Monday, July 23, 2012

Tossing out my lists and rediscovering routine

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do". - Leonardo da Vinci

Lately I have been thinking about action.  Taking action vs planning to take action.  In my world it is SO much more fun to plan to take action than to take action.  I sit down to make a list of cleaning tasks as if I have never cleaned my house and can't see that there is a ring around the toilet and a pile of laundry taking over my basement.  But still I will often sit down to write the list.  I love lists and believe they have value but, sometimes I am just avoiding taking action.

Years ago I was reading a Beverly Lewis book about a young Amish girl who ends up leaving her Amish roots but stays with much of the tradition by becoming Mennonite.  As she navigates the new world she learns many of her friends make lists to keep track of what they need to do so she decides to start making one.  This young girl who spent her life learning the routines of life that would tell her when to cook, clean, run errands and relax suddenly was relying on a list instead of her routines. At the end of the short story she found herself without her husband's anniversary gift because she had read her list wrong.  It ended up to be a lesson to her to trust the routines she grew up with and the way she knew to do things.  And it has stuck with me through the years.

When I was a homemaker I had a routine.  I didn't need to write a list to know when to clean the bathroom, dust, mop, make dinner, etc.  Things that happened every day or at least every week were just done.  I just did them.  When I did put them on my lists they were generally covered with the word "clean".

Then I went to work and I am realizing that what I really miss is that routine.  My house doesn't clean itself, although sometimes within my routine it began to feel that way.  I would come home from work and nobody had swept up that spilled breakfast cereal or picked up the dirty clothes on the floor.  I was overwhelmed with all that needed to be done.

So I started making lists.  When I feel overwhelmed by the number of things in my brain to do and juggle I start making lists.  Cleaning lists, parenting lists, school lists, work lists, life lists, lists, and lists.  

But lately I am wondering if maybe instead of making a list when I feel overwhelmed I might just do something.  Toss a load of laundry in, sweep the kitchen, play a game with my daughter, write a few more words, send out some writing queries, put in another hour at work, take a walk.

To be clear, you won't see my tossing out my notebooks and lists.  I love lists!  But maybe I could do with a few less lists and a little more action.

I am learning, I am willing, I am ready.  Now is the time to Do.  To take action!

Today was one of those days I felt a little overwhelmed and didn't want to take action.  And normally that leads me to sit down and make a list but instead I pushed past that desire and did what I already knew needed to be done.  And it has energized me to get up tomorrow and be really productive.

Slowly, as the weeks and months and years go by I am developing a new routine, a new schedule, a  new way of doing my life and interacting with people.  And suddenly one day my kitchen and bathrooms will seem to clean themselves once again as I slide comfortably into my new routine.  And I will add new routines as business, writing and working from home become the normal routines of my day.  And each of these has their own routine just waiting to be discovered.

This is my year of action.  I have to admit that the year of action has been much more challenging than the year of release.  I would like to go back to releasing things and not taking action.  But this is my year of action and I feel God calling it to me every time I start to back up and look like I am going to sit down.  So I keep moving forward and looking for the next action to take.  One step at a time I am doing what I know I need to do and believing that God will use it all for His glory.  ...and maybe make enough money to pay the bills while John is in school?

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I can certainly relate to this article. I've always been a list maker too and it drives my hubby crazy. I've become even worse since I got laid off over 9 months ago. I had big plans for what I was going to accomplish during my "mini-retirement" but so far, it seems like I'm still in the planning stages (ha,ha!) I still have 8 months of severance time left but if I don't start getting things done now, I know I'm going to kick myself when I find another job and look back on this time in my life and see just how little I accomplished. It's hard to get into a routine when you don't have to be somewhere every day at a certain time. (aka work) Thanks for writing this article. Hopefully, it will inspire me to become a "do-er" also :)