Things Done

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Since Piper was born, I've had to rework my entire mentality about getting things done.

When I was working full time, I would start the day with a to-do list and cross things off as I finished them. It left me with a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Now, however, I don't even have time to write out a to-do list.

Most days, I barely have the energy to get out of bed, between the Herxheimer reaction from my Lyme treatment and the multiple night visits with Piper, who still isn't sleeping through the night. This limits me to essentials - if I'm feeling motivated at all, which hasn't happened often recently.

So I've learned to let the dishes sit in the sink, to let the laundry wait a few days, to live with an unmade bed. As long as Piper is fed and mostly happy (she still has her druthers, you know), I have learned to be content.

Lately, I've started reworking my mentality. What if I can take care of Piper and do one more thing? It's not a to-do list, it's just the next thing I can do.

The day before yesterday, I cleaned our bathroom sink and picked up the house. Yesterday, we made the bed and made biscuits for supper. So far today, I've gotten dressed. It's not much, but it's something!

Now, instead of getting to the end of the day feeling like I have failed miserably in getting through my entire to-do list (that I haven't had time to make anyway), I have a list of things done. I like that feeling. It makes me look forward to getting up the next day to see what happens next.


Jessica said...

I am healthy and I have a baby who sleeps through the night, and I STILL have piles of dishes and laundry! So don't let that get you down. :-) I appreciate the "one more thing" mentality, though. That is definitely what I have been having to learn lately -- I need to quit kicking myself for not getting my list done, and just get up and do SOMETHING, anything, even if it's small. It's encouraging to know I'm not alone. :-)

Heidi said...

I don't have a baby (*grin*) but I certainly understand how chronic illness can wreak havoc with our "to-do lists." The longer that I'm sick the less I'm inspired to even write a to-do list. Sometimes I need to write things down just to remember memory isn't so good these days. But overall I'm learning that living life is not about checking things off the ever-expanding, never-ending to-do list that most people live by. I used to find my sense of achievement in checking everything off the list. In some ways I used to even find my identity there.

But anymore, if my identity lies in getting things done, then who am I? I can't wake up and COUNT ON doing anything. I never know. So I'm having to take it one day at a time, and wake up and assess how I'm feeling, what I want, what I'm feeling inspired to do that day. I'm finally learning to live from a place of desire instead of a place of "have-to". As hard as it is, I'm slowly recognizing how grateful I am to be learning this. I don't WANT to spend my life just checking things off a list.

I've realized that most days the things I WANT are pretty simple: exercise, play my violin, make dinner. There are always things that also need to happen (ahem, like teaching my students), and as this week I've focused on those three things, I'm realizing I ALSO want to make the bed in the morning. haha. But anyway, learning to live from this place of "what do I want to do?" and like you said - just doing the next thing - is incredibly freeing. It does run counter to the overachiever American so-called "work ethic" that's oftentimes just an excuse to hide from reality by keeping busy or finding validation in "doing lots of stuff."

By not being able to "do lots of stuff", I'm finally discovering that my value doesn't lie in my doing. Still figuring out what, exactly, it DOES lie in, but I'm learning to set the doing aside.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the world of backwards lists! That's what I called it when I couldn't cope with even the idea of being saddled with a to do list. A backwards list is like having a personal cheering section. You get the prettiest paper you can find and your favorite pen for the day and when you do something, you write "HURRAH!!! You washed the dishes!" or "Bravo! The living room is picked up! It's amazing it's like praising your way through the day. : )

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