I like order. Certainly, I’m not the only one. As my friend repeatedly says to her children, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” I appreciate organizational skills and tidiness. Perhaps more importantly, I detest chaos and clutter. While our home isn’t the cleanest house on the block, it may just be the tidiest. Um. Er. Hmmm. Uh. At least it used to be.
Ever since I returned to work, my mind, home and computer desktop have been cluttered. Work files sit atop our dining room table, [S]’s blocks and books are scattered throughout our home, and my laptop desktop is littered with adoption training homework, draft legal memoranda, family photos and prior tax filings. The mere act of writing about the disorder makes my head hurt. Ah, yes, that reminds me: my mind is not faring any better. Once upon a time, I focused on one thing at a time. Then, it was work. Yes, it was challenging, draining, and trying at times, but I enjoyed it. Today, I seem incapable of finishing one list, like what we need from the grocery store, before starting another, like what documents we need for our taxes or . . . .
Yes, of course. I am well aware that my situation is not unique. Plenty of women, including many good friends, are mothers of multiple children and work part- or full-time. They multi-task, multi-think, and multi-juggle, all the time. Yes, I have chosen to return to the practice of law on my own accord. And, yes, I volunteer my time. But those facts are irrelevant to the matter at hand.
The issue facing me is how do I concentrate on one thing at a time, allowing me to efficiently and effectively accomplish the task at hand, whatever it may be. I used to have one to-do list. Then I started using multiple lists written on Post-It notes stuck to the appropriate file folder. But then things became complicated. The list on our adoption file became two lists: one list of things to do for our adoption agency (e.g., one year of past tax filings) and one list for our home study agency (e.g., the first two pages of tax filings for the previous three years). I need a physical signed off by my health care provider. It’s a check the box form–as simple as it gets. It worked out well as I had to make an appointment for a persistent rash on my neck (yes, lovely). But then I received an e-mail instructing me to go to the lab for blood work (fasting, of course) and to immunization for a PPD. All together, an errand that should take 30 minutes becomes a thing because I can’t bring [S] with me.
High-functioning or not, I’m a firm believer the devil is in the details. While being attuned to details suits me well, I don’t want to miss life’s big picture. This afternoon, after three hours of working mostly uninterrupted, I turned off my computer. I sat on the floor with [S] amid a colorful rainbow of dry erase markers, blocks, and plastic coins. I gave her my full attention. And spent the rest of the afternoon immersed in books, dancing, forts and snacks. When evening came, [S] and I began putting toys away and proceeded to vacuum and tidy up before dinner. Ah. There was order once again.
No, our house isn’t in perfect order. And, no, I don’t know how long this block-scheduling method will work. But for one glorious afternoon, I felt productive, tuned-in, peaceful and calm.