Mid-January 2018 Newsletter
Hello, and a marvelous joyous Mid-January to you!
Are You Trying To Do Too Much At Once?
Welcome, or welcome back, to my newsletter.
Today's issue has an article about doing too much at once, and how
it's actually counter-productive.
Just about everyone I know has too much on his or her plate, and
often tries to do multiple things at the same time. "Getting it done"
becomes the goal, thinking about the next 2 or 3 chores rather
than being fully present for and focused on the one at hand. As many
times as I've chopped up vegetables, I still occasionally cut myself
if I'm mentally planning something else, or writing a newsletter in
my head, instead of paying full attention to the yams or greens and
the sharp knife. Sometimes the pain from trying to do too much at once
In the early 1970s, the initial issue of Ms. Magazine was published.
Its goal was to raise awareness about women's often second-class,
over-worked and under-appreciated status. On the cover was a woman standing
on one foot in heels. She had 8 arms, one frying eggs, one typing, one answering
the phone, one dusting, one driving. Women don't have a monopoly on spreading
themselves too thin, certainly. I've seen several stories, though, of men who
took over their wives' job at home for a single day, caring for a baby, or maybe
a toddler or two. When they had thought she did nothing all day, and wondered
why the house wasn't clean when they got home from work and dinner ready, they
were reduced to tears from the demands of keeping the children safe and fed,
and managing the household, all by themselves.
So what do you do if you have too much to do? Attempting to conquer it all
at once can quickly lead to overwhelm, then to burnout where you don't want
to do anything. One thing which works for me, which is easy
to forget when I think I'm not getting enough done, is to take a
break! Go for a short walk, or play with the dog, doing something
fun to take your mind off your troubles which seem so big right now.
You'll return with renewed energy, and maybe even a fresh idea for
tackling your to-do list.
Another possibility is to get some help, instead of assuming
you have to do everything on your own. Do you have junior folks
at work who could take some of the mundane (to you) tasks
from your shoulders, and stretch their skills in the process,
while you are freed up to do other things? If it's at home,
could the kids or someone else in the household take on a bit
more responsibility for some chores?
Finally, maybe the to-do list itself needs some tweaking. Are you
considering something important which really isn't, and can wait?
Maybe instead of trying to convince reluctant teenagers to help out
more with the house cleaning, you decide the rugs only have to be
vacuumed every third or fourth day,
since the pets are gone and there's no more hair shedding. Be
realistic about what you expect, from yourself and from the others
around you. It's fine to have high standards, and often 80 or 90
per cent of "perfection" is plenty good enough.
Now when I feel that familiar overwhelm of too much coming at me, I see
it as a challenge. How can I approach this differently? Yesterday
I said no to a meeting with people I really care about, when a few other
urgent demands had just come in as well. It turned out nearly no one at
that meeting could make it either, and we had to re-schedule! Sometimes
it works out like this, and sometimes we have to make hard choices, since
none of us has infinite time or energy. And there is usually a satisfactory
solution to "too much to do", if we pause, breathe, and thoughtfully
assess the possibilities.
To read about straining my vision by trying to see too much at once,
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Enjoy the second half of your January.
I'll write again in a few weeks. Take care!