Sometimes, life gets so hectic that there isn’t much time to reflect. There is so much to do that I feel like I can’t afford the time to make a list. It is times like these that it is most needed to take a pause and get organized.
Admittedly, not all of my focus has been on PBDD. This summer, I had a daughter getting married, another one starting graduate school in Canada, and I have been helping my mother relaunch into a smaller space with more socialization and support.
But no one likes to listen to about how busy other people are.
The reason I’m writing on the topic, other than that I’m trying to wrest it under control, is to share some of what I’ve found helpful. I write to remind myself (and you) that these things come in waves, that I have lived through this before, and that it’s good to use the coping mechanisms I’ve used in the past.
I enjoy walking outside, and often try to use that time productively. I read, I listen to podcasts, I respond to emails, and sometimes I compose blog posts. (But I’m not walking outside today, as our temperature has topped 90F once again.) When things are most hectic, I need to force myself to get unfocused. I make sure I have something I can take notes on, and instead of working on a task, I let my mind float past all the item’s I’m concerned with. When I tell myself , “You should be working on X”, instead of tackling X, I write the subject on my list and try to set it aside. When my mind comes up with other things I should be doing, I write those down as well. I keep walking and writing notes until I can’t think of another significant thing that isn’t already on the list.
Keeping the list electronically might fit with a digital framework, but it feels better to have it on paper, so that I can cross out the item when it is complete. When I feel like I need to be doing something useful, I pick up the list. Sometimes, I attack an easy task. Other times, I do something to make some progress on a bigger task on the list, adding a note. Usually within a couple days, I’m feeling better about the set of things I need to get done. There are additions to the list. Some tasks end up spawning multiple new items. As the number of crossed-out items overtakes those yet to do, I feel more in control and less overwhelmed.
A task may stay on the list for a long time, and I end up with a list that has a couple of items that I’m just not going to get to in the foreseeable future. But when I look back and see the things I have done, I feel good about the list. I may move the leftover items onto a new list or I may just shrug them off as not that important for now, and trust that if they become critical, they’ll show up on a list that future Barry can worry about.
So that’s what I do. Having the list makes it more manageable, mostly because it lets me focus on a single item, knowing that the other items are written down and won’t be forgotten. And reducing stress while getting things done? That’s what I consider “a win.”