January 7, 2014
My words for 2014: FOCUS and FINISH.
I joked this summer that I developed child-induced attention deficit disorder because by the time maternity leave ended, I was having a TERRIBLE time completing anything I started. Even when I had time to do things, I felt scatterbrained and distracted and couldn’t focus on any one thing, ever. I’m a multi-tasker by nature and I used to be GOOD AT IT. But suddenly I was starting to unload the dishwasher, then remembering to switch the laundry, then answering an email that popped up on my phone… 2 hours later, the dishwasher was only half emptied, there was a laundry basket of unfolded clothes (okay, 2 days later, let’s be honest) and now it was time to fix lunch for the kids and nothing was DONE OMG. And when I started back to work, I was still all over the place, unable to concentrate on what I was doing. It was horrible.
Things have gotten slightly better now that we’ve been in the school/work/daycare routine for a few months and the baby is a little older and slightly less demanding. But I still have days where I feel like I’ve done nothing but STUFF yet at the end of the day, I have nothing to show for my exhaustion. The house is a disaster, I forgot to sweep the floors while nobody was napping, I never got that laundry put away, and and and… you get the idea. As a Type A, having loose ends drives me BANANAS. When I end a lot of days with things unfinished but no energy left in my tank, the frustration builds and builds until one morning when I breakdown in the kitchen and start crying into my eggs (just me? Oh okay.)
The cause of a lot of this is that I lose focus and time is wasted. Sometimes it’s my own fault. I sit down at the computer to pay bills and I see an email I should respond to, then I click a link and ooh look, something shiny and suddenly I have 12 tabs open and none of them have anything to do with my bank and maybe have a lot to do with Amazon Prime or Pinterest and now the baby’s awake, oh well, I’ll pay bills later. Sometimes it’s… well, I was going to say the kids’ fault but you know what? They’re KIDS, so I don’t want to BLAME them. They don’t do it on purpose! So instead I’ll say that sometimes it’s because I have three small kids and it can get crazy and they demand a lot of my time and it can be difficult to get anything done when I’m here alone with them. (Does that sound like an excuse? Maybe just an explanation. It’s a fact: kids are a time-suck!) So a lot of days I’ll start the morning out On The Ball, laundry going, dishes washed, everyone happy and fed and playing. By dinnertime, we’re all cranky and I’ve given up because I forgot about the five or twelve things I was doing that morning so OH HELL NEVERMIND, I’ll try again tomorrow.
So my practical part of the plan is to focus on one thing at a time when I’m able (because sometimes I have to do ALL THE THINGS AT ONCE or else our little world will implode) And even if it takes me ALL DAMN DAY to fold those laundry baskets or clean up that kitchen, I’m going to get it done. If I get interrupted to change a diaper or break up a fight or put someone down for a nap, that’s fine. The next time I have a few minutes? I’m right back to the thing I was just doing, until it’s done. And this applies to my list of weekend-y/naptime-y projects around the house. I am NOT ALLOWED TO PAINT THE POWDER ROOM UNTIL THE PANTRY CEILING IS FIXED (from a water leak 2.5years ago. ha. Whoops.) Focus, Jen. FOCUS. FINISH. Then move on. (I really really want to paint that stupid powder room.)
Going deeper though, it’s more than just focusing on tasks. It’s also about focusing on the moment, what’s happening right now. Whether it’s with the kids or with work or with Dan or even when I’m trying to do something fun just for me. Focus on NOTHING for a little bit! Just BE instead of DO. I am TERRIBLE at this. TERRIBLE. Even on vacation. It’s a constant mental struggle for me to rest my brain and not be moving to the next thing, always in a rush. A lot of my days with the kids are very rushed and frantic because that’s just how it is with getting them all ready for school and out the door, and it’s really tough to turn that off. Is there a magic button for that? That doesn’t involve heavy amounts of alcohol?
I realize this is an Ideal World kind of a plan, and life is just LIFE, and there’s always going to be boring grown-up chores and stupid crap to do and things will be interrupted. But maybe if I change my mindset and make FOCUS be the task instead of the TASK being the task, it will cut down on the mental noise in my head and at least make it SEEM like things are calmer and more organized. And perhaps if I am more efficient with my time, I’ll be able to relax more and focus on enjoying the kids and other amazing things and not feel so harried. (ha! A pipe dream! I’m about to have a TODDLER in a few months, YOU GUYS. The crazy is just beginning…)
So. 2014. Focus and finish. Maybe less on the finish and more just on the focus (okay let’s be real, I still want the finish so I can cross stuff off my list. Please? It’s a sickness.)