For almost a year, now, Monday has been designated as “Bookkeeping Monday,” so I’m sticking with the plan. Only now I no longer need to stretch this grim and tedious task all the way until the end of banking hours. Just for one hour.
I am a freelance illustrator (which in today’s world translates as under-earner) and full-time financial juggler. Today I will attend to my checking account, peek at bills, send an invoice, check on payments due, and round up the tax-deductible receipts that float around my art room/office like dandelion fluff.
Putting on my mediator hat, I will call a credit card company, navigate the voicemail system until I get a real person, then hopefully talk my way out of a late fee. My negligence was once due to the occasional general spacing out and/or bookkeeping fatigue (I am often compulsive about balancing my accounts to the penny, yet fail to see the larger and now bleaker picture). The past several years have been punctuated by mini-panic attacks; while my personal creative life has flourished, my practical one is a continuous low-pressure front with a Kansas-size tornado in the wings. My career got caught in a perfect storm: the economy’s nose dive in 2008, and the advent of computer technology. While many things were made easier, along with it came the notion that the creative process is accessed with a push of a download button, and is free. A Faustian pact, we professional creatives find ourselves immeshed in. The third factor is the one I am trying to address here: my focus issues, my sense of self-worth, and finding serenity in the present moment.
On Monday I also deal with the clutter of torn envelopes. As much as I try to eliminate paper waste, a paper trail always finds me. I don’t put my entire stock of faith in internet banking, so I have one foot in each world. And each requires attention and maintenance. Is my life simpler? No, it is twice as complicated. (However, there is a lovely machine that brings out the Zen in me, calming me with its buzz, called a paper-shredder).
If an hour is up and I still want to keep at it, I’ll “have at it.” This plan by no means intends to put a cap on the end of any activity; in fact, a side effect might be that I develop a longer attention span. Ideally, one day I will discover that attention needs no spanning at all.
I only want to underscore that even the most unpleasant task can be stretched out to fill an hour.
My typical Monday is proof.