When the walls come tumblin’ down… 15-Minute Friday progress report

This (sorta) Old Life:  Austin Kleon's practice productive procrastination

From one of my favorites:  Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist

Cane and I have long been proponents of productive procrastination.

For whatever reason, we seem to be wired to procrastinate. While we work hard to get on things that need to be done, we also accept the reality of who we are. This means not necessarily fighting procrastination, but accepting it and using it for good.

That’s why I got so much done this week while I was NOT working on my 15-Minute Project of getting our paperwork/office storage areas organized and better functioning.

Cane found a sweet little owl painting for $2 last week, and we decided that we’d hang a flock of birds above our mantel.

This (sorta) Old Life:  birds above mantel

We moved our embroidered owl over to join New Owl and Red Bird. Grace says this is “too much owl” but we like the flock.

Previously Red Bird lived up there by himself, just propped on top of the mantel, but three birds seemed to call for actual picture hanging. That took an easy 15 minutes.

Unfortunately, hanging the pictures wreaked a little havoc with our mantel arrangement. Our big clock no longer fits on the mantel, and most of what we used to have up there no longer seemed to work.

This (sorta) Old Life: mantel spring 2012

This was our mantel last spring. We mostly just threw some stuff up there, which I liked. Somehow, hanging paintings on the wall instead of propping them up changed the whole dynamic.

This created a big, time-sucking problem–several 15-minutes worth of problem.

True confession time:

I have never gotten the whole mantel decoration thing. I like to make fun of people who spend a lot of time on their mantels (in private, just to my own little self, because I know it’s not nice).

It’s partly that I think there are a whole lot of more important things to spend time on, but it’s partly–I had to admit this week–because I don’t know how to make a mantel look good.

So I spent one 15-minutes (or two) Googling mantel arrangements. There are lots of ideas on how to do that (and pictures to go with), but in the end it just came down to me spending another couple of 15-minutes trying a whole bunch of different stuff out.

I realized I like a fairly spare mantel, and I went with a mostly symmetrical arrangement.

This (sorta) Old Life:  mantel fall 2012

This shows you what I ended up with, but it doesn’t really capture it. Looks much better in person–because I need to learn more about photography, as well as mantel arrangement. That would also be the reason the white balance is off in almost every picture in this post, dang it!

Moving the old stuff had a bit of a chain-reaction effect. I had to find a place for the clock, which sent me back to the red bookshelf I wrote about a few weeks ago.

This (sorta) Old Life:  red bookcase

The back of that shelf had never been painted, which has driven me nuts ever since we moved it to that corner. From outside you can see a small slice of the unpainted back through the window, and you can also see it through the stair railing when you come in the front door. So I got out the paint and painted the back. That was another 15 minutes.

After re-arranging the mantel, I needed a place to put the cool clay teapot Cane made years ago. So I put it with some books on the top of a storage cabinet we have in our dining room/library. I also hung our new thrift store painting there, after we decided it was a better size for that space.

This (sorta) Old Life: clay pot and thrift store painting

And then I hung up some sweet embroidery art in the place that Embroidered Owl used to be. Another 15 minutes.

This (sorta) Old Life: vintage embroidery art

This has a note on the back that says it was a Christmas gift in 1975. Of course I had to get it when I saw that.

Oh, and I spent 15 minutes digging out an old mirror and hanging it above the desk I was supposed to be purging and organizing–because I read something somewhere this week about how every entry should have a mirror, but Cane said he didn’t see a place for a mirror in our entry proper.

This (sorta) Old Life: entry mirror

And sometime on Wednesday, as I was complaining to Cane that I hadn’t done a single 15 minutes on the organization project, and I wasn’t going to have anything to write a post about, and maybe I just don’t have 15 minutes a day to do this project, I realized how many 15-minutes I’d used this week on tweaking the living room.

That’s when the walls of rationalization came tumbling down, threatening the foundation of my 15-minute project:

It’s not about time at all.

I’ve got time, clearly. That’s not what my inability to tackle big projects is about. I’ve figured out small pieces of my project that could be done in 15 minutes. I simply chose not to do them.

It was way more fun to tweak the living room.

This (sorta) Old Life: mantel detail

When I look back at anything in my life I’ve thought I wanted to do but felt I didn’t have the time to do, I can see that it was always something I didn’t–for some reason–deep down want to do. And I can see that I’ve always found time for those things I’ve felt compelled to do. (Like write this blog. :-))

I’m glad that in the absence of actually doing my proclaimed project, I did something useful instead. Productive procrastination beats the kind I do on Facebook or Pinterest, easy.

And it may be that the whole 15 minute thing is still necessary–not because I only have small chunks of time, but because that might be the amount of time that will make it tolerable for me to work on a project I don’t really want to do. The organization project needs to get done. I’m not sure why I’m resisting it. I’m guessing I’ll become more aware of that when I actually start doing more of it.

Awareness is always a good thing. It was helpful this week to see that I really can do things I set out to do. Or, at least, that I have the resources of time I need to do them. It’s not impossible.

Not giving up yet…

This (sorta) Old Life: mini pumpkins


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