Order Q4

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 3, Q4

Order: “Let all your things have their place; let each part of your business have its time.

Personal notes for the week:

  • Short week with a lot to do;
  • Enjoy Thanksgiving.

Whenever I think of Order, do you know where my thoughts immediately stray? The endless list of growing, and useless, “to-do’s.” Unfortunately I skip over the first clause of Ben’s sentence: “Let all your things have their place” and instead try to accomplish everything. Regimental drudgery takes over and I become miserable. It’s not what Order is about – not at all.

Over the past year, I’ve realized that whenever I get caught in the Order trap – the trap of lists, schedules and plans – I usually end up miserable. I’m miserable because: One, I don’t care about most of the stuff in my inbox or on my schedule; Two, once I pretend to care about it and add it to a list, I immediately care about it greatly, even though I don’t care about it at all; Three, when I greatly care about that which I don’t care about, I’m never more fraught to explode; Four, overloaded, I explode; Five, I feel guilty I exploded and spiral in misery. The Order trap, it’s one of the fastest ways to accomplish nothing.

Practical tips. 1) Don’t waste effort on items that needn’t get done in the first place. Practice whittling away until core items remain. Ten items on your list? Focus on two. 2) Everything takes approximately 10 steps, 1 item is not 1 item. Mailing a postcard entails buying a postcard, writing a postcard, finding a stamp, remembering an address, writing the address and walking to the mailbox. I spent all day yesterday mailing a postcard. 3)  Get it done. If it is important and needs to be accomplished, the longer it hangs out there, the worse you’ll feel. Nothing feels better than clearing a list of important items.

And it’s true, nothing feels better than tackling what needed to be tackled. A weight is lifted, angels sing, and the rest of the day proceeds with ease. That is the key to Order. Order is not about tackling everything. Order is not about running yourself ragged. Order is about creating attainable goals. Order is about calmly navigating the day. Order is being free to let all things have their place in your life. It took a while to learn, but when I’m not chasing frivolous tasks, the world is calmer, and I’m far less likely to lose my mind when my 2-year-old wants to play. After all, playing with my 2-year-old should be at the very top of my list, but I’ll never add it to a list. The most important things in life are never on a list.

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Next Week 

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 4, Q4

Resolution: “Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

Personal notes:

  • Determine key tasks this week;
  • Ignore unnecessary items;
  • Act with purpose.

The turkey hangover has scrambled my brain. All I want to do is go back to doing nothing while eating more gravy. With Christmas lists and holiday cheer on the horizon, it’s going to take a lot of Resolve to get anything done this week.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving

Industry Q3

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 6, Q3

Industry: “Lose no time, be always employed in something useful; cutoff unnecessary actions.

Personal notes:

  • Fully engage with what you’re doing; immerse yourself;
  • Shut off distractions;
  • Find fulfillment.

We’re all pretty industrious; even on days when it feels nothing was accomplished. But there are definitely those days when I don’t “cutoff unnecessary actions.” Wednesday was one of those days. I spent all morning creating a music playlist for my girls. I got mad at myself for being “unindustrious” but, in truth, I was happy.

I was happy because I thought about how happy my girls would be – they love music. Besides, what did I really have to accomplish that day? Most of my to-do list was crap (put there to feel industrious). The truly important stuff got taken care of without delay.

All my favorite memories in life were born of industry but were not being industrious. Do I remember what I was supposed to be doing Wednesday morning? No. Do I remember my girls dancing to their music this weekend? You bet. If you spend your days “losing no time,” all your time will be lost. If you’re “always employed in something useful,” when will you have time for life, family, and friends? Be industrious when it matters, but don’t lose sight of the big picture.

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Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 7, Q3

Sincerity: “Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

Personal notes:

  • Such an important one to practice;
  • Especially with friends & family;
  • Be an open book to the ones you love.

If there’s a thought stirring in your heart, be sure to share it. Sarcasm and jokes are fun, but say what you mean. Don’t hide your intent because you’re afraid to share.

Resolution Q3

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 4, Q3

Resolution: “Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.”

Personal notes:

  • Determine key tasks this week;
  • Focus on these tasks;
  • Dutifully and purposefully complete each.

Checking each item off my list this week, I successfully cleared the schedule, paid some bills, hit the gym and tied up loose ends, all to great satisfaction and contentment before leaving on vacation. Feeling pretty good, I thought Resolution was a piece of cake. Then, while on vacation, I saw and heard examples of Resolve that made me realize how insignificant my list was.

What would you do if diagnosed with cancer? Without hesitation, my friend’s wife underwent a double mastectomy; resolving to be there for her children. Another good buddy, this one in the military, read me a transcript of a Russian soldier in Syria. All soldiers share a common thread, and my friend choked back tears as the Russian fought until the end, refusing to be disgraced and paraded in his uniform.

Admittedly these examples are extremes; guiding lights in the dark sea of uncertainty. But our lives are sometimes broken down into overwhelming lists and tasks, some important, often not. We work each day to cross items off our list and resolve to muddle through, but at times our lists cloud the truth. Getting the groceries and cleaning the house are not just tasks but in my case, steps to provide love and stability for my children. It’s always important to remember what greater good these tasks serve, and be aware when these tasks become a disservice.

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Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 5, Q3

Frugality: “Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; waste nothing.”

Personal notes:

  • Only purchase necessary items;
  • Be cognizant of cost;
  • Give special attention to groceries.

Sadly, summer is gone; on the upside, summer was expensive. Perfect time to practice Frugality and get back into the habit for Fall.

Hope you had a great holiday weekend,

Patrick