photo by Matija Barrett
Things I have tried to live by:
Try to touch any to do item once only. If you can take care of it at the moment, do not put it aside, just do it.
You don’t have to be stressed, even if you are busy. Concentrate on doing what you are doing in the moment fully, then move on to the next. Worrying about the next task takes time and energy from the present.
Remember your priorities. Some things are not worth doing and take time from what is important. Sometimes we need to stop doing little things that others do because it gets in the way of doing the big things we are called to do. Making beds falls into this category for me, and I later discovered letting the sheets air out kills bed bugs!
One of my friends suggested putting a ‘mission statement’ on your refrigerator that outlines you top one or two priorities. If what you are doing does not line up with what you should be doing, change it!
Figure out what you are responsible for (and what you are not): This applies to work, but also to people who try to introduce drama into your life. (This does not mean you do not help at work, it just means you do not become a doormat and let people take advantage of you, there is a difference.) Regarding drama (because in my world, this is a bigger time waster than stuff to do as it sucks away all of my energy for other things as well): Look at what the person is getting upset about, and, if you can do nothing about it, move on. There is also never-ending drama that has no resolution, at least not one you can provide. When you have done all you can, stop letting it keep you from other things. But, some people create drama that you cannot avoid. Remember Paul and the slave girl? (Acts 16: 16-24) After ‘many days’ of enduring her nonsense, he ‘fixed’ the situation, but not in a way anyone enjoyed. This sometimes needs to happen to, and there will be consequences from the displeased, but enough is sometimes enough.
This also applies to not doing things I am paying other people to do, or children’s chores. If I have told a child to clean up a mess, it is no longer my responsibility to clean up the mess, but it is my responsibility to ensure that it gets done. This is sometimes harder, but in the end the children take more care of what I feel is important (notice I did not say what my neighbor feels is important) and the house runs smoother. Sometimes cleaning up after your kids is actually you being too lazy to do the hard work of teaching them responsibility….. (ouch!)
Do the little ‘extra’ things when you can. Take ownership when appropriate. This involves picking up trash that did not hit the waste basket at work or church etc. You didn’t miss the basket, but you know whoever did is not coming back and if you want the place to look nice, it needs to be done. If you know the person who does it repeatedly, this is different and there may be a teaching moment that has to occur. But typically no one knows who did it, and it could be an honest mistake. Don’t be a schmuck, just do it, and don’t spend all day complaining about ‘how some people…’ Let it go.
Discuss solutions, not problems. It is not wrong to talk about people, but how we talk about people is sometimes wrong. Discuss how we can help improve a situation, rather than complaining and putting others down. Sometimes we need to vent, but keep it focused and short with someone who is mature enough to understand and help you put things into perspective rather than gossiping and getting you even more riled up. Misery likes company, but it is often not productive. Solving the problem makes for a shorter time in the problem. Complaining about it usually accomplishes nothing long term.
Make lists re: what you believe to be right and wrong and then check yourself. Here’s an example. Make a list of what you would consider wrong to say about a person. (Don’t look further in this paragraph until you do!) Now compare that list to your favorite news source, TV shows, comedians, things you share on social media and how you speak especially about politicians or people who think differently than you do. (Remember, you are teaching your children by example.) Are you being fair to the other side? Or just name calling etc? One example of this was when a meme was going around of President Obama on a girl’s bike. It was passed around just to make fun of him. No matter what you think about the man, this is not nice. And the truth was they air brushed out the attachment for the child carrier. In the original picture it seems as if he was riding Michelle’s bike so that he did the hard work of pulling their children, so she would not have to. Much different story. (We can use an example of almost any president here. I merely chose this one because it had a twist and was so obviously in the ‘who cares’ category. We could have chosen people calling Trump ‘orange,’ or people mocking anyone just after their death, or publishing anything negative at that time- do you really think the family wants to read that crap when they are mourning? Not the right time people! This is the time to apply the phrase, ‘If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.’ While this is not always true, being respectful to those who are mourning is typically a good idea.) Now take this closer to home and examine how you talk about your neighbors, friends, co-workers, spouse etc. Sometimes we are convicted by what we think are our own convictions and find we are not living by them very well… (Another ouch!) Look through your social media (if you have one) and see if that is who you really want to be.
Don’t think you have to justify yourself to others. I just lived this by deleting my explanation as to why I did not prioritizing making the beds in an earlier example. (Busybodies often live in your head as well!) When someone puts you down for something, they are telling you that they are a busy-body and not a nice person. Explaining yourself often just opens up more of your story to their nit-picking. Occasionally someone is truly curious and just wants to learn how you look at life, but often, when it is none of their business, this is not the case. Save yourself some time and just politely answer, ‘That’s just how we decided our household should run.’ Or something to that effect, and walk away. This emphasizes that you have made a conscious decision with your spouse AND that it is none of their business. It’s not worth the emotional toll this conversation will require. And yes, they will likely project their issues onto you by thinking you are the ‘witch,’ because any proper response to this behavior will subtly point out that they were out of line, and they will not like that, but then we get into the ‘don’t be a doormat’ discussion… Not everyone will like you. In the Bible being ‘liked’ by the righteous is good; being disliked by those who are not behaving is sometimes par for the course. And those who are liked by everyone is someone we are told to be wary of. (Proverbs 18:24 NASB)