Embracing

How I Finally Learned to Get Things Done

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My kids were helping at the local thrift shop. My husband was gone to work. And after tidying up after a weekend of company, the house was quiet. Phew!

Now what?

I knew there were a ton of things I had put off to focus on my busy week, but now I was at a loss. Nothing. Nothing would come. Ideas and thoughts bounced around in my head, but it was like reaching into a bowl of soup with your two fingers to pull out a crumb that has fallen inside. Each time you get close and pinch your fingers together to pull it out, you find it has slipped away. There’s nothing between your fingers. This can be rather maddening! And here the same thing was happening to my thoughts.

I began to recognize that this happened to me more often than it should. It seemed that when I had a spare moment, I couldn’t pinpoint anything productive to do. So I’d turn to social media “to collect my thoughts.” I’m sure you can see what a goofy plan that was. So in this situation . . . two hours passed and I was still scrolling when I heard the kids pull up. My solace was over, and I had accomplished nothing.

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One day my seventeen year old son came into my room absolutely beaming. I asked him why he was so happy, and he made a list of everything he wanted to do that day: change out the brake pads on his car, spend an hour reading a book on flipping houses, call the local tech school to register for a class on diesel mechanics, and detail his other car to prepare for sale.

I just stared at him in awe. Not only did he have a plan, he was excited about it. Then it occurred to me . . . during only a few months he had knocked out more goals than most people do in a year.

I asked him what was making the difference for him, and he said it was simple. Each morning, as part of his A.M. routine, he would set goals for the day. The next morning he reviewed how he had done, and then he set new goals.

A genius idea? I sure thought so. I had heard of doing this hundreds of times throughout my life, but not necessarily from real people actually doing it.

I had to tweak it just a bit for me because I needed to wake up with a plan already in hand. I knew my brain tended to be a bit fried in the middle of a hectic day.

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So . . . before going to bed each night, I started looking at my calendar and considering what my priorities were to accomplish the next day. I would take into account the things already scheduled for the day, and then maybe I’d set a goal to clean out a cupboard, check on a friend, write a thank you note, or read for fifteen minutes.

The first day after setting goals completely converted me. No joke. It took only once for me to see the benefit. When I had a moment by myself, instead of turning to my computer screen, I pulled out my list of goals. I didn’t have to think in the moment . . . I just moved.

Because I had planned ahead of time, I not only worked on goals during the lulls in between appointments, I started looking for little moments to sneak in a goal. I often complete my goals now before noon because it’s on my mind.

So what do I do if I’m ahead and I have a break in the afternoon? Good question.

I give myself a couple of options.

1. Maybe by this point I feel accomplished enough to just take a breather. That’s fair.

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2. I may simply take note that I had more time than I had realized and add additional goals to my list that evening when I plan for the next day.

3. If I have any brain power in that moment, I may set a couple more goals for myself to knock out before dinner.

This has turned out to be one of just a handful of things that keeps me moving, helps me stay on track, and brings a smile to my face that almost matches my son’s.

Maybe give it a whirl. Do you prefer mornings or night?