paying attention

At times in my life I’ve been a bit of a drifter. It’s no bad thing. It’s good to let life carry you along, see where it takes you, not worrying to much about things that ‘need doing’.

Sometimes though I get overwhelmed. I feel surrounded by piles of physical and metaphorical stuff – coats to go upstairs, bags to come downstairs, bins to empty, people to ring, seeds to plant, floors to hoover, cobwebs to dust, parcels to post, library books to return, trains to catch, cars to fix, roofers to chase…

Ordinary life admin, no different to what everyone else has to deal with, but sometimes it’s just Too Much.

I often find these periods of everything being Too Much coincide with busy or stressful periods in other aspects of my life. At the minute I’m travelling a lot for work, so I get home late and exhausted, and having to think about library books and making tea is overwhelming.

When I’m despairing at having to take the compost out, I know something has to change.

Peter is very good. My tea is often cooked and waiting for me when I get in (even if he’s not here!) which sometimes makes me so happy I shed a little tear. Which in itself is a sign of being overwhelmed, if you think about it.

This month I’ve decided to take myself in hand. Drifting is all very well, and sometimes it’s the easiest option, but in the longer term I need a bit of routine. I need someone to tell me what to do when I get in from work, or I won’t do it. I need to keep an eye on my bank account or it will dance around and misbehave behind my back (another source of stress).

And so I created a checklist. I do so love to tick things off. It’s based on Flylady’s routines, which I come back to over and over but which have never stuck. Now I have my checklist though, things are different.

I created a chart, with the days of the month across the top, and down the side a list of things to do. In the morning is exercise, getting dressed (!), a quick swish round the bathroom, washing the breakfast dishes, and sweeping the kitchen. Obviously there are other things that get done in the morning (like eating) but on the list are the *new* things that right now I don’t do automatically.

In the evening there are more things to tick off. Washing up after dinner, making lunch, packing bags and finding clothes for the next day, 15 minutes of decluttering, emptying the compost, sweeping the kitchen again. All of these things already got done sometimes, but I’ve found it makes my life easier if I do them all regularly.

I’m fairly sure that this kind of thing is what everyone else considers a normal part of adulthood, and I’m kind of embarrassed that it’s taken me so long to figure it out… And I’m also kind of embarrassed about how easy it’s been to just look at the list, tick things off, and how much better everything feels because of it.

It’s only been a couple of weeks, so i’m not counting my chickens yet, but they’ve been the busiest couple of weeks I’ve had for a long time, and while I’m still a little overwhelmed at times, the house is picked up, I haven’t forgotten anything I need to take anywhere, and I’ve even actually done some decluttering! Quite shocking.

Have you had any revelations lately? Please tell me I’m not the only one!

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10 Responses to paying attention

  1. Katherine says:

    You are definitely not on your own with this, I’ve been feeling the same lately and like you, things are pretty stressful at the minute with no short term fix. I’ve started referring to it as TPOT – Tired to the Point Of Tears (not sure it’s original but I like it!) as a way to try and see the funny side. I think getting little things under control is a great tactic and I can see how it will help. Flylady is a star for that very reason. Hope you feel brighter about things very soon!

  2. Nic says:

    Absolutely not alone! I can identify with you both! Doing too much and no easy answer in the next few months… I’d had enough last week and decluttered a whole load of paperwork. Perhaps wasn’t a priority but has made my flat so much nicer to work on what should have been the priority! I’m not sure Flylady would work for me – I tend to rebel against lists. I’m trying to combat it by sneaking in one new habit at a time for a two week period. Though granted it might help to jot down what I’d like those habits to be! Let us know how it goes. šŸ™‚

  3. Maria says:

    You’re definitely not the only one! I get overwhelmed at times too. I have to confess I make lists, but I’ve never stuck to a checklist like you are doing. One part of me thinks it sounds helpful, the other part of me thinks it sounds too much like hard work! (I hope you give yourself the occasional evening off on the sofa, when the compost can wait another day – but I know it’s all about balance!).

  4. Hazel says:

    I could have written that post at the moment- I’m with you too!
    I like lists. One of the things contributing to my overwhelmed-ness is the fact we may be putting our house on the market soon and the rest of the family don’t seem to be able to see that there is sooo much cleaning and decluttering and odd-job-finishing to do first.
    I’ve made a list of areas big (attic!!) and small (bath toy box) to sort through and ticking those off does give me a small sense of achievement.

  5. You should be less hard on yourself…I know several people who probably sweep their kitchen about once a month! Some people just don’t like being organised. I’m more like you and want to be organised and enjoy it, but sometimes it’s easier to just flop after work. Might have a look at the flylady thing…

  6. I can completely identify with how you are feeling! I don’t even have the excuse of being busy with work as I am on maternity leave waiting for my baby to arrive, but somehow the days seem to melt away and there are all those things you describe, waiting to be done, and drifting like autumn leaves!

  7. Lynda says:

    Exactly what Hazel said – I’m with you! Don’t forget, even with all the organisational moves, to include a bit of buttling in your chart. I find that if I don’t put a bit of crochet or light reading on the agenda even when I’m really flat out, it all gets too much. I also find it handy to just make sure I go for a walk around the garden (although….nearly winter, ah well), and take a couple of photos for relaxation and honing in on the loveliness.

  8. Thank you all for your lovely replies, I am SO glad it isn’t just me! It’s very easy to imagine everyone else is ‘getting it right’, but knowing that everyone else has periods of struggling too is good (well, good for *me*, even if not good for the rest of you!)

    Checklist is still going strong and I’ll do an update soon!

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