Getting Back to Normal


Some of my literal clutter…

WITH my spouse’s return to work last week, I was really looking forward to our household getting back to its normal schedule after a winter of stress and distraction.

Except, that it didn’t get back to normal. Because, of course, we aren’t really going backward, we are going forward and there are new patterns to learn and adjust to – and it was an unexpectedly busy week for me. Plus, I am rusty – amazing how quickly I can unlearn good habits! (and relearn poor ones). So the schedule I intended to reestablish just didn’t get put back in place.

One thing I really looked forward to when I started my business was having the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted. Except it soon became clear that deciding what to do on a moment-to-moment basis wasn’t getting me anywhere. Days and weeks could go by with very little to show for them. It felt so counter-intuitive at first, but I eventually learned that there was real freedom to be found in planning my time. In finding a way of telling myself what to do and when to do it, I was released from all that daily decision-making. I could focus on the doing instead of deciding what to do.

I’ve been experimenting with how best to plan my time ever since – and have developed a flexible structure that keeps me focused and balanced, and allows for some of the spontaneity I desired at the outset. It’s a system I am continually refining, but it works well enough that whenever I neglect it, I feel its loss.

One of the reasons it works so well is repetition of patterns (same tasks at the same times, in the same order, on the same days, and so forth). I am continually surprised by how much maintenance a good life requires. There is so much ordinary, basic stuff that needs to be done on a daily basis to really create ease, satisfaction, and success in my life: exercise, loading the dishwasher, sorting the mail, walking the dog, eating a meal with my spouse, filing, meditation/prayer, brushing my teeth… Of course, I can put these things off or skip them from time to time, but eventually I suffer the consequences if I neglect them too long – as I am now. No longer distracted, I am suddenly awake to all the clutter (literal and metaphorical) that has accumulated in recent months thanks to neglecting to practice good daily habits – clutter that is in itself now distracting. Argh.

Apparently, this is a lesson I have yet to truly learn, as it comes up over and over again: It’s just not worth it. The neglect, the procrastination, the delay – not now, later – it just isn’t worth it.

So, with renewed commitment I return to practicing the basics, reestablishing a daily structure, and relearning those most useful patterns.


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Third Hand Works

from overwhelmed to ready for anything | organization and time management for people in their "right" minds | administrative guidance for independent creative professionals [more info]



© 2008 Cairene MacDonald, Third Hand Works. All Rights Reserved.

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