I’ve spent the last two and a half hours trying to clean the house. I can’t say it hasn’t been successful – my living room and kitchen are looking pretty spiffy right now – but it’s taken longer than it would likely have taken most other people, because in the midst of completing one task, I have these intense compulsions to stop whatever I’m doing and start something – anything – else.
While I’m tidying up the kitchen:
I should organize Bear’s busy bins for summer.
Did I ever download that preschool curriculum?
I need to touch up the paint along the baseboards.
I should go out and buy organizers for the cabinets.
I still have to make those worksheets for Bear’s binder.
I have to look up home remedies for carpet stains.
I’ve got to scrub down these walls, I haven’t done that in ages.
When was the last time I washed windows?
While I’m vacuuming the living room:
I should steam clean the upstairs shower.
I need to look up those picture frames I found at WalMart. Ooh, I should see if RetailMeNot has coupons for them.
Maybe I should order the materials to make those sconces for the wall.
I still need to find floral foam and fake succulents. I wonder if I can order in bulk from Dollar Tree?
I should get new bins for Bear’s clothes.
And those are at least semi-on task. A ton of them aren’t even cleaning related:
I should do a shopping haul video. I think most of my stuff from this week is still in shopping bags.
I’ve gotta start doing mail exchanges again.
I should totally start a bullet journal.
I have a great idea for an art piece I could vlog.
I need to go make more headers for my blog.
I’ve gotta update my social media links.
…and on. And on. And the amazing (and frustrating) thing is, after thirty-six years, I still don’t know how to just not listen to those compulsions. I can, for the most part, resist – but it comes at the cost of temporarily stalling out. Like the act of pulling myself away from the temptation of distraction is, itself, an act that unbalances me, knocks me just a little bit off-track, and requires a few moments to re-rail. Usually this looks like me, sitting on whatever surface my butt settles on, and just staring around the room, trying to remember what I was doing, or what I could do next. Sometimes it’s grabbing a snack. Today, it was jumping on here.
The problem is, I don’t have a system for dealing with these intrusive thoughts, and it’s not like they don’t all have some merit. But I have no system worked out that allows me to address them all – if I think of something and don’t do it immediately, I will put off (or forget) doing it indefinitely. If I have the motivation and the energy for something one day and don’t jump on it, I will lose momentum and that unfinished task will gnaw at me and drain my mental energy for days or weeks, until I manage to pull myself up again. I’m not proud of my limitations, but I know them. I know them very well. This is living with executive dysfunction.
But, I thought, maybe turning to this blog while I’m trying to recoup isn’t the worst thing to do. After all, this blog is all about navigating parenthood with a chaotic mind, and the first step to navigating chaos is to impose some sort of order.
And no, it won’t be perfect. But it’ll give me a structure to work within.
So, while I try to reorder my thoughts and get back to the task at hand, I just want to welcome you to what will be an ongoing series of posts about imposing structure and organization on my life – checklists, schedules, journals, organizational tools – what works, and what doesn’t.
I might as well utilize what would otherwise be a distraction as a tool, right? Make it public, hold myself accountable.
It’s a work in progress. It always is, isn’t it?
Back to the tasks at hand. One at a time.