If you are like most women– including me–you collapse into bed at the end of each hectic, exhausting day lamenting all the items left on your “to do” list. You toss and turn awhile, jockeying around in your mind how to get it ALL done tomorrow. Doesn’t matter what “all” entails–housework, childcare duties, work assignments–we all have an endless list. And it keeps us up, unlike the ever-quotable Scarlett O’Hara: “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Our brains seem to be hard-wired to focus on the negative, rather than the positive. I console myself with the thought that this was a survival tactic for our ancestors. If you failed to tune into danger (i.e., the negative), you would have been waltzing gaily through the meadow picking wildflowers when a sabre-toothed tiger snatched your baby. No wonder it’s so hard to beat.
Consider, too, the nature of modern work. As we’ve shifted to a service economy, much paid work has no visible “finished product” in which to take pride. There’s no evidence of work completed, compared to harvesting crops, weaving cloth, or building tables. Or maybe “finished” is short-lived, much like housework. You fold the last clean sock, take off the day’s clothing, and the next load is already creeping up on you. Even pet care: you screen the litter box and the cat sidles in to mark her territory again. If childcare is your primary profession, it’s a quarter century before you can even tally results.
Because of these issues, frustration is inherent in our work lives. Here are my favorite remedies for the perennial question “what did I do today?” when the automatic answer in your head feels like “nothing.”
Develop an avocational interest that creates a product. I believe this is the thrill behind scrap-booking (in addition to the quilting-bee style social get-togethers known as “crops.”) You SEE tangible, permanent results– unlike the rest of your day. This is why I love to paint a wall, sew a cushion or window treatment, or crochet a doily (yes, I’m a real throwback to Grandma’s day.)
Keep a “Did Do” list. At the end of the day, rather than allowing yourself to tally what is left undone, shift your attention to what you DID accomplish. Write it down, for the written word adds proof. This quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow suggests this isn’t just simply a 21st century problem: “Each morning sees some task begun, each evening sees it close; something attempted, something done, has earned a night’s repose.”
As a postscript to Monday’s post about improving women’s lives to honor International Women’s Day, here’s a quick and easy task. Click on this link and the pink “CLICK to GIVE” box on the site. Money will be donated to fund mammograms for women in need, for every click. Thanks.