Too often is the case that I find myself by week’s end scrambling to get to everything I set out to do but wasn’t able to during the week. And usually, I am not up to the challenge. At the close of every week I’m in a mad dash to return phone calls, do some writing and make progress on wedding planning. My difficulties don’t just lie in weekly tasks, I have the same problem with leaving the house. Inevitably as I try to get ready to leave my home be it for an appointment, work, running errands or leisure, I find myself in a mad dash. Needless to say, I feel perpetually stressed. Whether I am in a hurry or not, I feel hurried because I always seem to have an endless list of things to do.
After a long discussion with a colleague, I’ve come to realize I somewhere along the way lost a sense of priorities. Everything seems have morphed into equal importance. If I have to choose between taking out the garbage, cleaning the cat litter, and completing a writing assignment, I’ll take out garbage and clean kitty litter first. I rationalize doing small items first as thoughtless tasks that can be knocked out fast leaving more time to “concentrate” on important things like writing. Dido with leaving the house. If I need to get somewhere, and I only have a half an hour before I must get out the door, I’ll make the bed, clean up the bathroom and kitchen before putting on my makeup.
The truth is, I’ve been operating this way for as long as I can remember. Always putting must do items last thinking if I do all the little things first, I can get them out of the way so I can focus on what’s important. The pressure to live up to the standards of a multitasking world has got me running in circles. Well, after carefully examining all my routines, I realize I have simply been engaging in a well crafted but misguided form of procrastination. If I want a more orderly and less harried life, I have to make a better habit of setting up my priorities.
The first item of business is a to do list. I don’t have a regular schedule, so I thought I didn’t need to make to do lists. I was clearly wrong. Writing things down works. By making a list for the week I can see what requires the most time and instead of putting them last, I can give them top billing. It’s so simple I can’t believe I’ve been doing it wrong all these years. Oh what headaches I would have saved myself in college if I had applied this rule to assignments and exam study. The fact is all those times I put the little items first, I was setting myself up for failure. All those small tasks may seem thoughtless, but they start to build up. I might have a clean home with a fresh smelling litter box, but that big writing project is now running behind and I am physically exhausted. Between being drained from all my chores, and feeling stressed over not getting any writing completed, I’m in no state of mind to do my best work. It’s not multitasking if you can never get anything important done.
When getting ready to leave the house to go anywhere, I know I have to start the night before. I am not one of those people who can pull clothes from the closet at the last minute and look pulled together. I’m also not a gal who can put makeup on in five minutes. So why do I constantly allot the smallest amount of time for getting ready in comparison to tidying up my home before I leave? By not embracing who I am, I never figured out what works for me. I can spend hours staring at my closet before I actually settle on an outfit for the day. I have to recognize I am the woman who has to pick clothes out, organize my handbag, and place them, along with keys and shoes by the door the night before. I am the person who has to make a list and put the big items first and save the small things for later.
I have to constantly remind myself the goal is to feel good about the work I do and be collected and calm when I leave my home. Doing what it takes to achieve my goals is the priority. If there’s a mess waiting for me when I’m done, it’s no biggie. What is a big deal is feeling stressed every time I do anything because I have an endless list of things to do.
As my fiance puts it, I have to start taking things off my list. Everything is not of equal importance. As much as I’d like to be, I can’t be perfect at everything so why put so much pressure on myself to do everything perfectly all at once? That’s a question I’ll have to answer some other time, right now I have to get ready to spend the day enjoying the fall foliage with my Boo. It’s a matter of priorities.