On Grandmothers, Whips, and Productivity


‘Do you want me to come round with a whip?’

I just got off the phone with my grandmother, and that’s what she said to me. I know, right? Brilliant mental image for you right there. She’s about four foot four, has short white permed hair, watery blue eyes and folds of skin like a shar pei. And she’s threatening to lash me with a whip.

‘You get up in the morning Karen, no later than 8. Are you listening? Up at 8, have some breakfast and then get cracking. Them’s my orders for the day. You can have some coffee for a break and that’s it. No gossiping. No calling your friends. I want a full morning’s work out of you.’

I have no idea where this outburst came from — we’ve never talked about my working habits before — but maybe she has some weird grandmotherly intuition and could sense that I’ve been slacking off lately. (And by slacking off, I obviously mean MOVING HOUSE AND HAVING NO INTERNET. GOD, NAN.) Also, it’s weird that she suggested coffee, because we are a family of tea drinkers. ANYWAY.

Even though this little outburst was completely unexpected, it also struck me as on-the-fucking-money. Nice job, Nan. Because if we actually do start work as soon as we get up, we’re so much more likely to get good, important work done. Or any work at all. We’re more likely to finish early. To have free time to go and do fun stuff. In short: starting work straight away leaves us time to throw a little living into the mix too, without feeling like we’re running our business into the ground.

So — are you going to get started straight away tomorrow morning? Or shall I come round with a whip?

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    1. I really liked this blog post! I stumbled on it from your blog on taking a break. I had a baby almost 2 years ago and I took a 2 year break (am still on the break). But now I am feeling the urge to write again. I was recently at a yoga retreat and one of the older 80 something gurus went around to participants who were lazily moving and said, “Do you want me to get my stick?” We all burst into laughter and I realized that old school brutal threat works for a reason! We all started moving with more energy. So thanks for sharing granny’s old wisdom.

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