About 6 or 7 years ago, I was deep in the reading phase of my path toward simplifying, and I was trying things here and there to "fix" my life.
One thing I tried was to write down a list of what I thought I would get done every day, and then look back at the list to see how I did.
I consistently got done about 30% of the things on my list. 30% was depressing.
So I kept writing the lists, but I also started writing down how much time I thought each thing on the list would take.
Oh. Mmm. Well.
It seems I had a severe case of what my friend calls "magical thinking." Magical thinking might sound great in your creative life, but it's not so good for the logistics of a day.
So I kept a color-coded Excel spreadsheet to plan my life in 30-minute blocks for about 7 months or so. My magical thinking was met head-on with actual minutes in actual days.
For those of you who are mentally checking out at the mention of color-coded spreadsheets, please note: I had no children at that time. And I'm telling you this super-nerdy thing about me so that maybe you can diagnose your own magical thinking without resorting to such lengths.
Because I don't actually need to spreadsheet my life to see where magical thinking has got its grip on me anymore. I noticed it was creeping back in a few months ago, and here's a sample of what was happening to my Monday:
6AM to 7:30AM :: I wake up early, before the rest of my family, to get some writing done. This time was meant to give me an hour of writing plus 30 minutes to nurse my child back to sleep after her early-morning wake-up.
Magical thinking alert :: I left out the 15 minutes it takes me to get my brain to start functioning, get water, and turn on my computer. Also, I left out the fact that it was routinely taking more like 45 minutes for the nursing at that point. So that was 30 minutes of writing, not an hour.
Amount of additional stuff I now needed to do after my child's bedtime :: 30 minutes of writing
7:30AM to 9AM :: This would be time for the three of us to get ready, and my husband and I would walk out the door at 9AM.
Magical thinking alert :: Except that I left out the waking-up nursing and the fact that I would need to actually greet my mother and say goodbye to my child before leaving. Now I was running behind my plan by 30 minutes.
9AM to 10AM :: This would be time for me to drive to the gym, work out, take a shower, and get in my car to drive to work.
Magical thinking alert :: I'm already starting this at 9:30 instead of 9:00, and I've left out the 10 minutes it takes to get from the car inside, check in at the desk, and put my stuff in a locker before I work out. Also, I've banked on it only taking 15 minutes to shower, get re-dressed, check out, get to my car. Uh. That's a bit tight. It's 11AM by the time I leave the gym.
Amount of additional stuff I now needed to do after my child's bedtime :: 1 hour of work time
Alright. I'm gonna stop there, because I think I've embarrassed myself enough, and because it's only 11AM, and I've already built up 90 minutes of stuff I have to do after my kid goes to bed.
That's magical thinking. And it had crept back up on me.
Luckily, I was able to nip it in the bud pretty quickly, but it required me changing my plans. Being more honest with myself about what I could do in a day. It was hard (yet again), but it's gotten way easier with practice.
I said this week was going to be about changing your plans, but I think--at its root--it's more about recognizing our magical thinking. So I'm going with that instead.
You are magical in many ways, you creative-leader-mama, but even you cannot change the laws of time and space.
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This week, I'm exploring what magical thinking does in our lives. This post is part of an ongoing series on family.