I’m standing in the middle of laundry room/storage area of my basement, looking around at the magnitude of things I’d love to get done before school re-opens on September 7. All year I looked forward to time off during the summer, only to have July swallowed pretty much whole with our extended school year program—and here is August 13 already and all I’ve got to show for myself is four days at the beach and four at my cottage in PA. (I’m not moaning, folks, and I am very grateful to be able to claim this time. I bow my curly head to those of you who do the eight-hours/day, five days/ week, 52-weeks/year deal; in all honesty, not sure I can handle it. When recently, a co-worker recently said to me, “How nice you can afford to work four days a week”–we won’t discuss that I carry a full-time caseload easily and get to bring work home no matter what–I had only one response: “Financially, I really can’t afford to work a four-day week, but mentally, I can’t afford to work a five-day one.” And I’m blessed with the choice because my family and I forego fancy vacations, vehicles, etc.)
Anyway, that’s not what this is about. I am so easily sidetracked, lol! Back to the basement and the multitude of time I misperceive having and don’t, especially with two boys and a husband home all the time. The former frequently declare, “I’m bored,” as though it’s my responsibility to make sure they’re not. (Not that anyone will pull out his summer reading or–GASP! read for fun?) The latter wants to know, “What are we doing today? Are we going anywhere?” None are happy when I lay out the jobs. Forget getting them directed—especially the boys; that’s an exercise in drive-myself-to-drink-fast. Ridiculously optimistic me, I actually entertain visions of my kids staying focused AND not bickering or outright fighting while cleaning the semi-finished part of the basement we call their ‘rec area.’
So what’s a soon-to-be-bogged-down-again writer/mom/wife supposed to do with those larger tasks previously put off for ‘the summer’? Gone are the days when the kids went to music school (I got a solid four hours out of that one on the days I didn’t work for pay), and hubby took off for work outside the home. (He had to retire for health reasons.) Those blocks of time alone are very few these days and, of late, dedicated to promotion and writing or writing-related tasks. (i.e., I just finished judging a contest and promised to review a new friend’s book. Since this the writer’s world is so pay-it-forward, how do I not take on these opportunities when they present themselves? Many have done so for me and it is a gift to be able to work with those on their way, or learning the published promo ropes as I am.)
Back to looking around in the basement while I… let’s skip the yucky job I was doing… It occurred to me I may have to switch my mindset. By tackling a given job—i.e., bookshelf loaded with college notes—in fifteen to twenty-minute increments, I can get something done and amass efforts over a longer period of time, right? Not all that different from writing that manuscript one word at a time or getting my name out there one blog at a time, or reading that next book one page at a time. (Hello-o! Why do I still have those notes—umpteen years later—especially given internet access to anything?)
Anyway—and this IS related—for some reason, I find that I end up with an annual-running theme in my head without even trying. This year, Aesop’s fable, The Pitcher and the Crow is front-runner. To summarize for those who aren’t familiar with it: a thirsty crow happens on a pitcher with some water, but the level is far too low to the crow to reach with its beak. This crafty creature realizes he can drop stones into the pitcher, one at a time, until the water level rises high enough for him to drink.
So, back to a little bit at a time, I can tackle those monster projects by breaking them down into manageable pieces with just a little shift in my thinking. (And that translates into NOT making myself crazy during those priceless ‘free’ August days with an I have to get it all done attitude. Here’s the reality: morbid as this sounds, if God called me from this earth today—guess what? These things I pressure myself to get done wouldn’t. And if it were work-related (i.e., a report), then someone else would pick up the ball and do whatever necessary because I wouldn’t be there to do it.
And on that note, I invite you to share ways you work your crazy schedule to get the most you can out of your hectic day! Thanks so much and ttys—off to check e-mail now!