Live in priorities, not schedules

How are those New Year’s resolutions going?

Mine are going great! The secret to making your resolutions last into February is to not make them until Jan. 31st. (My secret’s up.)

New Year’s resolution time is always very exciting for me because I really like lists. I have all kinds of them taped to my wall, saved on my computer, jotted down in the notebook I carry in my pocket and on sticky notes on my desk. I love shopping lists, packing lists, and to-do lists—I love them all! But the lists I love the most have to do with future plans. I love brainstorming career paths, degree programs and grad schools. I love new teaching semesters because I get to schedule out my week in neat little tables. And I love making plans for my day. The problem is, my future doesn’t take orders very well.

imageOh joy! A list identifying and intervening on my Peace Corps induced problems!

I’ve complained up and down during Peace Corps service about things not going to plan, time being wasted, and unexpected things popping up for a year and a half and yet, until the middle of my second year I still had a detailed schedule hanging on my wall of everything I would be doing each hour of the day.

6:00am               Wake

6:00-7:00          Fire & Breakfast

Boil water, put on work clothes, headlamp, take out ashes, bathroom, get bucket of sheep poop, light fire, monkey with it, reboil water, wash, eat breakfast, monkey with fire again

7:00-7:30           Scripture, Prayer & Journaling

7:30-8:30           Get ready for the day

Brush teeth, dishes, straighten, food prep, empty water bucket, pack bag, restoke fire, get dressed, short phone calls

8:35                   Out the door

9:00-3:00         Work in all its unpredictable glory

Classes, clubs, lesson planning, project work

3:30pm             Arrive home

3:30-4:30         Light fire, eat, exercise.

4:30-5:30         Study Kyrgyz

5:30-6:15         Nap or writing or guitar

6:15-6:30         Prepare bag for evening. Print, etc.

6:30                  Leave house

6:45-8:45         Work and drink tea

8:45                  Excuse myself. Thanks for the evening!

9:00                  Arrive home, stoke stove

9:15-9:45         Scripture, type day’s reflections

9:45-10:00      Bathroom, straighten, brush teeth, eye drops

10:00               Lights out

I don’t think I ever followed this for a single day.

It was completely unrealistic to think I could keep a schedule when there are so many variables and unforeseen hiccups and other people’s schedules to deal with. Or their lack of schedules to be more precise. If I were to keep a schedule it would be better to look something like this:

Sometime in the morning:      Wake up

Day time:                               Do some things

Evening:                                 Potentially back at own home

Night:                                    Sleeping of some sort

Though I might be getting a little too detailed with that Evening slot.

The fact of the matter is, it’s a bad idea to live in schedules because you’re never going to get everything done, and this can be frustrating and disheartening. There will always be un-ticked boxes and line items that get carried over for another day (week, month). Yet—there are still really important things on that schedule that need to be accomplished. So how is this done?

As always, it can be solved with another list:

My priorities

1. God – hang out time with Jesus, scripture, journaling, showing people grace

2. Lay down—Get up schedule

3. Dialing America and other volunteers

4. School – classes, lessons, clubs, teacher trainings

5. Project work

6. Kyrgyz study

7. Writing

8. Reading

9. Hanging out with friends

10. Chores

11. Travel

12. Everything else

Live in priorities. This way, when you lose your way along the crazy twists and turns that each day takes, you can pull out your priority guide for direction. It won’t always be perfect because—hey—the world is not a perfect place, filled with both disappointing detours and serendipitous scenic routes. Yet, if you resolve to live in your priorities, you will always know that what you’re doing lines up with your deepest beliefs and desires. And that’s a resolution worth keeping.

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