Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The time available

I keep finding myself saying, "There's not enough time," or "I don't have enough time," or even, in question form, "But where will I find the time?"

I am used to being able to say yes to most things (it's lucky I don't list my phone number on here, that statement alone could lead to some really weird calls), but at the moment, time, as they say, is not on my side. I'm just starting to plan my workload better, to stick to my allocated days for allocated project work and to start asserting my right to do so onto others, but still time and I are not quite good friends.

I think it was Ann Oakley (not as in Phoebe Moses, the shooter Queen, that's Annie - though I have a lot of time for her work, too) who said that housework "expands to fill the time available" and that's how I feel about my workload at the moment. Everywhere I look I seem to see competing deadlines, tasklists that seem to stretch to eternity and it makes me panicky, anxious and in the end, depressed.

Increasingly though, as the work stacks up, I begin to realise anew and afresh that my perspective on my workload is the real key to how I feel about it. Steve Hender, who I never tire of mentioning, had a buzz catchphrase that first shaped and now sums up my thinking here: "The map is not the landscape."

My map is often full of panic, caused by self-doubt and fear of failing/falling, but the landscape, I sense, merely contains a series of tasks that require completion by certain times. There is a relationship between my map and the landscape, but they are not the same; and in the rare moments when I manage to change the map, the landscape ceases to resemble a series of high mountains, one after another, insurmountable, and instead begins to take the form of rolling hills, leading to uncharted lands.

So, today has been a long struggle of moving in my mind between my unforgiving map and the indifferent landscape, tweaking and adjusting, colouring in some dull bits with pretty colours and bright incentives, and of course the necessary drudge of climbing them there hills. I feel very tired at the end of today, but certainly not defeated. I call this small, gradual movement forwards - progress. As for the shortness of time? Well, that's my next challenge. Drawing boundaries between my professional freelance work, my professional creative work and my social and personal life (I'm still searching for this last) seems the next natural step in my quest as Sarah Freelancing Researcher, Writer and Princess Warrior. I'll keep you posted.

Tonight Glenn is coming over and I am making him dinner. Nothing like the high-class dinner served to me on Sunday, but I'm not sure any of my friends would be up to the shock if I suddenly produced a goats cheese in pastry thingummy-what (I have no idea what that dish was called, but you don't think about that when you're eating it do you? Apologies to my host for the poor description and a special mention for the pumpkin and coconut soup - awesome). We were meant to be watching a movie, too, but guess what? I ran out of time to go and get one from the library.

Today's Beautiful Things:

1. Remembering my conversation with Howard from last night as soon as I woke up. He called my mobile when I was visiting friends and asked, towards the end of the conversation:
"Do I know them?"
"Would I like them?"
"Probably not."
"I'll let you go then, so you can leave early."
Howard, I am so glad you are home and can't wait to see you.

2. The Chief, talking about foxes

3. Miss Sally's laugh, triping contagiously down the phone-line, when I've only just stopped crying and thought it would be months before I laughed again. I love Miss Sally.

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