Thursday, March 27, 2008

Once, twice, three times

I've been thinking a lot about priorities lately. You see, I'm a list-maker from way back. As my mother says, we are a list-making people. I've yet to meet a person or a problem that couldn't benefit from some judicious list-making. My calendar is filled with post-its on which I have scribbled lists of everything under the sun: places you can donate a car to charity, groceries, church responsibilities, questions to ask in class, phone numbers...these are just a few of my recent lists. Currently, I have a giant "what to take to UT" list going on, and it will dictate my packing when the time arises. If it's not on a list somewhere, it probably will be forgotten by me rather quickly.

However, for all my listing, I am not one for obsessive prioritizing. Beyond the first item on a given list, which is usually the most important, everything else seems equal to me. And it will all get done or bought or examined because, you see, it's on the list, so the order really doesn't matter all that much. I think this aversion to prioritizing stems partly from an adverse reaction to the Franklin Day Planner, which was introduced to my dad and his colleagues when I was in junior high. This system is based on prioritizing EVERYTHING, everyday, and I remember thinking it seemed like everyone was spending all this time figuring out the varying levels of importance of their everyday activities and no time at all actually doing any of those activities. (Little did I know this tendency was just a precursor to a more wired age in which you can spend even more time "organizing" yourself electronically without ever doing a blessed thing.)

Anywho, it's a truism to say one's priorities change when one has a child, but I'm not talking about the change in the big priorities, like the answer to the question "what would you grab if the house were on fire?" (Before: wallet, USB device with all my school/work product, bag of "important" papers like passports and insurance policies, 72 hour kit. Now: Jacob. The rest is gravy. The husband can grab it.) I'm talking about daily priorities and how mine have shifted in amusing and yet aggravating ways.

For example, I often find myself thinking what is more important when I have a spare minute, like washing out bottles or taking a shower? Brushing my teeth or putting in a load of laundry? Grading a paper or filling a multi-vitamin prescription? Blogging or actually talking to a friend? And the really crazy thing is, I only have time for one of these options, and the loser will most likely never get done that day. So, suddenly, I'm thinking about priorities. And it's been interesting to see what has simply disappeared from my everyday list. Like, to be frank, shaving my legs. No time! Can't do it. Showers have to be 5 minutes or less and shaving has to go. Fortunately, it's winter. Unfortunately, I live in SC and today it's 77 degrees and 80 degrees tomorrow and winter appears to be over, and I'm actually worried about how I will be able to create time to shave so I can dress appropriately.

People always say helpful things like "everything can wait while you sleep when the baby sleeps." But I've been amazed how true this statement has become. In addition to shaving, other activities that have fallen off my lists are cleaning (washing dishes and taking out the trash is as good as it gets), reading (it involved too many hands and too much stillness right now), ironing (even de-wrinkling in the dryer consumes too much time), window shopping (can you believe it?)...the list (get it?) goes on! And I don't really miss much of it, funnily enough!

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