Remember fire drills? There are even some of my readers who might remember such a thing as a bomb drill. When the bell clanged we were always told to “proceed in an orderly fashion.” I suppose that meant lining up and staying in line so the teachers or whoever was shepherding us could keep track. In an orderly manner usually meant no talking, and certainly no fooling around.
I think about this phrase sometimes when I am dithering about my apartment working to get things done. Being a writer I spend most of my time at home and can make my own schedule. This has its positive and its negative points, because I do not have the same parameters necessitating order as someone working outside the home, however I do need to make my own order.
There is priority, there is the immediate demand, and then there is what I hope to get done. Each day presents its challenges. I can only do my best. For instance, take the insistent telephone. say I am about to begin a task when it rings. Stephen would tell me to ignore it, and my experience is that if I do it will only create another difficulty I haven’t anticipated. I answer the phone, conduct whatever necessary conversation and go back to what I was doing. Meanwhile, I may have lost the thread of the process and need to begin again.
It may be that I am called away while I am cooking. I ought to know better than to leave the stove unattended. However having had years of training as a mother to answer the immediate need of the moment, I have a tendency to rush over to do what seems to need doing. In the meantime, something boils over on the stove and that necessitates a huge cleanup.
When I plan ahead it seems to help. When I set out on a series of errands it works better if I think about the best arrangement for doing them. This works fine unless I forget my grocery list and either have to go back for it or try to remember what was on it. Stephen suggested I put the list in my purse and keep it there. I explained why I don’t: when I wish to add to it, I have to find it and write down the new item– if I don’t forget what it was in the meantime. It’s far easier to keep it on the counter.
I am all too easily distracted from my orderly progress. Sometimes this is simply my own fault. In the midst of doing what I intend to do I remember what I meant to do and didn’t, go do that, and meanwhile think of something else that needs doing. When I finally return to my original task it may have become more difficult or more complicated. The other day I realized that there is no such thing as an orderly fashion in my life, there is only keeping track as best I can and being content with that.
Text and Photo by Tasha Halpert