Monday, February 18, 2013

Chasing Squirrels

We have the happiest squirrels on the block. With four large walnut trees gracing our yard, dropping thousands of walnuts each fall, the squirrels couldn't be happier or fatter. Except when Bongo, our dog, decides it's time to play chase.

He rushes out the back door like a horse out of the block at the Kentucky Derby. He corners the squirrel, who by this time has bounded from the deck rail to the walnut tree branch, and they have a staring match. The squirrel always wins.

Bongo sometimes reminds me of me in the way I chase my own squirrels--those pesky and glittering distractions that catch the corner of my eye and before I know it--I'm off to the races. It's the habit that trips me up most from doing the "one thing" I need to be doing in my effort to become a single-tasker.

My squirrels are the things that distract me not only from the "one thing" but the "first thing" on my list. Squirrels are the things of lesser importance than what I need to be doing right now. They are often time wasters or, at best, not the priority I give them when I find myself running after them.

So--what kinds of things am I talking about? Oh, things like obsessing over returning every email in my inbox; day dreaming about conversations I had or might have, especially those with the potential for conflict; fretting over something bad that might happen; being perfectionistic about stuff that really isn't that important--writing the perfect email response, how I look, or how my home looks.

Sometimes I even deliberately chase squirrels to avoid what I need to be doing because of I feel some inner resistance to do it. Chasing squirrels can be a convenient distraction.

So, yesterday, as I did a review of my upcoming week by creating my mind map (a tool I use to visually organize all the parts of my life), I starred the things that need my attention today. I've already chased a few squirrels. Oh, well. At least I know it's time to return to my first things and take them on, one thing at a time.

What are the squirrels that you find yourself most often chasing? Do you know what's on your first things list for today?

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Mary J. Yerkes said...

Tell us more about your weekly mind maps, Beth.