Saturday, November 28, 2009

We're Getting There! :)

The final line of my last post stated, "the last thing I've learned is that I need to keep looking ahead and stop incessantly and unnecessarily looking back."

Here is what I mean by that. I am realizing more and more that each person comes to this homeschool thing - and really to all life - with a certain "bag of tricks". Our educational background, personality strengths and weaknesses, energy level, family support system (or lack thereof), financial resources and a million other factors all play into what we do and how we do it when it comes to homeschooling our children.

Throughout life one of my strongest tools in my trick bag has always been a really high energy level. Friends referred to me as the Energizer Bunny who just keep "going and going and going". Right now that is not so much the case as I have struggled with decreasing energy for a few years now. I am confronted by my personal limitations each and every day. I don't have the time to do it all and even if I had the time I just don't have the energy. And truth be told, even when I could do so much more, it wasn't necessarily the healthiest rhythm for my life. A rhythm of regular rest, fun and mental downtime is critical to a healthy soul - at least for me anyway.

Back to homeschooling. The increasing realization that I just cannot do it all had me asking some hard (hard for me anyway ;) questions. If I can't do it all, how do I prioritize? What gets done and what doesn't? And am I going to take control of my schedule or will I let "the tyranny of the urgent" rule my day?

Let me quote from the above linked article by leadership guru, Jim Clemmer, because even though his application is in the business world, there is much truth to be applied to homeschool moms and managers of our households (emphasis mine):
R. Alec Mackenzie once observed, "Urgency engulfs the manager; yet the most urgent task is not always the most important. The tyranny of the urgent lies in its distortion of priorities. One of the measures of a manager is the ability to distinguish the important from the urgent, to refuse to be tyrannized by the urgent, to refuse to manage by crisis."

Unsuccessful organizations are often beehives of activity and hard work. Reflecting on the performance of his struggling company a departmental manager observed, "We have lots of projects, goals, and priorities. We're constantly making lists and setting action plans. But we seldom see anything through to completion before some urgent new priority is pushed at us.

In the midst of tumultuous change, many managers are confusing "busywork" activity with results. Missing what's really important to long-term growth and development, they allow themselves to be tyrannized by short-term urgencies. But we just can't do it all. The list of dreams we could pursue to realize is a lengthy one. The number of improvements we could make to our performance gaps are countless.

So we've got to choose. From all our long-range options, alternatives, and possibilities we've got to establish short-term goals and priorities. There are as many things we've got to stop doing, as there are actions we've got to start taking. Some actions will drive us forward, many will hold us back, and some won't matter much either way. But without clear targets and a strong sense of what's most important, I — and everyone on my team or in my organization — won't be able to tell the difference.

Effectively establishing goals and priorities has both strategic and tactical components. The strategic decisions are what goals and priorities we choose to pursue. Tactics are how we get organized and manage our time to reach those goals.

The "busywork" part really stuck out to me. I am constantly busy, oh so busy. But is any of that busyness a road to somewhere I want to go? Now don't get me wrong, as moms we have a million jobs that could be seen as busywork because they are somewhat mindless, but are really vital to running our homes effectively - housework, cooking, meal planning and preparation, laundry (my nemesis) and so on. I am not talking about those things primarily - although they can be a source of unnecessary busyness if we are obsessive or inefficient. There is much more to it than that. It's the other things that can suck up my time and none are necessarily bad in and of themselves. It's just a matter of choosing between the "good and the better".

And as this post has gotten really long, I'll have to finish in my next post.



Cori Lynn Berg said...

Oh I remember you.. the energizer bunny. I think some of the energy depletion is also just a part of the aging process and settling into your own skin. You become more inwardly focused...

This was a great excerpt. Thanks for sharing!

Tricia said...

Another homeschool mom recently told me that she can tell on Friday if it has been a productive or non-productive school week by the cleanliness of her home. Productive weeks = cluttered home. Non-productive weeks = organized home. That is true to a degree in our house as well. Something I have realized in the last 7 years of this journey is that all of the assignments that seem so important often aren't. The important thing is molding them into the people Christ needs them to be for His plans for their life. Go easy on yourself, dear one. I am praying for you. :)