If you're a faithful follower of Creatavita, you've already noticed my obsession with time. In my quest for a flourishing life, I am continually challenged to find time for the things that really matter. I bet you are too. Sometimes the biggest challenges are solved by the smallest solutions. Such as.....
One and Done
When The Teen was born, like many first-time parents, I found the concept of time was, shall we say, altered. Entire days could go by in a flash. I found myself torn between wanting/needing to spend time with this brand new human and getting to the necessary tasks of living. If you're a parent, you know what I'm talking about. Heck, if you're a human (and I assume the vast majority of you are), you know what I'm talking about. There are these periods when the speed of life seems to enter some odd, cosmic zone where everything happens too fast.
Add to this experience the fact that I am highly organized. Some would say hyper-organized, some might even say obsessive. Let's save that for a future post. Whatever you want to call it, I admit to being a person who likes to organize my day. This quality does not go well with a baby. Not at all. I found my to-do list expanding and my anxiety level rising. Even more importantly, I KNEW these were days that would never be back, ever. One of the certainties of life is this: Babies are born and immediately start to grow. Usually up. I had to find a solution.
Don't ask me how it happened, but I decided I would zero in on one task every day. Early in the day I would ask myself, “Self, what is the one task that will make your day feel complete?” The task could be as simple as write a thank-you note, work on one measure in a piece of music, or find a song for a student. In fact, I encouraged myself to keep it simple. And of course it wasn't simple every day. Yes, some days the task was larger than I wanted or somehow became more complicated. Yes, I got frustrated. Still, on most days, once that task was done, the rest of the day was open, free, mine to enjoy. I encouraged myself to focus on what was accomplished and the time I now had to be with The Baby Who Is Now The Teen or with my work, and not on what wasn't accomplished.
Miracles. I tell you people, miracles. I began to enjoy The Teen's babyhood, my motherhood and my career. I didn't worry that some student didn't get their lesson time scheduled immediately or that the dust was prominent on the furniture. I also found myself mentally clearer , much more realistic about how much time I actually had AND definitely more able to prioritize what was truly important.
The Teen is now, well, a teen, and couldn't care less if I spend a millisecond with him. Yet, I've returned to One And Done many times. I find it particularly helpful when my workload is heavy or during those lovely times we call the holidays. In fact, I'm using it again as I write this; recently we've had delightful family members visits, the studio is full, there's fun summertime performances happening, and The Beloved is on the Disabled List due to rotator cuff surgery last week. Enough activity to, well, let's just say, increase my workload.
I already know I'm not the only person on the planet to benefit from this simple solution. Two falls ago, I received a phone call from my niece. She had recently moved from clean, kind Wisconsin to gritty, hyper New York City. The tone of her voice made it obvious that she was about to crawl out of her skin. She was in a completely different environment and the prospect of being there for a prolonged period of time wasn't feeling so good at that particular moment. I could, as we all say, feel her pain. So what was my advice? You got it – One and Done. I was thrilled when she told me later that this simple approach got her through those first months in New York City, and that she, like me, still returns to One and Done frequently.
Like all new habits, incorporating One and Done into your lifestyle could possibly be challenging. We modern-day humans aren't very good at change. Don't be surprised if you actually feel more anxious initially. Give yourself a set number of days, say, one week, to try this idea out. You can always return to your previous anxious, frustrated state if this small solution doesn't work for you.