Do the Next Thing

“Do the next thing.” I can’t tell you how helpful this phrase is to me.

Right now, it’s room time, when my three-year-old naps and my six-year-old plays quietly in his room, and I have about 30 minutes before my next interview. I’m trying to decide whether to get a workout in before I shower, to finish cleaning the bathrooms, to work on clearing the piles of clutter from the kitchen counter, to finish my Bible study homework before class tomorrow, or to get the beef stew cooking in my InstantPot.

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We have already done breakfast devotions and breakfast. I have unloaded the dishwasher and scrubbed the sink. My son has been extra wiggly lately, so instead of Morning Basket today, where we sing hymns, memorize Bible verses, read literature, and more, we took a field trip to the beautiful Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash., and walked a steep 3.25 mile loop, which included a stop at the bottom to observe sea lions and a bald eagle and stop at the top to play on the playground.

Often, this part of the day is my pause button, but it’s also when I’m the most anxious about all that’s weighing on me, including my kids’ progress in learning to read, article deadlines, and upcoming deployments.

This is when I tell myself, out of habit, “Do the next thing.” I can pick one thing from any of my systems. I can do today’s cleaning chore, using Clean Mama’s system (“every day a little something”). I can cook the meal, using Instant Loss’s meal plans. I can do a workout, using FitnessBlender’s eight-week workout program (I’m in the middle of my third program, FB 30 3). I can even pick one of my six to-do’s written down on Paper + Oats’s designed task printables.

All that matters is that I pick one and move. My goal every day is to have down time with my husband at night, so that pushes me onward when I’d rather nap or scroll social media.

I’ll never get it all done, and my counter will probably be finally clear when my kids move out of the house, but the goal is progress, not perfection. .

6 Go to the ant, O sluggard;
    consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief,
    officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer
    and gathers her food in harvest.

— Proverbs 6:6-8