Monday, March 12, 2012

Great Intentions

I start the weeks with Great Intentions. Coffee mug full, my planner charted, my days rich in accomplished tasks. Productivity flourishes. Results guaranteed. Then--oops, reality hits.

The problem - my list this Monday looks pretty much like it did last Monday. With Great Intentions.
I would like to point a finger at interruptions and events beyond myself. The difficulty is me.

"I'm tired."
"I don't feel like sorting that file right now."
"I don't feel like exercising this morning."
"I don't want to scrub that shower."
Or, "I feel like eating that brownie."

Instead of doing what I plan, I go by feelings-of-the-moment. And at the end of the day, or the week, the lack of checked off accomplishments is discouraging. Part of the problem is being on idea overload. I read too many books or magazines or spend too much time on-line reading about cleaning, or organizing, or writing, or home teaching, or health, or nutrition; instead I miss the actual doing. The reality.

Have you heard the term, "Reverse Engineering?" Chalene Johnson, in her book, Push, explains reverse engineering as a way to achieve a goal. Think of the goal, accomplished. Then, work backward, through all the individual, small, steps that would be involved in meeting that goal. Begin the steps, one by one, in order to accomplish the goal. It is a helpful way to focus and clarify the needed tasks. (But you still have to do them.)

                   REVERSE ENGINEERING

One of my projects this week is sewing a dress for upcoming weddings. Last week  I set aside twenty minutes in my planner for three days. Small chunks of time. Twenty minutes doesn't seem like a major chunk out of my day. It seems quite do-able to fit in a mere twenty minutes. I might not have finished, but, I didn't even start.

Also, the file drawers I want to sort out. Condensing six file drawers down to three, part of my "get rid of half" mantra. Sounds monumental. Overwhelming. It is. But it won't get done by thinking about it or looking at it. Little chunks, set the timer, or do just a few files at a time, a little bit each day.

 Great Intentions can become more than targets. Shall I let you know on Friday how I do this week?

As a balance point, I realize the value of time is not in productivity alone. Time spent with the guys, time to study and learn, time to enjoy and thrive in all that is going on around here, time talking with distant, grown kids - these are the vital activities that do not go into my planner because they are already part of my days, part of life. It is the extra tasks, the in-addition jobs that I ignore far too easily. Without getting too philosophical, life is not about the doing, but about the living. Savoring, appreciating, thriving in each beautiful day.

Great Intentions. Reverse Engineering. The joy of life.
How do you balance the doing tasks with the living?


  1. I'm currently on a quest to organize my stuff. Things like email, and to-do lists, and papers that come in the mail. And, I'm rethinking my approach to my time, talent, and treasure. I used to think of them as possessions to be managed, but lately I've been challenged to think of them as resources to be stewarded. It's been helpful to make that distinction.

    1. I like that - resources to be stewarded rather than possessions to be managed. Good words. Changes the perspective from "things" to "tools." Thank you!

  2. I sure hear you, Maureen. The living has definitely overwhelmed doing my list of tasks the last few days. I also like what Deidra said, "resources to be stewarded". I'm going to think on that tonight! Thanks to you both :)

  3. Reverse engineering sounds intriguing. A couple years ago when I reached a "certain age" I decided up an exit plan. Your post shines an interesting light on my ideas.
    Karen A.