I recently read the book,” Attack Your Day! Before it Attacks You!” The main thing I took away from the book was the idea of managing my TASKS instead of my time. Just because someone comes along and asks something of me doesn’t necessarily mean I must stop right that moment and complete the interrupting task. It’s my responsibility to prioritize my tasks.
SOOOooooo much easier said than done. My knee-jerk reaction was “Well, you’ve never spent a day at my desk! I’m the first face anyone sees when they pass our office, and there are 63 people between the ages of 80 and 100 who all think I’m at their personal beck and call, not to mention all of their responsible parties who need questions answered or need to tell me about a doctor’s appointment. Before and after and during work, I mother three children. Three children with no less than 5 years between their ages, all needing different things simultaneously. Mommy! Mom! Mama! Hey Mom! I have a husband and a boss (not the same person) and somehow I’d LIKE to think I try to write stuff and help people. NO way I can just call the shots on what I want to do.” It seems that most of my life is basically one interruption after another, putting out one fire after another. Even while typing this, I’m typing around a pair of three-year-old hands as they stick stickers on my laptop.
So basically, my first thought was “Nice idea. Totally impossible for me.” Then I remembered… (start playing Battle Hymn of the Republic background music) I remembered that it’s still the United States of America, the land of the free. I’m still of legal adult-decision-making age. This means I AM in charge of what I do. I make the choice to allow myself to be interrupted, to allow myself to forget the tasks I’ve decided are most important and do the stuff other people present to me as “emergencies.”
I admit, I wonder if deflecting all of the interruptions that come my way would take more time than just doing the task right then and getting it overwith. A legitimate concern, except if I keep on simply stopping and doing every single interruption, I’ll keep on being unable to get past all the interruptions and accomplish the things I’ve deemed important.
This idea applies to all of life. Churches, jobs, friends, social organizations, and more are all lining up for a piece of us. Saying “yes” to them all creates a constant stream of interruptions and interruptions to the interruptions. (Dizzy yet? Me too.)
I’ve decided it’s important to homeschool my kids. I’ve also decided since we still need to feed them, that I can’t quit my job. Oh yes, and I also want to make a healthy happy marriage, do life with my friends, and make a difference in the world. This means I HAVE to be a master at managing my tasks. This life isn’t going to just “happen to me.” I have to keep my priorities in the forefront of my mind and I have to make these things happen. I have to be on the attack.
So what do I do? Here are some ideas:
1) I need to know what is important to me today. There’s no way I can order my tasks if I don’t know what I want and need to be doing. This means I’ve gotta spend a few minutes planning, thinking, and prioritizing. This could be a simple “to do list” or a calendar program or whatever. Anything that helps identify what exactly I plan to do and need to do puts me in a better position to be in control of my tasks.
2) Learn to say NO already!! Sheesh!! There are some things absolutely required of me because of my job or position in the family, some things to which I can’t simply say “no.” BUT there are a LOT of things not absolutely required. A lot more than I want to admit. For me, saying “no” is uncomfortable, it’s weird, it’s unfriendly… I hate doing it. But, I can’t say yes to the important things if I can’t say no to the unimportant.
3) Strategize. I don’t often think about having a strategy. I prefer to dance around and float through life while everything seems to fall into place. Nice idea but not effective goal achieving material. I need to use strategy. I don’t think great marriages and good parenting just happen. There’s a strategy there, or at least a set of core beliefs that are applied by the partners or parents. I wonder what the simple step of identifying what I want and actually creating a strategy to achieve what I want, would do? This may seem silly to a business-minded organizer, but to a people-pleasing social butterfly it’s groundbreaking. There’s also a level of commitment in making a plan. It’s one thing to say I want to homeschool my children. It’s another entirely to make a strategy figuring out how to do it. Strategy in place, my excuses are few, aren’ t they?
My life is a juggling act. THIS IS NOT A COMPLAINT. I’m overly, wonderfully, incredibly, undeservedly blessed with more than my share of loveliness. Attacking my day means I get to dive in with gusto and enjoy fully the huge pile of good things in my life. Handsome husband, wonderful children, great job, dreams of good things to strive toward. All mine to attack at will.
Ready. Set. GO!!by