And my mind started flooding with all the things I could do, and I started writing them down.
Things I want to do - November 18 2015
- Email E with my ideas on a topic that was discussed
- Finish a 30 x 40" painting for above my piano
- Paint 5 more canvases that I bought to make and hang on my living room walls
- Watch my most recent video course on marketing from Shaw Academy
- Reply to S's email
- Create a course for my jail team on how to teach effectively
- Record another chapter of the audiobook I'm working on
- Contact K, who I haven't heard from in a couple of months
- Do my dishes
- Worship the Lord in song
- Dedicate a couple of hours to prayer
- Make 24 quotes on Photoshop for decorations for E's wedding
- Make, print, and mail Christmas cards to my friends & family
- Plan a girls' tea party for December
- Mail my rent payment
- Write a blog post
- Develop a vision & framework for a business idea I have
- Develop a vision and purpose statement for my jail ministry
- Wrap Christmas presents for J, M, and M
- Run errands: Pick up hand soap, oatmeal, wrapping paper, etc.
- Sweep leaves off back porch
- Upgrade Finale
- Make a budget
- Make 2 apple pies
- Cook pumpkin
- Make carrot juice
- RSVP to the wedding invitation I got last week
- Sing through & record Psalm 119 in Song
- Write the account of the beginnings of our jail ministry
- Write a chapter in my book on suffering
- Write a chapter in my book on singleness
- Write a chapter in my book on education
- Revise and prepare my draft on witnessing
- Prepare a meal for the G's
- Pay car insurance
- Pay toll bill
- Pay trash bill
- Spend 30 minutes at the gym
- Read my most recent issue of World Magazine
- Read Writer to Writer, the book on writing advice that just came in from Amazon
- Read Crucial Conversations
- Spend 2 hours learning HTML
- Study one chapter in my Greek New Testament
- Clean garage cabinets with TSP
- Brainstorm time management
By taking care of the smallest and easiest things first, I was able to tick 7 of these items off in two hours (#8, 9, 15, 27, 35, 36, & 37).
That still leaves 38 items, some of which will take extravagant amounts of time (#3, 6, 12, 30, 31, 32). I have approximately 3 days a week where I can squeeze in 2 "free" hours to work on this stuff. If I can tick 2 items off the list each time (which is SUPREMELY optimistic), it will still take me 6 weeks to get through this list, which means it will take me until New Year's. And that's assuming that all these are one-off projects. A lot of the things on this list are recurring (#4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 20, 26, 30, 31, 32, 37, 38, 42, 43).
Is it just me, or is this a lot?
Does everyone have this many things going on in their head at once?
How do other people get everything DONE? I mean, I don't even have kids! If I do something like forget to eat, it's not that big of a deal. How do people do it when they have kids who won't let you forget to eat?
And this list is just the projects I have actually taken on.
There's a whole other list in my head of things that I would do if I only had time.
- Offer piano lessons to kids at church
- Study engineering or law
- Study graphic design and animation
- Learn programming and create apps
- Create a children's storybook app with a fun idea I have
- Create a video series to post on YouTube with instruction on hymn improvisation
- Categorize the whole book of Proverbs with all the verses on each theme
- Do hand embroidery on some fabric to make some fabulous artistic curtains for 7 windows in my house
- Make and bottle my own homemade chai tea recipe for mass production
- Compose and record (more of) my own music
- Learn to (actually) play the guitar (well)
- Learn French and Arabic and Mandarin. And German. And Russian. LOL.
- Create a series of fun 5-minute videos on Biblical discipleship in Spanish
- Campaign to end homelessness in Denver
- Learn enough about woodworking to make a homemade shelf for my plants out of a pallet I have in my garage
- Dig up a new 2'x10' section in my side yard for a garden that has better light next summer
And this list is just the projects that I have in my head for "outside of work, in my free time." There's a whole other list of things in my head that I'm doing at work (as well as back burner projects that I want to do that my boss estimated would take me 2 years to complete if I did them all).
And then there's a whole other list of routine things that I'm already doing that take time that haven't been written down yet.
- Working 8 hours a day
- Sleeping 8-9 hours a night
- Keeping my house clean
- Personal hygiene
- Cooking & eating meals
- Doing laundry
- Weekly Bible Study in the jail (plus preparation and team meetings)
- Church 2x a week
- Frequent (1-2x/week) meetings with friends for coffee or dinner or just a chat
- Phone calls, emails & texts
I really am curious: Do other people have this many things going on in their head at one time?
If so, how do you balance it all?
If not, how do you keep all these ideas out? Do you just kill them dead on the spot, or do they not even approach and knock for admittance in the first place?
I think I would feel bored and restless and sort of dead if I didn't have this much going on at one time. Juggling this many things makes me feel alive and purposeful and energized and happy. I take on all these things (and hold the other list of highly interesting things in the "pending" category) because it pleases me to do so. Of course, I also admit I'm riding on the fine line of keeping just under taking on too much, and sometimes I inadvertently take on one too many things and then it becomes stressful and I have to drop something. I had to drop guitar lessons last year about this time. It has been months since I have really had a chance to sit down and write. A bagful of my garden tomatoes rotted in my fridge before I got around to making them into tomato sauce. And I hope my apples and pumpkin don't rot before I make them into pies. So there is a limit. My precariously balanced pile of tasks can topple and crash if I'm not careful.
What I would prefer to do, if I could, would be to expand time to accommodate all the things I want to do, rather than having to compress or eliminate the things on my list.
It seems I'm not given the luxury of having my preference on that one.
However, there are always little advances that one can find to redeem every moment of time. Lately I've been operating in a sort of hyper-aware, extra-fast mode that is new to me. Rather than allowing myself to get lost or daydream or wander about aimlessly through tasks, I've been experiencing a sense of urgency and a level of energy that allows me to whisk through the mundane parts of my day and approach all these 45 fun and compelling and exciting things on my list with a focused intensity and an optimism that keeps it from becoming overwhelming. (I think the carrot juicing is at least partly responsible for this new speed and energy. Yay for carrot-beet-spinach-endive-tumeric-cucumber juice!)
But--the question remains:
What do YOU do when you have 2 free hours and 45 things to do?
- How do you handle it?
- How do you prioritize wisely?
- How do you juggle the multiple demands of life?
- How do you defend the most important things from the louder "tyranny of the urgent"?