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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Goonen

Stop the bus! I want to get off!

I love the movie, "Elf." It's one of my favorite holiday films. Three of the scenes I like the best are (1) when Buddy the elf plays in the revolving door, (2) when he pushes all the buttons in the elevator, and (3) when he encounters the escalator for the first time. All three of these scenes have something in common, and it has nothing to do with how it affects Buddy. However, it does affect the other people who want to use that revolving door, need to get off the elevator, or end up behind him on the escalator. In each case, those innocent bystanders are stuck. They have someplace to go, but cannot get there, and have no apparent control over who or what is keeping them stuck. How many of you have felt that way... especially lately? I'm going to be the first to raise my hand and say, "I HAVE!"

Yes, it's been a while since I've submitted a blog post. (Shame on me!) The only reason (excuse) I have is that I think I've been stuck on the Express Bus to Nowhere! I can hear you now... what in the world are you talking about? Glad you asked!

In today's world, it seems like we spend a lot of time organizing and planning our lives. We have so much to do that it seems like there are never enough hours in the day. Guess what? You are absolutely right! There are definitely not enough hours in the day! But, how can that be? There are 24 hours in every single day, seven days in a week, and 52 weeks in a year. Surely that's enough time to do everything we need to do! Right?


Here's what I've discovered. I really don't have the full 24-hours. No one does... at least, not to do what we've so efficiently included on our daily To-Do List.

Let's face it. There are certain necessary tasks that we have to do every day: eat and sleep, for starters. Even on the conservative side, that will take up at least ten hours. Now, we only have 14 hours left to accomplish that impossibly long To-Do List! Oh, No!

Now that we've discovered we have less time than we thought, we'll likely lose another hour or so stressing over it. (Be honest!). So realistically, we have an average of 10-12 hours to accomplish everything we delegated to ourselves thinking we had a 24-hour day to do it. No wonder we're stressed!!

Here's the thing... if we let our "list" control us, we are already behind the power curve, and because we cannot possibly get everything done, we are working from a negative perspective. I don't know about you, but that mindset is paralyzing! So, in order to regain some measure of control over my self-defeating perspective, I need to shift that perspective to a more positive viewpoint. So, I've learned how to group my To-Do List into three categories: Have to's, Need to's, and Maybe's.

The "Have-to" list consists of what I absolutely have to get done first. When I get through that list, I move on to the "Need-to" list. If I get that one done, then it's on to the "Maybe" list. Whatever isn't done by the end of the day, I re-evaluate and decide if anything needs to be shifted to another list for the next day. If not, it just moves to the top of whatever category it's already in.

After trying this for about a month, here's what I found out:

  1. My most important tasks were getting done on time.

  2. The things on my "Need-to" list were either getting done or being moved to one of the other lists. If something got moved to my "Have-to" list, it got done the next day. If it was moved to the "Maybe" list, then it wasn't that important after all.

  3. The tasks on my "Maybe" list often turned out to be totally unimportant, and very often, simply died a natural death on their own. In other words, they really weren't worth my time. They were also not worth stressing about.

Not only has this exercise helped me to focus better on my writing, but it's also helping me to find more time for myself, which is just as important as everything else.

The bottom line: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”—Matthew 6:34

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