious about if I’m doing enough, if I deserve the life that I have, I find it useful to get really concrete: What needs to get done? Okay, but what really needs to get done? And then when I finish the “really needs to get done,” it’s probably a good time for a break. It’s been easier to do that kind of prioritizing for Joseph and my shared projects, and we’ve been using an (almost) fun system to keep track.
We bought brightly-colored dry-erase markers and are using one of the large sets of sliding glass doors in our house as a big to-do list. We have sections for each of the projects we are working on together:
Seeds with Wings (our tiny house build and this website)
Tumbleweed (coordination and reporting for the group build)
Caretaking, (the sheep, and more, on the property where we live and care-take)
Home, (settling in, upkeep, gardening)
We also have a section for ongoing Wellbeing activities (though that section has gotten woefully faded lately). It’s a huge relief to me just to have the items up on the big colorful to-do list. I feel calmer knowing that nothing is falling through the cracks.
On the same double doors we marked out a monthly and weekly calendar with masking tape. On Monday morning we sit down together, sometimes for up to an hour, and fill in:
First, appointments and events
Then, the most important tasks that must happen this week
Next, the people we need to call, email, or see
Finally, errands, yoga classes, and other details
I don’t enjoy the Monday planning sessions. They tend to bring up that feeling of overwhelm – that I want to do everything, that there isn’t enough time for all of it, that I will fall short in some way by not getting to some project or some person I want to connect with. But, I also feel better all week for having done the planning. To wake up in the morning and know what I planned to do today, what was the most important thing to make sure to get to today, is a relief and gives the day shape and a feeling of completion at the end.
Do you have any fun, or even just slightly enjoyable, ways to keep your projects organized? If you work for yourself, or even if you don’t, how do you relax even when there is always more work to do? Please do share in the comments.