Un-multi-tasking

Good advice

I have been thinking long and hard about a comment that I received from a fellow ex-business owner, graphic designer and artist. I have freely traded advice with the fabulous Paula Kovarik over the years, first when she was closing her business, during the process of transitioning to from business owner to artist, and most recently when I closed my business. Our conversations have always been useful to me since Paula has stood in my shoes. And so I always listen very carefully.
A couple of weeks ago Paula left a comment to my last post about my disciplined approach to retirement. I have an edited version here.
"I try not to think of any time as "wasted". That mindset came with business. Each moment had to be productive, insightful and decisive. Now the time exploring new ideas (reading, browsing the internet, calling on friends) adds to my creative practice. ... Taking a break from stitching 90 inches of parallel lines for hours will save your life. Stretch, wander and enjoy. (It has been the hardest thing for me to learn since leaving the business world, but it is also the most valuable for my art.) "
Never has a comment made me stop and think so much about my work ethic, and how I approach retirement. I have come from 37 years of balancing family, work and community obligations and the net effect of that has been that I am careful not to "waste" time since I had precious little of it. In fact the name of this blog came during a very very short sabbatical where I promised myself that I would stop trying to be uber efficient. (By the way, I succeeded for about two weeks and then fell back into my work/mom/wife/daughter/committee member mode.
As I enter my third month of retirement, I have found that the hardest part is not listening to my inner voice which is telling me that "Each moment has to be productive, insightful and decisive." The hardest part is to wander and enjoy, connect with friends, and break my habit of feeling that work comes first and then comes enjoyment. 
I have thought about my routine which I describe in the previous posting and after reading Paula's good advice and then going back to read my writings, I realize that I still have a business mindset and my goal is to let up on it and myself.
During the last two weeks, I tried not to be a slave to my art, not to set up artificial time tables and not to feel that every waking second has to be productive. I was partly successful and I know that it will be a while before I can really relax into retirement.
Some non-heavy-duty activities that I pursued this week:
  • I made a really large ironing blanket.
  • I cooked some dishes I have never tried before (my husband was very happy).
  • I organized my room and unpacked a box of fabric from my dyer. 
  • I did some needlepoint instead of quilting
  • I actually watched 4 episodes of the Good Wife.
  • And I started a new book, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932, A Novel
  • I have a long road ahead to exorcise my workaholic demons and learn how to sit back and relax.  I think Paula's good advice helped me take the first step down that road.