Making Sense of Living

Have you ever felt that you seem to be drowning in the ‘stuff’ of your life? There just seems to be so much that demands your attention, so many things that need to be done, things that are so urgent that they just cannot wait.

I have just had a weekend like that. Friday was a public holiday here, and it was with some excitement that I looked forward to the long weekend. I had a list as long as my arm that needed attention over the weekend. Just where do I begin? By lunch time on Friday I had ticked off some of the items on my list, but the list now seemed to be longer than when I read it that morning. By lunch time on Saturday I realized that I was fighting a losing battle. The faster I completed tasks, the longer the list grew. What to do? What to do?

On Sunday morning I decided to leave my list in my office (I work from home), and went to the local prison to follow up on a few folk (I am involved in a non-profit inmate support organization). By the time I got home, I had once again learnt the lesson that not everything on our To Do lists, even though they look urgent, is actually that important. Here is what I did, and what you can also do to make sense of your cluttered living:

1. Take a blank sheet of paper. Draw a line down the middle of the sheet of paper, from top to bottom.

2. Write the word Important as a heading in the left hand column.

3. Write the word Urgent as a heading in the right hand column.

4. Take you To Do list and place each item in one of the two columns on the sheet of paper in front of you.

5. Spend at least half of your day concentrating on the Important column.

When I looked at my list, I noticed that many of the items on the list may have looked urgent to me, but were not that important. For instance, one of the things on the list was the urgent grooming of my two Newfoundland dogs. They had both been caught up in the rain on Thursday, and were full of mud, and looked shocking (well, to my mind, anyway!). Grooming my Newfies usually takes me at least 4 or 5 hours for a general bath and groom.

Another item on my list was spending some time with my daughters. In our hectic lives we often seem to live past each other, and I needed to spend some time just catching up with them. My eldest daughter works in the corporate investment environment in Johannesburg, and my youngest daughter has just spent the past 3 weeks whelping and caring for a litter of eight Samoyed puppies!

I decided to spend Sunday with the girls, and had a great and joyous time just chatting and catching up. When feeding time came for the Newfies, I went outside, now dreading what I would find. But, to my great relief, I found that the Newfies had spent time in their splash pool, and the mud had all disappeared!

What would have been a full day grooming became a 20 minute brushing! And, as a bonus, I was able to spend the day with family! So, resolve to relook the urgent vs the important on your To Do lists of life, and choose the important. You won’t be sorry!

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