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Does this (F)Word Ruin Your Day?

FlittingWeb
After a long and busy day in the studio,
I sat across from my husband at the dinner table, sighed and said, “I’ve been flitting all day. I got a lot done, but nothing feels complete because I flitted from one thing to another.”

Flitting that’s the (F)Word that is ruining my day. Or is it?

Over the past few days, while continuing to flit from one thing to another, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this habit of mine. Flitting has a bad rap. It’s the opposite of focus, which we all believe is the key to getting things done. I’m always telling my readers, my clients, my kids, and yes, myself, to focus, so I really wanted to get to the root of what I consider to be a problem.

First of all, is it a problem? By whose definition? If, in the end, I am getting things done, then where’s the problem? Am I feeling bad because flitting is not focus and is contrary to what all the experts say is the “right way” to accomplish your goals?  If I succeed, meet my deadlines, accomplish what I set out to do, then being a flitter is not a bad thing. So why does it bother me?

I trace this behavior back to the days when I was just starting out on my quest to be an artist. In the beginning, when I made the decision to make creativity a priority in my life, I really had to struggle to fit art into my day. Realizing that long uninterrupted hours were not going to magically appear, I used every spare 5 or 10 minutes I could.

As a mother of six, and later a caregiver for my aging parents, particularly my blind father, I have spent 2/3s of my life responding to a myriad of situations as they arose. Interruptions ranged from sibling quarrels and skinned knees, to carpool and homework questions, calls for assistance for fallen parents, ER visits and every little thing in between. React, respond, resolve. Concentrated focus time was rarely an option.

Yet now, in my recently acquired, relatively interruption free life, I find myself following the same behavior. My day goes something like this:

Intended action – write my newsletter

1. sit down to write after spending a few hours or days deciding what to write
2. stop to look up a quote
3. as long as I’m online, check my email, see an order for TAP
4. hop over to Paypal, print out the packing slip and get up to get a pack of TAP to mail out
5. walk by art table and think: I’ll just put another layer on this journal page so I’m making progress on it
6. working on that gives me another idea
7. gather a few things for the new idea while it’s fresh
8. find something that needs to be put away
9. while putting it away, stumble on another incomplete project
10. pull that out and make room for it on my art table
11. decide I need to organize my work space and do a little
12. remember that I was working on my newsletter so go back to it
13. recheck my email before I begin so I’m not distracted wondering if that email I’m expecting is there
14. remember I need to complete the supply list for a class proposal
15. go get project to go over the materials
16. get an idea of something else I can add to it

and on and on and on until, with deadline looming, I settle in and

17. complete newsletter

(And let’s not forget that any art takes time to percolate, to noodle and mull over, to ponder the what-ifs and evaluate the why-nots. As Thomas Merton says, imagination needs time to browse. Expecting to start and finish something in one concentrated block of time is counter-productive to the spirit of art.)

My question to you is: was any of this wasted time? All actions were necessary for each thing I was working on. So what are the disadvantages of working piecemeal (def. unsystematic partial measures taken over a period of time)?

Isn’t this type of piecemeal behavior endemic among women? Is it unwise, unhealthy, unfulfilling? Is it because we are always putting others first? Or are we really superwomen, able to juggle it all, constantly monitoring and making course correction when needed?

As homemakers, parents, caretakers, volunteers, employed women with a part time dream, we often get to the end of the day and feel that we have nothing to show for it? Even the meal or the cake we created has disappeared. But I know that if, at the end of the day, we made a list of every action we took that day, we would be mighty proud of all of our accomplishments. These “little things” add up.

If we are getting everything we wish/need/want to get done, albeit in its own time, is flitting wrong? What say you? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below, pass it on, tweet it. Lets get a conversation going.

(Photo by Boskizzi via Flickr)

Comments

  1. Yes, here I am late to this blog post and all I can say is that I am DEFINITELY exactly as you described in it – one who flitters all day long! While I sometimes get frustrated with my ways, I now realize that I have indeed HAD to live this way as a mother, wife, office worker, church member, caretaker, etc. And I have indeed accomplished much in spite of this OR directly because of this way of moving and living. I guess I will smile broadly as I continue on with my life as one who flits . . . I am almost 71 and it has worked for me thus far! Thank you Lesley for defining what it is that we do so well. Love it!

  2. Lisa M. says:

    I came across this by complete random chance today. What a blessing! I have had an inner struggle going on for days over this same subject! Now I have a label! Flitting. Thank you for the empowerment and encouragement in our creative, female journeys.

  3. I think you’re right about this being an issue common to women, who’ve had to multi-task to make it through the day, from driving the morning car pool to getting dinner together while working on other creative projects in addition to home and family.

    As a newspaper columnist and freelance writer who’s worked from home for the past 25 years, I couldn’t have managed anything creative without having real deadlines. My professional newspaper and magazine work helped me craft a schedule of sorts when I decided to start doing mixed-media artwork later on. It’s still a struggle to get myself organized each time I want to begin a new art project, but if I give myself a “deadline” I get a lot more accomplished.

  4. I have to be careful my flitting doesn’t cause a “time suck”. Most of my flitting takes place online and before I know it a whole hour has passed while I flit from social media, to blogs to emails to videos. In fact it’s happening now , I should be working on my quote idea to send you and I just got sidetracked here in comments! Oh well, its all good!

  5. Consider it your process…

  6. Hello Lesley,
    Since I retired last June, I have almost entirely worked this way. It may be my native work style not much appreciated during my working years. I get a lot done, I am never bored and am much better at letting things percolate/dry than I have ever been. I may have just found my perfect work style but I know when others watch me they go nutz! I do believe there is even a name for it Chaordic definitely not a linear style but perfectly acceptable despite not so ardent linear observers.

  7. I’m not looking at any of the responses till I’ve made mine or I’ll forget to do it or run out of time. Yep, this post resounds with me! Big time! I am a flitter! And, I do NOT need a 12 step program because it works! It’s good for me. Tell me what the down side is, how it hurts me and perhaps I’ll look for the 12 step program but really, I do get things done eventually and I am so much less bored by going from one thing to another. The only thing I regret is a few too many stops to play yet another computer matching game which is what I do when I need to turn the buzz off in my head – it keeps flitting about too!

    I do have many projects planned, somewhat gathered together, ongoing and some even have space on my worktable which gets so cluttered I do have to add some time to refresh it a bit.

    How do I feel like I’ve got something done then? I do a lot of art journal pages either mixed media, drawing or painting so those are easy to see. If I blog about them or post to facebook groups I also see them pile up as I keep a file in my computer for my scanned in journal pages by year.

    A way I used before using blogs and facebook was to post an entry in a composition book with what I was making, the start date, a sketch and snips of fibers, fabrics or dabs of paint added. When I finished the project I would add a picture and the finish date. At the end of a year you can see you really DID do something!

    There is no right or wrong way if whichever is working for you. If I really get into “the zone” I just keep going but as soon as my attention hits a snag or wanders off I change what I am doing to get revitalized. Knitting a few rows of the same stitch and color on an afghan is boring so I do a few and then do something totally different.

    Once in a while there is a deadline. Starting to knit a few pairs of slipper socks for my son for Christmas should be done before December hits but it seldom is so then I need to focus and I try really hard. It helps that this is rare and then I see it as a challenge and that helps.

    I am proud to be a flitter!

  8. I, too, have been your reader for a long time, but have never added a comment.

    I am definitely a flitterer, but I am happier when I don’t have to bounce from one thing to another. If that’s what it takes, so be it. But I feel like a leaf in the wind sometimes…err…often. I learned how to flit effectively as my job was in a very busy office and I had to juggle multiple issues for multiple committees and never drop the ball. Good notes and a good calendar helped. Being a mom kept me busy at home too.

    That said, I have to bring up the magical times when I have had the luxury of a good length of time in the studio, having given myself a furlough from those outside demands. Remember how time stands still in the studio sometimes …and you lose track of everything else …and creativity is effortless and the results are wonderful and surprising? I want more of those!

    I will do all the needed flitting and crunching all week/month in order to have the time to retreat when the studio calls. I have not yet learned how to schedule my creativity, so setting aside a Saturday morning is not always helpful. But I can set aside some bits of time here and there for thinking and gathering inspiration, as most of us do. And I have carry-around projects that have already had the creativity time put in and now need only whatever available time for doing the work toward completion, like doctors waiting rooms, waiting in the car for a kid to get out of school, etc. And when the stars are aligned I hear inspiration call, it is wonderful to give myself that furlough from the daily grind and give it my whole heart. That’s what I am hoping for all of you too! Recognize it. And then give yourself that gift. No guilt, just the joy of inspiration.

  9. Dear Lesley,
    As we get older, flitting is what we do!

  10. Cheryl Walker says:

    Focused flitting………….I love it !!!!!!

  11. Oh my gosh Lesley, I blog about this all the time! I flit too, I’m a long time flitter but now I realize that by flitting I’m learning and opening myself up to my muse and being aware of the flitting and what feels right and what doesn’t and when I’m forcing art that shouldn’t be forced because I should be working on something else instead and the flitting would chill out if I just followed the muse from the get go. Sometimes flitting is required to spark something though I think and I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who flits! Thanks so much for this entry! Much Peace~dawn

  12. This really struck a chord with me. I sometimes flit of my own accord but often get waylaid by others or by remembering something more important that I forgot to do. I would prefer to flit less as I do think that it slows me down.

  13. DEBORAH DAMELIO says:

    I thot I’d look up the official definition(s): move quickly in an apparently random or purposeless manner; and move back and forth very rapidly. The first has a definite negative connotation whereas the second doesn’t.
    I think we, as women who often flit out of necessity or desire, have been conditioned to think it is not an appropriate way to operate, so that when we do it we have a little bird (who often flits) whispering in our ear that you are a lesser person because you don’t stay with a task for an “appropriate” length of time.
    As long as it’s a choice and as long as we get done what we want–or close to it–I think flitting or focusing are both fine and neither connotes a negative trait.

  14. Kelly Harms says:

    I loved the article and everyone’s stories. I am a flitterer too – at work, at home, and with my art. When I was younger, I could move from thing to thing with ease, never dropping the ball or forgetting anything. Now, I make lists – lots and lots of lists. My work is full of constant interruptions (including the ones I make myself), so I write down every little thing that I need to do. That way when I get interrupted I can see what I still need to do. When I’ve done something on the list, I cross it off (a very satisfying gesture!) With my art, when the inspiration strikes, I’m more prone to gather up the supplies needed on a cookie sheet and put it on a shelf in my studio along with a quick sketch of what I was thinking. Then when I’m done with the current project, I’m all set to move to the next one, whether that is in a few hours or days or weeks.

  15. Kathy Johnson says:

    Flitting…I like that word; very visual.
    I have discovered over the years that when I look back over my day what I consider a great day is one where I did what I have called “a variety of things”.
    I certainly relate to this article!

  16. I recently read an article that explained our brain does its best work when focusing on one task for 90 minutes. After that time, it starts to wander , so it is best if we stop and change up to another project. then our brain refocuses.
    I have been trying this method in my work day, and have good results with it, almost like purposeful flitting !
    I also work part time for a gentleman who flitts continually ! so it is not a feminine trait to be sure !

  17. Leslie-
    I too have the “flit” going on- but It seems to help me. Like you I can and do work mostly on my own now. I found early in the process that given unending blocks of time to work I would hurry along and not stop when I made an error….. Now I limit myself to no more than and Hour on any one task- that way even if I can see the end of a project in 10 Min. I will stop and know that I can quickly finish it at the start of the next work session. It also means that when I make a mistake – I will take the time to stop and fix it before going forward.
    Keep Creating
    Carol
    PS- you suggested years ago that one write down the projects you had touched/work on each day. I started doing that at the time and I still follow that up at the end of my day. When I look back on Sunday evenings- before I star a new week- I am always amazed at the little bits of progress each day added up to by the end of the week.
    Each step puts us closer to the end of the journey.

    • I like that idea, Carol. I try to journal but after a few days I seem to stop. When I do journal, I try to do what you said. You can see the accomplishment even if it is not a completed project at the time.

  18. Yeeeeeeeesssssssssss!!!!!!!!

  19. I seem to need both flitting and focus. If I’ve had a week full of flitting, then all I want to do on my day off is focus on one thing. But if my week has been heavy focus, then what I do on my day off is flit from one thing to the next. Being able to do both is what keeps me sane — and happy.

  20. Same thing, different end of the spectrum. You are rugged up against the snow reflecting on a day of self-amusement free from the outside world. We are here with 40degree (thats celcius..and very very hot) days and similarly inside with the aircon on knowing that, being of a certain age, if we go outside we are in danger of melting into the pavement. I am definitely a flitterer but on reading your comments have decided that I’m also a “fitterer”. I am a shocking flitterer but in the end everything that needs to fit in does in the timeframe its supposed to. Dinner is always ready (ok…not always when the kids expect it) and the urgent piece to go in the mail always gets there just as the mailbox is being cleared. I long ago stop listening to those who told me i was just a procrastinator. i love doing it this way. I keeps life interesting. But sometimes, just sometimes, i paraphrase Shakespeare’s “be still my beating heart” to “be still my flitting brain” and crave a few moments of stillness.

  21. I call it ADD (seriously:), but if you look back at your sequence of events, you managed to accomplish quite a bit. It may seem scattered but doing one thing at a time, in order, is frankly quite a boring notion! I think it’s the nature of creatives to have engaged, very active minds and flitting is one way to prevent implosion, I think:)
    I don’t have deadlines but I do have a habit of grabbing coffee (in a cup), putting my headphones on and heading to the studio before thinking! That way, if I have half an hour or 4 hours, I can create every day. So, to me it’s about establishing priorities and when you have a lot of those, decide which ones aren’t as important as art (like laundry, dusting, worrying that the house is a complete wreck – I mean, other people live here too, so I don’t pick up after anyone but myself!)
    Here’s to flitting! xoxo

  22. Gosh, you sound just like me! Sometimes I feel like the most disorganized, unproductive person, yet I see that I am able to do more than most people I know. And that those who know me think I do too much and think they could never accomplish as much as I do.

    I just have to plod along and keep doing, even if it is flitting from one thing to another. Eventually, there is a project that gets my full attention or has an imminent deadline and I can become seriously focused and get the thing done in no time at all.

    My husband says I am attracted to “shiny objects or glitter” and helps me focus by using one of those words when he sees me begin to drift towards yet another interesting thing.

    I call it adult attention deficit but it is the thing that has enabled me to be flexible and adaptable in my ever changing life.

  23. I HEAR you, Lesley! All I can say is, some days I feel very focused on one thing but worry about all the other things I didn’t get done; other days I flitter, accomplish a lot, but worry about my lack of focus. I guess I am FICKLE!

  24. I think that flitting is a perfectly wonderful way of living! It is primarily a feminine attribute of necessity. Many years ago, a quilting friend of mine, Judy Donias, explained that the way women work is in a state of “disseminated incrementalism”. This means that we never get to see a job to completion in one fell swoop, but bit by bit, incrementally, it all gets done. So Lesley, I am proudly stating that I am a Disseminated Incrementalist!!!

  25. I think flittering is a work style or “work dance” that can be quite productive. Some days it fits my mood quite well, and I enjoy working on a dozen things at once. On other days, when there are priorities that need tending, I will keep a note pad handy and make a list of the other attractions. Once the priorities are met, I can go back to spend time on those things that tried to distract me. Most days, my work dance is one where I stay with one project for a long time, but flittering can be a nice relief when I want to move about a bit more. I think both “dances” allow accomplishment of the tasks at hand.

    • Hi Mary, I never thought of making a list of the “distractions”. It’s a good idea to put those other “things to do” in a box so to speak so that I won’t forget to get to them later.

  26. I too am a flitterer / flitrr? Most jobs I’ve had have had a dual focus (e.g. doing all the typing in French for all departments in the office AND be the file clerk for the legal department, be the budget clerk AND a part-time receptionist).

    I’m a big believer in the “done” list and keep one in my computer on a spreadsheet page with my business tracking, because I look at that one every single day and I don’t want any blank lines showing that I did nothing art related all day.

    At one time when we had a restaurant that we lived upstairs from I grew concerned that my son was getting short-changed. So for a while I kept track of how I spent my time and realized he was getting plenty of attention but just in very short blocks, and admittedly not always at the best times.

    I can completely relate to what everyone is saying as so far this morning (I’m on Pacific Time) I’ve prayed, read the paper, weighed myself, had coffee, made observations in sketch book, found an article I need to forward to our quilt guild web mistress and put into the newsletter, discussed upcoming party with my daughter, downloaded family travel photos and thanked the sender, written a to do list, looked at quilt blocks I made yesterday, downloaded work to be edited, and of course now I know what the F word is!

    Is there anyone lurking out there who is focused and disagrees with all the posters so far? If so, please share! I think us flitrrs are so happy to be able to share something that tends to be frowned upon, and there are people who can focus single mindedly on a project and spend eight hours a day embroidering French knots on a wall hanging for example.

    Where I’m starting to realize focus matters is in the need to perhaps edit out our exposure to random “stuff.” For example I will have an audiobook, art books, quilting DVDs, a mystery novel and a non fiction book and the book club choice all on the go at once, and by cutting back some of the non art related stuff I think I become a little calmer. My word for 2014 is “balance” and I’m understanding that “focus” is intertwined.

  27. The hardest part of this behavior is to unlearn it. As a working mom with multiple business activities in my younger days, flitting was the only way things got done. The first step I learned a long time ago and that was how to say the word NO, thank you for asking me to bake cookies, chaperone, etc but it just doesn’t fit my schedule right now.
    I guess that is prioritizing to a degree. But the next step to the problem is learning to not feel guilty because you can’t do it all if you take care of yourself and your creative needs.

    I still do piecemeal when I have to. Sometimes it makes life interesting.

  28. Sounds like a rhetorical question to which you’ve already found your answer 😉 but I think it’s wonderful that you’re bringing it up and giving such a great example for those of us who are starting to to feel bullied by the F words. I find my primary positive F word is freedom, and that I can alternatively make use of either focus or flitting to get things done and still maintain as much freedom as possible in the process — it seems to be all about allowing myself and my ocupassions to evolve organically with my inspirations at the moment whenever I can.

  29. If there is a prize given for flitting, I think I can be in the running for it. I don’t flit intentionally, but it helps me, because when I come back to the orig. task, I get rejuvenated and a new eye for the project. The only problem is that I have too many things going on at one time and it can be overwhelming. But, I wouldn’t trade it for “normal”.

  30. Leslie, I really enjoyed this article and am glad you changed the newsletter format so I could enjoy your blog and all the other goodies on it. Now that I am of a certain age and my caretaking of kids and parents is behind me, too, I find I am lacking structure to my days and because there is so little I actually HAVE to do, I find myself drifting, knowing I have all the time in the world to finish things. I am a flitter also because I do have ADD. What I have learned to do is to keep a TA DA list as well as a To Do list to make sure I recognize the things I actually do get accomplished. Thanks for all you do to keep us all grounded and moving forward.

    • Carmen McGee says:

      Jenny, based on your comments we could be twins! Now that I am adjusted to having as much time as I want, I realized that I love it. If it really needs to be done today, then I’ll do it. However, if it doesn’t, I might take a field day and go to the museum or gallery for inspiration — or not make dinner because I’m “in the zone” with my fiber art. Wherever you are, have a great week.

  31. Women are multi-taskers. It’s in our DNA. Without this trait, it would be difficult just to get through a couple hours let alone a day while fulfilling our multiple roles. It is no small wonder that we flit about! Frankly I tend to get more done when flitting around in persuit of accomplishing the larger goal.

  32. Helen Hall says:

    Yes…another person “guilty” of being a flitterer. Wow, the English teacher in me is cringing at what I just typed! Yikes. I too have been reading your newsletter for a bit and never commented. The reason is that each and every single one has reduced me to tears, the choking in my throat kind of tears, for all the creativity that has been stifled and shoved deep down into my soul for years. I, too have six children (2/3 are out of the house) and a mad scientist husband who is needier than my kids. It seems so lonely and despite flitting all day, when my daughter calls from college and asks what I’ve been up to, all I can seem to say in response is “Oh, you know…the usual…laundry, cooking, cleaning…not much.” My flitting doesn’t seem to equate to my burning desire to strip off the titles and be ME. I’ve made baby steps: a dedicated art area, organization of my materials amassed over two decades. Your “F” word shot a spear directly to my hidden bubble of dreams and I sit here ignoring my virtually cold coffee and wonder how to become ME. Thanks.

    • Diane in NH says:

      Helen, I hear you! We have to take charge of our lives. We should take some time to enjoy each day. If that means the laundry doesn’t get done today, so be it. It won’t run away! I try and take time each day to do something that I LIKE to do, not that I HAVE TO DO. Even if it’s sitting down after lunch and reading Quilting Arts Magazine, it’s my time. All the best to you, go enjoy your crafting space as much as possible, it will make you smile.

      Diane
      http://www.dsignsbyds@blogspot.com

    • Helen, sometimes I feel like I’ve wasted too much time thinking I couldn’t draw. I’ve done creative things all my life because my kids needed clothes and we needed gifts or birthday cakes but just doing something for ME was wrong somehow. Well in my 50’s I said “no more” to that nonsense and started taking classes online for drawing, journaling and painting and I am so much happier. You’ve got an art space – good! Now use it. If it seems daunting, just sit down and draw, paint, color, knit, crochet or whatever for 10 minutes. How many times do we stand in line for more than 10 minutes to mail a package or to buy groceries for the family? Now take 10 minutes for yourself. Increase at will! You will feel better and better as you get used to claiming time for YOU. You are a person in the family the same as a husband or children and I am pretty positive you would let them have 10 minutes of fun so give that gift to yourself. If you feel a need to share in order to get yourself to do, then start a blog and share the address or post to facebook or flickr. Or don’t share if you don’t want but do make those minutes yours! Best wishes!

    • Timaree said it well. I want to add my encouragement. Remember what the stewardess says on an airplane. Put your own oxygen mask on first, so you can be of better assistance to others. That little bit of time you take for your own creative pursuits means your smile will be broader for your kids and meals made by a happy cook always taste better.
      Go for it! You can.

  33. Flitting is the only way I know how to be. I can sit down and start to work on something with a specific goal and time frame alloted, but my mind wanders so much that I end up doing dozens of other things. I think that our focus should be on figuring it out what it is we want to do (the idea for a project) and then just let go and flit our way to getting it done. At least, that is what has been working for me lately and if I look at it that way, I don’t have any guilt to bog me down.
    blessings
    ~*~

  34. Darlene Hutchens says:

    I say… you were focused on your art and business all day! How wonderful!
    I enjoy hearing everyones stories… there is more than one way to do it. It took me a long time to get over feeling bad about my lack of time blocks. As a mom of little ones, and a slightly older mom, I am just not willing to wait until they are out of the house to begin/ continue my journey. Also it is good for them and for me. So I have surrendered to doing what I can, when I can. Your stories about working on your bed… and flitting about…remind us that we live in the real world, and are wonderful for someone like me to read about. 🙂

  35. IF I am getting things done then flitting is not a problem. But sometimes I have to remind myself I really have accomplished something and I will sit down and write a “Done-it” list rather than a “To-do” list and I am rewarded with a very satisfied feeling that perhaps I really did do something after all! Thank you for reminding me to do this more often!

  36. This is a great topic! I used to give myself a hard time about working this way, but then I came up with a visual for this kind of approach: I’m playing soccer with a LOT of balls. Every day I move each ball down the field a few yards. Eventually, they all get through the goal posts. As long as I’m making progress, everything is good !

  37. Hi Lesley,
    I have been getting your newsletter for a long time now, but have never commented. So-here goes! I have been a flitter all my life. It’s really the only way I can get all I need to do done. I know that sounds crazy, but I am such a stickler for detail-I am a Virgo after all! I get so involved with the details of what I am working on that nothing else gets done in the meantime. So-I flit from one project/task to the other. I also keep a daily list of what I want/need to get done that day. This has been VERY successful for me. In one day I can do all my household chores, finish a project-I make mixed-media art journals-start & finish another art project completely. I believe it’s because when I step-away from my art work table I have time to contemplate on what the next step will be. You have been such an inspiration to me. I am also a woman “of a certain age” & I admire what you have accomplished in your life. I’m also looking at moving to another location this year, so your posts of your move was fun to follow! I just keep practicing my deep-breathing exercises! Thank You Lesley for all you do. Keep up the excellent work!
    Artfully,
    Debi

  38. Me too! I am a flitter and it’s so good to know that I’m not the only one. I wasn’t always a flitter, but since my husband retired I have become one. I used to make lists each day and that kept me focused. But no more – these days I am always going in a million directions at once. Thank you, Lesley. You have put my mind at rest that flitting is ok.

  39. H. A. Lind says:

    I have suffered from ADD since the begining of time! In grade school they said I was stupid… However, I went on to do graphic design for an impressive list of clients that included international corporations and major institutions of learning. I still have my “moments” – kind of like the hands of the clock when the battery is low – it ticks forward but never makes any gains.
    My major “helper” to relieve the “dizzy” brain has always been “lists”. Lists for everything I want to do on 3×5 cards – unruled. From grocery shopping to yard work to art projects – everything gets listed.
    Order!!! My kind of order. “Oh what a relief it is”!

  40. It does depend on what project I am working on and most often I am balancing more than one. I also find one project feeds the other so it works for me to flitter from one to the other. Also there are times that I need to recognize that flittering masks fear. Perhaps fear of whether I’ll paint well enough today or finally write the end of that story. I think the flittering is part “imagination in process” and I carry the talent and ideas brewing from a source I can’t even define, but I know is inside me. These talents and ideas are in need of idling, flittering and moodling time to mature.

    There is a glittery-white space out there between here and there that I’ve found during meditation or before I drift off to sleep. This is where the muse lives. This is where the wizards dance. The world is inside me and expands over all realms of time. Desire is Life. Life is art. I have to allow it to flow freely through me for it to transform me. This transformation shows up daily in my art and writing. Sometimes it shows up while I’m flittering about. I honor working in little bursts of creative spirit. It is in the practicing and waiting (flittering) that then I find the art follows.

  41. I have been a “flitter” for years. I finally figured our that that is the way I work, and I actually accomplish a lot…eventually. I also realized that my natural way of working is in what I call semi-controlled chaos. I’ve accepted it.
    When I give a talk on my art I used to say I had artist ADD, but recently decided that wasn’t really funny when so many people are dealing with ADD, in themselves or their children. Now I say I am an extreme multi-tasker!

  42. do you flitr on flickr???
    You list looks impressive to me, and in the end, you accomplished your goal of generating a newsletter, and perhaps some of you flitr (I like that better…) may have inspired the next newsletter?
    womym have always had to grab time here and there (didn’t our fore-mothers grab what time they could, before they fell into bed exhausted, to just finish this last block??

  43. I totally relate! I feel guilty when I think about all the distractions I fall prey to, but I have to reassure myself: I AM getting things done, and those other things DO need doing. People admire my creativity. I think indulging in “flitting” and whims and taking breaks, i.e. rejecting routine, is EXACTLY what has grown my creativity over the years. I’m of that “certain age” that you are, Lesley, and never felt better about my work. And flitting!

  44. You described exactly how I act on some days, then other days I can settle in and focus on one thing. I think it’s because I’m not completely ready for the task that needs focus, I’m still in the noodling mode whether I’m aware of it or not.

  45. Cherril Lange says:

    I think of flitting as a luxury. And, yes, maybe we just make the list of our accomplishments and the end of each day to help ourselves be at peace with it.

    • Exactly, Cherril – being at peace with our actions is what truly matters. I have recognized that the unhappiness comes when we have not done the things we wanted to do each day.

    • I like the “S” word also, “skittering” I flit I fly, I skitter here and there, my art room is always a mess, at least 4 projects at a time plus a 40 hour week at the dreaded “w” word (“WORK!!” for those who remember Dobie Gillis’friend Maynard)In “f” and “s” mode, while looking for an addition to project 4 I may find a pc for project 1, and another for project 2. I know, in the end, if I finish one thing well,(after 7-8-10? re-dos?)and can say this is what I envisioned, my flitting/skittering was well worth it. Art takes time, maybe big lovely long hours are not available to everyone, maybe an hour (30 min?) stolen here and there. We just need to recognize that, and embrace it.

  46. Lesley, I actually laughed out loud when I read what your “f” word was…I was thinking that you might wait to give it away on your blog..to entice us to read the rest…but even though I read the word, laughed out loud, I flitted over to read the rest. Because I too am a flitterer. I used to work on my loom 15 minutes at a time because that was all the time I had. Now I still work full time, and although the kids are out of the nest, I have two dogs that want to go out and play, and even though I have this glorious unplanned snow day, I am still flitting. I have a quilt on the sewing machine, but I had to warm up my coffee and I didn’t want the coffee near the quilt so I might as well check my email…and there you were with flitting! I’m not sure I would classify what you did as wasted time, as you got things done in between what you were trying to get done. On days like these, I try to make a list of what I want/need to do so towards the end of the day, I can cross things off. I then feel like I’ve accomplished something even if not everything got done. Back to the quilt…but first I have to tell you another favorite “f” word story. My friend was so worried to send her four year old on the bus to kindergarten and her fears were realized when he came home and told her he learned the “f” word on the bus…fart! Have a great day…back to my flittering….

  47. I totally understand. My daughter says I’m OCD. I think I have too many things I want to do but I just don’t know how to get them all done. Thanks for sharing this. I enjoy your writing very much.

    • Thank, Kathleen. I think the key is to just keep doing. We prioritize daily by choosing what to work on and things do get done when we want them to. The only problem is if we are NOT taking action on the things we want to do. Piecemeal works for me!