I’ve learned to shy away from things that allow me to track my daily failures. You know what I mean, I’m sure. I’m talking about those handy apps that let you make lists of all the things you intend to accomplish in a day, like these. While such things are well-intentioned, I’m sure, and high-performing folks like Mike Hyatt get a great deal of traction by using them, my yoga pants-clad, lucky-to-get-a-shower, full-time-working-mama self just ends up feeling flattened by the darn things. Every time. While it would probably be a good idea to track my daily water intake a little better, and I do like tracking the books I read (I can never resist the annual Goodreads Reading Challenge), everything else becomes a source of guilt and shame when I attach it to a tracking app.
I fail frequently, you see. I fail to read Scripture every morning. I fail to journal. I fail to exercise. I fail to eat only healthy food. I fail to get outside. I fail to blog. And yes, I sometimes fail to shower.
The thing is, I don’t need an app to remind me of my failures.
What I’ve mostly failed to do, you see, is to figure out how to fit everything I need and want and ought to do into my already full life. I am constantly trying to figure it out; I turn the spare (I use the word “spare” very loosely here) hours of my days over and over in my mind, rearranging them and subdividing them and frequently forgetting that sleep is a factor.
I have been forced, finally, to simply accept that not everything will fit. Not every day. Some days, if I am tired and the baby is teething and the preschooler has had one too many tantrums, nothing fits. This is also known as Survival Mode. These are the days I climb into bed at eight o’clock with a mug of steaming tea and watch old Next Gen reruns or Season 4 of Gilmore Girls. It is perfectly OK to have days like these, by the way. I just try not to have too many of them in a row.
Getting back to the problem of making things fit into my limited spare time, I’ve found freedom in the concept of a “Most Days” approach. My inspiration is Sarah Mackenzie of the Read-Aloud Revival. Several weeks ago, Sarah wrote on the RAR blog about setting aside the goal to read aloud to your kids every day, instead shooting for reading aloud “most days.” Her rationale is that if you read aloud to your kids “most days,” you are likely to reap the benefits of reading aloud far more than you’d expect, and you escape the guilt that naturally follows when you set a goal to read aloud every day and then don’t get to it some days.
As I was listening to Sarah unpack this, I caught a hint that she uses the “Most Days” approach in other areas of her life as well. This way, she said, she simply feels good about the fact that she gets to the things that matter most on “Most Days.”
The first thing, then, was deciding what matters most. What are the things, I asked myself, that are important enough I want to get to them “Most Days”? It’s a pretty short list, I realized. A little time reading, a little time writing, some exercise, and putting myself together in the morning (that’s a shower, blow-dried hair, and a little makeup). That’s it. It may seem like I ought to be able to fit in these four things every day, but it’s tough. I’m often too drained to exercise or write at night, and if I don’t get enough sleep–or good enough sleep–It’s hard to get up early enough to fit all of it in before my girls wake up.
Taking a “Most Days” approach has allowed me to flex these things in a way that leaves me mostly satisfied. If I haven’t exercised in a couple of days, that takes priority. If I haven’t journaled, I do that first. If I feel like I need both the brain time and the exercise, I leave time for a shower but pass on the hair and makeup. I don’t track any of it concretely, which has given me freedom. I just try to assess what I need to make time for every morning and then make the best possible choices. I am so much happier succeeding at “Most Days” than I was failing at “Every Day.”
What about you? Are you feeling good about your days? How might a “Most Days” way of living offer you more freedom, flexibility, and fulfillment?