This past week has been one of frustration and interruptions. Unmet expectations and miscommunication. Last-minute changes to plans and a whole lot things being done with no plan at all.

Life: it’s the productivity expert’s worst nightmare.

I’m usually sort of easy-going about it all. I don’t have or want a five-year plan. Needing to make a to-do list is an indication that the stress is getting to me.

But it’s September and at this time of year, I start to channel my younger self, the self that spent four years in Catholic school, who grew up to take the Dale Carnegie course, who accepted the improvability of the human condition without question. Who was, I’m beginning to see, a bit of a bully, actually.

My sister and I used to make lists. How our lives were going to get so much better and how we were going to work out and pray and do our homework Every Single Day. Eventually, we grew up and life took over, but every September and ember flares and I think I want to improve. Or at least get more done.

There is just something so seductive about a to do list, about making plans and then getting them done, about things and activities over people and relationships.

But that’s where it always falls apart, at least for me. Because there are all these people in my life who need me to be. Who I need to be with me. And none of that fits on a list. None of it is measurable. It’s not commendable in the way we usually commend people, for their achievements, awards, status.

When it’s about the people, you sit in coffee shops and stutter about the half-formed ideas you’re playing with. You sit on darkened decks over emptying bottles of wine and open your heart. You lie awake in the wee hours, worrying with and about the ones you love most.

And when you wake in the morning, there is your to do list with all of its paltry plans for achievement and so little time to accomplish any of it.

September is moving on. School is in session. The weather is starting to change.

This productivity itch, like a seasonal rash, will settle down soon.

I’ll open a bottle of wine with my love, I’ll make a coffee date with a friend. I’ll go out for lunch with my sister. I’ll take a much-needed nap. And I’ll remember that the very best sort of life is messy and unscheduled and open to the interruptions of the heart.


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2 Responses to Productivity

  1. M. says:

    I love this, Barb. September used to be such an insanely busy time for me but now I revel in doing nothing different than I did in August. This year I didn’t even have the urge to buy new pencils… And that’s an real step forward!
    I like the idea of the “emptying” wine bottles.

  2. Michaela Murphy says:

    Timely thoughts as always. I LOVE a ‘to do’ list but you’re so right, we don’t add ‘nurturing friendships’ or ‘let a friend sound-off about their worries’ to our lists but these are the things that should be top of any list.

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