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This month I became addicted. I can’t stop watching Fixer Upper on Netflix. I love home improvement shows and stores and run down houses. My dad is a professional contractor and has had his own business for as long as I can remember. My mom also had her own business (a bakery!) for a time, but has been known to swing a hammer or paint a wall a time or two. So between my two entrepreneurial parents, I gleaned a desire to start from scratch and finish with a fantastic end product. But to go along with that I also developed a terrible habit…I buy craft supplies or start long projects with all the best intentions only to find myself leaving things half or three-quarters of the way done.
I am comforted knowing that I’m not the only person I’ve ever met who suffers from this problem. Actually, my childhood home is still in progress and has been for about 25 years. Yikes. But I’ve noticed this same pattern with other friends and family too. There are some projects that just never get finished. Why? I mean it’s good to have a goal and work towards it, but I find myself working and working and realize how much work the project actually is and then I move on to the next novel task. I do this with so many things! It’s not just projects but sometimes it’s even my relationships. I want to work on being a better sister-in-law or aunt or mother or wife or whatever role I need to improve only to find myself making up some excuse and never taking the next step to intentionally get to know my family and friends.
How can I ever change this? How can I actually be intentional as I so dearly desire to be?
- Plan. I used to fill my planner with everything when I was in high school. I was so good at planning. But then again I was also reminded to write things down. Then in college I wrote down some things and not others and still managed to complete assignments but really I didn’t stay on top of things well. I so often feel like I potentially lost out on quite a bit of learning because I didn’t plan my time well. Now, as a adult I see that when I don’t actually plan and structure my day, I accomplish nothing. I don’t interact with my children well because I continually feel the need to keep doing something else (especially after spending 15 or 30 or however many minutes on Facebook or Pinterest and there’s dishes or laundry to do). But when I have a structure to my day, I build in time to play with my kids and talk to my husband and everyone is a little happier.
- Be present. As I mentioned I do seem to spend too much time on Facebook and Pinterest and now watching Fixer Upper instead of trying to plan a time to get together with family or finding a place to volunteer or doing something that actually matters. And this doesn’t only apply to my personal life. I notice that at work when I am distracted and not focusing on my patients medications and interventions, I can’t fully meet their needs and too often I feel like I am missing something.
- Swallow the frog. Just recently I learned this phrase from a book I was reading about blogging (How to Blog for Profit Without Selling your Soul by Ruth Soukup). The phrase was coined by Mark Twain (and I don’t know the full quote) but basically it means that if you swallow a frog for breakfast, that will probably be the hardest thing you’ll do all day and it’s over! Right now, this seems hard because I feel that with all the things I feel like I’m juggling, if I stop to deal with just one, I’ll drop all of them.
- Know limits. Too often I say yes to everything always thinking I’ll be able to handle it. You’ve seen my posts about my really long list of goals, right? Crazy. Even I know that. But it doesn’t stop there. I continually agree to work extra (yes, I do sign up quite a bit, but I’ve also been asked). I think I can take on home improvement projects in my “spare time” (who has that with two kids and another on the way). And quite honestly, with tasks and projects that feel too numerous to count, I seriously can’t get started on any of them. I need to know what my limits are and set my priorities accordingly.
- Work at it and rest. With little planning and two kids and a more than full time job, most of the time on my days off I just want to lay around the house and do as little as the kids and my husband will let me do. But that’s not really a great option when you want to raise quality human beings. I do think that everyone needs at least one day of rest each week (which we rarely ever take but when we do we realize how refreshing and absolutely necessary it is). And young kids have so much trouble understanding that Mommy and Daddy really do just want to lay on the couch and not play. They think, “How is that any fun?” Someday they will understand…hopefully. It makes sense to work at developing the better habits six days a week and really taking a day to rest will allow the time and space to stop, think and rejuvenate. Why is it so hard to allow that for ourselves?
Even though I intend to do my best at everything, I will admit that so often I catch myself being lazy and selfish and while those can exist along with great intentions, those cannot coexist with getting in gear and just getting started.
Are there simple ways that you have managed to help yourself complete the tasks you start?