Holidays Are Over. Now Back To Work

Well, work is a relative term for me nowadays after retiring from “gainful employment”. But work still happens, for sure. At year end, one of my favorite things to do is ORGANIZE. I mean, re-assess all the projects I want to do and then see if I can do them. Sometimes, my enthusiasm, which is at an all-time high at this time of year, gets the better of me.

I did organize my “creative” projects and my household projects in a purely analog fashion. I walk a line, quite crooked at times, between the digital world and the more basic “analog” world. Usually around the New Year, I move more to the analog side. In keeping with that, I used my “digital to-do list” from Omnifocus to write out cards for each project. I made them “trading card size” (2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″) because I like that size. As it turns out, I still have one of my son’s old trading card notebooks from his Pokemon card collecting phase. They have little clear pockets to slide the cards into.

I categorized my projects into things like: bookbinding, card making, scrapbooking, leather tooling, weaving, spinning, household, yardwork… You get the idea. Then I put all the cards into slots within each of those categories. They were roughly in the order that I might want to accomplish them. My plan then is to work on the projects (I can review them weekly, monthly or whatever) and as I complete them, take them out of the sleeve and pile them up. I plan to write notes on the cards about how the project was accomplished and what I learned, as well as when I did the work. It works like a journal. Not sure what I’ll do with this information, but it satisfies my desire to organize and see what I’ve accomplished.

I’ve also had a real bug for doing things in a more “hands on” manner. In watching these Alaska homesteader programs, I’ve been reminded that I grew up in a family of do-it-yourselfers. Mostly because my Dad grew up in a family with no money in the early 1900s, where you HAD to do things yourself and with no money.

What I learned this week as I did some really mundane tasks (like cleaning windows on a warm January day before the setting in of a cold snap, or cutting down fronds of ornamental grass in the hope of weaving some baskets from this renewable resource that is in my yard) is that the thinking process I’ve become accustomed to has shifted. When I was growing up, my Dad always looked around the house for things he could re-purpose by making them into things that he needed. He saved a lot of money that way, although he spent more time making the objects he needed. But what I forgot about that was that you think about things differently. Instead of thinking: “what can I buy to accomplish this task”, you think “how can I accomplish this task, and what do I have on hand that could help me.”

The big difference here is that you look at objects less by what they were made to do, and more about what they are. So, an old garbage can that I was about to put out in the garbage/recycling becomes a bin for hauling things in the yard with. It’s a subtle shift in thinking, but something the Alaskan homesteaders do all the time. Otto Kilcher of “Alaska: The Last Frontier” is always trying to solve some mechanical problem, or fix something by understanding what he needs a tool or thing to do, and then going and finding something that works in his stash of “junk”. It’s resourceful, and it’s also a good mental exercise in seeing things for what they can be, rather than what someone else says they are.

It’s quite empowering. Lots of words this time. No pictures, but I promise some pictures in the next post as I talk about the projects I worked on over the holiday season. Now that the gifts have been given, I won’t be letting them “out of the bag” prematurely.

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