About Me, Parenting

Time Keeps on Ticking, Ticking, Ticking…

I’ve got a few different daily meditation books I’ve been using to try to give me focus points throughout my day. There were too many to choose from and I felt like I need a little of what each were offering, so I picked a general one about spirituality, one about anxiety, and one for busy women. This is the meditation from yesterday from the busy women option.

…how much of the constant repetitive housework I do is because of my need to keep busy and not because it actually needs to be done?

One of the characteristics of a person who does too much is procrastination. Often, our busyness is a subtle form of procrastination that keeps us away from what we really need to be doing.

I was so caught off guard for how TRUE this was, I took a picture to show the world. But I think it was more than just how true it was, but also how new it was as a concept. Could this be me? Are the mundane chores in my life that I spend so much time doing, are those things keeping me so busy that I don’t get to do what’s really important? YES. Am I somehow procrastinating doing the BIG things by doing so much of the LITTLE things? YES. I mean, it’s not at all conscious or intentional. I don’t say, “I’m going to put off storytime with my kids today because I’m behind on laundry.” But some days that’s what I do and storytime just gets skipped. I don’t actually acknowledge, “I’m not going to even ask my husband about his day because I’m too busy getting dinner ready.” But – it’s what I do. I spend many days putting off what’s important to do what’s NOT. Most often with the delusion of thinking I’ll get to the important thing…later.

But later just never happens, does it?

The kids go to bed. My husband and I go to bed. The day ends and all of those things that actually deserved my time? Those things kept getting pushed back until they had finally been completely ignored.

My Dad and I always commiserated about similar habits we had in college. The number being this: Our desks were as never organized, or our houses were never as clean (although we had different definitions of clean) as they were during exam week. For some reason, we would get it in our heads that we couldn’t study until _________ was done. Usually it was organizing the desk since that was our workspace, but if the studying was REALLY intimidating? We’d extend that need to clean to the entire room. Or the entire house. We kept ourselves busy, putting off what was important.

Here’s the thing: Now that I recognize this habit and see how it affects my life in a negative way…WHAT DO I DO ABOUT IT? It’s tricky. On one hand I do stay busy doing the unimportant things – like feeding and bathing my children. But do you see the dilemma? Yes. It’s mundane. BUT IT’S ALSO NECESSARY. How many hours a day do I “waste” on things that probably aren’t necessary? I mean, does my family really need three meals a day? And then, what do I do about the fact that I so often put off the quality for the necessary? Do I have a family meeting and tell everyone that I’m not going to fold clothes until after we’ve all spent bonding time together? Do I apologize for the dirty dishes in the sink and blame it on my need to meditate or exercise? “I mean, THOSE activities deserve my time today. The dishes don’t.” Because in theory? Yes. I’d love to spend my waking hours doing the important things and not the mundane. But let’s be practical…the mundane still needs to be done. And I don’t overdo anything. I don’t cook or clean with any sort of precision that can be lowered. I do the bare minimum as it is!

So…basically? I do recognize the trend of going throughout the day saying I’ll do _____ later because right NOW, I have something domestic and mundane to do. I see that habit and I see how it keeps me from excercising, meditating, just playing with the kids, just talking with my husband. The busyness keeps me away from those things that make my heart happy. BUT WHAT DO I DO ABOUT IT?

Well, for starters, I’m going to keep a time journal for a few days. I’m going to try to focus on more “quality” activities and less of the mundane, but I’m also going to keep track of my hours and how I distribute them. Maybe I’ll find out I spend 3 hours a day sitting on the couch and eating bonbons. And those three hours can be re-allocated to quality endeavors. Like watching reruns of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

So far we have:
5:30am: Wake Up.
5:32am: Give dogs medicine and let them outside.
5:35-5:45: Check email and feed-reader.
5:45-6:25: Blog about Wasting Time.

Yeah. That seems about right.

My daughter. Breaking the kitchen at the botanical gardens. An excellent idea for how to reduce the amount of time I spend washing dishes!

6 thoughts on “Time Keeps on Ticking, Ticking, Ticking…”

  1. When I saw that TwitPic yesterday I was all “ohhh, well….geez…now what?” because the economist in me can absolutely accept that there is a breaking point to the mass of mess that can accumulate…but this other part of me is like “The laundry is NEVER finished. Everyone get naked. I need it to be finished. Even if it’s only finished for two minutes. I don’t care. I want to cross it off my list”.

    If you figure out the answer I totally want to be on the highly secretive e-mail prior to your book deal 🙂

  2. Shhh, I’m busy reorganizing my silverware drawer before I finish grading!

    Seriously, I’d always hoped I’d be better at this if I weren’t trying to get 1-2 jobs worth of work done, but no, I was still bad on maternity leave. Although not as bad, because I held a pretty firm rule that if the kid fell asleep on me, I stayed there till he woke up. Now, I’m trying to combine the necessary and the quality while I can – while my kid still thinks “helping” me fold diapers is fun mom time… I haven’t figured out what to do about the “necessary” weekend shopping runs (groceries/clothes for baby/other baby items/liquor/whatever) that suck up whole days.

  3. I’m really bad for the exam-time thing – am pretty much doing it right now, but I’ll put off the cleaning TOO, and just hide. Ugh.

  4. I think the answer is to hire a) a full-time maid, b) a chef and c) a personal assistant. Then we’d have lots of time to do the important things, because someone else would be handling all the mundane details! Now, to figure out how to pay all those people.

  5. OK, now don’t laugh. Go to flylady.net and she will change your life. I kinda fell off the flylady wagon but when I was actually doing my daily morning and evening list like she asks, my house practically ran itself. I thought I would spend so much more time cleaning when it was actually the opposite. It felt like I was never cleaning but things were always done. It’s pretty awesome if you give it a chance.

  6. I emailed my wife the quote you have listed.

    This is one of those moments/things I have read on someones blog that will stay with me for a while.

    Soemtimes I procrastinate doing busy stuff so I don’t have to do the “fun” stuff like reading books to my kids etc.

    Reading this will change that.

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