I like to judge my success by how much I can accomplish in a day, though “plow through” is probably a more apt description. Make the list and start checking things off. Hope that there aren’t too many interruptions -- emails and phone calls from pesky clients, requests for pick up after practice from the kids, uncontrollable urges to surf the web, trips downstairs to refill the coffee or go to the bathroom.
All these things (and more) get in the way of the work I tell myself I need to do. And when there are too many of these distractions, I tell my wife at the end of the day, “I just don’t know where the time went or what I did all day. I sure was busy, but I didn’t get anything done.”
Does this happen to you too?
One day, after a particularly robust evening of complaining about my circumstances, I decided I’d try an experiment: I would consider whatever I was doing to be exactly what I was “supposed to be doing” at that moment. Sure, I still had a list and pretty high expectations for what the day would be, but all that was tempered by taking a more holistic view of my reality.
To my relieved surprise, going to my daughter’s track meet was suddenly much more enjoyable. Spending an entire Saturday watching the kids’ crew regatta wasn’t an obligation that was taking me away from what I needed to be doing. Walking the dog when he asked (yes, he does!) wasn’t an unwelcome interruption.
What made the difference? It’s almost too trite, but really, it was choice awareness. The acknowledgement that pretty much everything in my day is up to me -- not only what I do, but how I choose to feel about what I do. This last is the more important bit, by far.
I can pay attention differently when I recognize that my choices are my own and I am intentional about them. Meaning I can allow myself to be in the moment, guilt free most of the time.
“Most of the time”, because the organizational assessment still needs to be written and the proposal still needs to be edited. This isn’t a fairy tale, after all.