Back in January, I saw a great little video from Lean In on rethinking time and the power of multipliers. The speaker explains that multipliers aren't the same as multitasking; instead of doing lots of activities at one time and not being fully present for any of them, a multiplier is one activity that has your complete attention and achieves - wait for it - multiple goals.
Since then, I've been thinking about multipliers in my own life. Here's what I've got so far:
I've mentioned a couple of times that I hit the gym twice a week with a friend before work. I met Jen last spring at my previous job, shortly after her move from Kentucky to the same little town I live in on Indy's west side. This was a miracle in and of itself because you never hear of people moving to my neck of the woods. It's the north side where we worked that gets all the props, to the point of being named the Best Place to Live in America by CNN Money magazine in 2012. Once we realized we both belonged to the rec center, the habit was born. We started going once a week at six and have evolved to twice a week at 5:45, with the workout sneakily getting longer over time.
Before you give me too many props, I fully realize this victory isn't so much a testament to my motivation but the power of accountability. Because if Jen texts me to cancel, I bow out and vice versa. In other words, we're now vital to each other's health. I am okay with this.
Workouts with Jen are highlights in my week, and not just for the wellness factor. It's so nice to start the day with a friend, to talk about books and kids and God and work sporting yoga pants and a serious case of bed head. The Lean In speaker would call this a double.
Until very recently, I proudly identified myself as a book purist - someone who wrinkled her nose at audio books and e-readers in favor of reading the old-fashioned way, with actual pieces of bound paper in your hand, just like the good old days when we walked 20 miles to school uphill and washed our clothes by hand in the river. Which was great except that I wasn't actually reading anything. I worked hard to change this last year and rang in the New Year with 16 books under my belt, but even that was a struggle. I would make extra time for reading and then promptly eat it up with something else - sleep in the morning, work during lunch and more sleep after a few pages at night. But still, no audio books.
My north side job would have been a great time to give them a whirl. On a good day with zero traffic, I could get to work in 40 minutes. On a normal day, though, ongoing construction raised the commute to more than an hour one way. I wasn't happy about spending so much time in the car - just one of the reasons I decided to look for a job closer to home. But alas, it wasn't until a week or two into my new job that I braved the audio section of the library and found something that grabbed my interest - "Help Thanks Wow" by the dear Anne Lamott.
And I was hooked.
I breezed through HTW in a couple of days and moved quickly to "Grace Eventually: Thoughts on Faith." I already loved Ms. Lamott, but listening to her books was even more wonderful, first because of the subject matter, which was thoughtful and funny and inspiring, and second because there are few things as personal as having an author read their book to you. Plus, being forced to pay attention to a steady train of thought instead of bouncing around the jungle of half-baked epiphanies in my head helped me feel less scattered at the beginning and end of my work day.
So I kept going with Randy Pausch's "The Last Lecture," which I had to turn off at least three times over two weeks because I didn't want to leave my car with red eyes and a blotchy nose.
I've listened to a couple more recordings since then, and I'm officially a convert. I still have physical books to pour through, but I've stopped feeling guilty over taking three months to read them because I'm still getting my fix. At six books for the year, I may not hit my #Read26Indy goal - it's too early too tell - but I'm having a blast, and my drive to and from work is a million times more fun.
I haven't made any drastic changes in the "giving back to the community" check box, but I do still volunteer in my church's nursery once or twice a month. Reliable childcare during worship was really important to Luke and me when we first started going to church with the kids, and it feels good to help other parents in the same boat. Plus, church is already built into my Sunday, so it's easy to commit to, and the nursery takes kids through two years old, so it's a nice way to spend extra time with Liam.
Before church, fully embracing snuggles and caffeine.
Sunday dinner/family time
I reached the one-month mark on Sunday dinner last weekend, and it might be the best part of the week. I didn't realize how relaxing cooking can be - chopping onions and browning meat feels almost cathartic. Plus, the kids get a kick out of helping me choose a recipe and wandering in and out of the kitchen to see how it's coming and if there's anything they can do. Last week I made brinner, and we had a great time preparing fruit and yogurt parfaits and whipping up some other low-maintenance sides. Luke pitched in with French toast, and the end result was a fun dinner we mostly made together.
Maybe next year I'll work on my presentation skills.
Between my day job, freelancing, family time and chores around the house, it's easy to feel guilty when I spend time on something that pulls me away from what feels like a more important to-do. I've been having lots of come-to-Jesus moments about the choices I make and the motivations behind them. Over the last year, more times than I'd like to admit, I felt like a victim instead of the willing participant I actually was. I've worn stress like a blanket instead of grace.
I'm still keeping hands in a lot of things, and adapting to a new job to boot, but finally the dust is settling, and it's easier to see things as they really are. It's okay to embrace the pattern of my life as it is right now, and hustle sometimes but not all the time, and not tackle every item on my bucket list in every spare minute I have. That's why I love the idea of spending time in a way that's meeting more than one need at a time.
Would you look at that, only three weeks since my last entry. We're onto something, kids!