The Important Things

It seems that I say this a lot, but it’s been a busy week.  There’s a low level anxiety that seems to manifest just below the surface – how will I ever get everything done?  It’s not that I am not trying, I am, I am doing everything, every little thing, yet so much escapes me at the end of each day. 

While I was doing dishes tonight, I was listening to The Minimalists’ podcast on Mental Clutter and I had an epiphany.  Though I am getting things done, am I doing the important things, the things that matter?  Sure, the bed is made, pajamas are hung neatly in the closet til bedtime, I went to my day job, played with the dog, cooked some dinner, did the dishes, checked four dozen or so emails, texted with some people, maybe wrote a blog post or some emails, tended to my finances, maybe watched a little TV, checked Facebook and Pinterest (just for a minute, of course), flossed and brushed, did some reading, and collapsed onto my pillow the minute the light went out. 

Some of those things are important but some of them aren’t.  And I’m seeing that there’s a lack of simplicity that makes some of these things take longer than they need to.  Though I’ve drastically cut back on the time I spend on social media, it’s still something I make time for every day. 

Two things need to happen, first, I need to decide what the important things are.  You might think that’s an easy thing to determine, but it really isn’t. There are certain things everyone needs to do on a fairly regular basis, sleeping, eating, personal hygiene, shopping, interacting with friends and family. There’s my day job that takes almost half of every weekday if I include the time it takes to commute. This is important because I do need to earn a living. There are the not so glamorous tasks like cleaning and laundry and filing, all necessary tasks that need to be done with some regularity. Laundry becomes really important when there’s not one clean pair of underwear in my drawer. There are also things that I want to do daily, like read my Bible, read books, do something creative, cooking or knitting or writing, walk, and play with the dog. You can see where all these things take on various degrees of importance depending on the circumstances.

Knowing that time is finite, I need to determine where I spend the minutes and hours I have available, identify where I lose track of time, figure out what I need to change, what in my life needs to be simplified, and create a plan to make it happen.  The truth is that it’s simply not possible to do everything, to do it well, and still do what’s necessary to maintain my physical and mental health.  For a long time I believed that I could multitask and do it all, only to find out that I’d bought into a lie, because our brains weren’t created to do several things at once.

What do these changes look like?  Do I just cook a couple of different meals a week and eat the same thing for lunch and dinner until it’s gone?  Do I hire someone to clean so I don’t have to?  Do I fast from social media?  Unsubscribe from some of my favorite daily emails?  Use a shopping or delivery service so I don’t have to fight the crowds, roam the aisles, and pick stuff up?  Figure out a ‘uniform’ to wear to work so I don’t have to decide what to wear?

The weekend is just getting started so I’ve got some time to figure all this out.  It’s a quiet weekend without much on the agenda so hopefully I can spend some time thinking and planning.  In the meantime, I’ll leave you with Breathe by Jonny Diaz.  If you see yourself in the verses of this song, join me in “laying down what’s good and finding what’s best.”

Just Breathe