Monday, April 11, 2016

Hopeful Thoughts: Today's Work

March was a blur for me. 

My mother and my sister came to visit and we went many places and had much fun. 

Can you believe my mom just turned 70? She's such a babe! 
Here she and my sister are at the Philadelphia Flower Show. 

They brought me spring. 

My mind has been freed of something, like the clearness of the air after a huge storm. 

And then there was Spring Break, with all that my children wanted to do 
and visiting some dear friends in another state, and Easter. 

And then my projects started again. Big projects. The kind that have been on the back burner for ages, because you know once you start, it's full stream ahead. I started two of those in the last two weeks. 

It has been glorious.

And I haven't even told you about the pending birthday party or the drama over prom dates and soccer games or the child that needs extra help in school or the carpool that isn't really working out. Then there's the poor husband who is working 24/7 to complete a major project that he found out last week was due at the end of the month, when it normally isn't due until July.

There's a lot moving in my life right now. 


And it was worse when I was running barn sales. 

I know you understand. You have all the things and events and life that comes with being involved in things and other people. You have your own dreams and goals and want to support the dreams and goals of those around you. And there is always so much. In every direction.

But during the barn sale years, I discovered a little trick that saved me. 
And like all brilliant ideas that save you in a pinch, when the crisis was over, 

I promptly forgot it.

But with all the hoohah I have been living in, I recently remembered that the only way to make it sanely through all the overload is by focusing on Today's Work.

Today's Work is simply deciding what are the absolutely "must accomplish" things for that day. You figure that out, allowing for what you want to do most, and what your family and personal schedule will actually allow for, and then you stop worrying about the rest of it. And when that work is done, you stop for the day and rest and breathe. 

You don't add to the list. You don't plan more than you have time for. You think it through really carefully, with an eye to being kind to yourself, and an eye on what is actually humanly possible in the course of one day. And then you stop adding things. And you only think about what's on your list. You do only that, in what ever order most pleases you. 

That is Today's Work.

It saved me so much stress. I worried so much less, because I knew I would actually get stuff done. And that I couldn't do any more than what was on my list. It's hard to feel bad about yourself when you know you've done all you can with your day. And that you met all your goals. It's a very happy way to live.

If you need to think about things coming in the future, you write in time to plan. If you want to read your book and it's going to expire soon, you add reading for "x" amount of time into that day's plan every day until you're done. If you need to do the laundry, but you also want to do lunch with a friend, they both become Today's Work, if that seems to fit your schedule. 

The point here is to take a few minutes in the morning, or on a Sunday afternoon and plan what its you have to do that week or day along with what you want to do most. If you go day by day, most of the time, they both fit. Admittedly, this is harder if you have a job or small children. But I think it could apply if you modify your expectations to what is possible in your life.

Keep in mind, for this to work out, you have to be painfully honest about what is actually possible for you to do in a day. If you have a lower energy level, reorganizing your entire kitchen in a day is not going to happen. You cannot clean every single bedroom and bathroom in a 4 bdrm 3 bath house and still wash your car, your dog, your children, and run the PTA meeting that night. Well maybe you could do it once...But not every single day. Be reasonable in your planning. Include meal prep times, driving children places, favorite TV shows, showering time, exercise time, and things you really want to do along with all the dishes and cleaning and mom-ing. Because that is all work. When you finish, you have accomplished something. You should feel the happiness that comes from crossing something OFF THE LIST. 

And you should consider the things you want to do just as valid as the things you have to do. Just because an activity is pleasant and chosen, doesn't mean it isn't work, or that it shouldn't be considered an accomplishment. On the contrary, allowing yourself to live your own life in the face of all the Many Things may be the biggest accomplishment of them all.

So think about it. What do you need to do? What do you want to do most? What do you have to do? Write them down. Look at your calendar and see which day they best fit on. Then make your decisions. What is each day's work? What will you allow and what will you place on another day? If you have trouble deciding, say a little prayer. God will help you know. 

And once you have decided, let every thing else go. Don't think about the laundry in your bedroom if it's not Today's Work. Add it to another day's list. Focus on the work you have chosen. Make reminders for the next day's plan, but do not carry that extra work. Trust that to the energy from another day. I promise that "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof". Unless, of course, you decide to add a bunch more stuff to your day.

And if you plan too much or to little, don't despair. Don't beat yourself up.  You are doing this for the first time. Forgive yourself. Try again, but think about how much time things really take you, and plan a little less or a little more. Keep trying and keep focusing and keep letting go. 

Hopefully you will find yourself more able to breathe. More satisfied. Less lost in what "should be done". Less worried about forgetting something. More at home in your own life.

Which are all good things. Maybe the best kinds of things. 

What have you guys found helps when life is overwhelming? 
I know I am not the only one who lives their life like this.

Talk to you soon,

CM Shaw

1 comment:

  1. First time to your blog...I was over at Thistlewood and read your request for permission to copy her industrial cutting boards. Don't usually see that and my curiousity led me to your blog. What a perfect posting, since I am overwhelmed by all I have to do and it is Spring break, a time when I think, "I will get so much done." I prograstinate and yet, believe that my core habit will fall by the wayside when I have a week, "OFF". Some very good advice about planning what one wants to do and what needs to be done. Thanks!