Like most of us, Dee Marques spent more time inside at home in 2020. It gave her the opportunity to discover the power of pottering – leisurely carrying out small tasks and activities without pressure. Here she shares the benefits it can bring to you...

 

This year’s lockdowns have seen many of us spending time indoors and trying to keep ourselves entertained at home. This can be a challenge for those who are used to an active or outdoorsy lifestyle spent in nature, as it can be tough to find meaningful things to do. I struggled with this too, until a friend said she kept herself occupied by simply pottering around her house most of the day. I tried it, and found it too rewarding to keep it all to myself!
 

What exactly is pottering?

Pottering around is all about keeping busy at a leisurely pace, without feeling the need to have specific plans for things that need to be achieved. It’s about letting your eyes wander and finding things that could be done, instead of having a pre-planned list of tasks in your mind.

So, in my case, I started by sorting my fabric stash by colour and then moved onto my button stash. Next, I went to the kitchen to make myself a coffee and put all the bagged spices into glass jars, then picked some rosemary from the garden and set it to dry. That’s what it’s like to potter: finding enjoyable tasks that don’t feel like a chore; little jobs you want to do, not tasks that you have to do.
the-power-of-pottering-about.jpg
Tidying your wardrobe is a perfect pottering task shutterstock/Kostikova Natalia

 

Pottering around is also about choosing activities that you can look back on and admire or enjoy, and about allowing yourself to jump from one thing to another without feeling guilty about it. However, scrolling down your phone or sitting in front of the TV doesn't count as pottering! Indeed, keep your pottering digital free as much as possible and you’ll find it much more rewarding this way.

 

So, why give pottering a go?

I’ve come to think of pottering as a coping strategy. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed, busy, or anxious, and please raise your hand if you haven’t felt any of these emotions this year! There’s no right way of dealing with these feelings, so the more tools we have, the better our ability to weather any storm will be. In fact, pottering can really help when we feel outside of our comfort zone. How? Here are a few examples:

  1. - Pottering about includes some elements of mindfulness, such as the commitment to be intentional and aware of the present. It’s also similar to mindfulness in that it’s a conscious way of using our time, encourages relaxation and non-striving. indeed, there’s enormous freedom in realizing that we don’t always have to fill our spare time trying to achieve something.
     
  2. Potter around for a while and you’ll start to discover pleasure and beauty in small things. In my case, I realised how rewarding it was to arrange fabric by colour; how delightful it was to find little differences in colour shade or intensity. It’s something I’d probably have never experienced if I hadn’t decided to potter about, and for that I am grateful.
     
  3. It can help you learn to pace your routine and slow down a notch. It’s so relieving to finally understand that we don’t always have to be speeding onto the next thing and running from deadline to deadline. Time is a luxury, so treat yourself by learning to take things slowly. Pottering isn’t goal-oriented and so it can be considered part of slow living, which has multiple benefits, from better digestive health to a more positive mindset.
     
  4.  Linked to this is the fact that pottering can help us re-assess what it means to be productive. You can say there’s 'normal' (or productive) time and time to potter about. Both have their own advantages, but the thing with productive time is that we can only keep at it for so long before fatigue or burnout set in. This is why it’s important to balance it with time to just potter around.
     
  5. I’ve already said that pottering isn't doing nothing at all, it’s an active pursuit that entails movement without the rush we usually associate with 'being on the move'. There’s plenty of evidence confirming the benefits of controlled and slow-paced physical movement. For example, practices like tai chi are sometimes described as 'medication in motion' that can reduce stress and improve cardiovascular health.
     
  6. You can jump straight into pottering, since you don’t need anything special to get started and it’s not like taking up a hobby that requires specific gear or tools. If you want to potter about, just look around and you’ll find plenty of simple things you can do with what you already have.
     
“Potter around for a while and you’ll discover pleasure and beauty in small things. Pottering helps you learn to pace your routine and slow down a notch.


You may want to have a look at this article, where Anna McGovern describes the benefits of pottering. She found herself overwhelmed by that familiar feeling of everything happening at the same time, struggling with a busy schedule, with personal and professional disappointment, and emotional exhaustion. To cope with the situation, she decided to set aside one day a week to just potter around. And, in her own words, making that decision changed her life, and in the end she published a book about it.

 

Some ideas for potterers

If you need some inspiration to get you started with pottering, here's a list of ideas to get you kick-started into action:

  • Gardening or landscaping – without any pressure! It can be as simple as watering the plants, cutting a few herbs to use in the kitchen, or gathering a few evergreen branches to make a Christmas wreath.
  • Going for a mindful walk.
  • Writing a thank you note to a friend.
  • Sorting out your fabric or yarn stash.
  • Grinding favourite coffee beans.
  • Neatly folding the clothes in your dresser.
  • Organising your tool box.
  • Decluttering.
  • Cleaning and sorting the cutlery drawer.
  • Hanging a bird feeder in your balcony or patio.
  • Making some DIY potpourri.
  • Enjoying your very own tea ceremony or ritual.
  • Reorganising book shelves.
  • Going through recipe books and finding new dishes to try.
  • Polishing jewellery.
  • Polishing wooden surfaces.
  • Oiling those squeaky door hinges.
  • Tackling “the bag of bags”: that plastic bag full of plastic bags we all have at home!
  • Creating a music playlist for working, relaxing, or reading.

pottering-around.jpg
Pottering around in the garden shutterstock/goodluz


One last suggestion is to keep track of all the good things that happen once you allow yourself time to potter. This will generate awareness and appreciation for this way of using time, and you may discover something new about yourself too.

 

Conclusion: the power of pottering

Pottering around is a great coping strategy that you can turn into healing self-care sessions where you experience time without pressure and learn to just be. So, are you ready to become a potterer? Give it a try, discover the magic of pottering about, and find peace, contentment and happiness

 

 

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Written by Dee Marques

dee.jpgA social sciences graduate with a keen interest in languages, communication and personal development strategies. Dee loves exercising, being out in nature, and discovering warm and sunny places where she can escape the winter.

 


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Lizzie

Posted

I couldn't agree more! Organizing and tidying a space in my home makes me feel like I've done the same in my mind ?

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Calvin77

Posted

I love a potter about! Tidying drawers, organizing my bathroom beauty products, sorting my sock draw, lol. Actually doing these small tasks not only clears my physical space but my mental space too. I can't focus on anything if I have too much mess around me!

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