I've got big news. I'm finally down to an overweight BMI for the first time in probably a good 18 years. I owe it to you all and I thank you. But that's not what this blog is about.
I had this topic kinda planned so I do want to write about it. As for the BMI thing, there's always next week. It ain't going anywhere. Except downward. :)
I've been totally overwhelmed lately and so have many of my friends. I think it's this time of the year. The weather changes, school starts (even if you're not in school, it does still affect what goes on in the world. Here in the World's Largest College Town, the effects are rather drastic), leaves begin to fall, etc. Carefree Summer slips away and is replaced with Responsible Autumn. And suddenly you're overwhelmed and feel like you're running in place.
I originally wrote this as a post on a friend's page and then realized, hey this would make a good blog entry, so I've expanded it a bit.
Here's the rules (Or, at least, my idea of same. Your mileage will vary).
* Say "no" once in a while, say, to every 5th thing. Good, bad, big, small, just say no. You can't. Too busy. Overextended. The cat needs to be shampooed. Whatever excuse you can come up with or even try flying without one. After all, you accept that from others, yes? So they'll accept it from you. Say no and move on.
* Once you've established that you say no on occasion (e. g. you have boundaries), start to cull your preexisting stuff. That is, say "no more". Let's say you've done it 50%? 75%? 90%? Then maybe it's time to hand it off to someone else, whatever it is. Let's say you're making a quilt. Maybe hand it off to a friend (or even your daughter if you have one) and see how it goes. If you're handing it off to your daughter, you might need to supervise of course, but what would happen if she did it, or did some of it? Would the world stop spinning if it wasn't perfect? And maybe, just maybe, it'll be a little better, that her lack of experience could be charming, or her lack of preconceptions could bring in fresh ideas. By the way, next time, try doing this earlier in the process. In other words: delegate.
* Corollary to the second one, particularly if there is no way to hand it off to another: say "we're done". Or, rather, YOU are done, but the nicer way to say it is, the whole thing is done. What I mean is not to abandon things at their height, but to simply drive a stake in the ground at some point when it's appropriate. Columbus pitched a flag into Hispanola and declared, "I claim this land for Spain!" He could have walked in five feet or five miles (I have no idea which), and it ultimately didn't matter. He just declared he was done. So stick a fork in some things sometimes. Claim this land for YOU.
* Get away. For a minute. For an hour. For a day. For a week. Whatever can be budgeted in. I have a friend who I walk with, an hour or so, every week or every other week. We have it as an Outlook recurring calendar item. Sometimes we reschedule, or work intervenes and we can't go. But every Thursday the reminder (Thank God it's Thursday!) comes up, and we at least think about going. And often we do. Last week, we walked past the Aquarium. Next week it might be to Beacon Hill. It need not be with a friend and it need not be walking. Sometimes you just need to get outside, or get up and stretch, or take a bubble bath. Do it. The junk you have to deal with will still be there when you get back, and it wouldn't be diminished or added to that much if you were or weren't there for a minute or an hour or a day or a week. So get outta Dodge.
* Get organized. The house keys have a home (mine live on a rack by the door). The canned goods live in one particular cabinet. The clothes are massed by type, or color, or outfit, or season, or level of formality. Whatever is your system, make it, embrace it and use it consistently. A few seconds here and there, getting the canned goods in the right cabinet or the clothes in the right order, will save you serious time down the pike. This kind of time investment pays you back with interest.
* Once you've got a few of these going, pick and choose what else you want. Some things are mandatory (you have to pay your taxes; the kids must be fed; etc.) but for the things where it's not quite such a stark requirement, be selective. Don't want to host the Xmas party like you've been doing for the last three years? Then say you can't do it. And if it falls through, well, that's unfortunate, but maybe the people who you would have normally invited will begin to come around to realizing that someone has to make it happen. Either they'll ask you to do it again (you need to be firm!) or will drop it completely. Decide which is better, which is worse. And if it comes back to you to host it again, insist on help.
* Finally, hate to say it, but multi-task wherever you can and wherever it makes sense (and is safe: don't text and drive or anything like that). That is, use your time as efficiently as possible. Email. Call. Use cut and paste. Microwave stuff if you need the time. Chop the vegetables while the pasta water is boiling. Run the printer while you're on the phone. Have short meetings instead of chasing a bunch of people -- bring them together (and focus!) to forge a quick consensus and give everyone their marching orders. Get your cardio in by walking your errands (dry cleaning, etc.) instead of driving.
In short -
* Don't take on too much more. Stop being everyone's go-to for everything.
* Delegate and hand off.
* Stop projects a little early if you can. If not every i is dotted, unless you are performing brain surgery or rocket science, no one will either notice or care.
* Take some breaks and "me" time and separate yourself from the hustle and bustle when you can. Even small chunks of time can be very meaningful.
* Get a handle on your life by spending some time organizing things. Hunting for stuff is very time- and labor-intensive, so minimize the time you spend doing that by spending some organizational time now.
* Be choosy (where you can) when it comes to future projects. Do a cost-benefit analysis in your head - will this work for you? Will you get a lot out of it? For things that are more trouble than they're worth, let 'em go.
* Multi-task and hyper-efficiently use your time as much as is practical.
Above all: hang in there.