At the recommendation of several of you, I decided to read The Phantom Tollbooth. It’s a great book and I really enjoyed it. Near the end, Milo asks a question of Terrible Trivium: “But why do only unimportant things?” and is given the following answer: “Think of all the trouble it saves. If you only do the easy and useless jobs, you’ll never have to worry about the important ones which are so difficult. You just won’t have the time. For there’s always something to do to keep you from what you really should be doing.”
Isn’t that so true? It takes a lot of effort to focus on the important things, and to really do them. Although I’ll probably always struggle with this, one tool that has helped is Steven Covey’s “grid” (which I just learned came from one of President Eisenhower’s ideas).
As I remember, his point was we’re rarely in Quadrant 2 (important but not urgent), yet that is where we should spend most of our time, and awareness of our actions makes that more possible. (If you want someone else’s perspective on this tool, go here or here or here.) Although this is all geared towards an office setting, I’ve learned it can be applied at home.
In fact, one of the”AHA” moments in my life came when I realized that my “job” as a mother was to be interrupted. Just that insight changed my attitude and helped our home feel much more pleasant. (And it also helped me look for ways to minimize unnecessary interruptions. For example, one thing that really bugged me was stopping what I was doing – whether folding clothes or playing with the baby – to get the pre-schooler a drink. Once I realized I could pre-fill cups and big brother could get them from the refrigerator himself, I was much happier!)
So, I’m going to try harder to ignore Terrible Trivium. Thanks for the reminder!