Yesterday was definitely one of those days.
The sort of day in which I went to badge in at work and, in my mental fog, tried to use my Metro card instead. And then I wondered why it didn’t work.
The sort of day in which I said, out loud and in the office, “I’d be happy to do that as soon as possible, but it’s imperative that I have more caffeine if I’m going to do anything worthwhile today.”
The sort of day in which there were simply not enough hours in the day for me to do all the stuff I need to do.
I needed to stay late at work, go running, cook dinner, wrap gifts, go to the UPS store, vacuum my increasingly filthy kitchen, drop off my favorite shoes to get re-heeled…the list goes on. And on and on and on.
Whenever life gets like this — when I have more items on my to do list than there are minutes in the day — I go into hyper-strategizing mode in an attempt to get everything done as quickly and efficiently as humanly possible. I try to carefully plan what will be done and when in order to maximize every available moment, and I become a one-person war room/operations center.
The thing is, half the time this process just stresses me out more. If there’s a clear-cut answer (i.e., take out the recycling on the way to the grocery store, use the crock pot and run while dinner cooks, etc.), then it’s all good. But if there are too many variables involved, I just start spinning my wheels.
And then the freak-out begins.
I come up with a bajillion different plans, none of which seem to be very good. I’ll then jump between those different plans with such ridiculous frequency that I start imagining myself as a frog.
A case in point: during finals the first semester I was in Israel, I had so many things to do – and so little time in which to do them – that I spent the better part of 20 minutes thinking of ways to maximize my time, but not really committing to any of them.
I’d decide to drill Hebrew verbs now, and do errands later – but while en route to my favorite isolated corner of the library, I’d realize that the stores I needed to visit had variable hours and might be closed once I was done with my verb drills. So then I’d decide to do the errands first, maybe have a snack, and then spend quality time with the verbs. But then I realized that if I ran errands first, I might not have time to meet with the Arabic study group…
A friend found me wandering in the student center while lugging my back-breakingly heavy load of books, mumbling to myself, and starting to panic.
So she told me to get a cup of chai and just focus on one thing at a time. As it turns out, that was excellent advice.
So yesterday, as I started to descend into that dark place once again, I amended that advice just a bit: I’ll do one thing at a time and get as much done as I can in the time that I have.
I decided to trust that I’d get it all done as quickly as possible, and that if it turned out that there wasn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything, that’d be okay.
If my cookies aren’t in the mail in time to arrive in NC and Seattle before Christmas, well, so be it. My best friend won’t cancel our friendship, and my Granddad won’t disown me. (I choose to look at it not as failing to get gifts there on time, but rather as helping to extend the Christmas celebration.) If I don’t drop off my shoes in the next 12 hours, the world will continue spinning and I’ll continue wearing other pairs.
I had to stay at work even later than anticipated — but as it turns out, once I got home there was enough time to cook dinner, prep my lunch for today, clean the kitchen, and prep the NC- and Seattle-bound packages that I need to ship. There wasn’t enough time to run or drop off my shoes, but that’s okay. There will be other days for that (like today).
Not surprisingly, this really helped me chill out – once I realized that I can’t expect myself to carry out super-human feats like forcing 28 hours of productivity into a 24 hour day (or defying the laws of time altogether and creating a 28 hour day…bwwwhahahahahah), I relaxed.
I focused on what I knew I could get done — which, as it turns out, was a good portion of what I needed to do — without giving myself a hard time for the 25% that will be taken care of today. And, lo and behold, not giving myself flack = a happier Lillian. Who knew?!