Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pruning Is Good

Surprise, this post is NOT about editing or the art of revision!

So, as the pup and I finished our lunchtime walk today, I got a sudden itch to do a bit of springtime pruning. Think: one scant part didn't want to get right back to the grind, one heaping part needed to think through some issues away from the computer and phone, and two solid parts it's just plain time to clean up the shrubs.

In 30 minutes I filled the yard-waste bin with deadwood from overgrown heather, spent blooms from a rhododendron, and whatever other debris I felt like grabbing with my garden-gloved hands (gotta protect the instruments!). It was great. Next thing I knew, I was back in my office and ready to plow through the rest of the day.

This type of chore always helps clear my head, and today it worked like a charm because I made a few decisions I'd been avoiding. Something about the rhythm of pruning and clearing — coupled with the satisfaction of seeing concrete progress — helps bring clarity to what's cookin' in the noggin:

Time to dump Client X?
Yes. Should I send my nonfiction proposal to Publisher B, who encouraged me to contact them with ideas? No; the topic isn't quite right for their list. Is the professional volunteer work I do benefiting me, professionally? Nope, not all of it; it's definitely time to take serious stock and cut back.

These issues all affect my business and so all needed my attention. It can be difficult, though, to carve out time for decision making when I'm sitting at my desk. There my mind automatically turns to more obvious tasks like writing, editing, and communicating with clients. Billable things, mostly.

But, fact is, the business runs more smoothly when I consciously take the time to check in on my goals and readjust plans as needed. And it gets old saving all of that for evenings and weekends or next year. I can't logically (or logistically) take a meeting with myself. I can, however, opt to take a "working prune" in the middle of my workday.

I hesitate to call that a perk of the job; rather, I think it's just a reality of the home business environment. Strategies and practices that work here won't always work in an office setting, and (in the vernacular of the self-employed) vicey versey.

Pruning is good!

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