Why does my post title sound like a Nike commercial? Just do it. It’s a kick in the pants, is what it is. As I mentioned in a previous post, I tend to go a bit crazy during the holidays. My extended family was here last week and we ate turkey, played laser tag (even Grandpa!), and enjoyed ourselves immensely. The kids tore the house upside down, much coffee was consumed, and we decorated for Christmas. Eventually, my family left, and we were left with cleanup, the extra turkey and dressing, and a huge disinterest in returning to the routine parts of life that we’re somewhat required to engage in to keep the paychecks coming.
Mr. ThreeYear and I dragged ourselves back to work, got the kids off to school, and made lists of all that needs to get done before we leave for Chile in just a few weeks.
As I drove to work, I listened to Afford Anything’s latest podcast. In this one, she interviewed A.J. Jacobs, who I momentarily confused with J.D. Vance, until I read his bio and remembered he’d written A Year of Living Biblically, which I’d read several years ago. In that book, Jacobs spent a year following the more obscure commandments of the Old Testament, such as “wear no mixed-fiber clothing” and “dress in all white.” He grew out a beard and posted the ten commandments on the doorway of his apartment, in order to see how his life changed for the better (or worse). He’s engaged in such experiments many times, both as exercises for living a better life and journalistic fodder. One of the takeaways from the interview was that if you want (or need) to change something in your life, just start doing it. Motivation follows action, or something like that.
In other words, don’t wait until the spirit hits you to start writing. Just write, and then your motivation will follow. Dive in to the laundry pile on your bed if you want to get it done, and along the way you’ll start to feel more enthusiastic as you make neat little piles of clothing.
His advice was a cross of fake-it-til-you-make-it and good ole’ Anglo-Saxon (or Anglo-Judaeo, if that’s a thing) work ethic.
During the next few weeks, Mr. ThreeYear and I have a mountain of personal and professional items to cross off our respective to-do lists. Here, therefore, in no particular order, is a list of reminders for ourselves of how to quit procrastinating or worrying about each item and just do it.
Get Enough Rest
On Monday, the day I went back to school after five days off, I felt like death. I suspect I caught a virus from Junior ThreeYear (maybe when I was cleaning up his throw up from the carpet of my room?) and I barely made it through the day. I cancelled all my after-school and evening activities (a meeting with another teacher, yoga) and went straight home. Mr. ThreeYear came home early, brought me dinner in bed, and took care of the kids while I rested in bed. I went to bed early and the next day, felt human again. Yes, I know I am incredibly lucky. My husband is an awesome nurse.
The ironic thing about getting enough rest is that it is the direct opposite of my advice to myself. On Monday, I did nothing at all. I left the laundry pile, made no progress on my multi-cultural paper for my grad class, didn’t finish writing reports for my students, and didn’t go to yoga.
But, much like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, if your basic bodily functions don’t allow you to get anything done, you need to listen to yourself and take a rest. Lie in bed, eat some soup, get some rest.
Get Up on Time
During Thanksgiving vacation, I slept in. Every. single. morning. I usually wake up at 5am, especially since I started my November habit of…. getting up at 5am!, but last week, I was lazy. We were busy all day with family outings and food preparations, we stayed up late talking, and sleeping in was really nice. But this week, it’s back to bed at 9pm and getting up at 5am. Starting the day at 5am allows me some uninterrupted writing time, time to think, and extra time to get the day started right–kids ready for school, lunches made, and beds made and house tidied. Then, when we all get home from school and work, we don’t have to spend psychological or physical energy in cleaning a messy house (it also helps that we live in a semi-minimalist home, too. Makes tidying a lot faster). We can get started on the things we need to do.
I noticed, during the week that they were here, that my sister and brother-in-law spent most of their downtime on activities that related to their business. It’s one of the reasons that they’re in the top 1% of Etsy sellers now. My brother-in-law worked on creating a new website for the business, and my sister listened to podcasts on SEO. They’ve become so focused on building their business that they use much of their “downtime” to improve it. That doesn’t mean they didn’t scroll Instagram or play in the snow, but they did keep their focus on their most important goal, building their Etsy business.
Mr. ThreeYear and I plan to have a similar focus for the next few weeks: our goal is to get everything on our lists accomplished, so we can enjoy our trip to Chile. That means no reading books (me!) or getting sucked into a new Netflix series (him). Instead, we need to use our downtime wisely and finish our reports and papers in the evenings.
In keeping with staying focused on our goals, we plan to minimize the distracting things in our lives, like Cyber Monday deals and OPD (other people’s drama). I’ll be reminding myself to put my phone away after I get home from school. We decided not to renew the boys’ swim lessons until after we get back from our trip, so we can almost every day after school free to get ready for our Chile trip.
Make a Plan
As I mentioned, Mr. ThreeYear and I both made lists of all the things we need to accomplish before our trip. We both have three major categories of things on our respective lists:
- work/grad school responsibilities
- logistics (paying house taxes, opening another bank account in Chile, looking into Chilean passports for boys, etc.)
- packing/buying presents/otherwise getting ready to go
Each day, we are going to tackle a different item on the list, in order of importance/urgency. For example, I have a paper due this Friday that takes precedence over everything else on my list. I also have three reports to finish for my students that are due the same day (joy). Therefore, I’ll be prioritizing the paper and reports this week over present-buying, packing, or planning our trip to the Atacama desert. Those items will have to wait for next week.
Just Do It
Finally, we’re going to dive in and tackle all that we have to do. Enough “getting ready to get ready.” We have just over two weeks until we leave, so we’re going to be working diligently and efficiently for the next little while, until it’s time to get in the car and drive to the airport.
I’ll be sure to document our trip while we’re there–for three awesome weeks in the middle of the Chilean summer. We’ll be walking from our apartment to the farmer’s market to buy fresh veggies and fruits, taking the boys to the driest desert in the world, and maybe to one of the world’s clearest observatories. We’ll ring in the New Year with our family, while wearing our yellow underwear (Chilean tradition). But I’m not quite ready to think about the reward at the end of our efforts. For now, I’m off to just do it.