As mentioned in the latest podcast, I’ve tried many ways over the years to organise myself and keep track of where I’m supposed to be, what I’m supposed to be doing, and when I’m supposed to be doing it. Nearly all have fallen by the wayside after a period of time – some sooner than others. I’ve used bullet journals, lists, a day book (where I compile lists and also scribble notes), a diary, and my current favourite: heaps of paper.

For 2021, I’m going back to using a bullet journal but already I’ve fallen down the wormhole that is the bullet journal community on YouTube. Honestly, how many different ways ARE there to write a weekly plan?

The things I’m trying to organise fall into broad categories: work, creative time, exercise, household chores.

Work is what I default to when I don’t want to do anything else, or don’t know what else to do. I had absolutely no idea I had such a strong work ethic, and it’s taken me by surprise. But I don’t think I’m terribly efficient. In fact, I know I’m not! You wouldn’t believe how long it takes me to write a newsletter, or course notes or a blog post…

Creativity should be such a simple one, but isn’t. I’ve obviously been “creating” in some form or other all my life, but for the past few years I’ve had a real block about getting started. I’ve had a great time this year creating my courses, and I took a couple of excellent art courses which have given me much to ponder in the new year, and a very good foundation for taking my creative endeavours where I want them to go. But it’s a curious thing, the more I’ve been online, whether via Facebook or Instagram, the harder it gets to start something completely new: there’s a feeling of expectation out there, which collides headlong into my imposter syndrome and my uncertainty about how my new-found interest in painting will fit with my textiles, and before I know it my work ethic pops up and it’s back to checking my emails and off we go again.

Sorting out a regular creative practice, in the simplest meaning of the word, is therefore my priority for 2021.

Practice: something that is usually or regularly done, often as a habit, tradition, or custom; the act of doing something regularly or repeatedly to improve your skill at doing it; action as opposed to thoughts, ideas, or plans.

Cambridge Dictionary

I particularly like that last bit…”action as opposed to thoughts, ideas or plans”.

Exercise is a difficult one, but again, it really shouldn’t be. Over the years, I’ve done different things including cycling, Pilates, yoga, swimming, running (I did the whole NHS to 5K and beyond – go me!), tabata-style bodyweight exercises, kettle bell, and tai chi (which may not seem like exercise, as you move at a snail’s pace, but there’s something about it you certainly feel the day after). Tai chi is the current favourite, probably because the classes are now on Zoom and very convenient, and I’m only 10 moves away from learning the entire 66 move sequence – it’s taken two years, I’m so close I can’t stop now!

But I do wonder sometimes how our grandparents made it through their lives without swinging kettle bells or doing press-ups and squats in the living room, or jogging sweatily around the playing field. They seem to have managed all right with a dog walk a day and the occasional stiff walk to town and back.

Household chores is the one that has bedevilled me for years. Household stuff is a pain because I like a clean and tidy environment, but there are two major problems:

  • I resent having to spend time thinking about it or doing it when nobody else in the house does (unless under duress);
  • I’m always creating heaps, because I have the attention span of a gnat: I’m always jumping from thing to thing. If something is “in progress” – be it a piece of textile work, painting in a sketchbook, ingredients purchased for a recipe, magazines I’m reading and want to cut up to keep the pictures or the recipes, books I have started and want to finish, papers and notes I’m using or want to make notes on, clothes I’ve worn for half a day and intend to wear again soon…once out, these things stay out. In a heap.

I’ve tried cleaning at the weekend, or doing a little every day during the week. I’ve tried nagging and I’ve tried bribery to get others involved. I’ve tried collaboration and compromise. I’ve tried leaving it for a month, and while the sky didn’t fall in, it took hours to clean once I decided I couldn’t take it any more.

Getting a cleaner is out of the question. I read somewhere that the thing people like best about having a cleaner, is to come home to shiny taps. Well, that I have managed, all by myself: one of the few good habits I have is to wipe the bathroom sink a couple of times every day, so it never needs “cleaning” and is always shiny! A cleaner would create more stress than they would solve, as I would have to tidy up before they arrived…

I think the only thing for it is to go back to the Fly Lady system, adapted by Diane in Denmark who is such a cheery person to follow on social media. It’s all a bit nuts to begin with, until you get your head round how it works, but is basically a method of creating routines and habits, with things designated to specific days, so that you never have to spend hours cleaning in one go – and it’s where I got my sink-polishing habit from. I’m going to give it another whizz.

I’ll let you know how I get on! In case you’re interested in the nitty gritty of how I intend to do and keep track of all this, here’s what I’ve done in my spanking new bullet journal so far:

If you listened to the latest podcast you can see that I have utterly failed in any attempt to spurn the washi tape, and it is all starting to look a bit complicated…but pretty!

2 Thoughts to “Getting sh!t done in 2021”

  1. Izzy and Gina,

    Where do I begin? I’m listening to your Podcasts and reading the Blog from your beginning to current. I have presently completed both through 2020. My mind is whirring or as you would say, Izzy, “thinky thinky.” Oh my gosh, where do I begin. I’ve been attempting to learn textile art for over 2 years. I was a professional photographer in my work life, now retired, with time and resources at my disposal. I began learning with the desire to create pictures from fabric and thread. Had a rough start and negative feedback from local guild members. One comment has remained in my heart, “That doesn’t seem to be art to me.” Need not fo further down that fox hole.
    Found you, Izzy, on Instagram where your swirls spoke to my soul. And you, Gina through the Podcast where you spoke of teaching machine embroidery. In my work life/art, I lived by practices and processes. Today, I am at a loss of how to create a practice to accomplish my goal which is to share with others what my eyes see in flowers with textiles.
    Your podcasts, thus far, have been like a bright shining light. The books that you discussed seem to be process oriented. And, of course, I can hardly wait to take online courses from both of you.
    At this point in my life, my hubby begins cancer treatment inn 2 weeks. We are expecting at least 6 weeks in which I will be his caregiver. I am hoping that the treatment does not affect negatively as some do. I am, however, realizing that my ‘art’ time will be affected.
    I wanted to say to each of you just how much I have enjoyed listening to your podcasts and reading the blog. I’m looking forward to learning from each of you.
    Thank you for sharing your minds, hearts and art.

    1. Isobel says:

      Wow, thank you so much, Patsy! That means so much to me. I really appreciate your support – listening, reading, and taking the time to write. I’ll certainly pass on your very kind comments to Gina, and hope we’ll see you in a class soon!

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