That's For Future Marilyn

One of
my grown kids came up with a phrase that has stuck with me.  That's for future............. (insert your name).  When we say it now it brings both smiles and groans.  Over the years we've bandied it back and forth, we have found it can be both a great direction, or a negative direction.  It all depends.

Let's start with the negative.  That's for future Marilyn can be used to avoid dealing with something unpleasant or complicated.  When you first start saying the phrase, there is probably lots of time.  Unless you are very careful, however, time can fly by and you suddenly face a scenario where the issue has become urgent - a house on fire. As someone who has struggled with procrastination my whole life, I was practicing this without ever hearing the phrase. 

When a task becomes urgent, the pressure is enormous and the stress overwhelming. Sleep is disrupted.  The easiest example of this is a student waiting until the night before it is due to start writing an all important term paper, or pulling an all-nighter to cram for a final exam that will determine most of their grade.  If you've never waited until the very last minute, or even after the very last minute (yes I have worked after a deadline), then good for you.  For the rest of us, we will probably continue to have those stressful school dreams for the rest of our lives. 


On the other hand, That's for future Marilyn has had a positive influence on my life when used in the best way.  My mentor taught me a phrase a long time ago that proved life changing - one step, one moment, one breath at a time.  Embracing that I don't have to deal with everything in the same moment has allowed me to tame my racing mind, one that is always trying to juggle a thousand thoughts and projects at the same time. Knowing some things can be set aside for later very freeing.

The beauty
of this narrow, one item at a time focus is I can work so much faster.  When I am juggling a ton of different demands, it takes me hours to finish any of them. When I put all my attention on just one item with no distraction, I can zoom through it. Then I start on the next and zoom through it as well. Work is completed in a fraction of the time it used to take. The key is working on a single item at a time. Oh, and no interruptions. They slow you down as well. I suggest having a closed door when you are in beast mode.

Now when I find myself with a long list that must be accomplished, I banish all but one by repeating the phrase That's for future Marilyn when other demands try to sneak in. For some reason, simply repeating the words helps me to let the rest of my to do list go. When I have my focus zeroed I on just one task, I begin work. If I have a long list of fairly urgent things awaiting my attention, I might even write a list of them in order of importance. Then I circle the top, most urgent one and give it 100% of my attention. This helps me keep from letting a future Marilyn item become an OMG that had to be done yesterday item.

I am a long way from perfect in this area, but it is now rare that I am last minute on what I need to get done.  Creating a daily habit of showing up, a time I am sitting at my computer working on anything that calls me that day, has really helped, too.  Small successes along the way that came from showing up daily and focusing on one task at a time have also boosted my confidence


There are still times I let something I don't want to deal with slip through the cracks. When that happens I try to be kind and remind myself I am only human.  Perfection isn't possible. I will always be a work in progress