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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Pacing, Rhythm, Deep Breaths...

Take it Easy

On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgment and efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur.”
Evelyn Underhill

My former husband liked to tell the story of the first summer he went to work for his father's construction business. He was a young man, headed to college in the fall, and thought highly of his own prowess. So, when he was sent with several others to dig a trench for plumbing pipes to be laid, he grabbed his shovel with great gusto. While the other workers shoveled with a measured rhythm, he attacked the ground like a mad man. Used to being “the best” at whatever he did, he assessed their slow pace to be laziness and lack of interest in getting the job done, and to be honest, he wanted to show them up. Before lunch time, he was unable to lift his shovel full of dirt even once more, while the experienced men slowly and steadily dug, and continued to dig throughout the long day.

I tend to procrastinate on beginning a job that I don't relish doing, but once I start, I work like a screaming demon. The sheer momentum is invigorating for a while, but at some point, I crash and burn, frequently, before the job is finished. I end up with a car-load of stuff stacked on the porch, or worse, at the front door, and not a drop of energy left for getting it to wherever it needs to go. It may sit for weeks until the strength and motivation returns for finishing the job. I've been known to leave the tax prep papers spread across the dinning room table for two weeks. It's not a great plan.

David Allen, in his book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, suggests breaking a project into action steps. “You don't actually do a project; you can only do action steps related to it. When enough of the right action steps have been taken, some situation will have been created that matches your initial picture of the outcome closely enough that you can call it 'done'.” In other words, you don't have to be fast, or best, or most impressive. It's better to pace yourself and be accurate.

Perhaps if we didn't just about kill ourselves trying to accomplish something we didn't want to do in the first place, it would lower our dread level and we'd procrastinate less. Maybe if we were to take one small step at a time, rather than trying to fly through our “project” like a bat-out-of-hell, we would be less stressed and more productive. Note to self (and to you): Slow and steady does it.

                                                              In the Spirit,


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