By TMoM Team Member Anna Keller

Toward the end of August (a.k.a. solidly back to school season), I was shopping at Target with my 5-year-old daughter and was unhappy to see an abundance of Halloween items already out at the store. Halloween just so happens to be my favorite holiday, so my frustration didn’t come from a disdain for the holiday itself. Why WAS I so annoyed by this in such a knee-jerk way, I wondered?

I realized I was angry that, thanks to Halloween-themed stuff all throughout Target, my brain had fast forwarded from August to the end of October. And the thing is, life is already moving fast enough without any extra help, thankyouverymuch, Target!

The whole thing got me thinking about trying to find the appropriate balance between being present and planning ahead. As someone who loves being productive and is definitely Type A, planning and DOING are favorite activities for me. But, at the same, time since becoming a parent I’m more cognizant of time than ever before. I’ve worked on becoming more aware of the here and now in any given moment.

In doing a bit of research into this topic, I came across a few tips I found helpful:

  1. When thinking ahead to the future, notice whether you’re worrying or planning. They’re two very different things. Worrying can pull us away from the present in a big way. Planning can keep us grounded in both the present and the future at the same time.
  2. Planning ahead often means you’re more able to be in the present. If you’ve gotten tasks taken care of and upcoming needs addressed, it’s easier to have the peace of mind that all is well. That calm can shift seamlessly into presence, since those tasks are no longer looming over you in this moment.
  3. Develop a consistent system to help you capture things you need to take care of. I know I personally have to write my to-do list down – every last item – or there’s no guarantee I’m going to remember it. And when I know there was something I needed to do but I don’t have a written reminder I can reference, there’s no way I’m able to be present. My mind just spins as I try to think of that specific thing! Once I write my list down, I know the tasks are captured. I also know they’ll get done.

So essentially, it seems like productivity and presence can co-exist in a healthy way. In fact we NEED both to live a healthy life.

I might continue to roll my eyes when I see those Halloween decorations out in mid-August. But, I have to say it also inspired me to go ahead and order an Olaf the Snowman costume for my 18-month-old son. (His older sister decided LAST Halloween that this year she would be Elsa – a costume we already have – and he would be Olaf. So we’re going with it!) Now that the costumes are checked off my list, I’ll be ready when the Halloween season DOES come around. (For me, that’s October!) I’ll be able to have one less to-do and, as a result, enjoy it just a little more.

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