I did a real writerly thing the other day. When I take the long drives down the Saw Mill Parkway in Westchester, especially when the traffic is light and I can drive long stretches without stopping or slowing down, my mind churns busily. The way some people get their best ideas in the shower, I get mine while I drive. (Don’t worry, mom, I’m totally paying attention to the road!)
Back to the writerly thing I did. I thought a thought while I was driving, and as soon as I pulled into my parking spot, I whipped out my phone, opened Evernote and wrote it down, this thought that I thought.

And what was it? I was mulling over my terrible Internet habit. Internet, I love you but you are a timesuck and I have no one to blame but myself for that. Here’s the precise problem: I convince myself that the things I’m doing online are important, when they really aren’t. I don’t need to check Facebook every five minutes. I don’t need to go through my Google Reader. I don’t need to check my e-mail approximately 5 million times a day (only slightly exaggerating). What I do need is a sort of Internet schedule. I need to decide what it is important, and what needs to be done when. I’ve reached a point where I recognize that I could get a lot more done during my day if I scheduled specific times to check my e-mail, go on Facebook, whatever the hell it is I do online.

This leads me down a path where I question my purpose. What am I doing with my life that is meaningful, constructive and productive? For a long time, I had clearly defined roles. First, I was a student, then I was a teacher. But these new roles that I have now, being a wife and a mother, I’m still trying to figure out how to act out those roles. The roles of student and teacher are automatically imbued with a sense of purpose. Learn something. Teach something. That’s simply put but you get the point. The roles of wife and mother are a little more abstract. It can be whatever I want it to be. For some women, it comes naturally. But sometimes, I just feel like I’m on one looooong vacation from the real world. We are not terribly busy people. I don’t shuttle my children from activity to activity. We don’t have a lot of appointments. I don’t really have a lot going on, or at least, I don’t think I do.

And I’m thinking wrong. Because the truth is, I do have a lot to do. I’m just hard-pressed to figure out when and how I’m supposed to do it all. I recently had to write a bio for an online book review site. I closed out the paragraph with “In my free time, I sew small items for children and train for triathlons.” After I hit send, I realized that I wanted that statement to be true but in reality, I sabotage myself. I don’t prioritize those things and I should. Another thing I don’t prioritize is building my tutoring business, which is just plain silly.

But how do I find the time in my day to keep house, keep children and pursue my own interests? The answer, quite simply, is scheduling. When I was a teacher and student, I was a slave to my datebook. I needed that structure to keep myself together. Without it, I was lost. And it has to be a physical datebook, where I write things down with an actual pen. My iPhone is great but typing things doesn’t impress details into my memory the way writing with a pen does.

Sometimes I’m blown away by what I figure out about myself as I get older.

(Also, I totally confess to checking Facebook about 1000 times while I was composing this here post.)

4 thoughts on “Drifting.”

  1. First, thanks for letting me know you are keeping at east part of your mind on the road! I could go on and about the importance of motherhood if I didn't have to get to work right now, but suffice it to say it is the single most important JOB you will ever h ave in your life. There is no job in which the outcome of your decisions, actions, input, will impact your life, others lives and the world at large as much as what you do every day with your kids. I understand that some people cannot stay home with their kids.; mores the pity. And some people don't think it's that important. Kids can turn out fine no matter what. I get that. But, it's my opinion that they are your kids and you should be raising them. Especially if you want them to turn out like you. Plus, it can be alot of fun.

  2. I totally agree about the lists. I have always kept them, but now that I work from home they are imperative – else I just wind up looking at the clock and realizing that an entire day has passed. While I love my phone and digital calendars, I've found that a handwritten list that I can scratch off throughout the day works way better. That might just be me…but there's something about physically crossing something off the list – and having to write something down again the next day if it didn't get done – that is a major motivator. Also, I find that the more specific and task-like my lists are versus bigger ideas that I want to accomplish, the closer I get to reaching my goals 🙂

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