Saturday, May 28, 2011

More than an Hour a Day

I named this blog "An Hour a Day" because almost everything that I have accomplished in my life professionally, I have accomplished by focusing my attention on it for just an hour a day. I wrote my dissertation in an hour a day. I published enough articles to earn tenure in an hour a day. And I wrote and published over forty books for children by writing for an hour a day.

But some jobs take more than an hour a day. When I was writing the Mason Dixon series last year under serious time constraints, trying to produce three 125-page manuscripts in less than six months, I had to write for two hours a day.

Now I am faced with the task of cleaning out a 3500-square-foot house filled with 20 years of accumulated clutter by an epic hoarder (not my house, fortunately!). I was trying to tackle it an hour a day: fill ten trash bags, haul them to the dumpster. But it isn't working. On that plan, the task will not get done in a decade, let alone by the time I leave for Indiana in August. Yesterday I worked on it for five hours, and no visible progress is discernible whatsoever. I am a wee bit discouraged.

But I still need to remember my time-tested life strategy principles. First of all, I DID make progress yesterday, however hideous the house still looks today. I filled an entire "six yard" dumpster to overflowing. That is a lot! It's true that many many more dumpsters will need to be filled, but I need to recognize and celebrate this first one. Whole (well, small) areas of garage floor are visible. That is something.

Today I am going to work at my desk at home for my needed hours of writing/working time until ten. And then I'll go face the Augean stables again. And if the five-hour-a-day plan becomes too onerous, well, I'll go out and hire a Hercules to divert Boulder Creek to pour through the house and wash all its contents away.

But for now, I'll go get my little notebook and make a page where I can record my daily progress. Entry number one: one dumpster filled and ready to haul away!

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