I’m having one of those days.
There are a zillion writing ideas bouncing around in my head and at least ten other things that I should be doing. Even as I type these words, all I can think about are all of those other ideas, all of those other activities, all of those other errands that have found their way onto my plate. They are all things that I like, things that I have promised that I’ll do, things that are good for my health, things that I’m good at. But I can’t seem to get down to any of them today, because the one thing that I am not good at is managing my own time.
I have the house to myself and a car in the driveway. I can do anything or go anywhere I want. It’s a warm, clear autumn day. The only thing standing in my way of accomplishing anything is—well, me.
The Fitbit on my wrist just buzzed telling me that I owe it forty-eight steps to make the quota for this hour. So close. Be right back.
Done. One accomplishment anyway, though not much of one. The three-mile walk that I try to fit in most days is nagging at me, but if I give it the hour that it requires, plus the half-hour to shower and change afterwards, then I won’t get to the reading that I want to do for next week’s book club. But if I do the reading, then I’ll feel bad that I spent the afternoon sitting on my ass instead of getting some much-needed exercise. I have some errands to run, but in the time it would take me to dress appropriately, go out and get back, I could have studied my choir music, practiced my ukulele and started dinner. I have lots of writing to do but if I start a new essay on one topic, that means that I’d have to ignore the twenty other topics fighting for my attention. And, even if I settle on a topic and start that new essay, that means that I’m not writing for my blog, writing for my Facebook page, writing a grant application, working on a marketing strategy or getting started on my Christmas cards.
You see? Doing any one of these things precludes doing all the other things which, on days like today, drives me into a state of inertia where NOTHING gets done. Frittering happens. Facebook, email and online shopping happen. Fitbit spurts happen. Non-consequential housework happens. Aimlessness happens. Wine happens. And then it’s time for bed.
On days like this, focusing on any one thing is the same to me as neglecting all other things—which makes it impossible to concentrate on the thing that I am doing. So, like a mother who has more children than she could possibly take care of, I wind up abandoning everything. I waste time even though I am of an age where there is no such thing as time to waste.
Then I feel terrible—harebrained, distracted, inadequate, incapable of getting the job done.
And then I make a list. I force myself to do the first thing on the list regardless of what it is or whatever else follows it. And when it is done, I cross it off with a flourish and go on to the next thing.
And I feel a little better.
I may have to feel rock-bottom useless before I resort to this. But it is my big gun and it almost always works—like today.
Now, on to item Number Two.