40 in 40 · Mesorah (Jewish stuff)

One Thing At A Time

He (Rabbi Tarfon) used to say: It is not your duty to finish the work, neither are you at liberty to neglect it.

Pirkei Avos 2:16

Today I had planned to go out on my biweekly shopping trip. I’m doing my best to keep my shopping (and, indeed, all my going out of the house) to the bare minimum, and I find it an enjoyable, if unfortunate, challenge to see if I can really make it a full two weeks without having to run to the store (I almost can, I’ve had to restock milk for the baby. Plus, I don’t have teenagers, and my kids barely eat, so that makes it more possible).

But last night, instead of making my menu plan and shopping list, I chose to go to sleep. It was the right call, but it means that this morning I woke up already stressed out.

My internal dialogue went something like this: And I have to do this, and I have to do that, and this is today, and did the kids do that, and the laundry is backed up and the sinks are full of dirty dishes and I saw a couple ants on the (dirty) floor of the kitchen and and and and

I took a deep breath. I made myself a coffee. I said brachos. I wrote in my journal.

After centering myself, I was able to remember my current mantra: whatever.

It’s okay if my plan for this week needs to be adjusted. It’s okay if I go shopping tomorrow instead of today. It’s okay if my menu plan isn’t made yet.

I’m going to make a list of things I need to do, and one thing at a time, they will get done.

How do you manage your to-do list, especially when it’s impossibly long?

–Featured Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

4 thoughts on “One Thing At A Time

  1. You’re going to kill me, but…

    You mean your bi-monthly shopping trips.

    Bi-weekly means you are going twice a week!

    (I was like: GIRL! Why are you going to the grocery store twice a week?! Stick up!… And then I saw you are going twice a month!

    That’s bi-monthly.


    Please excuse any errors. This message was sent from my wireless thingamajiggy.


    1. Lol, I appreciate it, but it also means every two weeks. Just like bimonthly means either twice a month OR every second month. I double-checked it before I posted. English is weird, I know.

  2. Perhaps most of your readers are in the young family phase but I am 79 and love reading about your busy life. Where you are I once was and where I am you will someday be. Hopefully though, never in a pandemic again! I found it difficult to slow down, give up my volunteer jobs, visiting friends and neighbors whenever I wanted, browse shop, attend church, fly to Baltimore whenever I wanted, and just live outside myself when this thing started over two months ago. What a shock to have to stop all that and live a new life with only my dog as company! Thank you, Rivki, for your writings. Your children are beautiful and although your life is hectic, it is your life to love and enjoy for the moment. All things change in the blink of an eye. Love to you.

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