I’m the kind of person who can easily putter away entire days. Never at a loss for things to do, whether practical or recreational, I can spend the whole day moving from one activity to another only to look back at day’s end and wonder what I did all day.
Consequently, I try to wrangle my time, making daily lists and setting daily goals. Some days, I actually accomplish what I set out to do, but most days, Woody Allen’s quip, “if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans” is incredibly apt.
Friday, for example. I set my alarm so I’d be up in time to toss in some laundry and get some grading done before I met a friend for a writing session. Midway through my third or fourth paper, my phone rang. My daughter, with a financial question that needed an immediate answer, which, of course, became a mini-crisis. By the time we resolved things and I called my husband to fill him in, I’d lost a big chunk of grading time, and I ended up arriving late for the writing session I’d allowed plenty of time to be prompt for.
When I was working as a school counselor, my mantra was “people before papers,” and it’s a philosophy I still try to live by. What frustrates me, though, is how inept I end up looking after I’ve actually made an effort to manage my time and tasks. While all of my efficient friends are checking things off their lists, I’m running to catch up, lists trailing behind me like toilet paper stuck to the heel of my shoe. And the irony of the fact that I actually write about time management does not escape me.
If you want to make God laugh. . . .
The older I get, the more I believe that the ultimate plan really is out of my hands. At the moment, however, I seem to be trapped in an awkward adjustment period, wherein I try to accept the fact that I can’t control everything, yet still long to do so. Some days, I can laugh and move on when my plans land around me like confetti; other days, I want to lie down in the confetti and throw a tantrum worthy of a two-year-old.
In my heart, I know I wouldn’t really want to prioritize things any other way. Five years ago, I retired (sort of), excited to live a life where people really did come first. Where I could drop everything because my daughter needed her medicine or my husband needed to go to Ready Care.
What I didn’t realize was that it’s a multi-step plan. The first step is believing in and establishing the philosophy. The second step is putting it into action. The third step?
Being gracious about it.
Some days, I’m still the toddler in the confetti. Other days, I’m tossing the confetti and giggling.
I guess that’s progress.
Copyright 2017 Lisa Hess