Red Herrings

Posted: 22/07/2019

Red herrings throw us off the scent and distract us from what we need or want to be doing. What red herrings do you use?

I picked up Inside Out: A journalling Kit and selected the card about red herrings. It made me think about how we often separate what we want to do and what we need to do, from what is easy to do. I find it easy to start baking (especially on a cold day) or to finish off that bit of ironing because this is easy. It certainly appeals to me more than sorting out my paperwork or preparing my tax return—my need to dos. And it is infinitely less challenging than going through those old boxes of stuff that have accumulated in the shed, awaiting a decision of whether to keep or not.

So how do we start?

Maybe it’s putting pen to paper or fingers to keys, and like the card suggests, ‘List as many things as you can think of that you: NEED to do, WANT to do. Now priortise your lists. Step out and plan what you will do to achieve your priorities.’

Sounds easy if you say it quickly!

But maybe journalling in the form of writing lists—breaking the needs and wants into smaller steps, and recording progress—may just make the activities more achievable and fun. Even some photographs or sketches along the way could embellish the story. Remember to record the funny bits, the frustrations, and the beautiful moments.

You know, as I’m writing this, I am drawn immediately to a task at hand. It’s time for my parents to tidy up the farm and sell it. But, there are boxes upon boxes of papers, old furniture, games, knick-knacks, and that is just inside the house! The task seems overwhelming, but weekend after weekend we all get together and set our minds to one corner of the garage, or one filing cabinet, or one shed.  This is definitely a need to do, and requires willingness to let go of ‘stuff’.

We can all let the red herrings get in the way of meeting up, and the task is not an easy one, but we are spending family time together, reminiscing about different moments over the years, and coming together as a family on a regular basis.

Let’s face it, as the card mentions, there will always be red herrings, and you’re always going to be busy with something else to do, so making lists and prioritising tasks might just park those red herrings for a while. The need to dos can be very fulfilling once you set the red herrings to the side, and maybe journalling can be a helpful tool to get you started and keep you motivated.

Georgena Stuckenschmidt

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