How Do You Get So Much Done?

“How do you get so much done?” Lewis asked me out of the blue, between bites of breakfast.  I looked up from what I was doing to look at him, perplexed at my son’s question. “Yeah,” he continued, waving his fork about with a piece of fried baloney that threatened to take off across the kitchen floor.  “How do you get so much done?”

I stopped crocheting, and thought about his question for a moment.  I don’t usually think about how much work I get done in the course of a day because I just get with the program and get things that need doing done.  “What exactly do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, it’s 7 o’clock right now,” he said seriously, “and you made me hash browns from real potatoes, not poured out of a bag and you fried up baloney.  You made sure I got vitamin C in a glass.”  He held up his glass of juice.  “You put orange and apple slices on the plate to give it that restaurant-y look. ”

It’s true that I did that but breakfast isn’t really a lot of work.  Some mornings, when I feel particularly energetic, I make him chocolate chip pancakes from scratch.  Hash browns and baloney isn’t nearly as much work.

 He continued with his dissertation on my morning chores.  “Before I got up, you already proofed, formatted and published another blog entry for MIC and you researched today’s Idiomation.  By the way, mom,” he added as an aside, “I think I might have some good suggestions for Idiomation when I get home from school today.”  I chuckled.  Lewis is always thinking of ways to help out wherever he can.

“How many stitches are you going to get done by the time my breakfast is finished?” he asked.

I factored in how quickly I work, the size of the crochet hook, the yarn, the difficulty of the pattern and a few other variables.  “About 500 or so,” I ventured to guess.  He nodded while he drank his juice.

“OK, and did you pick up your email already today?” he asked as he put his glass down.  I nodded.  “And did you do your social media marketing stuff that you do every day?”  I nodded again.  The washing machine began to make loud thud-thud-thud noises as it does when the load is unbalanced.  “And laundry,” he exclaimed gleefully as I rushed downstairs to balance out the load.

Coming back up to the kitchen, Lewis began to talk again.  “You did the fish tank thing you do on the first work day of the week, right?  And you fed Lola the Cat?  And you folded a load of laundry from the dryer and prepped the t-shirt I got paint on yesterday.”  I had sat back down by this point and was crocheting at a furious rate.  He smiled broadly.

“OK,” I said, amused that he should be quietly amused by something that I was missing. 

“That canvas,” he said, pointing to the 2 foot by 4 foot canvas that stood against the far wall.  “You primed that this morning didn’t you and painted three out of four sides so that it’ll look nice if it’s hung up on a wall and not framed properly?”  I had indeed done that this morning.  Lewis rattled off a few more things that were already taken care of for the day and I began to see why he had started this morning’s breakfast table conversation with “How do you get so much done?”

The fact of the matter is that routine and schedules have everything to do with getting a lot accomplished in a short period of time.  It’s all part of the ‘never waste a minute’ concept that many people misinterpret.  You see, the concept of ‘never waste a minute’ doesn’t mean you should be constantly working.  It means that every minute should have value whether you’re working or resting.

If you worry about what hasn’t been done yet while taking a break, you’re wasting those precious minutes that are supposed to be dedicated to resting.  And if you worry about when you’re going to get that next break, you’re going to be focusing on something other than work thereby wasting precious minutes that are supposed to be dedicated to working.

Lewis got up from the breakfast table and put his dirty dishes in the sink.  On his way up the stairs to collect his knapsack for school, he turned back to me and said, “I’m happy you do so much.”  With that, he was up the stairs and making a racket in his room as he chased Lola the Cat off a pile of books that almost instantaneously clattered to the floor.

I laughed quietly to myself.  If only he knew just how much more work I had already gotten done that he wasn’t even aware of yet, he wouldn’t know what to think of his mother.  Soon enough, I thought to myself, he’ll be an adult and he’ll start to realize just how important this discussion was this morning.  Someday he’ll understand the true value of routine and schedules.  And someday, I’ll be giving him a beautiful hard cover daytimer like the one his mother has so he can keep track of where he’s investing his time.

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