I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, as the thoughts have been percolating in my brain. And that’s really why I’m writing it- to sort out and pin down all those spinny thoughts and put them in some kind of order. Hah- speaking of order, that’s what this whole thing is about.
See, I’ve never been a schedule person. I just bristle against them. When I was little my mom actually restructured the way our family did a bunch of things because of my anti-schedule tendencies, which she noticed after having us all do the Meyers-Briggs personality type test. I like doing things at my own speed, my own pace. I like having the freedom of scooting things around, doing them when I want to do them.
The thing is, that way of life so isn’t working for me. I have laundry piling up, projects that are unfinished or unstarted, things screaming to be taken care of at the last minute, other things just not happening at all.
I’m reminded of when I first started working at Atlantis. I learned very specific procedures for ringing in product, taking the money, bagging the books, handing over the receipt- I could do it in my sleep. I could do it now, if you asked me to. And the first time I rang someone up, I forgot the procedure and started bagging the books while the drawer was open, and in my scramble to put the money away forgot to give the receipt… It took all my concentration just to get through it. But once I got the procedure and followed it every single time, I could chat with the customer, put information in the computer, answer questions being thrown at me by other people; any number of things because I was fluent in the system, and the system held me up. If I got distracted half way through the transaction, I knew exactly where to pick up, because I knew exactly what I’d already done.
And that, my friends, is what I’ve decided I need. I need systems in my day to day activities, a framework of systems, even, to structure things and hold me up. Because my “first transaction” equivalent these days is 5:30 in the evening when I realize I have no idea what I’m making for dinner, the laundry in the washer has been sitting there all day, Tiny hasn’t had a bath, the living room is a mess of toys, and I haven’t played with Zoe all day. And I’ve been busy doing things all day, but couldn’t for the life of me tell you what. One of my friends mentioned that she doesn’t know how I have the time to make cool notebooks and things, and my answer was that I have time because when I’m making them, everything else slips right off the radar. It’s like I can only focus on one thing at a time, and honestly, there’s got to be a way to balance things better than that. As I ranted at my sister the other day (as she laughed hysterically at me) it’s not even like I’m complaining that I don’t have time in my day to make bread out of wheat I grew myself for each of the women I visit teach, no, I’m talking about the fact that somehow I can’t make sure my kitchen floor isn’t sticky.
So, systems. The word systems seems to work better for my brain than schedules, which still raises my hackles. (Hackles is a funny word.) There are a number out there (for cleaning and such) that I’ve looked at, but which for some reason or other I’m reticent to embrace them fully. I keep feeling like I need to come up with my own- figure out how my house works and what will really work for me- but at the same time, when the same principles keep showing up in all the systems, I have to think that these people know more than I do.
For example, after reading the suggestion multiple times, I’ve started making sure the kitchen is clean and the dishwasher is loaded and running at night. Then in the morning, I unload it so it can be refilled as needed during the day instead of letting the dishes pile up in the sink. I’m figuring out in the morning what we’ll have for dinner, so I can make sure (with plenty of lead time) that we have the ingredients we need, or that I’ll be able to start it on time. I have a schedule (there’s that word again) for cleaning different parts of my house each day, and while that one is still rough (maybe because it’s a schedule?) I’m slowly coming around to it.
I just can’t help but think that if the things I need to do on a regular basis were arranged in a more orderly way that I could become fluent in those systems and then I’d be able to fit everything in, instead of cramming things in haphazardly and not fitting even half of it in.
That makes perfectly logical sense to me, but I still recoil slightly from it; in a “but this is just who I am” kind of way. It’s my personality to work better without a schedule, right? And part of me screams, “YES! Don’t change!” and another part kind of quietly mentions “yes, so you say, but how is that really working out for you?” and I have to admit that it’s not going so well as all that. And that if I look at the example of God, and what we know about Him- order seems to be pretty dang high up there on the list of attributes that He and the organizations He puts in place exhibit. And just because it’s something I do, a way I think, doesn’t make it an integral part of my personality, or something that couldn’t be improved upon. I’m reminded of some of the Zen philosophy books I’ve read that talk about the I, and how the I will do anything to stop you from changing, from realizing that it’s really just a construct of your mind.
So… what? Comment about whatever you want- about how you find order, systems you have, things that are so integral to you that you couldn’t possibly change them, except, of course, that you could… whatever.