The other day, my roommate and I got into a heated debate over dishes. I hand-wash my dishes. I did it when I lived alone, and I still do it now living with two other roommates. He argued that the dish washer was not only more energy efficient and time efficient, but that “that’s what technology was for” and that I should get with the times.
I had one plate, and one fork. Before he could finish his spiel about the “steaming point of water” or pruned fingers and what not, my dishes were done drying. 2 things here: never let a machine do something for you that you are capable of doing yourself, and if it takes you more than 30 mins to wash one plate and one fork, slap yourself.
But my reasoning for hand washing has absolutely nothing to do with full loads vs empty loads, water bills, or wasted energy. It has everything to do with how I stay productive. More specifically, how I avoid Resistance.
There is a common misconception about people who make art… “Creatives.” That creativity is inherent, somehow just naturally overflowing within a writer, a painter, or a dancer and that inspiration strikes left and right and with a wave of a wand POOF, Van Gogh, a perfectly choreographed ballet, or a New York Times best seller comes out. It’s just not true. Allowing yourself to be present in a space that welcomes inspiration AND to be able to act upon it and create something is really, really hard to do. And it’s hard because of Resistance.
Resistance can take many forms. For me, it disguises itself as productivity. Allow me to explain. I know that I work best when I have nothing in my pending processes. My work area is clean, my room is clean, I’ve sent my emails, I’ve showered if I need to shower, and my water bottle is full. I can give 100% of my energy to my creative habits in order to craft the necessary space in which I work best.
But let’s say that my little OCD checklist wasn’t fulfilled. I begin cleaning my room. But first, I open Spotify because I can’t clean without music. I open Facebook for a couple of minutes since I’m already online. Then I eat dinner and watch some TV. 3 episodes of Bar Rescue later I put away my dishes. And while I’m at it, I’ll wipe down the counter and clean the rest of the kitchen. Then I shower and finally head down to my room. And if you are like me and you correlate cleanliness with a sense of internal “healing” and balance, you would probably tell yourself that you had a very productive night. But wait, you didn’t even begin working yet.
This is Resistance at its finest.
In the words of Steven Pressfield:
“Resistance loves healing. Resistance knows that the more psychic energy we expend dredging and re-dredging the tired burning injustices of our personal lives, the less juice we have to do our work.”
Life is distracting. I know my weaknesses. Something as little as dishes sounds silly but I treat it the same way as every other chore I encounter during the day. Get it in, get it out, move on to the next. Because I can’t afford to get side-tracked. God forbid there are no clean dishes for dinner.
Help yourself out. Limit the pending processes during your day. Know your weaknesses, identify what Resistance looks like to you, and create habits to avoid it.
“Resistance is like a telemarketer; if you so much as say hello, you’re finished. The pro doesn’t even pick up the phone. He stays at work.” –Steven Pressfield (The War of Art).