What did I get accomplished this week? It feels like nothing. But that’s how a lot of weeks feel to me and I’m guessing I’m not alone in that. I’m sure my lack of feeling any accomplishments has something to do with the fact that I’m most interested in whatever I’m currently working on and not what I’ve already finished. Once I’ve finished something it often leaves my mind and I tend to forget I’ve accomplished it.

I have a friend who’s favorite video game was usually one that hadn’t come out yet. This was in the days before everything about everything was on the internet and all of us gamers used to buy video game magazines and pass them around. There were at least half a dozen magazines about video games published each month. Most of them were filled with fluff, press releases, and lots of nothing. But this friend would scour each one bit by bit for any info on an upcoming game that he was excited about. He could find things we missed because we got bored and stopped looking very hard. When the game was finally released this friend was often not as excited about it anymore. He liked anticipating the game rather than playing it. The game was always better in his imagination.

That story is really an aside. I remembered it because of my “Forgetting what I’ve accomplished” mindset but isn’t quite a parallel. No, I just concentrate and am most interested in what I’m doing at the moment. I also think it’s a human trait to forget our accomplishments at times. At least for a large portion of humanity. The past has a way of receding as we all deal with the present. Plus we tend to think about the future. At least those of us not trapped by nostalgia or cursed by a painful future.

I’ve noticed one way for a person to give themselves a sense of accomplishment is to lay out their work in front on them. That is if your work has a physical result. Sometimes you have to grab a whole bunch of your paintings, drawings, photos, cartoons, or whatever it is you do and lay them out in front of you. On a table, on a couch, or on the floor. Whatever works. Pull them all out of their storage spaces and look at everything. Seeing a bunch of what you’ve done makes you realize that you have, in fact, actually done something. Most artists I’ve known do this every once in while. It keeps the spirits up. You can say, “Yeah, I did that”.

A few years ago I came up with another way to give myself more of a sense of accomplishment when I needed it. I started using my computer calender but instead of using it to write down what I have to do I use it to write down what I’ve done. It’s backwards looking rather than forwards. I guess it’s as much a diary as it is a calender. Things pile up in it behind me.

First I started writing down what I I did art-wise that day. I painted, I worked on a drawing, I made a print, or anything else I produced. But then I got more specific. I started writing down what drawings or painting I worked on. But first I had to start to name all of my stuff. I actually started out by numbering whatever large oil painting I was working on. Somehow I thought only the large works needed to be noted by an identifier.

Then as time passed all the days on my calender began to look the same. I realized that I’d have to name everything I did. Drawings, paintings, prints, and photos. It didn’t even matter what the name was as long as it was a unique identifier and would make the days look different. I’d write the name on the drawing itself and then put the name in the calender. It’s kinda fun. I’m always coming up with strange titles.

As time went by I added more things to my calender. I now note what paying work I’ve done on any given day and how long I worked on it. I write down if I went for a bike ride that day or wrote a blog. I now mention if I mowed the lawn. That also helps me keep track of when the next lawn mowing might be. My calender might not be filled with exciting social engagements I can look forward too but if I need a sense of accomplishment I can easily read back on what I’ve done. The rearview mirror isn’t as empty as it was before.

A person can get lost in the nostalgia of the past but I think that a calender generally avoids all that. It’s an unemotional grid with numbers on it. And in this case writing. It represents the past but in a formal way. I’m sure if I was using a calender that had pictures on it then the picture might lend themselves to nostalgia but the grid alone does not. I like a computer calender.

I haven’t used a wall or book calender in years. At one time I had a calender on the wall like so many other people do but I eventually got tired of it taking up so much wall space. I needed more and more places to hang/store my pictures so as the years went by I switched over to a book type calender. It was a week by week calender and I used to write down some of the things I’d done but not as as regularly as I do now.

I did make a habit of writing in my book calender though. Once a day, usually at night, I would write a sentence in that day’s box. Just a sentence that would stand on it’s own and not have to be connected to any other sentence before or after it. I would use those sentences for my mail art pieces or any other time I wanted some words to go with some pictures. It was also an outlet for writing daily before I began to blog. I actually wouldn’t always get to write a sentence daily as life would get in the way but I would double or triple-up some nights to make sure each day in the calender had a sentence.

So you’d think with all that my sense of accomplishment wouldn’t disappear so easily but it does. I was pacing about a bit today wondering what I was going to do, how I was going to get anything done, and if I had ever gotten anything done because I sure couldn’t remember anything I had ever gotten done. Or at least the stuff I had already done didn’t interest me anymore. Yes, life is a strange place.