I’ve never been somebody who twiddles their thumbs a lot. I’m quite determined and if I truly want something, I’ll make it happen sooner or later, through ups and downs. I took two-years worth of exams in one when I met Alex and wanted to move to Spain (I’ll have to tell you about that sometime). I created my own business from scratch when I realised that translation agencies were ignoring my CVs. I became paleo and exercised every day, Monday to Sunday, for years when I decided that it was time to live healthily.
They might not be big achievements, but they changed my life and I’m proud of them. They made me stronger and even more determined. And they all happened in the periods of my life when I worked really hard—I mean 6am to 10pm hard.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve always worked hard in my life. The first two years of university were a catastrophe: I had just got out of a five-year relationship with my first sweetheart, I was heartbroken and doing more party-nutella-Lost-and-friends than actual studying. A couple of years later, after one wasted year of sending countless CVs to pursue my dream of becoming the next Fernanda Pivano, I was emotionally exhausted, out of motivation, and did lots of sitting around and crying over myself. When I was 8.5 months pregnant with Oliver and handed my business over to other teachers, I had so much time on my hands, but used most of it to watch the million and one episodes of The Good Wife.
Too much time on my hands. That was the common denominator between all the unproductive periods of my life.
I recently read about the concept of Idea Debt, when you spend too much time thinking about a project, dreaming of becoming successful, imagining your bright future… and way too little time making it happen. I got into so much Idea Debt during those unproductive times and it made me feel so overwhelmed, that sometimes instead of putting my head down and getting things done, I’d procrastinate even more. Which means even more Idea Debt—I guess that’s how debts work?
When there’s no time, there’s no time to waste
Then Oliver came. And turned everything upside down.
Suddenly, all the free time I had for myself disappeared. There was no time for The Good Wife (neither on TV nor in my household). There was no time to exercise. There was no time to blog. There wasn’t even time to sleep.
And against all odds, that’s when I started being more productive and blogging more. I realise only now that’s when I actually started paying off my Idea Debt.
How? You see, when there’s no time, there’s no time to waste.
After the first two months of adapting to my life as a new, clueless mum, I was now taking care of Oliver 24/7, giving language classes 10-15 hours a week, taking my dance classes two-three nights a week and meeting other mums all the time.
No, there was no time for my blog, nor to make my project happen, nor to pay off my Idea Debt. But because there was no time, every time I sat at the computer even for 5 minutes, I’d write, write, write. I’d focus. I’d be productive. I’d get things done.
Nowadays, I rarely sit at the computer without a very clear idea of what I’m going to do—I think about it while playing with Oliver, driving to the playground, doing the laundry, tidying up the house, when I can’t sleep at night. It’s all in my head. So yes, I still do a lot of thinking, but when I finally get to my computer I sit and work, I don’t waste time anymore—because now, that first half an hour when I’d usually browse the internet looking for ideas, reading some other blogs, facebooking… might be the only half an hour I have!
You can do it, too (with or without a baby)!
Becoming a mother has made me more productive. But I’m not saying you need a baby to be productive. What I’m saying is: if I can do it, with the little time I have, you can do it, too. Focus on the big picture, but work every day on its pixels. Most productivity guides will tell you to find a day and a time and always stick to it: if you’re a mother of a baby/toddler who doesn’t go to nursery, you know that’s impossible!
Instead, have a clear idea in your head of what you need to do, and when you get the chance to finally do it, don’t waste time, don’t look at social medias, turn off all notifications, disconnect the phone and the buzzer, forget about that person you have to call later, that present you have to buy, the house that needs cleaning. Just work. For five minutes, for half an hour, for as long as you get. Sometimes I get to write only a few paragraph or translate half a post: it’s not ideal and I do get upset often, but it’s what it is and it’s got to be enough.
And yes, every day I get overwhelmed thinking about all there is to do, all the posts I’d like to write, all the ideas that I can’t get out of my drawer, all the changes I’d like to make. But every day I still sit at my computer and write, translate, promote, create. And I think that eventually it’s going to be enough to make La Tela into something big.
I’m slowly, but surely paying off my Idea Debt, one post at the time.
What’s your Idea Debt? Are you paying it off?