Only a slight deadline slide since the last post, I’m now aiming at visitor-friendly status for the house about a week from now. The reason for this post is just to note that I’ve decided to continue restricting my paid workload (to previous clients, mainly) to ensure that a fair amount of time remains free for housework, and I’ve put messages to that effect on both business websites and the landline.
It’s getting towards the end of the month and I thought I should do an update on the housework. If it had been going according to plan I’d have left it until I could say “Done!” but it’s not. It’s not all that far off though: at the moment I’m expecting to have achieved the main aim, to get the two room functions back as they should be, junkroom to bedroom and bedsitter to sitting room, by the deadline, which is tool-downing time on the last day of September. But it will take a bit longer to get the sitting room and ancillary areas up to the standard at which I’ll feel happy to invite visitors. I’m currently thinking the end of this coming week, or maybe the beginning of next week. What plays into this is that I’m starting to do some paid work again during this coming week. I’ll obviously announce it here when I’ve reached “the final goal.” (Actually, it’s fairly far from final, because there’s another biggish job to do after that—sorting out the other junk room—as well as many smaller ones, and then there’s the routine work of maintaining standards. But it feels quite final in relation to the activity of the last few weeks.)
This is day five of project house-sort and this afternoon, for the first time, I seem to have a feel for the scale of the job. (I also seem to be finding it a bit easier, whether that’s due to building stamina or just getting used to it or both.) One thing I tend to get right these days is allowing plenty of time for a given job. A month was a lot to allow for this one, by general standards, but I’m now feeling that in this case it was about right. I’m thinking in terms of having another three weeks—it’s actually about three and a half but I’m building in big safety margins, as is my wont nowadays—and I’m quite happy with the prospect of spending around half of that decluttering and the other half redecorating. I’m not working on it all day every day, I’m finding that’s just not doable for a number of reasons, but progress is most certainly being made.
This is my third day of being a full-time house-fixer-upper, so what’s happened so far?
Not an awful lot. Progress is being made, but not much, it seems. On the other hand some things seem to bode well for future work. (I mean the very near future, not the far distant sort.) For instance, I’ve formed quite a clear idea of what I want to achieve this month: to return two rooms to their proper function, so the larger junk room goes back to being a bedroom, and the bed-sitter turns back into the sitting room. In addition, both rooms should be pleasant, so the sitting room is fit to receive guests, and the bedroom’s nice to go to bed and wake up in. That means the bedroom will have to be decorated. So, with a little under four weeks to go, there should be enough time, but maybe not an awful lot to spare. I’m sure some would say “that’s tons of time” but I have very little experience of decorating, and at the moment, it seems, not a lot of stamina. So there might be some slippage on the niceness front, but I’m quite determined to achieve the functional change-around on this timescale.
Part of the reason I haven’t achieved a lot so far is, I think, lack of focus or direction. It was only this afternoon that I got these goals clear in my mind, and I’ve spent a fair bit of time bemused and even overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things that need doing. It seems to take an awful lot of mental energy to make decisions, particularly those about what to do with things: throw it out or keep it and if keeping it where to put it, and whether temporarily or long-term. But I expect that to get easier with practice. Also, I realised just today that a good way to improve both motivation and direction is to spend time in the junk/bedroom. So even if I’m just standing about, or even sitting, wondering what to do next, I’m experiencing discomfort with its current state. One of the main reasons things have gotten so bad is my tendency to put stuff out of my mind, in particular not to go into either of the junkrooms unless I had to, then to get out and forget about it as quickly as possible. I’ve always had quite good concentration but I do tend to use it to bury my head in the sand, ignoring whatever’s less than pleasant.
Of course it’s tempting to say I shouldn’t be using time and energy blogging that could be used on the house! I do believe a change is as good as a rest, so this isn’t entirely wasted, but I’ll leave it there for now.
Later: realised I need another rule, so this is not like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic: the improvements in these two rooms must not be at the cost of deterioration in other spaces. In other words, I can’t just cram yet more stuff into the small junk room and/or the loft.
To whom it may concern—probably nobody besides myself but having written about my previous position I should probably record this—I’ve changed my mind about the Scottish independence referendum.
When I last wrote about this issue I was quite committed to abstention, or at least to not taking part in the arguments, and I was genuinely undecided anyway. What has remained the case is that my head is pulling in one direction and my heart in the other. But I’ve now become convinced that in this I should follow my heart (hearing some relevant Burns quotations helped), so I’m voting YES. I’m still quite keen on avoiding argy-bargy though, and I’ll leave it at that. Well, apart from this:
Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.
Robert Burns, A Man’s A Man For A’ That
At last I’ve managed to clear the decks metaphorically—stop doing paid work—in order to concentrate on clearing the decks literally, in other words sorting out the house. You wouldn’t believe it but it’s true: within the last ten or so days I’ve had not one, not two but three long standing (all over ten years) computing clients come to me with serious, time consuming problems. But the last of that work (barring the occasional hour or two) got done today. My main aim over the past two or three weeks has been to spend September on the house, and I’ve missed that by just one day, because I’ll be starting on it tomorrow, which is the 2nd. Given the state of the knee I think I might need to alternate days of work with days of rest, but that’s the worst case scenario (I hope), and real progress should be made. As I said before: watch this space.
In order to focus on housework, mainly, but also the business accounts, I’ve now put notices on both business websites saying that I’m not taking on new work. This is a relatively big deal because the web is the main source of new business these days. I’m currently thinking of this as lasting until around the end of September, but it will take as long as it takes. There’s enough work currently on the books to cover the next few days, then I’ll be reporting the housework progress here, with photographs!
Whether influenced by internal chemistry or not, the idea of “working” in the evenings (where the work is quite enjoyable, see the previous post) turns out to be over-optimistic, at least at the moment. Come teatime I’ve been finding myself quite fagged-out and good for nothing but collapsing in front of the telly. What might not be coincidental is that I’ve been busier than ever, in terms of paid work. There’s also the possibility (to put it no more strongly) that I don’t have the stamina that I once did. Anyway, I’ve decided that there is no alternative now to turning away paid work, to free up the time to work on the house (also the business books, but the house comes first). Current work will keep me going to at least the middle, maybe the end of next week, but after that things have to change. You’ll see it here first! (Unless you visit the house at the right time of course.)
As I said last time, I remain amazed at the way in which work that I used to hate—I don’t think that’s putting it too strongly, at its worst—becomes positively enjoyable when I take my time and do it carefully. And only this morning did a probable—haven’t had a chance to check it yet—consequence of this occur to me.
For a long time now, many years I would say, I’ve avoided evening work of any kind because of the way it used to exacerbate my insomnia. I was prone to that anyway, but anything other than relaxing in the evening reliably made it worse. Now, since learning how to relax, the insomnia is very, very much better, but I’ve continued to reserve my evenings strictly for relaxation, partly because sleep still eludes me at times, partly through sheer habit. Until now—because, if work becomes enjoyable, does it still count as work in the relevant sense? I’m guessing, and hoping, not. Because lack of time is a big problem for me at the moment (see recent posts).
These are some big changes in the life of a 60 year old man, no doubt to some extent set in his ways, and despite their apparent positivity, the prospect is quite unsettling, I feel somewhat at sea. For a few days there, with the return of the old knee problem and the prospect of a great deal of work to do, between paid and house varieties, I was really quite depressed. In fact I resorted to 5-HTP, an over-the-counter antidepressant that I find amazingly effective, compared to what I’ve used before: tricyclics, Prozac and St John’s Wort. But things are looking up again and not just because of what I’ve got in my bloodstream!
There’s an old song called Walk Right In that has the line “everybody’s talkin’ ’bout a new way of walkin’.” It’s supposed to be a bit absurd, but a new way of walking is what I think and hope I’m developing at the moment. Or rather, I’m relearning to walk properly, after years of unconsciously favouring my left leg. I could write hundreds or probably thousands of words about that, but the point here is that I believe that “favouring” was actually directly making it worse, and by stopping it and using the leg properly, I’ll be able to cope with all the work that has to be done.
OK, so maybe it is the 5-HTP talking, but I strongly believe that both the new way of walking and the new way of working (work as leisure) are worth trying, and that’s what I’m determined to do, even if it takes a wee while to get into it. Watch this space.
In the previous post, 6 days ago, I said the current glut of paid work looked likely to end this week, but it didn’t. There’s been little in the way of new work, but some jobs have turned out to be more time consuming than expected and some deadlines have changed. It now looks like the busy-ness will continue for another 10 days to two weeks.
But the real bad news (unlike the busy-ness, there’s no upside to it) is that my old knee problem has flared up again. What that means is that I have to stay off my feet as much as possible for an unforeseeable length of time, which is not a good fit with printing, because that involves almost continually moving back and forward between computer and printer, which are in different rooms and can’t be moved closer, standing up and sitting down again many times in a session. And the more active I am, the longer it will take for the knee to settle down again.
Regarding the housework, I’m finding that keeping things more-or-less at the same level is really quite easy. But when I’ll next be up to making significant improvements to the state of the house, I honestly have no idea.