Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Do What You Are

Life is a balancing act, and the words of Alex Cross, in James Patterson's, Along Came A Spider, "Do what you are," are a challenge when applied our daily life.

If you were to list those things that fill your life in order of importance from least to most, how much time would you admit they occupy in your day?

Is your life an inverted pyramid where you are mired down and never spend time on those people, and things, that are most most important to you? Or have you managed to give the most important things in your life most of your time and attention, thus living the pyramid?

In Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People he emphasizes the we need to reorganize the way we spend our time; based on the concept of importance - not urgency.

"Most people are “urgency addicted” and spend half their time doing things that are not important, that are urgent—things pressing, proximate, popular, and pleasant, but not really important. This is why I feel strongly that people should take time to reflect and to think deeply about what is important to them. I suggest that people take time to decided what they really want to accomplish and why."

There are things in our life that we must do despite the fact that they may not be at the top of our list. But we don't have to procrastinate accomplishing them or give them more of our time than necessary.

Brian Tracy, author of Eat That Frog, suggests:

"According to the old saying, if you eat a live frog first thing each morning you'll have the satisfaction of knowing it's probably the worst thing you'll do all day. Using "eat that frog" as a metaphor for tackling the day's most challenging and most prone to procrastination task, Eat That Frog shows readers how to zero in on these critical tasks and organize their time. This means not only getting more things done, but getting the right things done."

No one likes to talk about goal setting but it's the simplest way to accomplish those things that are important.

Based on ZenHabits of Really, Simple Goal Setting, I use two things to organize my house and yard, two jobs, large extended family, two cats and writing career. An index card that I write my simple daily goals on and a paper (yes paper) calendar.

It's not about multi tasking, but again, it is about what's important. If it isn't important, then why are you doing it?

With so much to do on a daily basis the final thing I leave you with is to be present.

We spend much of our one-on-one time with others anticipating what they will say next, ready to reply and have our voice heard or simply day dreaming.


Be in the moment.

There was a very popular book released in the late nineties that spend two years on the New York Times list, called Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, by Richard Carlson, PH.D.

Carlson "presents common-sense advice for living a less hectic and more meaningful life. His essential message is that we get caught up in minutiae, "the small stuff," and never get around to doing what makes us or our loved ones happy."

"Often we allow ourselves to get all worked up about things that, upon closer examination, aren't really that big a deal. We focus on little problems and blow them out of proportion. ... Whether we had to wait in line, listen to unfair criticism, or do the lion's share of the work, it pays enormous dividends if we learn not to worry about little things. So many people spend so much of their life energy "sweating the small stuff" that they completely lose touch with the magic and beauty of life. "

Are you sweating the small stuff?

Today, I encourage you to stop and ask yourself if you are doing what you are.

In the words of Aristotle..."We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

Today one poster will receive a copy of Brian Tracy's, Eat that Frog!

Leave a comment and an email address. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.


  1. Wow, Tina:

    You've gone and gotten deep and philosophical on us. Must be what we needed.

    I struggled more with those decisions when my family was young. Now it's easier to decide what's important and stick with it because life isn't filled with so many hectic things.

    But I do still have to weigh. And then see if I cam keep myself from wasting time!!


    Coffee's on!

  2. Tina's my name, deep is my game.

    You're a better woman than me, Helen. I still struggle with this.

    Chamomile tea with honey before bed...see you in the morning.

  3. Hi Tina:

    Sometimes wisdom is paradoxical.

    If you truly are what you are doing, then you must truly be doing what you are. If Y = D, then it must be the case that D = Y.

    But I don’t want D to equal Y. I want Y to equal E.

    Then do E!

    But Y would never do E. That’s the problem. If Y would do E, then Y would be someone else. And someone else would not be Y. To thy own self be true.


    I have this vision of a king at the gates of heaven and he tells St. Peter: "I didn't sweat the small stuff". (For want of a nail, the shore was lost, for want of a shore the horse was lost...)

    St. Peter tells him, “That’s don’t sweat the unimportant small stuff.”

    “But how do you know if it's unimportant at the time?!”

    “You have to stop and smell the roses.”


  4. Helen, you are always cool and collected, IMO.

    Tina - deep. Vince - way deep.

    I write a list and do the things I don't like or the biggest things first. I also reward myself as I get through unlikable tasks. Like for every two hours of drudgery, I get 5 minutes of Seekerville!

  5. Tina, this is my life. My philosophy. My day-to-day, only you said it much better.

    I love the 7 steps. And I love the eat the frog analogy because it works.

    I also use the tiny reward system, that's a basic tool that allows me to give myself some small reward for a job well done. Kind of like Pavlov's dog without Pavlov.

    You laugh.

    It works. It's just enough of an enticement to make me stay the course whether I'm dieting, writing, fighting for rooster rights, cleaning OR learning to say "NO" to people. That was a tough one, and I slip occasionally, but I'm getting better.

    Tina, wonderful. To the point. Solid.

    Which is why you're the mayor.

  6. Ah, I see Deb uses the reward system too.

    There were days when it kept my children from meeting a dire end.

    In and of itself, that made the reward system quite valuable, LOL!

  7. Excellent post. I love all the snippets of advice. I also use the reward system. I also use the microwave timer--for writing and cleaning house. I set it for an hour, hit the computer, it beeps and I get up and move around--grab a cup of coffee, whatever.

    When I am cleaning house, especially bathrooms, I set it for an hour, it beeps and I get to sit down for 20 minutes to write.


  8. I use the reward system, but I think I reward myself TOO often! Since I just finished my toast and coffee it must be time to eat the frog. Ugh.

  9. Christine, I like your methodology..however I suggest writing one hour and cleaning for 20. HA~~

    Vince, yeah the point IS to be true to yourself. If writing is near the top of your pyramid then why does TV take up so many hours? To thine own writing be true.

  10. Seekerville as a reward. Debra you visionary thing you!!!

  11. Good morning, Seekerville! I'm a long-time fan of Brian Tracy, Tina, but haven't read that one yet.

    Christine -- I'm a timer person, too!

    Great points, Tina! My pastor says you MUST "live deliberately" or time will fly by and you'll miss out on the important things of life. He said with his jam-packed ministry schedule he has to make a point of SCHEDULING in family time, time with God, Bible study, etc. He says as much as you'd like to think you'll do the most important things first and invest yourself in those things, too often it's the "squeaky wheel that gets oiled" -- the tyranny of the urgent. And the next thing you know your kids are grown up, your parents have passed on, friends have moved away, open doors have closed, you're no closer to the dream God put in your heart. So as much as we creative types like to be "free spirits" we need to set priorities and live deliberately.

  12. You nailed it Glynna.

    Fail to plan.

    Plan to fail.

    And my notecard says postoffice, store, I must FLY!!!

  13. Great post, Tina!

    I like to "eat the frog" first thing (I find it tastes like chicken). Get all the things marked off the "have to" list and then have the rest of the day to focus on what I enjoy doing. I learned to do this in college. I’d get all the homework done first from classes I had to take, so I could concentrate on the courses within my major that I wanted to take. And I’ve never had a problem dropping everything to spend time with family or friends, which is sometimes a bad thing. :o)


  14. Sounds like a great book. Kinda helps you put things in prespective. I think we all need that. Thanks for giving away a copy.

  15. I needed this.

    With school starting this week I have a lot more time to write. But I haven't. I've watched movies to inspire me. I read articles on writing. And I've only half-way kept up with my housework.

    I think this comes from knowing I should have more time.

    Now, I've got to run one more child to school and when I get back, I'll write.

    Cara Lynn...I've definitely been rewarding myself too often.


  16. Great post Tina, And deep.

    I have learned (the hard way) that if I just sit quiet two or three times during the day and have a spiritual snack, And LISTEN to God. My day and tasks get done in the right order and time.

    If I don't take those few minutes each day. If I don't "Be still and know that He is God" Then I end up wasting time with the unimportant things.

    And to energize you today, how about a platter of fried chicken. Buffalo wings, chicken poppers, grilled chicken breasts and chicken shish-k-bobs in honor of Blackie.

  17. "Blackie-skewered!"

    Sandra, that's hysterical.

    Of course I will never get to eat this bird although Connealy has gone on his facebook page "Blackie Blodgett" and offered up her dumpling recipe. Which I'm sure is wonderful, but we're hiding that post from Blackie. He's so sensitive, you know.

    And people are suprised to find out I'm not "Blackie". A friend took up the rooster's cause and did the Facebook connection, God bless her. Because I'm prioritizing like Teeeeeena said (and we all obey Tina, it's just what we DO) friends and family jumped in to help with Blackie's plight because I'm working and writing.

    I have a light morning this morning and I'm nearly to "The End" on Small Town Hearts and it's so delightful that I hate to STOP and go to work in the morning, but I do it.

    Because I need money, LOL! I'm loving this story, though, so fun, so sweet, a great taste of Appalachia.

    Okay, now I'm just BRAGGING, and that's not nice or cool.

    I brought fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies for everyone to go with Sandra's chicken-fest.

    Gotta have a little sweet to balance the savory, right? Paula Deen, 101.

  18. You are my hero, Tina. As a person who get overwhelmed easily, you amaze me with all you have on your plate. (And I'm not just talking about the frog.)

  19. Thank you, Tina. That was a wonderful post. I am all about goal-setting and daily to-do lists.

    Most days I do try to get the less fun things out of the way first--that way I can reward myself with time to work on my novel later. See how I use another one of my goals as a reward?

    raeburk01 at yahoo dot com

  20. My favorite reward is chocolate. Hands down. I've read Covey's "7 Secrets of Highly Effective People," and highly identified with it. Then they wanted me to write a mission statement? I'd much rather write fiction - if it doesn't have a plot, I get bored really quickly!

    Very deep. A lot to think about today! Thanks, Tina!

  21. Do What You Are

    I believe that writing isn't something we's something we ARE.

    Being a writer is just strange behavior and it's not suitable for most people. And yet those of us who write ... we mostly can't quit.
    I think I'll write books for the rest of my life whether anyone publishes them or not.

    So I guess I do what I are....or no, I do what I am. :)


    Do or do not. There is no try.

  22. Oh, and here is more zen-like wisdom. (I might have thought it up myself, it could be like that)

    As long as I can't seem to change myself, the least I can do is KNOW myself.

    That means, no more cute figurines in the house that won't get dusted.

    No more yarn and knitting books.
    No more spring-form cake pans.
    No more beige carpet.

  23. You know, I"m not good at being 'in the moment'.
    I need to work on that.

    I live too much in my head. A daydreamer. Imaginary conversations. Plotting books. Playing What If.

    I could maybe try and change that. OOPS, refer to my earlier post about not being able to change.

    Here's a quote that always struck me as really funny.

    There is a semi-famous man in Nebraska who got the nickname the Half Ton Man. He got famous for weight 1000 pounds and having gastric by-pass surgery and some tv show followed his weight loss for a while.
    Haven't heard much from him since he dropped to 400 pounds, then started gaining again....sigh

    But he also smoked. His doctor who did the surgery for free and took so much care of this very badly sick man told him his heart was bad and he had to quit smoking.

    The Half Ton Man replied, "If I had any self-control I wouldn't have weighted 1000 pounds."

    I just thought that was about the most honest thing a human being ever said.

  24. Hm...eating a frog? No, I don't think I'll try that delicacy, but it may help me not to dread those things I do have to do.

    Allowing the unimportant things to take over is often easier done than changed. It's something I tell myself often. All those time saver inventions in our lives haven't really saved any of us time; they've only opened opportunities for filler worries to take their place.

    Simplifying my life is a continuing battle for me. However, God said I would be victorious and so I shall be!

  25. Oh, Mary, I love Connealy-isms.

    I live for Connealyisms and chocolate. Okay, mostly for chocolate, except when I'm doing Atkins like now and I would probably kill for chocolate but I won't because killing is wrong.

    "End of that thread."

    That poor 1,000 pound man.

    That misguided doctor.

    This is a case for Greory House. And that brings us to television.

    I would rather write than watch TV.

    I would MUCH RATHER write than watch TV.

    I love writing. Creating.

    And that's it, that's my wisdom for the hour.

    And do you know how good eggs/meat/and cheese taste by week three?

    Mmmm.... yummmm.... pass the scrambled eggs and cheese, please...

    And I was pretty sure I was either going deaf or possibly dying of a malignant tumor of the inner ear, because I could no longer hear myself for the past several weeks. I could hear others, but my own voice was muted. My husband expressed wishes that it might be muted for all, but God did not grant his wish. I'm sure Dave meant it in the nicest way possible, don't you?

    Ear wax. A really nasty plug of ear wax and here I am ordering coffins or urns or whatever it is you order when death is imminent and all I had was a big, ol' nasty plug of ear wax that they used a miniature Roto-Router to dislodge when plain old water jets wouldn't budge the thing.

    Embarrassing but non-fatal. I'll take that.

    At least until the writing's all done.

  26. I am so mad Blogger ate my comment. And I am on break at work.

    First I love the 7 Habits, listen on CD over and over.

    First Habit.



    And I love Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.

    Ever find yourself ready to respond before someone is finished speaking?

    Seek first to understand not to be understood.

  27. Is there popcorn frog with a side of fries?

  28. Do what you are.

    Do you write- then you are doing what you are.

    But if you just say you write and never do..then you are probably whatever you actually do..

    clean house

    watch TV

    what is it you are doing instead of doing what you are????????

  29. Interesting post. I love the part about choosing what's important because the truth is, people make time for what's important to them. LOL.

    Helen, I'm addicted to your Seekerville coffee. ;-)


  30. This was really great Tina. I too often try to multi-task and don't get everything done to a satisfactory level. I have learned to do one thing at a time and live in the moment. Let tomorrow worry about itself like the Bible says. Thanks for the reminder today!

    Please don't enter me. :)

  31. i haven't been reading this blog, but today it was enormously helpful, thanks for this post.

  32. BE



    (Learned that on an Outward Bound trip.)

    That and to remove "Can't" from my vocabulary.

    Great post. Enjoyed the comments also... as usual. :)

    WAHOO Mary - no more beige carpets. Ours is - no white walls. Anywhere... Ok - I lied - we have "Swiss Coffee" in the closets...

    We're sure being hard on animals these days - roosters, and frogs, and... what's next? Schnauzers?! YIKES!

  33. Hi- super post,Tina.

    I'm gradually turning my pyramid right-side-up and spending more time on the important things in my life.

    What a marvellous title "Eat that Frog" - and what a yukky thing to think of doing! The underlying principle of doing the most challenging tasks first is excellent and it works!

    Thank you for the thought provoking blog

    Best wishes

    Ruth Ann


  34. Stupid me. I should have read this post BEFORE I spent two hours browsing Internet sites for cute yet practical "writer freebies" for ACFW.

    I need to be writing!!!!

  35. LOVE this. I like the Eat the Frog first concept, although it doesn't always happen for me. I do try!

  36. Hey Christian Art and Design..good to see you in Seekerville.

    Blogger is eating posts again!!!

  37. Tina Ann Forkner, welcome to Seekerville!!!

    We love Tina's around here.

  38. Thanks for this great post, Tina! I esp. like your advice to be in the moment. I'm working on that.

  39. TINA!!! Holy cow, you and the guest speaker at our writer's conference last night, Marshall Cook, both nailing my sorry butt to the wall. Ouch!! Those nails hurt, but then I guess they're better than the turn of a screw ...

    Okay, okay already -- I am what I do, which means I am not an author ... I am a blogger and e-mail responder ... Sigh. Gotta get serious about writing one of these days, so thanks, Teenster, this really helps. This and a kick in the tush by Ruthy ... :)


  40. Wow, Tina, I read this TWICE, not because it was so deep (it was), but because it was so good.

    I really, really do need to stop and smell the roses.

    I'm just geared to over-analyze EVERYTHING.

    The Seekers and my bestest friends know that.

    Even my kids will give me that glazed look, and say, "And your point is?"


  41. “But how do you know if it's unimportant at the time?!”

    Yes, Tina and/or Vince, tell me.



  42. What a terrific post, Tina! I'm guilty of getting caught up in the unimportant and sweating the small stuff. I've working on it. My goal to live intentionally and to have God's perspective on what's important. I'm printing off your post.

    Sandra, I love the phrase spiritual snack!

    My line edits/revisions are done and mailed. Yay!


  43. wow...a great posting. :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  44. Oh my, Tina, this is deep.

    I do what I do when I can. When I can't, I do something else. Sometimes I find other things to do while I'm on the way to doing something. That's okay. As long as I'm doing something, something will get done.

    Okay, I'm winded.:D

    Anita Mae.

  45. Love it, Tina.
    So good! Thank you, dear one!

    Give God the first fruits...that has stuck with me since I went to a women's retreat and the speaker talked about turning to the Lord first thing in the morning. I've never forgotten.

    Then I need to eat the frog.

  46. The worst thing about eating a frog is realizing that I've eaten worse.

    Trust me. You don't want to know.

  47. Did I hear Jules say she needed a kick in the tush????

    Oh my stars, honey, people will be thinkin' I'm jus' soooo mean, and y'all know what a pussycat I am.

    Why I've even gone to the mattresses for my rooster friend. Obviously I'm in for the long haul.

    But Jules KNOWS I love kicking her butt, but then I fake scowl and then I get wrinkles and anti-wrinkle cream is so stinkin' expensive I'd prefer not to frown at all.

    So Jules, don't make me frown: Preserve an old lady's skin, 'kay?

    I love setting goals. I started the day saying that. I'll end the day saying that.

    Don't sweat the small stuff... Oh, Tina and Vince, you KNOW the small stuff. We just don't always want to identify it.

    If it doesn't make a hill of beans difference to someone or something worthy, it qualifies as small stuff.

    Which includes dirty bathrooms, twice-used shirts, marred tabletops and cluttered counters.

    We need a clutter counselor here. Where's Anne Tyler when I need her?

  48. How do you know it it's unimportant, AT THE TIME?

    Check your pyramid.

    If it isn't on your pyramid you shouldn't be letting it consume your time.

  49. You only THINK you'll get the last word Ruthy.

    Carlson says to think about the thing you are sweating and consider this...

    Will it be important a week from now?

    A month from now?

    A year from now?

    If not it's small stuff.

    Don't sweat it.

    I don't want my tombstone to say she was a great duster with excellent vacuuming skills.

    I want it to say she touched lives for God with her writing.

    The end.

  50. Lighten Up, Enjoy Life & Smell the Roses!

    We are writers dealing with metaphors and hopefully having fun.

    We are no more ‘what we do’ than we are ‘what we eat’. These sayings are metaphors and while they may be truisms, they are not true. If they were true, they would be called truths.

    We use metaphors to shine a light on the dark corners of life in the hope of finding something useful or at least enlightening. For each metaphor there is an opposite metaphor. This is why metaphors fail when subjected to formal logic. In the metaphorical world ‘A’ can equal ‘not A’

    “Don’t sweat the small stuff”… or

    You can pay me now or you can pay me later.
    The devil is in the details.
    The big things are the little things you didn’t take care of when you could have.
    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    Of course, there is also the ‘butterfly effect’.

    In reality, I think we are each a child of God, with a soul/spirit and a personality enjoying freewill. We are each a spark of potential ready to be unleashed in unlimited ways. Others may try to define who we are and we may even try to define ourselves – in an attempt at self understanding -- but the names of things are not the things themselves.

    The definition of a writer is not a writer. In this material world, I think we are what we allow ourselves to become. This is the product of millions of choices. But even here I am only talking about the material world.

    Metaphors are good. Each is like a tool in the carpenter’s tool box. The key to success is to use the right tool for the right job.

    Tina has given us many useful tools in today’s post. Enjoy, learn, and profit. But if the tool is not right for the job, select another.


    P.S. Moral Premise:
    Selecting the right tool for the job leads to success
    Selecting the wrong tool for the job leads to failure.

    P.P.S. PAM: Which small stuff will become big stuff? You can’t always tell at the time but you can be sure of this: it will a 'small stuff' you didn’t sweat!

  51. As a homeschool mom, I can't get through my day without my daily schedule...and I am not a schedule person. Eat that Frog is a great reminder because our day can only get better from there. I really do struggle with this as everyday there are things that don't "fit" in but I have to remember if I follow my priorities the right things will fit in.


  52. Tina, you're right! I usually time for writing, but on the one day I have to eat the cleaning frog, I go opposite and give myself writing as a reward for swabbing out the bathrooms.


  53. I've learned that if you spend a little time on the crapy tasks, like cleaning the toilet, washing the clothes, and stuff like that, you'll have time for everything you want to do.

    I've been incorporating FlyLady into my day...which I've ignored for the last few minutes as I catch up on reading my blogs! lol

    I have a daily schedule, I swipe my sink with those Lysol/Clorox wipes, do a load of laundry a day, and organize as I go for only about 15 minutes.

    My night time routine gets me ready for the next day...bookbags, workout clothes, keys...all that is placed on my "launchpad" and I'm ready to walk out the door as soon as I'm done with getting us ready.

    My coworker and I have just now put that into our working habits.

    I've created a list of things to do and when...never has my desk been cleaner, nor has my time been used more wisely...and I'm done with the boring, unwanted tasks before I even eat breakfast!

    I find organizing my day with schedules..very detailed (not my personality, btw) schedules is getting my life to where I have more time to do what I want.

    And when I don't do my schedules...(or my plan B schedules)...I'm a mess, and cna't get anything done. Which is how it used to be.

    And writing comes first...just cause I'm excited to do it. Not cuase it's the worst part of the day ;)

  54. I usually read all the Seekerville posts, but don't always get around to commenting. this time, however, I just had to chime in. thank for for such a wonderful and 'timely' post!

  55. Thanks Tracy for popping in. Good to see you!!

  56. I love FlyLady, Kelly!@!

    I have a few of those little tricks too.

    Never go up or down the stairs without something in your hands.

    NO ERRANDS or appts on the weekend.That is writing time.

  57. Wonderful words from the wise, Tina. You and God got it right -- Be Still.

    Funny, we're so tired all the time, yet being still is the hardest thing to do.

    Why do it if it's not important. I'm going to tack that to my screen at home and at work.

    I really do love your wisdom.

  58. AHH! Tina!
    I'm so happy you know about FlyLady!

    I just love it!