There’s Work (and Then There’s the Real Work)

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There’s Work (and Then There’s the Real Work)


My blog post ideas usually hit me on the head when I’m having a bit of a struggle in my life.

Today’s struggle was getting my kids out the door and to their school. This seems relatively straight forward in theory and I’ve even developed a checklist for each of my kids to complete in the morning. It’s on the fridge – I mean, seriously, what is so hard? Here is the list:

  1. wake up – 7:30 am
  2. get dressed
  3. eat breakfast
  4. put dishes in dishwasher
  5. brush hair
  6. brush teeth
  7. find water bottle
  8. find agenda
  9. ask mom/dad to sign agenda
  10. put lunch in bag
  11. put water bottle in bag
  12. put agenda in bag
  13. put coat on
  14. put shoes on
  15. tell mom/dad you are ready – 8:30 am target

I look at that list and think – “we could be out the door in 5 minutes!”

Yet this morning, despite getting up at 6 am, we were still not ready at 8:30 am. In fact at 8:30 am, I was thinking to myself “are the cops about to knock on the door because my neighbours have called about a potential domestic situation in our house?”

What had gone wrong? Why didn’t my list work? Why hadn’t we gotten to school with success today?

Nothing was wrong with my list. My kids had followed the list and they are very good at following the list but there is something major missing from my list.

Then I started thinking about the parallels between my work at home (getting up, getting ready, getting places on time) and my paid work (bookkeeping, preparing tax returns, financial planning).

Both my work at home and my paid work seem to have very concrete, achievable outcomes such as being in your desk at school at 9 am and a completed budget (my favourite type of paid work – no deadlines…).

On the surface, both types of work seem straightforward and easy.

I’ve got the “get to school checklist” and I’ve got my budget template. Both, in theory take a set amount of time to complete.

But I am finding that this work is just not taking the amount of time I think it will.  It is taking a lot longer. Plus, there appears to be angst (for lack of a better word) when getting out the door and when completing budgets.

Because the real work is not in completing the items on the checklist or filling out my amazing (yes – it is a thing of beauty as many of my spreadsheets are) budget template.

What is the real work?

Well, for getting my kids to school, it would appear to be keeping my children separate from each other so that they have zero interaction in the morning. Again, that is what it appears to need to happen on the surface, so this morning I was thinking up strategies for that (kids eating in different rooms, kids wearing blindfolds with me escorting them from room to room). But no, no – again, that is not the work.

The work is figuring out what is going on underneath the surface with my kids that is leading them to find new and ingenious ways to torture their sibling (both psychologically and physically).

That is the work I need to do with my kids and I tend to avoid it. It is hard. It involves communicating with their dad and figuring out times we can all discuss things as a family. It involves seeing family therapists. It involves communication with grandparents to help them understand that the discipline that worked for their children does not seem to work for my kids. It involves research, time, trying new things and being open to new things. It requires huge effort, time and commitment. Why can’t we just follow the checklist (oh why oh why oh why)?

Because the checklist does not solve the underlying emotional and communication issues that my family appears to be having.

This leads me to my beautiful budgets. And I’m going to be more specific here.

This leads me to my beautiful budgets that I can help you prepare. You are likely at a point of transition in your life and you need help figuring out where you are at financially so that you can make decisions going forward if you are asking me about a budget.

I can help you do your budget and yes, I often say it will take me approximately three hours to do so. One hour to gather information, one hour to input and tweak my spreadsheet so it still adds up and ties into my tax calculator and one hour to review it with you.

“Oh – that’s easy!”

and yes – it is easy.

But as my kids have so thoughtfully demonstrated to me this morning, it is only easy on the surface.

If you are at a point of transition in your life where you require my help then I’m going to ask you something. What is going on under the surface with you that is going to extend the time spent on this budget process? And then I’m going to challenge you to do the work to deal with that as well as the fun part of filling out my budget template.


Because I want the work I do for you to be successful. I can do a budget with you (it’s quick) but there is no point in doing this work if it doesn’t get rid of the angst that is happening in your life.

This leads me to my new spiel when describing how long a new job will take.

“This will take _ hours if I work in a complete vacuum from the moment I get the information I requested from you.”

” But because working in a vacuum is not reality, it could take anywhere from _ hours to never being finished. We will figure it out as we go along and I will be sure to keep you updated as best as I can.”











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