Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Baby Steps and Semantics

On Saturday, I corralled my daughter and made/re-scheduled all of her necessary appointments for the next two weeks (leading up to prom and graduation). With the exception of one appointment where we needed to await a return call, I was able to check those things off my list.

Then, while waiting for laundry, I tackled some piles in the basement, creating a really nice feeling of accomplishment -- at least until I realized it was late afternoon and no writing had taken place.

Monday kicked off my first class-free week (with the exception of a final I'm administering tomorrow) of the summer. Because I didn't have any class preparation to do, I forced myself to do an errand I'd been putting off before making my daily trip to Starbucks. Along the way, I took care of another overdue task -- one that had hung in limbo while I considered possible solutions. That evening, I sorted and cleared some of the paper clutter on the counter in my office. Excited by my progress, I wrote all of these accomplishments on my calendar, hatching a new plan that involved tackling one overdue task each day.

Yesterday? I wrote, had lunch with a friend I hadn't seen in almost a year, graded papers, made dinner, chipped away at the non-creative bits that are part of writing and blog maintenance and took care of things like dinner and laundry. In other words, a normal day, with no bonus tasks.

After I first berated myself, then considered redefining "overdue" (did that lunch "count"?) and finally thought about giving up and chalking Saturday and Monday up to sheer exuberance, I decided I was being silly.

Even as I wrote those tasks on the calendar on Monday, I worried that days would slip by without progress on my new goal. And do you know what that's called?


Any progress toward a goal is good news, whether that progress is step-by-step or in fits and starts. Saturday and Monday lit a fire under me, reminding me that small steps can lead to the desire to do more. I know this is true when it comes to saving money and writing and class planning, and I even write about it (often!) when it comes to organization.

Yet, as soon as I backslide, I forget this.

So...onward. Since I'm a writer and I know that finding the word that captures precisely what I want to say is important, I am going to redefine "overdue." Now that I think about it, the phrase "something I've been meaning to do" more accurately describes the lingering tasks I'm thinking of, without begging the question of how long it has to have been on the list to qualify as "overdue." And now that I mention it, I know exactly what that task du jour is going to be today.

How about you? What have you been meaning to do? Is today the day?

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