Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Non-Resolution

I do not make New Year’s resolutions.

Back in the day – a long, long, long… long time ago – I would work out in the gym in the morning. January was always a particularly frustrating time as those newly resolute would take up space and knock me off of my routine. It usually only took a week, 10 days max, to weed them out and things would get back to normal.

I also do not give up anything for Lent.

I grew up in a Catholic heavy area; so much so that our meals at the school cafeteria on Friday were fish or cheese pizza. No meat. Whenever the talks at the table came to who was giving up what for Lent I would respond, “You should be Presbyterian. We don’t have to give up anything for Lent.”

Practical evangelism at its finest.

Benchmark occasions have never given me incentive to improve my behavior. Final proof of that can be found in my lack of response to my Mom’s yearly encouragement at the beginning of the school year to, “Turn over a new leaf.” Her way of subtley saying, "How 'bout doing some homework there kiddo?"

Just because I do not recognize an official kick-off time to improving myself does not mean that I am not interested. I really do try to work on myself as much as possible.

One of my challenges is organization. I am not naturally organized, observant or detail oriented. Any organization I have is because I purposefully do it and work at it. I diligently keep a calendar that has both monthly and weekly attributes. I write a ‘to do’ list at night and through the next day. (This may be why I get unreasonably mad at folks who miss things or are late with things because they are not as vigilant with their calendars. If I have to work at it, then the people I work with should have to too.)

One of my frustrations has been a messy desk. I am constantly multi-tasking sometimes in a healthy way and sometimes in a way to avoid the original activity that I am supposed to be doing. I am definitely one for working on my sermon all the while checking email, bloglines and the revgalblogpals website at 30 second intervals. I will also have other things I should be doing run through my mind and I will either do them right then or there or write them down on my list.

When I am done for the day I justify leaving my desk in a pile of uncompleted tasks because I will be hitting that same pile anyway in the morning. Even when I cleaned off the current mess there were still ‘to do’ piles since it was stuff that had nowhere to go so they stayed.

I was tired of the clutter, but unsure of what to do about it.

Then last week I met with a friend of mine in a high position and his desk was absolutely spotless. There was nothing on it. I asked him about it and after I convinced him I was not teasing him he shared his secret with me.

He has a drawer that he puts the ‘unfileables’ in as well as his list for the next day. He will not ignore the drawer because that is where his list of things to do is.

So, I am giving it a try.

Now, granted it is not spotless. He has a separate area for pictures of his loved ones, I do not. The bulletin board is quite the hodge podge and I would love for my printer to be somewhere else.

More importantly though I have added two things to his process:

1) The Bible. At my ordination a pastor friend of mine gave me this piece of advice, “Always have the Bible on your desk.” There were numerous reasons for this and I am sticking with it.

2)In my unfileable/to do drawer I have placed on the top of the pile my current devotional read and my prayer notebook. It is my hope that when I come into work and open this drawer first I will then do my devotional and prayer time first.

He called his clean desk a discipline. I will call it that too although I am guessing from his other organizational skills that it will be more so for me than it is for him.

It does take some planning ahead as there is a fine line between getting things into place for the next day and quickly chucking things into a drawer!

So far though, so good. I am looking forward to the daily challenge of it and I am encouraged by how much better I feel entering and exiting my office now.

I think that is the key. We should not necessarily do things because society says it is the day to do it or a book lists it as the 4th way to be highly effective. Sometimes it is okay to do things just because it works for us. My messy desk was no longer working for me so I changed it.

That was my advice for me and Friday, February 10th was the day I decided to implement it.

What works for you?

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