Thursday, August 30, 2012

That Dirty Word -- Procrastination

So today I finally cleared something huge off my plate.  We home school with a public charter school and the maddening year that I had gave us a bit of a backlog getting assignments for my two girls uploaded.  Well... after 3 days of battles with my scanner to the detriment of all else (including my house), the scans are complete and my girls will start the new year FRESH! 

I honestly feel like a weight has been lifted.  Despite everything going on these past months that have prevented me from really buckling down and getting that done... the biggest obstacle was myself!  Too bad I carried this weight around for so long!

I kept telling myself that I didn't have the time that day to fight with the scanner or get to those uploads.  Sure, I really did have a ton going on....but I could have done ONE page even.  Had I done even one page a day I could have gotten over half of my work completed just one page at a time. 

Instead I let it pile up.  Mostly due to a MIND game.

Isn't that the truth though?  We kid ourselves about how long something really takes.  I don't know about you, but I had nearly perfected the art of procrastination.  I let dishes pile up because "I don't have time to unload the dishwasher".  Let's be honest though... it takes like 3 or 4 minutes!  So unload the darn thing so you can put the dirties straight in and save yourself the step.  I let the junk mail pile up because I didn't have time to purge it.... well now I just open the mail over the trash can.  I let the laundry baskets pile up in my room because I don't have time to put them away.  Well now I sort them into baskets as I go according to who they belong to  (I buy those cheap small round ones from sterilite for like $3 a piece that stack really well when not in use) and pawn them off on their owners.  If their owners are too small, then I do them one at a time in 5 minute bursts. 

Little changes can save you time, and a lot of the rest of it can be fixed by just being honest with yourself about how long something really does take.... or in recognizing that little 5 minute chunks taken out of a bigger job really DO add up! 

Flylady tells us "I can do anything for 15 minutes!"  That little motto there has been a BIG help in breaking my around the house habits that have interfered with cultivating a more organized home.   She tells us to take a job that we don't care for or are having a hard time getting started on and set a timer for 15 minutes.  It really helps to know that you only have to work for that 15 minutes and to challenge yourself to get as much done as possible.

So get that timer out!  Take something from your list of things that are bothering you the most that we created and make a dent in it somehow, if only for 15 minutes.  Let me know how you do!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Well, here you go!  My raw answers to last week's little writing exercise.  I just did my writing right on here with the computer clock, so what you see is what you get!  What did you all come up with?  To catch up anyone that missed last week's post, the exercise was to write for 2 minutes, uncensored and without regard to grammar or form using the bolded statements below as writing prompts.

In my life right now it is most important to . . .be a good wife, mother, and teacher.  to be true to myself, my God, and my family.  To achieve balance in all of those things.  To keep my focus sure and intent on those things which are most important.  To stop being distracted by material things that really have no intrinsic use or meaning.  To stop being wasteful.  To get organized in order to facilitate efficiency.  To be self-disciplined.  To be convicted. 

One day I hope to:

Climb a mountain
Go to Italy
Wake up well-rested
Go to sleep feeling like I truly did the BEST I could have.
To be the kind of mom I want to be.
To stop wishing I was a different kind of mom than I am!
To get a new dishwasher.
To build our own home.
To go on a vacation with my husband.
To not feel the need to own anything
Learn to kayak
plant an herb garden
to have plenty of guilt-free time to play with the kids.

I am frustrated most by:

The house.  In general.  Just wishing I could stop spending any time at all cleaning it!  To know EXACTLY how many clothes we need and have only that.  The laundry.  Always the laundry.  The leaky sink.  The dishwasher.  UGH.  the dishwasher.  The fact that the baby keeps waking up 10 times a night.... probably because he needs his own space away from me.  Can we FIT another baby in that back bedroom... maybe a trundle bed...  Under the bathroom sink.  A shelf?  Should i just get RID of the hand me down clothes?  How much do we REALLY wear them?  The SCHEDULE.  Being disciplined enough to stay on one.  Coffee.  There is not enough of it.  And I drink too much of it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"If you are having trouble telling someone something, write a letter."

This was my father's advice to me many times as a kid, when I was struggling with something! I've taken his advice many times-- it works!! First, it lets you get your thoughts into black and white where you can acknowledge and organize them. It also can be the first steps in communicating with others when you are struggling and lend direction when you need it.

You may have noticed my absence! I have been grappling with something the past few months. It has many faces. For sake of simplicity, let's call it 'Balance'. So, after riding the pendulum swing that often accompanies the overwhelm of a lack of balance in one's life, I have arrived back here.

This is my letter, of sorts.  A common thread in the lives of minimalists I think is the fact that we do not live in a vacuum! Every day, multiple times a day, we must own the choices, big and small, that make up our life's path. In this busy materialistic society we live in there will always be something tempting us to complicate what we've taken great pains to keep simple. Whatever this is to us, be it our schedules, our jobs, our homes, our closets, our bills, etc. You name it. Minimalism is a choice you have to feel deeply and personally. It will most certainly look different to everyone! Maintaining these choices will also look different and will change overtime for each person.  Sometimes you  take a step in the opposite direction, and this isn't necessarily a bad thing.  But, it DOES call for re-evaluation.

For our family, we've made a big lifestyle change over the past few months that has thrown me off. The everyday challenges continue as the little two bedroom townhouse is NOT getting any bigger while the 4 kids and their accoutrements do indeed. Add this general stress to the fact that I am now trying to juggle our choice for me to take on some part-time work with my primary roles as a wife, mother, teacher, and homemaker and I at times feel like I have lost my sure footing.   The family and I have been greatly enriched by my new work and want to continue with it, but not everything has changed for the better.  To put it simply: I consciously took quite a few steps away from the kind of minimalism I had been cultivating for quite a while.  I am happy with the choice.  I am NOT, however, as satisfied with all the results.

So, how to keep it all sorted out and stay on task when your path continually feels like it is being tempted askew of dearly held ideals (or, for some, goals)? Well, I for one, plan to listen to my father's advice and write some things down. Will you join me? Wherever you are on your walk with minimalism, this will be a great exercise!

Today, just jot a 2 minute answer to the following questions.  Whatever comes to mind regarding these following statements, in whatever form they come to mind (narrative, list, short phrases, etc).  Do NOT censor. Do NOT edit. We will use an old exercise from writing class that is designed to get people with even the most reluctant pens writing.

In my life right now, it is most important to . . .

One day, I really hope I can:

I am frustrated most by:

Remember -- set a timer for 2 minutes on each question, no more.  Break it up and do 2 minutes over the course of your day, or a few days if you need to.  Uncensored - no worries for grammar or punctuation.  I promise you'll get a raw list from me.   See you in a bit!

It would be great to see some of your responses to this exercise in the comments!