Anyone who knows me well knows that I have two basic speeds: On or Off. I either need to be moving and shaking, getting stuff done. OR completely chilling and disconnected from the rest of the world. It’s actually one of the reasons I’m pretty terrible at the social media game. The always-on, always posting, always sharing, never-ending buzz of the online world is hard for me to just dip a toe in. I’m either all in or completely out, so I avoid social media often so that I don’t allow myself to get sucked in. (The word “boundaries” comes to mind here.)
I like to batch my work for efficiency so I can sit down to focus and then get up and be finished.
Obviously, this is not how the life of a wife, mother, and entrepreneur naturally flows. At some level, all of those roles demand a constant buzz for attention. One task finishes while the other is clamoring in the background for my attention. Because I’m especially sensitive to the emotions of my kids, this often drains my energy. I’ll need to finish writing a creative piece while one of them is standing beside me with a request and it’s mind-numbing. I can’t think.
But something interesting happened over the weekend that I thought might challenge my all-in, on-or-off, mindset.
We finally replaced our beloved, sentimental oak tree recently. We decided that we’d save the stump of Noah’s tree to transform into a couple of side tables for the house as a memorial of sorts. I’m not very “Pinteresty” but I found a tutorial on Pinterest for creating end tables out of reclaimed wood. It looked pretty straightforward and I already had everything I needed, so I decided to get to work. I went inside for a quick break and Scott asked when would be a good time to talk through a list of things we needed to make decisions on. Again, if you know me, this doesn’t sound “fun” to me. It sounds like hard work. But it sparked an idea.
Maybe we could do the work of the conversation, while I chiseled away at the wood?
Maybe I could “batch” my work so when the stump was finished, we’d also be finished with our list and then, I could fully rest. That way, I wouldn’t have to finish the physical work, and then start on the emotional labor of conversations. Thankfully Scott agreed, and we talked while I did the mindless work of hammering (And dug out all the flat-headed borer worms! ~ a crazy story for another time).
It was a first for us.
We got through the list of conversation items and I eventually finished the hammering, but not without battle wounds all over my left hand that was holding the chisel (FYI- don’t hammer while distracted, my left hand is evidence that this is a really bad idea). Honestly, even though we finished the list, I’m not sure we made the meaningful headway that was needed. It was very kind of Scott to agree to try this out, but it was a lesson of priorities for me.
It’s been a constant theme in my life lately. Sometimes as wives, mothers, sisters, friends, business owners, colleagues, and contributors to the world, we don’t have a choice. You have multiple things to juggle at once. You just have to do all the things. But I’m learning so clearly of late, that there need to be intentional moments where you pick, just one. Even if it means something else is left undone, you have to decide what is the highest priority in that moment and choose that one.
Otherwise, you’re likely to emerge with a half-baked conversation and a few minor flesh wounds that will take some time to heal.
Sure, they will eventually heal, but they could be avoided with focus.
Clearly defined priorities can spare you the pain, and the energy drain caused by constant distraction.
When it’s time to do the sanding, I think I’ll set aside some time to focus. What about you?
What do you need to temporarily set aside in your life today so you can focus on what matters most?
Do the hard thing. Set aside the time.
to more love,
P.S. If you’re beaten down by the constant clamoring for your attention this summer, I encourage you to pick yourself for one night this Thursday night. Set aside the time and space in your life for the self-care you need. Call a girlfriend and get registered for “Vines Around the World GNO ~ Estate Tour and Wine Tasting” that will leave you feeling rested, reconnected, encouraged and inspired to face all the clamoring with more clarity and courage. We’re saving you a seat.