19 January 2012

First on the to-do list: make to-do list

As of tomorrow’s posting, I’ve officially been “back to work” for one week teaching at a university. Before that, I’d practically been on vacation since before Christmas – sure, I’d gone to the lab a few times, but mostly to catalogue and organize my work for posterity. It didn’t exactly require the same amount of brainpower that I’d used daily over the last six-plus years. When I wasn’t in lab, I worked on preparing my class. Which is not that easy as I’m a new green professor, but at least I could work at home.

And yet...

You guys? I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home person, or even really a work-from-home person. But perhaps not for the reasons you expect – I’m not suckered in to daytime television, and I don’t spend hours playing flash games on the internet. The problem is that I get up and I work on stuff all day long, and yet I feel like absolutely nothing is getting done.

Of course, the problem is not that I’m getting nothing done. It’s expectations. Oh, the to-do lists I had! Projects around the house! Papers to read! The sheer amount of things I was certain I could accomplish! True, there was a wrench in the works when Mr. P and I had that series of unfortunate events, but even after that, I have felt like a failure most days because I couldn’t meet my own expectations. I guess I knew planning for class would take a while, but I didn’t count on spending unnecessary hours agonizing over the line spacing in my syllabus because I have no idea why. Which sucks, because I was sorta counting on being able to get these things done while working part-time. We have a house to sell, I have two new jobs to prepare for, and this blog doesn’t write itself, you know.

The thing I have become most accomplished at over the last few weeks? Disillusionment.

But it’s getting better! Really! Mostly because I’m adjusting my own expectations. It takes time to get in new routines and learn how long things take when starting any new job. So, rather than let it get me down, I’m going to continue doing what kept me on track in lab all these years: MAKE LISTS. And MAKE THEM PRETTY.

First up: a little kitchen upgrade. Remember this little “dry-erase board” created with leftover scrapbook paper and an extra photo frame?


Turns out I don’t need this in the office quite so much anymore... or ever, really. So, I brought this upstairs to replace my current system of displaying our meal plan. And by “display”, I mean the scrap piece of paper where I scribbled out our meals for the week and stuck on the fridge with a magnet so I could remember, brain-dead after a day of work, what exactly I’d already decided upon eating.

So! After rearranging our trivets on this little wall unit, I had a prettier place to write out our meals for the week:


Simple? Yes. But did I feel slightly more like a responsible grown-up despite showering less regularly? Indeed!

I’ve also made plenty of to-do lists on the computer, which as I said, mostly just made me feel guilty about not doing ALL THE THINGS. However, when I was running an errand at Target the other day, I saw some pretty new 2012 planners. The part of my brain that adores retail decided that the reason I don’t get my stuff done is because my list is simply not pretty enough.


Fortunately the part of my brain that knows better said NO THAT IS NOT THE REASON and saved me fifteen bucks.

The idea stuck with me, though, which is how I ended up killing an hour this weekend making these pretty calendar pages:


They’re just Word documents, with patterns from Pixels & Ice Cream to create the background for the pages, though I manipulated the colors and saturation for my liking. I printed them on cardstock and they turned out pretty much exactly as I’d hoped.

There is a flowery background on February, though it doesn’t look like it in the photo above:


And because I had a blank “first page” on the back of the January page, I re-used the April background for a “notes” page:


If you’d like them, let me know and send them to you (I believe the Pixels & Ice Cream creator allows that for personal use, but I don’t want to post and distribute freely). I only made through April, though... because I realized needed to actually DO the things on the lists, not just make them.

So, my lectures aren’t finished, our house is still dirty, I haven’t read enough for my postdoc, and showering still seems somewhat optional somedays. But at least my lists are pretty. And for someone who is, we now know, NOT stay-at-home material? I’ll take it.

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