Do you ever feel, as I do, overwhelmed by how much stitching stuff you have to do? Sometimes I feel as if all I have around me are unfinished needlepoint projects screaming at me like a bunch of hungry kids. It’s overwhelming and frustrating.
Even though needlepoint is my job, it is also my hobby (I’ve tried other things, they don’t stick with me). This summer has been too much of frustration and not enough accomplishment.
That isn’t good because the stress-release, relaxation and creativity of needlepoint is EXACTLY what you want when you feel overwhelmed. But the last thing you need is to have this pleasure become a chore. That could easily suck all the joy and benefits of stitching out of the process.
It’s times like these when it’s our willpower that has failed us. We want to stitch in the evening as we watch a movie, but . . . we are too tired, we don’t like the project, we can’t find the project, the thread is wrong, you lost the needle. Do those excuses sound familiar? I’ve used them all in the past two weeks to avoid stitching.
This is where discipline comes to the fore to get you stitching. On order to understand why this happens you need to understand that willpower is a finite resource, you can run out. And if your willpower is faltering, it’s hard to summon up energy to do what you want to do, let alone that present you have to complete.
So what’s a person to do? You create habits and tools that give you the discipline you are lacking at times.
Begin by creating a routine for your day. Having a routine, even for some tasks, is like putting your glasses in the same place — you are off-loading the active memory to something else. You’ll make fewer decisions because you will know that if it’s 12:30 I’m eating lunch. You save brain energy for other things.
Make to do lists, written down, not mental. If you know you need to finish a project fast to meet a deadline, put it on the list. Write a list of the projects you have by your stitchy chair after you have sorted them. Make sure you have everything you need to do them. Then you won’t spend energy thinking “What shall I stitch next?” You’ll know, you’ve written it down.
When you are stitching a piece, work on THAT piece. Don’t spend your stitching time thinking about everything else you have to do. That will not relax you. Let the stitching take over and recharge your batteries.
Create habits of stitching. This can be more than just making time to stitch. I have a couple of projects that are all Tent and that have languished for years. I got them out and am now stitching on them one evening a week. It’s going slowly, but I am making progress at long last.
Visualize your progress. There is plenty of hype in the sports world about visualizing success. In the world of willpower studies this is called “implementation intentions.” You could think of it as setting goals or objectives. Think about what you’ll stitch and what you want to do in that session when you have more willpower. Visualize what the project will look like at that point. When you sit down to stitch when your willpower is flagging, you’ll know what project you are stitching,you are using your habit of stitching, and you know what you will be accomplishing. Every one of these things you did when you had more will power and energy. Now you reap the benefit by stitching without making decisions and letting yourself relax and recharge.
About Janet M Perry
Janet Perry is the Internet's leading authority on needlepoint. She designs, teaches and writes, getting raves from her fans for her innovative techniques, extensive knowledge and generous teaching style. A leading writer of stitch guides, she blogs here and lives on an island in the northeast corner of the SF Bay with her family
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