It seems that I've been running nonstop, full tilt, tiger-by-the-tail crazy with deadlines stacked one behind the other since at least last Fall. I keep telling myself that as soon as I get past "X", (X being the next major deadline), everything will settle back out, and I keep running. Sound familiar? I'm guessing I'm not alone in this.
Earlier this month my folks, who happen to also be some of my very best friends, invited me to tag along on a cruise with them. Since we live about 1800 miles apart, we don't get to see each other nearly as much as we'd like. I jumped at the chance. While cringing at another week lost in my schedule, I thought it would be a good opportunity to review what I've been doing and how I might get it to work better as I was definitely approaching burnout. At least that's how I rationalized it going in. :)
I hadn't anticipated just how difficult it would be to say goodby to the Internet for the week. Out in the middle of the ocean, there are no cell towers, nor easy access to Internet, which I knew going in. What I hadn't realized was just how much I counted on having that access. Especially as I went into the trip knowing that I was way behind on my sadly neglected blog and my blog reading list.
Then to top it off, I returned just in time to start jury duty for King County Superior Court, where I ended up in not one, but two jury selection pools. With the second, I seriously started to think I might end up a juror on a criminal trial that could last several weeks. Yikes! All I could think of was my To-Do list, growing longer and longer as I fell farther and farther behind. Self-guilt and recrimination building that I 'hadn't planned things right'. That I couldn't do it all.
Well, I'm not on the jury as the powers-that-be decided to postpone the trial and start again with a new jury pool. Thank you! But the vacation and especially the panic attack have told me I need to make some changes. Since I know that I'm not the only one in this particular boat, I thought I'd share where I'm at.
Here's what I've come up with:
1) Admit that this is my life. I am an over-scheduler (do they have a 12-Step program for this?). I plan for months at a time, starting with the deadlines and working
backwards, figuring out timelines for tasks and expected bottlenecks. But I tend to 'Error on the Side of Enthusiasm' and I've errored quite egregiously of late. I get excited about an idea and throw it onto the pile. Surely I can stitch three beaded beads, build a window screen, do the accounting, weed the garden and paint the hallway today? As long as I keep doing this, my life will never be sane.
Strategic planning only works so-so when there's simply too much work for one person to accomplish.
2) Especially as life always throws you loops, good and bad. Minor construction projects that spiral out of control (like replacing an old oil furnace and discovering the tank has leaked underground and now you have a pollution liability cleanup situation), having to find a new studio space, pneumonia, unexpected (and quite lovely) vacations. The one thing they all have in common is they wreak havoc on a too-full schedule.
3) I like to sleep. Yep. Sleep is one of my favorite hobbies. I'm a useless zombie if I try to cut into my sleep schedule for more than a couple days at a time. Totally useless. Sleep is good. I envy those people who can get by with five or so hours of sleep at night. That's not me.
4) Don't automatically cut all my favorite things. Just because they're 'fun' doesn't mean they're automatically less important. Does anyone else do this? If something's fun, then it's not as important as the not-fun stuff you have to do? Only works in the short term, if even that.
4) It's Okay to Say No. (Or "Maybe Later" for those things I just can't say no to). I don't know which is harder, saying no to friends or to myself. I'm not terribly good at saying no. In fact, I'm pretty awful at it; friends and ideas come to me all bright and shiny and hopeful and well... You know what happens next. Then I run behind because there's too much to do, people think I'm a flake and I start hating myself. So I'm trying to learn to at least say "Maybe Later". And if it's a really great idea, I write it down on my list for that mystic time in my future when I have time.
5) It's Okay to Ask for Help. This last is particularly hard for me on several different levels. 'Asking for help = failure'. Everyone else is too busy too. Figuring out what could be parceled out.
I've been giving this last one a lot of thought. I have the nucleus of an idea here. One of the things I really want to do is to put together beading kits for my Fancy Fish. My current stumbling block is simply finding the time to stitch enough samples of the various color-ways so that I can photograph them for my Etsy site. Especially since with my early fish I didn't give kit-making a single thought and used whatever beads caught my fancy. Tracking down the same beads is a nightmare. I know because I've tried. And I've discovered that many people expect the kits to contain the exact same beads as my samples - close doesn't cut it. Did I mention I hate disappointing people?
So, I'm thinking about ways to reach out and ask for help in a way that's fun and hopefully useful for everyone. Expect to see more about this early next week.
Since this post is getting way too long, I'll wrap it up for now with a question. How do you decide what to keep on your plate and what to toss when life gets crazy?
And thank you for sticking with me!