In “Decide What’s Important”, I shared that I’m a busy body. I am queen of doing too much. In fact, NOT doing anything can actually be very hard for me but I am working at it! As 2016 came to an end, I was excited to go to Georgia for Christmas to visit my mom. Whenever I visit, we make plans to see a bunch of people I haven’t seen in awhile and then we usually end up doing a whole lot of sitting around in our pajamas together. With work being so busy, I couldn’t wait to relax and catch up on some work for Love U Too. If this was a movie or tv show, I’d enter a record scratch right about now because that’s exactly what did NOT happen LOL! After a few medical scares, my mom decided that instead of me flying to Georgia, we should go to Indiana for Christmas to help my Nana Wez move into a new, smaller home. So I called Delta, explained what was going on, and got my flight canceled without a fee! I drove to Indianapolis on the 23rd and picked my mom up from the airport on the 24th. Since we didn’t have true plans, we began sorting and packing on Christmas Day. I like to think Jesus would be happy we spent his birthday helping someone we loved! I also like to think that this was one of those rare times when being a busy body AND being a reformed packrat paid off. Because while my mom felt overwhelmed by the amount of work to do, I was READY! I WAS ON! I was in my element! Like many people who lived through the depression, my Nana Wez was an extreme packrat. I found it amazing how no matter how many decades she’d had something, she knew exactly when she got it, where it was, and what else was with it. One of my favorite parts of the process was making a note of the oldest item I found each day. In case you’re wondering, that included bills from the 70s, a letter 1964, and report cards from 1955. Even though my Christmas vacation didn’t go as planned, the work we did that week showed me the importance of sitting down somewhere when I can, as often as I can. Keep reading for the 5 reasons I encourage you to sit down somewhere too!
You can learn to prioritize.
I often have every intention of doing 8,000 things in a day but here’s something I’ve learned: some things just do not need to be done right away. So although I had my list of rooms to complete every day, I made a point to reevaluate that plan during my breaks. For the first 2 days of packing, we were right on schedule. But by the third day, we had moved onto her bedroom. A room consisting of two garment racks, a large chest, a larger dresser, another chest, countless bins and baskets, and a good sized closet. What I estimated to take one day ended up taking almost two. After a certain point, we realized we could divide and conquer! My mom would take all the clothing and ask Nana Wez what she wanted and what we would donate (or give to family). I would stay in the bedroom and go through containers. Any container with clothing went in a pile for my mom. Anything else, I could handle it. We had different priorities when it came to that bedroom! Speaking of the bedroom, once we got all of her stuff into the new apartment our priorities shifted again. We’d originally planned to set up her bedroom first so she’d be comfortable but quickly realized in order to do that we needed to set up the living room in such a way that she could easily move through it AND go through her things. Our priority was to set her up to be comfortable and her things (especially her pictures) to be accessible to her before we both had to go home. It was not to organize her home for her: that was something she could do herself! Using my breaks to rework our priorities throughout the day helped me not waste time and energy on tasks that didn’t matter.
Learn to prioritize. Sit down somewhere and make a list! Write down the things you need to do and then decide what’s your top priority by keeping several factors in mind like: 1) Immediacy. When does it need to be done by? Is the date/time flexible? Is it self-imposed or was it agreed upon. 2) Frequency. Is it something that you do weekly or daily? If so, can it wait until another day? 3) Length of time. How long will it take? Can you break it into smaller tasks to complete over time? Answer each of these questions and you’ll be able to quickly sort through your list and get your priorities in order!
You can focus better.
Like I said, my Nana Wez’ was an extreme packrat. I wouldn’t go so far as to call her a hoarder as that generally involves some level of trauma and obsession (link). Going through her stuff required a plan of action. A plan that allowed her to focus on making final decisions on what she wanted to keep. A plan that involved figuring out how to keep things organized as we worked. And most importantly, a plan that we could complete by the time the movers came and before me and mom had to go home! This is where me being a busy body and a reformed packrat paid off! I could tell how anxious my mom was getting on the 24th just looking around the rooms. I knew it was time to share the system I developed over years of reducing the amount of items I owned. The System: pick one corner of the room, zero in on one single container, and don’t look at anything else in the room. The mission is to focus on one thing at a time. When you’re done with it, you can then shift your focus to the next nearest container. I could tell my mom was skeptical at first but I think watching me in action made her a true believer. With my system, I can tackle fairly large tasks in just a few hours. The look on my mom and my Nana Wez’ faces when they’d leave me to my own devices and come back into a room to see how much I’d done was priceless every single time! However, as foolproof it sounds, the system only works for 4-5 hours. Once I get hungry my blood sugar drops and I become increasingly annoyed, anxious, and exhausted. This is when it is time to SIT DOWN SOMEWHERE! When I’m mentally, emotionally, and/or physically exhausted, my brain will almost always have me convinced that I need to be doing all the things right here, right now or it’ll never get done! That usually means it gets done significantly slower with more room for error. But if I sit down, I’m able to rest, recharge, and refuel so that I can go right back to being my busy body self!
Focus better. Look around your space. Pick your favorite place to sit. Prop your feet up. Add pillows. Get comfy. If you have a pet, make it time for cuddles. Check in with your body. Eat if you need to. Make sitting your life’s mission in that moment. Focus on being the best sitter you have ever been in your life now so that your mind, body, and spirit are well rested to focus on what you need to get done later!
You can slow down.
Much like the rest of my Christmas vacation, I didn’t leave as planned either! My mom was flying home on NYE and the plan was for me to drive her to the airport and then drive back home. But after such a long week, I was way past exhausted and there were still a few errands that needed to be run. So my mom added a night to our hotel stay giving me an extra day to tie up loose ends and rest before I had to drive home. I spent NYE morning taking my mom to the airport, dropping off cable equipment, dropping alarm equipment off at the post office, and checking on my Nana Wez before showering a meeting my friend Michelle to go to Walmart for groceries and other items she needed. I felt bad asking Michelle to go shopping with me but I was glad she was there because we still got to hang out (and she drove)! After we left Walmart, we got lunch, and went to Ace Hardware so I could get an exchange on some incorrectly made keys. And THEN, we went back to my Nana Wez’ new home so I could help her learn how to use her keys, open/close her new patio door, get around her building, and put together a couple things for her. I know what you’re thinking, “So when are we going to get to the part where you slow down?” I’ll have you know that that was one of the slowest days of my trip and it was great LOL! I spent most of it sitting or at least not lifting things. It was significantly more laidback than the other days as every tasks had an endpoint. After days of physical labor, running some errands and spending time with people I care about was extremely relaxing. AND I was able to go back to the hotel earlier that day because we were both tired. In case you’re wondering, I spent the rest of NYE in bed watching Murdoch Mysteries on Netflix, eating leftovers, and drinking merlot until i fell asleep before midnight. 🙂
Slow down! Give yourself a day (or block of hours) where you can do a series of quick, simple tasks. Try setting aside time for tasks that you can do while sitting (like paying bills, calling friends, doing research, etc). and leaving more physical activities for a day when you have more physical energy (like cooking, cleaning up, yard work, shopping, etc). Give yourself more time so you can take your time. Why rush if you don’t have to?! Use a service from time to time to take the weight off your shoulders, if you can.
You can value your time.
Although my Nana Wez had been renting for a couple decades, she always lived alone. Moving into her new home meant moving into an apartment in a senior living community. She’d still have her own apartment but when she left her front door, she’d also have a lot of other older people around meaning she’d probably be more social. It also meant she was getting a south-facing patio that we set up with all her outdoor furniture. As she put it, she needed to look presentable. For her, that meant she needed a chocolate lipstick with a natural-looking pink lipstick for the center of her lips. When I drive instead of flying, I don’t edit as much when packing. If it’ll fit in my Civic*, it can go! That means I brought way too many lipsticks with me which also meant SWATCHES! YASSSSSSSSSSS! During one of my breaks, as my mom continued working on the new apartment, I spent 30 minutes doing swatches on my Nana Wez’ hands! When I tell you it was fun, IT WAS FUN! I’m pretty sure we spent most of that time giggling. By the time we were done, her hands were covered in a variety of lipsticks and lip creams. I hand told her I’d get her whichever ones she liked before I left (this was part of the Walmart run) so it was important she told me her absolute favorites. I got scared for a second when she mentioned she (unknowingly) really liked the Marc Jacobs and Too Faced lipsticks….two colors I only had because they were free samples from Sephora LOL! Lucky for my wallet, her FAVORITE colors ended up being two of my favorites: Milani’s ? and ?! Once we had her colors figured out, I put them on her lips the way she’d been describing wearing them and SHE. LOVED. IT! She couldn’t stop smiling and neither could I!
Value your time! Make time to review what you’ve done and be proud of yourself. You’ve probably done more than you think! Do things for others because you want to. If someone compliments you or thanks you, appreciate it and accept it! Share the things you’re doing with others. You’d be amazed how often you view the things you do with less importance than other people do!
You can pick up where you left off.
Near the beginning of this post, I mentioned that I am a “reformed packrat”. If you didn’t have to ask what that meant, you’ve been here too long and I appreciate it! 😛 Like any lover of Pinterest and Apartment Therapy, I noticed how popular minimalism became a few years ago and I was intrigued. As I read more and more about it, I decided I was tired of holding onto items just to have them and that I wanted to become a minimalist! Over the course of two years, I got rid of about ⅓ of things I owned. I wish I had before and after photos because it was a pretty big deal for me! Imagine a wall-length closet filled with boxes from the floor almost touching the hanging bar in some spot. Then imagine more boxes on the upper shelf (also wall length). Now imagine a small bin, a plastic 3-drawer unit, some nesting boxes, and an exercise ball on that same floor. Then throw in a basket, some board games, and hat boxes on the upper shelf. THAT IS PROGRESS! Progress that served me well when I purchased my first home because even though I have a lot of storage space, the bedroom closets are really small. Although I am not a minimalist, my house is not bursting with stuff and I’d like to keep it that way. To keep in that way, I like to go over my home and the things in it as often as possible. As we sorted through my Nana Wez’ things and decided (with her) what would be going to her new apartment, another family member, Goodwill, or the trash, I decided it was time to go through my own home and purge for the ‘99 and 2017! In February, I did just that! I went room by room filling bags and boxes with stuff to donate. With a friend’s help, I not only filled several more bags for donations, but I finally did something that’s oddly difficult for me: I threw things away. I even finally parted with things I’d been keeping because………..I had them for a long time. I think the best part was that I was so excited about purging that I forgot I’d already went through some rooms in the fall. So imagine my face when I opened my laundry room storage unit only to find there was less stuff in it and it was already organized with tons of room to spare! I think sorting through another packrat’s things and watching her part with them (even if she was just giving them to another family member) helped motivate me to part with some things of my own!
Pick up where you left off. Remember that goal you had? The one where you were doing really good and then….you weren’t? Maybe you got thrown off track. Maybe you gave up. Or maybe you just kind of forgot about it for no reason at all. What happened in the past doesn’t matter. Remember that goal. Reevaluate it. Consider what you can do differently. Make a brand new plan. Make a list (y’all know i like my lists)! Go for it (again)!
Despite knowing that I’d be extremely busy in Indiana, I originally had made plans for what to do when I returned home. I planned to deep clean my house from top to bottom, pack my car full of donations, and smudge. I did exactly none of that and it was great! I chose to sit down somewhere….for days! I went to bed early for a week straight. I allowed my body to recharge and eventually did everything I had planned to do….when I was well rested! 😉
How can you sit down somewhere more often? Let us know in the comments below!
And get your copy of the “You Can Rest” How to Love U Journal today too!
Inspiration – Operation Love U – Love List
Operation Love U • Self Love
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