Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Deadline and a Paycheck

I love listening to NPR-really, I do.  When I am home most days, whether I am working or not, it keeps me company.  Even though I am not always paying attention, I like to think that some sort of information or knowledge is seeping into my brain through radio osmosis.  I also really like the names of everyone who reports for NPR.  I think if I ever have another baby (which is very, very unlikely) or get a dog (again, not going to happen) I just my name it Owen Bennet Jones, just so I can say the name several times a day. 

Another, sometimes frustrating, consequence of all this radio listening is that bits and pieces, snippets of reports and interviews do often find their way into my long term memory, but they are only that:  bits and pieces.  I can't remember which show I was listening to (was it All Things Considered or Here and Now?  I wonder)

I am sharing all this, possibly boring, information because a few weeks ago I heard something that really stuck with me.  A musician was being interviewed and the reporter asked something along the line of "how did this album come together?"  The musician, half joking, answered:  "I got a deadline and a paycheck." 

Yes, so simple!!  I am deadline oriented and who doesn't want to get paid for their work?  When I have a writing job, even the most mind numbing, mundane topic (like vacuum cleaners or cell phones) I can get them done because I have both a deadline and a paycheck.  Brilliant!!!  (if you are imagining Owen Bennet Jones saying that in his British accent, you are not alone).

But, more often than not, the things I have to do are amorphous-no deadline and certainly no paycheck.  I spend a lot of my time on volunteer projects and those certainly have a deadline but always lack a paycheck.  Arbitrary, self-imposed deadlines don't really work for me-my own experience has proven that time and time again.  But, would it be possible to self-incentivize?  I am not sure.  Right now, my "to-do" list includes many things with deadlines that have to be done and will get done, but it also includes things like:

  • learn to use sewing machine (which I've had for at least 5 years)
  • hang frames in upstairs hallway (they somehow fell off over the summer)
  • organize photos on laptop (that could take literally a week)
  • write a novel (yeah, that is really on the list)
When it comes to following through, it's hard to find time (and, honestly sometimes the effort) for everything you want to accomplish and things just pile up.  In a day that also includes laundry, helping at school, cleaning out the fridge, shopping for socks because seriously everyone in the house only has one of each sock and some work thrown in, tthe things you want to accomplish get further and further aways. 

So, a deadline and a paycheck-I can dream, right?  I am giving myself a deadline to learn to use my sewing machine-otherwise it goes!  Those frames need to get back on the wall and I am plugging along on my novel this month at Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month).  None of these have a paycheck, yet-but I hope the deadline helps. 

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