Monday, September 21, 2009

Disappearing the Bus

I've been telling everyone I know lately that oh I'm so busy and I feel like I'm staying just a few steps ahead of the speeding bus. You saw it in that schedule post from a few days ago.

But I went a whole weekend without even thinking about the bus. In fact, I woke up today feeling perfectly myself.

N. and I were talking a few weeks back about our to-do list strategies. We both have a tiered system, with a large-project to-do list that gets broken down into a smaller to-do list, which gets broken down into daily tasks lists (we both also experiment with an intricate system of tasks and rewards). I write a new to-do list everyday, and sometimes multiple times a day. It helps me to stay focused and to triage when there's a whole lot of stuff coming at me at once.

Invariably, though, there are times when the to-do list starts to feel less helpful and more stressful. Like, almost always, during the fall semester. Because there is always more to do in a given day than can be done. I usually manage this by having reasonable daily task lists so I can at least get done the most important things, and feel good about that. But lately so many things have been coming up and coming due that I've been feeling behind.

Here's where the transformation comes in: I'm trying a daily intention list instead of a daily to-do list. Inspired by a truly eye-opening exercise with my spiritual teacher (a practitioner at my church, who reminded me gently and kindly and with a laugh in her voice that the speeding bus is an illusion, and I might benefit from seeing it as such) and a kick-ass unchurch service yesterday morning, I'm going to set my intention for the day, and then try to support that with tasks.

So, for example, my intention today is to work hard and experience peace. I got an email last week asking me to pray for one minute of peace today, so it seemed to make sense to set that as an intention for the entire day. I meditated on the concept of infinite peace, round the beads, and am working quietly from home today. Focused and steady but peaceful, not frenetic. It helps that the weather is cooperating by giving us a rainy, cold day--perfect for desk work. A few times, I've felt pulled to go into the office, but I'm resisting and continuing to work on the tasks I've set for myself here.

This way, the tasks become less about feeling a step ahead of the bus (which is really a metaphor for time, I think) and more about the energy that I bring to my tasks (which is peaceful).

Tomorrow: work and joy. Because I get to go hang out with some girlfriends in the evening. So why not try to bring that joy into my whole day? Why leave it to the end, as if it's an antidote?

We'll see how this all works out. You've seen me devise such programs before and then I'm back to my pissy old self in a week. But who knows? Maybe this will make that stupid bus go away for a while. Maybe even for good.

1 comment:

  1. My to do list becomes more stressful because I have this issue of "trying" to add more things to it on purpose! What's up with that? Why do I feel the need to fill my life with "to do's"? It's a syndrome of feeling accomplished when I cross them off. It's maddening to think that I can't just "be" sometimes when my to do list for the day allows me. I really like the intention thing...