April 12, 2010

Living an organized life, Part 2

Priorities are central to establishing a routine. For those of you that may not know what your priorities are, don’t worry, I’m bossy enough to tell you. The first priority is you. Yes, you are to be your first concern, not anyone or anything else. You might be thinking, that can’t be right, that is so selfish! Hear me out before you decide I’m way off. You are your first priority for these reasons-

1. You are an example to those around you. Everyone you encounter is watching, and you have the power to influence those people-will you influence them for the better, or the worse? I once stood in line at the bank behind a woman who was so full of negativity that by the time I was leaving, I had nothing positive to say to anyone-and before entering the building I had been my normal happy and upbeat self. Also, you have probably heard “Do as I say, not as I do”-has that ever worked well for anyone? If you want your spouse, and children to eat healthy and you never eat veggies, do you really think they will listen to you? This of course, has a very wide spectrum. At work, if you do personal things during company time-check personal emails for example, you have no grounds to tell someone else, don’t text your sister when you should be finishing that report! Take care of yourself first, and set the right example.

2. No one else is going to take care of you. As children, someone else was always doing for us, and as adults, we all long for that treatment still. We all want someone to do the laundry, pay the bills and get spending money for us. But the truth is, no one is going to do that because we’re not their priority. As adults, we’re the ones that must take care of ourselves, and in many cases, other people. Often we get upset and resentful because there isn’t someone telling us, “I’ll do that for you” or “Here take a rest, you’ve been working hard”. Sometimes we wait for our spouse or friend to take care of us, and become angry when they don’t-they don’t have to! We must accept that if we don’t do for ourselves, no one else will. And that doesn’t make the people around us cruel, mean or bad. Remember, they have to take care of themselves as well. This is where being selfish in a good way comes in. I know I’m just full of contradictions, aren’t I! I learned this term years ago from a wonderful life coach. She explained selfish in a good way as this-something you do for yourself, and only yourself, that makes you a better person to the people around you, without harming them either. A woman I know has 5 kids and homeschools them; she takes a nap every day. When people balk at this, she states, “They know I’m better with it”. You must find something you can do daily, just for yourself that revitalizes you, and gives you energy for the rest of your day. For me it’s 15 minutes of reading some of my favorite craft blogs. I turn off the computer after that and I’m excited to go through the rest of the day. 
3. You cannot give what you do not have. This is a more emotional and spiritual rule. Taking the time to focus and connect yourself, to meditate and bring yourself to the center gives you the kindness it takes to deal with the irritating aspects of life. You have the focus to help other people without feeling drained, and you have an easier time setting the example when you’ve taken the time for yourself daily to connect with God.

Your second priority is your spouse, if you have one, followed by your children, if you have them. Relationships are vital, and therefore take precedence over all other endeavors- I have heard several successful people state at their retirement that they would give all the success up for better relationships. Set aside time daily for these special people in your life. When you are with your other half, don’t talk about kids, work or finances. If you can’t think of anything outside of those subjects, get some ice breaker questions (online or buy a box at the store), and remember why you stayed with them in the beginning. With children, give them set aside time daily-15 minutes is great-and do what they want to do. Even if you don’t like it, or are not interested, this is a time where it’s not about you, it’s about them. A beautiful saying to train yourself to say is, “Something is better than nothing, always aim for more.” I read it in a book by my favorite author, Elizabeth George. When you think the small amount of time you have maybe isn’t enough to matter, imagine saying to someone you love, “We have 5 minutes, would you like to spend some time together?” And their response is, “It’s only five minutes, it’s not really worth it.” How heart breaking. Something is better than nothing, always aim for more. This is another rule that has many far reaching applications.

Priorities dictate when and how we do things. There are some things that we cannot avoid doing, which you might not think of-eating, sleeping, showering. Also, appointments (doctor, hairstylist), lessons, classes, and homecare are all things we must do. When you are ready to plan a routine, you must take into account these types of priorities as well.

Now that we’ve covered priorities, let’s begin with the actual establishing of a routine. Paramount to a successful routine is taking small steps. Begin with one part, or section of your day, and spend a month establishing that part of the routine before adding anything else. This takes us to rule #2-

Rule #2-Your day starts the night before. I originally read this in a book about direct sales success. I loaned the book to someone and have never gotten it back. If I find it, I’ll give the correct reference and all the other wonderful life advice in it. Flylady is also an advocate of starting the night before. Much of our morning craziness comes from a lack of an evening routine. To begin, your evening routine should consist of these things, and only these things-

1. Check the weather and check your calendar. What are you doing tomorrow, what do you need for tomorrow, and how will the weather affect that? If you had planned on working outside the next day and now the weather forecast is for all day rain, you should make new plans. If you have children, what do they need for the next day? How is the weather going to affect them?

2. This is an extension of #1-Get everything ready. Whatever is going out of the house with you tomorrow put it in your car the night before. Have everything that should stay inside the house by the door you leave from. This goes for children as well.

3. Pick out your clothes for the next day. This saves you time, and if you had planned on wearing something specific, it will save you the trouble of realizing to late that the shirt you wanted to wear didn’t get washed(or dried). Also, you don’t have to start the morning with an argument over appropriate outfits; you can get it out of the way the night before. Once you wake up, you can be over it, and get on with the day. On that subject, it’s best to have kids pick out outfits a week in advance, that way they are ready and you don’t have to think too much about it-they can grab a pre-chosen outfit and put it on. Any day of the week that you have time to go through clothes and put together outfits is great. Have place to put them, a hanging cubbies, or even a small set of seven drawers will do the trick.

Remember that it is generally agreed that establishing a new habit takes 30 days, so allow for 35, because sometimes life hits us in the face and we get off track. More on the next step on Wednesday!

Happy Thoughts!

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