It’s funny how synchronicity works. How you only suddenly notice that different aspects of your life keep throwing up the same lesson to you and that you know, you could acknowledge it now or acknowledge it later but either way, it seems to be the lesson you’re learning right now.
For me, this year, I feel like “organise” is it. When a baby comes along, I think you start to drown without organisation. In the beginning I was all winging it and stuff but the only real way I’m finding I’m able to feel less overwhelmed and get some air is to be organised. The only way I can get out the door remotely close to the planned time in the morning is if I’ve packed the baby bag the night before. And it only takes a couple of times of having to soothe a screaming-the-house-down upset baby whilst the bottles are in the steriliser and then in the freezer to cool down enough before you clue up to the fact that you should be ahead of the game. Now, no matter what happens, I’m making up at least 12 hours worth of bottles before I go to bed. I’ve even leapt out of bed at close to 1am when I realised I didn’t have enough bottles as back up and stayed up boiling kettles and prepping. Because, then, no matter how much hits the wall in the day ahead of you, at least you have bottles. And there have been a day or two when we’ve gone through what I thought would be 12 hours worth of bottles before lunch. I didn’t realise what people meant when they said you need to organise with a baby. I didn’t really get that it meant you have to organise everything else around the baby, not the actual baby herself.
I started the February round of the 12WBT today. And one of the things Michelle really drums into your head is the need to be organised to get this done. The very first round we did (ooh was that 2012 now??) we were organised and it really worked out. And then I found in subsequent rounds, if I hadn’t really worked out how things would go at the beginning of the week, well, it didn’t really happen. Because when all hell breaks loose, you drop the things you haven’t really thought through properly. Thinking just complicates things when you’re in put out the fire mode. This time, I actually sat down and planned out this week – when we might need to cook things days ahead, when exactly (as in what timeslot) I would do which workouts (she gives you what you will do for the day ahead of time) and I thought through properly what I actually need to do, with mini milestones, towards reaching my goals. I’d like to be running 5km by the end of this gig. That means I need to be running say 2.5 km by the end of 6 weeks etc. We get the shopping lists on a Thursday so you have all the ingredients you need at the beginning of the week. And that really makes such a difference. Today, I was rushing with lots of things on and a very unsettled baby. It would have been easy to eat something less than optimum if I didn’t already have most of it preassembled (thanks to C) in the fridge. Grabbing the healthy option then became as fast as any other.
David Allen really emphasises the need to be organised in GTD, obviously. And one of the elements of the weekly review – the look ahead at the week to come – is becoming more and more glaringly obvious how important that is. Michelle Bridges calls it red flag days, where you know you will have issues either with following your nutrition plan (say you have a lunch or dinner out or your day is filled with appointments that makes getting your exercise in difficult). Allen talks about how you put something near the front door so you don’t forget to leave the house with it as an example of looking for things before they show up and blow up. I’m not always good at getting to this part of the weekly review but damn it’s annoying when I haven’t and hugely gratifying when I have, and have put in place the things I need to have done so things don’t blow up. The other day, we calmly walked out of the house at 8.30, within 5 minutes of deciding to leave because I’d done all the preparation the night before. Because I knew that would be hard for me to do so I did all the hard work ahead of time. Allen calls it the “ick factor” when you do things not because they are good for you – like brushing your teeth – but because you can’t stand the ick. After it not bothering me for ever so long, I now can’t stand leaving the kitchen with mess. I don’t like going to bed without clean benches. It just icks me now, in a way it didn’t before. I wonder what other new habits I might pick up inadvertently due to ick.
I in no way have this “organised” thing sorted. But I’m hyperaware of how it is arising across aspects of my life and how much of a difference it makes when I am organised vs when I am not. I think somehow by the end of this year, I might see myself as a much more organised person than I do now. The thing I don’t yet understand though is how you don’t require more time somewhere in the equation to be able to both do the things you need to do today as well as spend time today preparing things ahead of time for tomorrow. Or, put another way, what was I doing with this time before? It upsets me to think that I might have been doing nothing with it. Or worse, that it might be a bit like how if you put all your things away as soon as you finish using them, you never have to put time aside in the future to tidy up. And you don’t really notice the time you took to say put your shoes back in their spot. I think most likely it all takes the same amount of finite (your whole life allotment) time but one version allows you to live it a lot more stressfree. I think I’m just in the adjustment phase towards that constant state of being. I hope.