15 December 2011

re-arranging {part II}

You may want to take a glance at Part I before you get into this.


The MUST DO list has just a few things on it, and that's the way it should be. Instead of feeling that everything is dependent on today, the MUST DO list shows me that no, I don't have to a superwoman. I don't have to be one because that's impossible—

this mix of

Hillary Rodham Clinton {sharp and powerful}
Julia Child {because if you have to eat, it may as well be French}
Martha Stewart {perfectly, plastically Stepford she may seem, the woman really knows about presentation}
and several characters played by Amy Adams {girl-next-door prettiness with some quirky chipperness thrown in}

I just need to be me and accept that whatever happens in a day is all right.

On the Sunday of my room re-arranging, my MUST DO list had on it:
  • choose cookie recipe for Tuesday night's cookie exchange
  • go to grocery store {for cookie stuff and general food}
  • run {outside! It's 40 degrees in December!}
  • winterize kitchen window {because it won't always be 40 degrees!}

The NICE TO DO list is, of course, much longer. It's the bonus list, the icing list. Here are things that it would feel good to get done, but if I don't get to them, they will keep.

Sunday's was:
  • order new swimsuit
  • go to Home Depot {new lightbulbs}: wander around bathroom section, thinking lovely re-do thoughts
  • start birthday thank you cards
  • cut out fabric for kitchen door project
  • email catch-up

I know that it's all just words and trickery, this MUST versus NICE; I know that my to-do lists are just as leggy as before, but since I've added these titles, the lists look more manageable, and they're less guilt-inducing.

I even re-arrange them: if, halfway through the day, I realize that something I thought was essential in the pre-dawn darkness {when the world does indeed look different} isn't, in fact, all that essential in the bright afternoon sun, I move it from the MUST to the NICE list.

This, too, is trickery, a sleight of hand as if I were the Magician of Productivity. It's the listmaking equivalent of moving furniture to make your room feel new and maybe even a little bigger.

Nothing has changed but the placement of an armchair and a lamp, but you feel like you can breathe more easily in there. You feel more like you want to curl up in that armchair and write things that would make people say, "You sound like a modern-day Jane Austen."

There is an incredible, calming freedom in doing three or four things well and completely, instead of trying to muddle through 29 things.

I'm slowly learning this lesson—and attempting to keep myself from putting on my MUST DO list:
  • Learn, for once and for all, how you can't do everything and be everything to everyone every day. Learn how to give yourself a break.

That's just not a to-do list sort of item. You can't check it off in one day.

But you know what you can do? You can find an arrangement that works for you in whatever moment you find yourself in. You can figure out what is best for you so that you can thrive and enjoy where you are, instead of feeling like you're simply checking off another item on your never-done list.

Right now, it's most helpful for me to focus on doing a few tasks well. Right now, I need my MUST versus NICE to help me, in bold caps, prioritize.

But there will come a time when this arrangement—as well as it is working now—simply won't work as well. I know this. And when that time comes, I'll do a little re-arranging to open up my life again.


Re-arranging my living room was not on my MUST DO or even NICE TO DO list on that Sunday.

But I'd already finished everything I knew I had to get done that day. The Christmas tree was lit, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was on, and I was on a chair changing a lightbulb, feeling so accomplished and energetic.

After months of feeling that my life was closing in on me with obligations, I was finally in a position to look around and see the possibilities.

And so I moved the armchair.

1 comment:

  1. I just read the blog post below and it totally reminded me of you! I think you two would probably be good friends : ) http://www.findingmagnolia.com/2011/12/i-think-we-are-going-to-make-it.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FROzvz+%28finding+magnolia%29&utm_content=Google+Reader



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