I have to admit something. Sometimes I have fantasies of having a personal assistant. Someone taking care of all the little things and handing me a file with the words “I took care of …..blank for you and made an appointment for you at blank for Friday, lunch is scheduled and I called the such and such company and cleared up the problem with ….blank. etc” I picture a young, sharp girl handling all that un-fun muck of life and then passing it to me with a file and cup of coffee.  Dreamy!

PA girl with imagination

Real life is nothing like that for me. I’m calling the cable company, pediatrician, chasing up the bill for whatever or getting things fixed that are broken etc.

I started thinking about how to channel this fantasy into some energy that might fall vaguely under the category of self care. What if I just mentally switched roles and occasionally think of myself as a my own person assistant.  I really do have a big imagination.

PA girl pretending to work

 

Anyway, I pretend I am taking care of my boss. And that boss is me.

Changing my mindset changes my attitude. I have to say this little game with myself has got me thinking back to my childhood days and my Cordon Bleu experience.

PA dad and I in the snow

Thanks Dad!

When I was young, my family went snow skiing and my dad would always help lay out our clothes the night before making sure we had just the right “gear” for the weather the next day.

It was like a tiny person on the floor near my bed but without the human in it. There was the hat on top, layers laid out and then the double pairs of socks on the bottom.

PA dad marie and I dressed for snow

When I woke up all grouchy and grumpy, no decisions had to be made….nothing to forget, it was all there and I just put it on.

PA me skiing as a kid

 

I also took a Cordon Bleu cooking class in London before I had kids. It was intense and we were graded each day on our plates after a speedy cooking session preparing classic French dishes. One of the most important things I learned was the concept of Mise En Place, French for everything in it’s place.

cooking school

This concept suggested that everything would go better, faster and more efficiently for the cooking if it was all laid out in place first. All the equipment, knifes, raw foods, spices, butter, and other ingredients were set up in a certain way that allowed minimal movements between steps in order to cook the dish within the time allotted – we always had three hours. I know it sounds long but it was not for what we were making and it was a race to the end. If you didn’t lay it all out, you could lose valuable seconds. It was exactly like those reality cooking shows with a lot of steam, bubbling and stress.

I may not look stressed in this photo because this was the end of my final exam. This French chef/teacher was tough!

I may not look stressed in this photo because this was the end of my final exam. This French chef/teacher was tough!

Stress. So, if I walk into my desk in the morning and it is full of stacks and half finished bits from the day before, half empty cans of diet coke or cups of coffee then I’m immediately discombobulated and have to dig out before figuring out where to start. If my kitchen is a wreck from the night before or my closet is a pile then I shape my day with a fair amount of starting from behind. This happens sometimes but I am trying to be a little better about putting on my personal assistant persona the day before and resetting my desk, kitchen and closet.

At my desk, I try to throw out the trash, take away the empty glasses and put the stacks into my files or at least organize them.  Ok call me crazy but just go with it for a minute…. try to talk to yourself in the third person “What would SHE want me to do for her to set it all up right for tomorrow?  What can I do to make HER day better tomorrow?”   (I’m of course referring to myself but not when I’m thinking like the personal assistant…I guess I should give her a name).

PA woman with laptop and phone

 

I try to make time to check my to do list and make a new one for the next day carrying over what I didn’t get done and blocking out time to exercise etc. If my eyeballs are rolling in my head from exhaustion, I do this in the morning.  I’m sure all of you have your systems for those things but I really try to make sure my desk looks cleaned up and decent.

For kitchens and general clutter around the house that can drain your energy or cause you to lose valuable morning time searching for keys or glasses,….I like to go back to FlyLady.com. She’s been around for a long time and I needed her online encouragement for cleaning up in zones around my house a lot more when my kids were little but I still like her Shiny Sink theory and Progress not Perfection encouragement. Check out her website if you are starting to spring clean. She has lots of great printable lists and good information.

What I’m trying to say is that one way we can take care of ourselves is to think of ourselves as worth taking care of….And that includes doing little things for yourself that IF you had a personal assistant, you would LOVE to have done for yourself!  I am really grateful to my “assistant” when I see my desk or sink the next day and it’s all ready to go.  Easier said than done some nights but Progress not Perfection and BabySteps.

Channel your inner Anna Wintour and then think like her personal assistant. I hope you get a raise!

Best,

Ivy

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