Creating with less

April 18. We’ve had magnetic poetry stuck to the microwave for several years, but I’ve purged piles of magnets the last few times we’ve moved, so the selection of words is very limited—but this restriction has been freeing. And overall, during this period of isolation, I’ve surprisingly found productivity and efficiency with less. Even as I work shorter shifts each day, I seem to focus and get stuff done (and when we get to the other side of this, I will be a big proponent of shorter work weeks). I’m reminded of Emilia’s newborn months, when she slept on my chest in between breastfeeding sessions—all day, all night—and the writer in me came alive in short spurts yet long Instagram captions, often in the middle of the night, in between the moments of my new life as a mother and milk machine. I have not typed furiously like that since, but over the past month as we stay home, I’ve experienced wee moments of creativity from these silly word magnets and other unexpected ways, like Emilia’s coloring books and other random things around our house. I’ve also reached a point where I can now stare at the wall as she falls asleep on my arm and the circular imperfections of wood on our doors look like faces in Dr. Seuss books. So thank you for the little bits of inspiration, Day 41.

Friday

I can slip into bad work habits: sitting in one place for too long, forgetting to eat, doing one task all day, or focusing too much on day-to-day busywork instead of bigger projects I place on the horizon.

I took today off — or kind of. Mostly, I wanted to work offline, or I suppose online but unpingable, unreachable. Which are different things. I love Slack, which is the tool we use to communicate all day, every day. But sometimes I need to hide.

My husband, who usually works from home as well, is working from his office in San Francisco today. I love working from home with him, but I also really like being home alone during the work week, too.

A lot of people use the Pomodoro Technique to manage their time. I do not. Although I’ve never really tried.

I suppose I did my own version of it today:

7:30 Checked inbox, commented on a few p2 threads.

8:00 Made a cup of coffee.

8:15 Scheduled social for my photo challenge in Buffer.

8:45 Checked Slack, answered a few pings.

9:00 Cleaned the kitchen.

9:30 Scheduled a few editors’ picks.

9:45 Ate granola and yogurt.

10:00 Watered the herbs.

10:30 Started drafting a p2 post for the Discover calendar.

11:00 Swept the deck and put the leaves in the bin.

11:30 Made a bowl of instant ramen.

12:00 Opened Sketch to start an artboard, but failed to do anything.

12:30 Took a shower.

1:00 Unpacked from my trip a bit more.

1:30 Drafted a feature for Discover on a blogger who announced a book deal.

2:30 Swept the other deck, which has not been swept since we’ve moved here.

3:00 Removed the dishes from the dishwasher.

3:15 Started playing around with my new Pressable site.

3:45 Poured a glass of Chardonnay and started writing this post.

Since I technically took the day off, I really shouldn’t be working at all. But I’ve toyed with the idea of making Fridays (or every other Friday) an “offline work day” where I can brainstorm, work on things that I always brush aside, and step back and think about the bigger picture — and what I’m doing and if it’s effective.

Working from home has many benefits, but can also be challenging. There are many tools I can use or techniques I can do to help keep me on track, but ultimately it’s up to me to constantly produce good work. The intervals of work mixed with spurts of activity helped a bit, so I might try it again next week.