Sunday, January 4, 2015

Do Anything at All

I already know that any success I've ever achieved in my life has come about through early rising, and what I don't get done during the first, best hour of the day remains undone at nightfall. I lie in bed every morning, as I see the digital clock by the side of the bed register 5:00 and Snickers begins to meow on cue for breakfast, and I know I have to get up, I have to, I simply have to!

But sometimes I can't.

I reenact the scene from Bambi, where Bambi lies wounded in the forest as a raging fire approaches, and his father, bowed beneath the weight of his massive antlers, commands him, "Bambi, get up! You MUST get up!" I lie there in bed and try to echo that patriarchal authority: "Claudia, get up, you MUST get up!"

But sometimes I don't.

I sing to myself the hymn that begins, "Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide." I change the words to read, "Once to every children's book author comes the moment to decide." I know that this is MY moment to decide: am I going to get out of bed and write, or give up my author dreams and slumber on? I know what the answer has to be.

But sometimes I sleep instead.

So in these grave circumstances of sloth and inertia, I have now resorted to the following exhortation: "Okay, Claudia, you don't have to write your book early this morning. You don't have to work on your syllabi for your two classes (which begin January 26 in Indiana). You don't have to review that edited collection for Routledge. You don't have write your paper for the Children's Literature Association conference (due January 15)." I tell myself, "You just have to do SOMETHING. You just need to do ANYTHING AT ALL."

Lately that has worked to rouse me (that, plus the incessant meowing of Snickers who is also dashing up and down the bed the whole time). Yesterday, the only thing that appealed to me happened to be organizing my heaps of receipts for my 2014 taxes. Today, the only thing that appealed to me was reading the book on which I'll be leading a Prindle Institute for Ethics book group this spring at DePauw: Susan Wolf's Meaning in Life and Why It Matters,

But hey, now my tax files are in apple pie order (something I needed to do before I leave for Indiana on January 20, as why would I want to drag all that stuff there and back?), and I'm enthralled by Susan's book and can't wait to discuss it with my colleagues and students. Plus, I'm so energized and happy from these two accomplishments that I'm going to do more work this afternoon, just for the heck of it.

So my hot time management tip for today: while it's best to start your day doing the work that is most urgent and important to give meaning to your life, sometimes it's okay just to do anything at all.


  1. Claudia, this post is wonderful! I love that it strikes a balance between our perceptions of perfection and the regular doses of reality that envelop us in life. Your pragmatic view does wonders for the soul! I don't believe any of us should run faster than we have strength to do so, while keeping in mind that there is always something we can give, no matter how small. Thanks for reminding me of that today! :-) ~Jenn

    1. Thanks, dear Jennifer! So far, the little-bit-every-day-however-small approach is working great for me in 2015. :)