These hand-embroidered kitchen towels from ~1960 keep coming to mind as I try to organize myself, our household, and my creative work. The days often feel chaotic and unfocused: I’m not sure what to prioritize, and by the end of the day, I’m not sure what’s been accomplished.
Would I be more productive and efficient if I marked each week the same? Laundry on Monday, writing on Tuesday, groceries on Wednesday…
I haven’t tried this yet for two reasons. First, I fear I’ll create a routine that’s way too rigid or even grueling, and I’ll resent the routine and the tasks. Secondly, I don’t know how to create a routine that could adapt to the unexpected: kiddo gets a cold or spouse has a vacation day. Do I double up on that day’s routine tasks on a different day? Do I shimmy it all down the line so now laundry is on Tuesday and writing is on Wednesday?
My friend told me she hates routine. She said she “can’t stand doing the same thing at the same time day after day, it feels super claustrophobic. I don’t have the same energy level every day, can’t stand an alarm to wake up, can’t fit enough stuff in the day that way.”
I’d always thought the opposite—that those with strict routines accomplished more each day, and that they didn’t mourn the loss of doing something else. They’re so committed to their routine that they never stop to feel that they’d rather be doing something else at the moment.
Routine requires commitment to a set of tasks. Maybe I’m unsure of what to commit to, but also the tasks that come at me, that I have to do, are plentiful and sometimes demanding.
I’d like to think these towels were made by women for other women as a message: “You’ll be doing laundry on Monday, but so will I, so you’re not alone, and look—we can make art out of anything, even a kitchen towel commemorating the tasks that least define us. Get it done, dear friend, and get back to your books, your painting, your wistful gazes out the window.”