The Guilt-free Productive Optimist

I once read that optimistic people are late to things. The idea, of course, is that they optimistically believe they have enough time to do just one more thing before they leave. I consider myself a pretty optimistic person and I have certainly had that one-more-thing-before-I-leave moment more than once. I’m consciously not late to work or appointments but I have noticed that my optimism for how much I can accomplish has started getting the better of me these days.

My husband, Drew, was actually who called it to my attention. A few evenings ago he asked me how my day had been. I responded, “It was good except I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to get done.” He said, “Honey, I think that is the story of your life.” We laughed about it at the time but long after I found myself still thinking about what he said.

I had been blaming my failure to complete everything I intended as due to the switch in our work and childcare schedules that started in January, the aftereffects of the snowstorm, tax preparations, catching a cold… But is it actually ever possible to get everything done on my day’s to do list? Of course! If it is an absolutely perfect day. You know that day? It’s where everything in the universe lines up perfectly. When there are no traffic accidents, and the Post Office stop takes 5 minutes, and the kids leave school at exactly 4:45 pm, and no one needs help getting the game off the top shelf… Yeah. It’s exactly what you are thinking. Yep. A day like this NEVER happens!

I started to realize is that my idea of what is possible never allows for any wiggle room. So what to do? Lower my expectations? Um… yes. I think so.

Now this is hard one for me. I feel really good about having high expectations for myself, the things I produce, the schedule I keep. But having high expectations only work if the high expectations aren’t impossible to achieve.

So here is my plan how to be an optimist and still feel like I’ve been productive:

  1. Write down the “perfect day” to do list
  2. Prioritize that list
  3. Assign the things that can be done on another day to another day
  4. Build in extra time for things like putting on shoes (This is not for me but for my children. It can’t possibly take more than 5 minutes to put on shoes? Oh yes, yes it can.)
  5. Take a savasana break

Yep. You read that right, my dear friends. Do not skip your savasana break. It is the one thing that I am absolutely firm about doing everyday. Because as Ovid reminds us, “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.”

I’ll keep you updated on my progress and you do the same.

I will say this, yesterday the weather was SO beautiful that I completely put aside my to do list. I played outside with the kids all day. We even went out for dinner (which we never do!) because I didn’t cook all day. It felt great! Until 10 pm when I looked at everything that was still waiting for me on that to do list and I felt a twinge of familiar lack-of-productivity guilt. Sigh. It’s a practice, as they say.

Until next time, yogis!