Seeing Failure as Productive

I gave myself a challenge on Saturday to write a post a day for the week. Well, I didn’t post anything yesterday. While trying to fall asleep last night how I manage my many and varied interests repeatedly came to mind. Often, I delve into a interest or new hobby and it becomes all consuming. The activities and interests of the month before fall the back ground and become neglected. I know I do this and its not my favorite trait. Being the person who sees things through is much more important to me. As I venture on with my new knitwear designs this is a constant whisper in the background – don’t drop it for something else, don’t lose anything to this.

So how do I balance everything? I’ve come up with a strategy, which is in the testing phase, that just may help. It isn’t a time-table or priority list, both of which I have employed in the past. It is a change in mentality.

I will be more creative and productive within that creativity!

Instead of focussing on the individual interests and when to fit them in my week, this is the approach I’m taking. Each day I want to do something creative, do something relaxing, and do something productive (this productivity related to creative endevors). Here are some examples from the last few weeks.

Creative activities

  • designing knitting patterns
  • writing
  • cooking (without recipe)
  • photography

Relaxing activities

  • knitting
  • reading
  • watching tv
  • chess
  • visiting with friends/ family
  • bike ride

Productive activities

  • chart a design
  • write stitch instructions
  • write a blog post
  • write product descriptions
  • monitor and respond to test knitters
  • draft a newsletter
  • editing and proofreading
  • general admin
  • editing images
  • research (marketing, knitting techniques, writing practice and approaches, …)

This is changing how I look at my time spent and the value I place on it. The importance isn’t how many rows were knit and whether the pattern instructions were finished but in did I nourish my creativity, give myself time to relax and do something productive. What I’m finding is that, when I categorize activities like this, there is a lot of overlap and as a result much of the productive “work” can also be relaxing or creative. Here’s an example from yesterday:

I knit for a couple hours while watching TV. The project I’m working on is a gift for a friend and one of my own designs. The mere act of knitting is relaxing. While knitting I’m testing the design, confirming stitch counts, making alterations to charts and taking notes, which is productive. Because this is my own design, I pay special attention to how stitch patterns come together. Often I find myself staring at the fabric in my lap, admiring a particular motif or texture and wondering how to include it in another pattern. This greatly slows down my knitting speed but is part of the creative process. There are pauses for thought in creativity. Watching TV slows progress as well, stopping to catch a particularly tense moment or to chat with my partner, but this is part of relaxing and enjoying the moment.

Can you see how this change in priorities can shift one’s feelings? Previously, I would have been disappointed that I didn’t get more rows done – “I knit for two hours and that’s all I’ve accomplished?” By valuing the many aspects of that one activity and seeing how they piece together I can take comfort in time well spent.

So, no, I didn’t post yesterday but I was productive, creative and relaxed. That is much more important to me. Reflecting on the personal challenge I wonder if it was the right one to set. “Each day you will devote time to your blog” would have been a better challenge (and one that I could say I’ve met so far) but I’ll stick with this one and see how it goes.

What personal challenges have you set for yourself?

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