Want to hear a confession? I am a slacker.
No, really. I am.
I’m a busy person, and it’s hard to imagine busy people being slackers. But it’s true. I am the busiest little slacker you ever did see.
Here’s why: I have all these great ideas. Big, far-reaching, pain in the butt ideas. And because I have no filter whatsoever, when I think of a big idea, I tell everyone. I get lots of people on board with my big idea, and get everyone all excited. And then I slack off until about one hour until the big idea is supposed to come to fruition. Then I slap something together and call it my big idea. But by that point, it really just looks like a half-assed mess.
And things don’t even have to be my idea. I’ll hear someone else’s big, far-reaching, pain in the butt idea, and then because I have no filter, I will agree to participate – or, worse, LEAD IT! – and before I know it, I’m a slacker who is spearheading a project.
Case and point? Vacation Bible School. VBS at my church is no joke. We have over 500 kids who participate for a full week, and it is super fun. Two years ago, I volunteered for the first time as a mere crew leader (who takes groups of kids around every day) and the very next year, I had agreed to become co-chairman of the preschool portion of the week. And then I slacked off. Only, this VBS thing is a two-year commitment at my church, so now I’m back (this time as the chair) and still slacking off.
And I have a hundred other examples like this. Times when my heart and head were in the right place, but when it came to actually showing up, I slacked off.
Usually, it doesn’t bother me. I’ve always been this way, and I always manage to get things done (albeit, half-assed). But the other day, Bean had a few words for me.
We were supposed to bring eggs to school for him. They were doing science experiments with floating and sinking, and each child had to bring in an egg. Bean’s BFF, Elle’s, mom called me to see if I would mind bringing Elle an eggs, too, since they were out. Sure. No problem. I’d be happy to.
Except, I forgot to write anything down to remind myself to get eggs in the morning. And so I took Bean to school… without eggs. I didn’t think a thing about it until I picked him up from school. The minute I walked in his classroom, Bean started chewing me out.
“Mom!” he snapped, hands on his hips. “You forgot my eggs.”
“Oh, gosh, buddy! I’m so sorry! I completely forgot!”
“Yeah,” he continued, “And you forgot Elle’s egg, too.” And just at that moment, Elle appeared and stood side by side with Bean, hands on their hips, looking furious.
“Oh, shoot,” I said. “I’m really sorry, guys.”
And that’s when he hit me upside the head with his next words.
“Mom, you forget everything. I never have what I need at school, and I always have to sit and watch other friends instead of doing it myself.”
Well, that will wake up slack-ass moms everywhere. Mostly, though, it woke me up because I knew he was right. So far in the past two months, I have forgotten the plastic tablecloth I signed up to bring for their Easter party, the tortillas I signed up to bring to their Cinco de Mayo party, a box of Ziplocks I volunteered to bring for one of their art projects, and then the infamous eggs.
It was not my finest hour, let me tell you.
That happened about two weeks ago, and since then, I have started making more of an effort to kick the slacker in me into shape. Because it’s one thing to slack and put yourself out. It’s another to slack and put your friends or co-workers out. But it’s another thing entirely to slack and put your child out. Preschool is a rough place. The kid who doesn’t bring his own eggs… well, let’s just say you don’t want to be the kid who has to borrow someone’s already sunk egg on Science Day.
I’ve spent some time trying to figure out why I am such a slacker. What I’ve learned is that – good news! – I’m not really a slacker. I’m just overly enthusiastic. I want to do it all, and so I take it all on. And then I slack because I can’t handle everything.
So, here’s what I’ve done:
1. I made a list of priorities. If you’re interested, my top three priorities right now are my faith, my family, and my job. Then I picked my top three. Any obligation that doesn’t fit those three priorities is going to have to take a backseat for a while.
2. I stopped saying yes right away to things. Now, I give myself a few days to make a decision – even little decisions. That way, I can ask myself, “Does this benefit my faith, my family, or my job?” If the answer is no, then my answer is no.
3. I only do one thing at a time now. I was a master multi-tasker. I could grade papers, check Facebook, write a blog post, cook dinner, and play with my kids all in less than an hour. But the thing was, I wasn’t doing any of those things very well. So now, I only do one thing at a time. And I don’t start something else until that one task is finished. At first, I thought I was going to take longer doing everything, but that hasn’t really been true. I save myself the time and hassle of having to go back and do it over again, so really, it doesn’t take me any longer. And now, I am actually getting things done – and getting them done WELL.
4. I quit doing things that I didn’t want to do. This week, we were supposed to have dinner with that classmate of Bean’s who I think might be bullying him. I had made plans with the mom a month ago, and had been dreading the whole thing. And then I realized, WHAT THE HECK AND I DOING? I’m allowed to not want to do something. I’m allowed to say no! And so, I did. And I have been doing that more lately. My time is precious and I can’t be wasting my time focusing on people and things that a) don’t meet my priorities and b) don’t make me happy. So, I stopped doing that.
It is amazing how freeing these four simple steps have been. I feel lighter and more focused than I have in a long time. I am getting a lot more done, and the quality of what I am doing has been better. My prayer life is richer, my family time has been fuller, and my job is more satisfying than ever before. Bam! Three priorities, a few firm lines drawn in the sand, and I feel like a new person. I mean, I don’t want to toot my own horn here or anything, but BOTH my kids had show-n-tell today, and I remembered BOTH items for them to bring. It’s pretty impressive, really.
Even Bean has been impressed.
Which proves that miracles do happen in suburbia.