Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The List--What's on Yours?

Leslie Kesler's last guest post,  about what she learned in leaving a job,  generated a great deal of conversation.  I'm really pleased to have her return with the thoughts about what she's doing with the unexpected free time that has unfortunately become a part of many museum workers' lives.  Check out her to-do list--but more importantly, her thoughts on how that surprising list connects to her professional self. 

In my last post, I mentioned that one of my coping techniques, anticipating a layoff, was making a list of things that would be fun to do. Not necessarily trip-to-the Riviera-fun – though I certainly wouldn't turn my nose up at that – but realistic, budget-friendly, possibly skill-building fun.

Some selections from my list:
  • edit a Wikipedia article
  • finally make a dent in scanning all the old family photos I've been promising Mom I'd get to. Maybe start a tumblr with them. Add a few to Historypin
  • start a blog.  Or, hey, maybe guest blog somewhere
  • try out the new National Archives citizen archivist dashboard
  • finally sit down and figure out what Google+ is all about and if I should be on it
You may be sensing a tech theme here, and if so, you'd be partially right. Playing with new technology is something I enjoy, something that gets me energized thinking about new possibilities. I'm not especially proficient at it, but I think it's fun.

But it's not all about the electronic devices.  Also on my list are:
  • (re)learn how to use a sewing machine
  • tackle some around-the-house projects that stretch my comfort zone with tools and handyman tasks
  • try some new recipes. Bake some bread
  • poke around in flea markets and thrift stores

I've noticed a couple of themes running through my list. One, of course, is a focus on skills and on producing tangible products. I suspect there's some compensation going on there and I am amused by it  even as I find it unarguably therapeutic. I picture my inner six-year-old storming around inside my head, defiantly stomping her foot at the universe and insisting that yes, I am, too, competent – despite having recently had the pins knocked out from under my professional self – because I can make things! So there.
The other theme I notice is about giving myself permission to spend time on things that I'm not very good at (yet), and that I'm certainly not going to be efficient at. In fact, I'll probably fail at some, and I'm telling myself that's OK. One of the costs of being on an ever-accelerating treadmill, at least for me, has been reluctance to try things that might not work. When every minute counts, it's hard to justify the  time to take chances. But losing track of time while totally absorbed in the process of figuring something out is one of the real joys of work, at least for me. Plus, that's often where some really good creative stuff happens.

When this blog post was still just a concept, Linda insightfully pointed out that it probably had some synergy with Jasper Visser's post here. I think that's right. I've been missing having time for play – constructive play, not goofing off – and it's something I need to recapture for myself before I find my way back onto the treadmill.

What about you? What recharges you? What would you put on your list?

List by flickr user Ben Cumming  
An Artist's Workbench by flickr user empiredude1


Anonymous said...

What recharges me? In a word, 'interaction' with all that's around me.

-Walks in a nearby park
-Reading clever books
-Fixing things (with small ones around, I can't keep up on repairs)
-Mowing the lawn/snowblowing the driveway
-Visits with relatives and friends

Reading your post brought to mind all the work that goes on with disaster plans for local museums. In a way, it would be a good idea for our own careers to have a career disaster plan for "the unthinkable." Wonder what that would look like? I probably could have used one when the state shutdown of 21 days last July happened. I wound up doing none of the above, though, as George showed up on July 2 and a local museum burned to the ground on July 8 prompting my early recall.


Chuck Till said...

What recharges you? Reminding myself that my job, or my profession, doesn't define me. To be sure, it's part of the definition -- but not the entirety. The more I do in contradistinction to my career, the happier I am both at my job and elsewhere. In short, I work to live not live to work.

Leslie Kesler said...

David, the concept of a "career disaster plan" may have just inspired a whole new post! As an aside, my birthday is the day before George's and in my many years as a state employee I always told myself that if a threatened shutdown materialized I was going to treat it as my own personal holiday. Of course, that was back in the years when we all told ourselves that no shutdown could possibly go more than a couple of days without being resolved.

Leslie said...

Chuck, that's an important distinction to hold onto. I'm finding that the doing part of "the more I do" is really important for me. I can spend a lot of time thinking & talking about who I am, separate from my job -- and that's probably productive in it's own way -- but it's when I actively immerse myself in doing other activities that I really feel that the most genuinely.

art lust said...

interesting idea. I love the idea of this. I just said to my husband that I might start interning somewhere (despite my full time job.) just so that I could change my future--if i choose to. this would be top on my list of possible recharges. Also, I have decided to take the 52 book challenge. And I have decided I will sketch in the galleries (where I work) once a week.