[un]common sense: unintentionally intentional
August 10, 2017

[un]common sense: unintentionally intentional

[un]common sense is a blog about navigating through everyday life, using some common sense tips to make it just a bit easier, and sometimes a little more fun. Alyssa is a wife, mother, and postpartum doula who has some tricks up her sleeve and wants to share them with the world. Well now, don’t you feel lucky?

I’ve been really focused on being intentional lately, but I think that means something different to everyone. For me, being intentional also means being patient and present. Let me give you a scenario.

I’m home playing with my daughter when I see an email come through on my phone, so I check it. My daughter is asking me to “pretend to be a villain (or a princess, or a puppy)” for the eighteenth time that morning, and I tell her to hold on a minute. “I just need to finish this work email.” But then that one email turns into several as well as text messages and I keep telling her to “wait a minute, I’m almost done”.

The worst was one day while playing she picked up her fake cell phone and said to her baby doll, “Just a minute, honey. I’m on the phone, I’ll be right there.” Ouch.

So I decided I need to be more present. Not just physically present in the room, but mentally and emotionally present as well.  Sounds good, right? Well it didn’t work. I was fully present… until something distracted me. The washing machine beeped so I have to go put the towels in the dryer. I notice the toy closet is a mess so I get into organizing mode (instead of playing). I suddenly realize my daughter has a field trip tomorrow and her camp shirt isn’t clean so I have to start a load of laundry. You see, the distractions are endless!

So how do you allow yourself to be fully present and distraction free? By being intentional. But how can you be intentional, and what do you need to be intentional about?

For me, I wanted to be intentional with my time. Being a wife, mother, and business owner is tricky. My schedule can get really hectic, and lately I get really impatient. And normally I’m a very patient person.

I realized I need to be intentional about my time, allowing me to be patient, and therefore fully present. Here’s how it looks for me.

I am a scheduler. My days are planned out months in advance sometimes. I’ve always unintentionally been intentional with my time. It’s just my personality. But I fill my days with too much sometimes. I overload my schedule and that makes it hard to be patient and present when there’s too much to do in a day. I realized that I need to intentionally schedule free time. Leave open spots in my calendar for me or for my family. On the flipside, I need to schedule times where I am only working (not doing laundry too), and solely focus on my work. When I know my work is complete, that allows me to focus on whatever is next, be it household chores or playing pretend with my daughter.

When you know all your work is done, you can fully focus on the task at hand because you’re not worried about what you should be doing, or didn’t get done earlier. If you’ve only half-assed your work all day, between constant interruptions, you can feel like you haven’t accomplished anything. And then when your kids ask you something (over and over again), you get impatient with them.

When you’re constantly in a state of panic, rushing around to get everything done, there’s no way to be patient. Every little thing can make you snap. You feel rushed and there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. But if you take a step back, breathe, and take the time to be intentional with your time, you’ll actually get more done.

Have you ever noticed how much you can accomplish in 10 minutes when you have guests coming over and the house is a mess? I bet it was mostly picked up by the time they arrived; you made the playroom presentable, got all the dirty dishes out of the sink, and wiped the counters. You were able to do it because you were focused on that one thing.

Now imagine how productive you could be during the day if you could focus like that in chunks of time. Set aside one hour for household chores. Another hour or two for emails, social media, work, whatever you need to do. Make sure you have an hour to exercise, for self-care, for a date with your husband or partner. And only do those things. Listen multi-taskers, I’ll say it again. One thing at a time! If it means putting your phone on silent, do it. Don’t be distracted. Focus.

Be present, be patient, be intentional. Your family will notice.