Whether it's one day at a time, one hour at a time, or twenty-minute stints here and there, I have really come to value the practice of pacing myself. When life holds as much uncertainty as ours does here, the accumulation of tasks can become overwhelming. In my case, overwhelming can lead to paralysis, and then it's just one big, ugly cycle of getting nowhere.
Catalyzed by knowing that someone would be coming to the house today, yesterday I began cleaning up in earnest. Somewhere there's an ecard floating around that says a house never gets so clean as in the ten minutes before you have company. Anyone besides me raise their hand to confess to that reality? (This is how the flylady generated a very successful web site based on the idea of CHAOS: Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome).
I took it slow. Gave myself 30 minutes with a promised break at the end of that time. Did the dishes, and made some critical decisions about things that were cluttering the countertops. Took a break. Tackled some of the stuff that was hiding the top of the dining table. Took a break. Shifted to the bathroom and began decluttering the counter there. Took a break. Living room--items on the coffee table. Back to the dining table. With breaks in between I was able to disengage the notion of "have to get this done!" and relax. I had permission to play spider solitaire, check in on facebook, or take some time with the daily sudoku. By lunch time I had made significant progress.
This morning as I look at the remaining tasks that I would like to accomplish I don't feel overwhelmed. There is still plenty to do (my office--egad!), but I can take time out comfortably to make the banana muffins that Ken would like, and I can even spend a little time this afternoon (after our visitor has come and gone) cheering on Tiger Woods in this weekend's gold tournament.
The concept of pacing, of breaking down a large task to manageable pieces is hardly new. I was helped in beginning to assimilate it into my life through something I read years ago called the daffodil principle. As a person who thrives on metaphor and imagery it is helpful to me to see how the application of making incremental progress can make a difference in the grand scheme of things. As a lover of daffodils, this particular principle never helps bring a smile to my heart and my face.
Happy Spring--enjoy some daffodils.
image from the work of Rick Huotari at Fine Art America