The Vision Thing

Sunday, May 5, 2013


After I started telecommuting (in 1998), it seemed like I’d have a lot more free time in my life, but I didn’t. (I didn’t think about this in advance, but many things actually take more time when you’re working from home. You can’t just stop and pick something up on your way home from work, or rearrange your schedule to leave a little earlier and go to the gym in the morning. When you work from home, everything you do outside of the house is its own thing to be figured out. It’s different, and it was hard.)

I was frustrated that I didn’t have more time and started reading organizing books, because it seemed like the problem was that I wasn’t organized enough, that I needed better time-management skills. I read a whole bunch of organizing books that were not at all useful before I finally read one that was.

The book is called It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys: The Seven-Step Path to Becoming Truly Organized by Marilyn Paul and the main reason I liked it is because instead of giving specific strategies (only touch a piece of paper once! get rid of clothes you haven’t worn in a year!), it helps you figure out why you want to be organized and what is getting in the way of it, so that you can come up with your own strategies that will help you address the things you actually care about.

It’s a self-help book with all of the requisite self-help elements (worksheets, exercises, personal testimonials, etc.), but I have a small weakness for the self-help genre, so that doesn’t bother me. But it might be a problem for some people. So if you look at it and think it’s silly, don’t hold it against me.

One of the things I realized after reading the book was that there were a lot of things in my life I wasn’t getting done because I didn’t really give a * about them. So that was nice to figure out. I just stopped worrying about those things. It was very liberating.

However eventually I’ve realized that a number of things I don’t really care about actually need to get done, so it’s not helping me so much anymore.

So now I’m focusing on some of the parts I skipped over the first time I read it, specifically the part about visioning.

The idea of visioning — imagining what you’re trying to create — feels totally hokey to me and makes me think of Stuart Smalley: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” But I have to say that one idea really struck a chord:

Imagining a different future makes you believe that it is possible. It is very difficult to make something happen if you can’t even think about it.

It’s hard to argue with that.

So I decided that the first step in getting done some of the things I need to get done — especially the things I don’t really give a * about — is to imagine them being done.

I’m as of yet unable to imagine my back porch with a door on it, or my backyard as anything but a poison-ivy infested wasteland (the visioning thing is actually much harder than you might expect), but I’m almost to the point where I can see a house with all of the walls properly painted.

It’s a start.

6 Responses to “The Vision Thing”

  1. Liz Adams Says:

    I love this post! I feel as if you and I are like souls separated by decades and many miles, and I do like to follow your adventures in thinking and organizing (I too love self help books, even when they’re hokey) and frugality. Imagine a grandma who nods and smiles and says attagirl at your posts, and that would be me!

  2. lessisenough Says:

    Thanks! It’s so nice to have fans! (Or a fan at least…)

  3. judilyn Says:

    Yes, fans – plural! Also old enough to be your grandmother – probably! You’ve got a good attitude towards eating – love it!

  4. lessisenough Says:


    I think my attitude toward food resonates with people who are older than I am because it strikes them as basic common sense. It feels like what people used to do. People today make it too hard.

    Michael Pollan was in town recently doing a book reading. His new book is about how he decided he had to learn how to be a better cook, so he went and studied with master chefs. I read the article about the book and thought, Michael, this is not helping. No one needs to bake their own bread and make their own beer in order to put a decent meal on the table. Telling people that the path to cooking at home is to work with superstar chefs is just not what we need.

    And I wish I could link directly to a particular GoodReads review, it was the first one that came up when I looked to see what people were saying and it made me laugh out loud when the reviewer gave her bobo/foodie bona fides and talked about how much she loves Michael Pollan and totally agrees with him, then said she wasn’t able to finish the book and all she could say was Shut up, Michael Pollan. Just. Shut. Up.

    LOL on that.

  5. Jennifer Szescula Flanagan Says:

    Your first paragraph resonated so much with me (just like most of the other things you say). I’ve been telecommuting for almost 7 years and it is hysterical (in the good and bad) way when I talk to people who are like “Wow – you must have so much time and flexibility!” HAH! It is a 20 minute drive for me to get to the places I like to go – so 40 minutes round trip…it is easier to stay at home and find ways to do without! (Which does help the whole budget thing.)

    I love the idea of seeing it before making it happen – looking back, that usually is how stuff gets done. I can put it on a list all I want but until I see myself doing it, using it or enjoying it – it just sits on the list….

    PS: Not a grandmother but a 31 year old woman just trying to take back control of her life and her health from all the “this is just the way it is” junk that we get fed. Who also loves self-help ;)

  6. lessisenough Says:

    Yeah, the reality of telecommuting is pretty different from the “work in your bathrobe!” hype. For me, it started to feel like house arrest after a while. I like freelancing much better. I’m still working from home, but if I don’t feel like being here, I get to leave (and not get paid, but worth the tradeoff to me).

    The other thing that people said that I thought was funny is that everyone said, “Oh I would gain so much weight if I worked from home.” When actually I found it much easier to be disciplined about food, because I only had to have willpower once — at the grocery store — and then I would be fine. There was no chance that a box of donuts or bags of leftover halloween candy were suddenly going to appear on the kitchen table the way they did in the office. If I didn’t buy it, it wasn’t in my house. So that part was good at least.

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