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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks

What Kind of Day?

Some days, Mondays especially, I hop out of bed and start being productive. Well, there is a period in between rising and being productive where I am sitting at the table in a somewhat catatonic state with a cup of coffee in front of me. But right after that, I hit the ground running.

On those days, I have a to-do list prepared, and immediately I am mentally organizing which tasks to do in which order. Those are great days. The sense of accomplishment, of dragging a pencil line through each item as it is completed gives me a feeling of power - the idea Bring it; I’m ready to take on the world.

Indeed I might, if only I could retain that intention and determination for more than one day.

There are days/weeks/months when we run ourselves ragged, and then we fall ill. We are forced to stay in bed and recover.

Recently, I had been burning the candle at both ends, and started feeling rundown. I had a major speech coming up, and I could not get sick. I loaded up on vitamins and went to bed. I napped and read all day. It was marvelous, and apparently just what I needed because I was able to avoid getting sick. I kept thinking, why don’t I do this on a regular basis? I don’t have time is why. None of us do.

There is another kind of rejuvenation to be had though, and it is called puttering. It’s an amazing activity and brings me much joy. I don’t think puttering gets the credit it deserves.

The dictionary defines putter as “to busy or occupy oneself in a leisurely, casual, or ineffective manner: to putter in the garden”

The synonyms listed are: loiter, doodle, fiddle, fritter, mess, poke, potter, puddle, tinker. I love all of those.

In our society we tend to be so goal-oriented, and perhaps compartmentalized that we miss some of the overlap. For example, we work when we clean, declutter, and reorganize. And then when we get totally overwhelmed, we do self-care with a massage, a spa day, a bubble bath. Again, self-care in this regard could be added onto a to-do list With the way we view them, they are separate activities. Two different things entirely.

There is overlap however, where the two circles on a Venn diagram intersect. A union of both work and self-care, and that’s where puttering lies. It’s therapeutic. It's a quiet time; it’s relaxing; it can be thought-provoking or mindless, and your body usually tells you which you need.

Puttering can involve real work, like doing laundry, re-organizing a sock drawer, going through papers on your desk, but it’s the pace and the purpose that differentiates between getting it done and doing something so leisurely that it can no longer be considered work. I can clean, sort and organize a junk drawer in 20 minutes if it’s on my to-do list, but if I’m puttering and allowing myself to relax, enjoying some music, and taking my time, cleaning that same drawer could take me well over an hour. Puttering is not task oriented; it’s one of those times where you’re supposed to get distracted and jump from project to project.

This afternoon I have a list of things that need to be done by the end of the weekend but because I’m feeling panicky and anxious, I think I’ll make sure my winter clothes are folded and put away or organize my garden tools. See you in a couple of hours.

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