When it comes to Getting Things Done, I’m a bit maddening. Just ask Bryan. I like to skip all the yucky projects and do the fun ones. Or start the fun projects until they get yucky, and then abandon them. I make schedules. I break schedules. I clean my house 15 minutes before you come over. Unless I’ve kept it meticulously clean all week.
On the Meyers-Briggs type indicator I am an INFX. An X, you say? There is no X in the Meyers-Briggs type indicator! There is if you score in the middle of the two types, which I did in the case of the P/J. Scoring in the middle of this particular … whatever you call it … explained a lot to me about why I’m such a weirdo. Why? Because, by way of the most basic explanation, a J prefers order and structure, and a P prefers flexibility and spontaneity.
It explained why, as a kid, I had more fun creating written schedules than following them. It explained why, at a particular job I had in NY, I worked in three different positions – creating or reorganizing each one, then getting completely bored with maintaining the work load. It explained why I loved buying new date books at the beginning of every year, but often forgot to use them by April-ish. It explained why I love making and prioritizing a to-do list, but end up doing whatever I feel like doing next.
When I find myself in a situation of chaos and disorder, I get a little overwhelmed and whip everything into shape. I break out the label maker, I make lists, I create schedules, because dammit – I WANT ORDER. That’s fun for awhile and I feel so free with everything put in its place – until I start to feel trapped by my own doing. Suddenly I can’t stand the predictability of something scheduled every day, and what if I don’t want to start my laundry by 1:00?, and a little clutter here and there looks homey. I throw all routine out the window and enter into the free-for-all zone, in which I wake up when a kid asks me for breakfast, stay home all day because I never figured out what to do, and decide what’s for dinner at 4:30 (And, oops! No meat thawed!).
Aaaand… then it’s back to scenario A in which I throw everything into order again.
See what I mean? Maddening. This system worked fine when I was single, but not so much with a family. Bryan is All J All The Time, so his preferred statement to me is usually, “I know you’re not very good with routines, but…” At which point I say something like, “F@*# you that I’m not good – look at all my schedules and to-do lists!” (That’s a paraphrase). And my kids never know what to expect so they just ask to watch t.v.
This summer has been interesting because Ruthie has had swimming lessons every morning for six weeks, and we have two more weeks to go. I thought I would hate being forced to leave the house every day, but I’ve actually appreciated the jump start to each day. We hang out at home in the morning and I Get Things Done, then we swim for half an hour, then we go do something fun before lunch and naps. The daily swim lessons have satisfied my need for order and routine, and the blank spots on either side have satisfied my need for flexibility and spontaneity.
Now I’m trying to resist the urge to whip out my notebook of graph paper and declare 10:00 as daily story time and Tuesdays as game night. I don’t think I’m ready for that, and I wouldn’t be successful at it anyway. I’m also trying to resist the urge to dig out a new garden area in my yard, as I still have walls with pink primer in my bedroom that I’m sure Bryan would like me to finally paint over.