Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Spinning Plates - a new way of getting things done

This week between Christmas and New Year's is always a good one for reflection and plans. Last week I started a new experiment with my to-do list and goals. I've been reading about the brain - how it likes novelty, and games, and new challenges ever day. And I've been reading about Kaizen, the idea that tiny steps of improvement and change can add up to big things. So I started adding one little chore to each day. Just a small something that I wasn't already doing, but wanted to.

I do think it's like spinning plates, you start one and then build on it, keeping the others going as you add on new ones. I think this can work for any kind of goals - writing, art, health, housework, etc. The first day's task was to clear the floor of our bedroom. I hid all the presents in my room, and was tired of tripping over all the shipping boxes. The next day I made sure the floor was still clear, and added setting a pretty table. Nothing elaborate, just a fresh tablecloth and maybe a candle. Mainly it involves clearing away books and projects so we can have a nice clear table for meals. The next day I picked up some shoes from the floor, did the table, and added giving my children vitamins to the list. The brilliant thing is that a lot of the tasks take so little time once they are initially done. And I feel like I am making progress because things don't get undone while I'm doing something else.

I'm starting to add in once a week projects too. I'm on day 11, and so far this is fun, and I'm wondering how many plates I'm going to get spinning. I have plans to add editing, writing, submitting stories, exercise, art, and other things to the mix. Anybody want to play?


Michael Offutt, Supra-Genius said...

Sounds like a good way to break down routines in order to expand your horizons. I like this exercise and may try to use it in my own life.

The Writer Currently Known as Rory said...

I'm gradually starting to spin many plates, related to my second book, which I'm doing research for right now. This entails watching the movies that are part of this book, taking notes while watching them, transcribing those notes, consulting many books that are crucial to this book (including ones that do exactly what I want to do, so I can study how it's been done), seeking interviews with various people involved in these particular movies, and all of this before I can write even one word, though I did write the beginning of my first chapter. That'll be all I'll write for now until I feel I have enough material to really write.

I don't mind spinning more and more plates, because I love that for this project, I have to put many puzzle pieces together, which I did for a few essays for my first book. To me, it's no different than clearing dishes from the drainer in the kitchen.

Misha Gericke said...

I've never thought about it as a system, but I actually live my life like this.

I think about it as juggling. As soon as I can handle the balls in the air, I add more and take away when things become too difficult to juggle. It does work.

:-)Good luck with adding more plates to your day.

Susan Kane said...

As a teacher, I felt like I was always spinning plates. Now retired I spin less plates.
Great analogy, and lovely post.