Friday, November 20, 2015

That moment when you have 2 free hours and 45 things to do

Last night I had two free hours, and I said to myself, "What shall I do with this rare and massive treat? How shall I use this enormous gift of time?"

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

  1. Email E with my ideas on a topic that was discussed
  2. Finish a 30 x 40" painting for above my piano
  3. Paint 5 more canvases that I bought to make and hang on my living room walls
  4. Watch my most recent video course on marketing from Shaw Academy
  5. Reply to S's email
  6. Create a course for my jail team on how to teach effectively
  7. Record another chapter of the audiobook I'm working on
  8. Contact K, who I haven't heard from in a couple of months
  9. Do my dishes
  10. Worship the Lord in song
  11. Dedicate a couple of hours to prayer
  12. Make 24 quotes on Photoshop for decorations for E's wedding 
  13. Make, print, and mail Christmas cards to my friends & family
  14. Plan a girls' tea party for December
  15. Mail my rent payment 
  16. Write a blog post
  17. Develop a vision & framework for a business idea I have
  18. Develop a vision and purpose statement for my jail ministry
  19. Wrap Christmas presents for J, M, and M
  20. Run errands: Pick up hand soap, oatmeal, wrapping paper, etc.
  21. Sweep leaves off back porch
  22. Upgrade Finale
  23. Make a budget
  24. Make 2 apple pies
  25. Cook pumpkin
  26. Make carrot juice
  27. RSVP to the wedding invitation I got last week
  28. Sing through & record Psalm 119 in Song
  29. Write the account of the beginnings of our jail ministry
  30. Write a chapter in my book on suffering
  31. Write a chapter in my book on singleness
  32. Write a chapter in my book on education
  33. Revise and prepare my draft on witnessing
  34. Prepare a meal for the G's
  35. Pay car insurance
  36. Pay toll bill
  37. Pay trash bill
  38. Spend 30 minutes at the gym
  39. Read my most recent issue of World Magazine
  40. Read Writer to Writer, the book on writing advice that just came in from Amazon
  41. Read Crucial Conversations
  42. Spend 2 hours learning HTML
  43. Study one chapter in my Greek New Testament
  44. Clean garage cabinets with TSP
  45. 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"?

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I have this many things floating in my head at all times. :P I was told recently when I told the person to guess what I was doing, they were like oh, you could be... and then listing a nice big list of a variety of things. I realized just now many interested I have and just how many things I want to find time for... I definitely would go through a list like that size and just decide you "won't" do certain things that don't apply to your life goal or yearly goal. For example unless you need the HTML for work, you might need not use that practically as much as you would benefit from doing something for your Jail ministry. Although some of things are cool and yes you could totally do them, sticking with things that are still interesting that could benefit you more immediately. I have the same lists though, and honestly I think it's what causes my shoulders to tense and my mind to be overwhelmed. But, it always helps when I made a list of priorities and focus on investing in things that help me accomplish those goals, rather than yes things I do like doing. But I hear ya girl. :) Oh to have two of ourselves to run around and do the things we want to get done for one life lived!


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