Friday, July 22, 2011

Anything or Everything or What?

I have want to do lists, need to do lists and should do lists.

I might write the lists but I only get to dictate what is on one of them.

The needs and shoulds are more pressing and sometimes I can find the silver lining in the most mundane of chores. A clean bathroom is so wonderful, reading Chicka, Chicka 1,2,3 one more time really makes *I* smile and that makes my heart all warm and fuzzy.

Sometimes, though, I just want to do what I want to do. (Whine. ;) )

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Reality who?
Reality is that you're a mom with 6 kids, a husband, school and volunteer responsibilities, you can't do everything. Or can you?

Yesterday I came across personal productivity guru David Allen's quote, "You can do anything, but not everything."

My initial internal response? "Says who?" Other than David Allen, I mean.

I know the saying, "Jack of all trades, master of none." I know that spreading oneself too thin can lead to lackluster performance. What I don't know if if I have to choose or if I can do the things I need, should and want to do all equally well, if I use my time more efficiently.

Proverbs 31 talks of a very productive woman in society. She gets it all done and then some. Some contemporary writers (I do not remember who or where, sorry) say the author is writing of an ideal, that it could be a group of women working together, but that for one modern woman to hold herself to that ideal is unrealistic. I'm not so sure.

A few years ago, my boys and I read Farmer Boy together. I was struck, as I read, exactly how much the mother did all day, every day. I mean, I whip up some cookies with my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, not by hand. I have the washer and dryer, not a washboard and a line. (We change clothes more often than they did.) Our conveniences have made us feel like we cannot accomplish as much. We don't have time to do things and yet we have all sorts of time-saving devices. Personally, I believe my time-wasting devices negate any time-saving devices I have.

We have choices. One of the choices I have is what to do during the 24 hours I have each day. I can prioritize the needs and shoulds and even wants. It is easy to get distracted. I just don't want my distraction to lead me to believe I cannot do anything or everything or whatever is in the middle.

The woman in Proverbs 31 does many things, but nowhere does it say she does all of them every day. She rises early each day and fills her day with multiple tasks. So does every woman I know. To suggest that her life is an unreachable ideal for us sells us all short.

Instead of seeing life as a list of things not crossed off our list, perhaps we need to end a day honestly looking at all the things we've done and being thankful for that. If we want to get more done, can we honestly evaluate where our time went. Just like you plug the leaks in a pipe, can we fix the leak in our well of time wasters that distract us and prevent us from accomplishing the wants and needs and shoulds?

I know I am a work in progress, but I also know if I stop wasting time, I can do everything on all three of my lists. It just takes discipline. I guess that is the strength I will ask God to help me with today.


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