It’s Thursday, so I’m Crafting my Life! I invite you to join in the fun. If you would like to share a story from your own journey, please drop me a line. If you’d like to find out more about my online class on living with intention and my upcoming e-book, visit craftingmylife.com.
I have been spending a lot of time lately observing my work habits. It’s been fairly enlightening to see where they’re helping me, and where they’re hurting me. For the longest time, I was convinced they were all good, and that in any case I couldn’t change them. It was just how I operated. I believed, for example, that I could remember everything, and that writing stuff down would interfere with my progress. Other people would suggest using calendars or organizational systems and I would roll my eyes and sigh. They just clearly didn’t understand me, and how I operate.
These days, I live and die by my Google Calendar. In fact, just minutes ago I remembered something I was supposed to do today, but it had totally slipped my mind. I thought it was in my calendar, but somehow it wasn’t, and so I didn’t make it. There was a time when I would have just expected myself to remember, but whether it’s my increasing age or the fact that I stay up too late every night, I just don’t have the memory I used to. And, what’s more, I’ve found that when I use tools like Google Calendar, I’m more productive, and I don’t end up double-booking or forgetting stuff as often. Imagine that!
I’m rambling a little, but my point is that as I spend more time examining the way I work, the more I discover that my habits aren’t set in stone. And, what’s more, many of those habits actually aren’t helping me. My approach to handling my workload is a good example.
Because I am a big Anne of Green Gables fan, I find myself using the expression ‘it never rains but it pours’. In the books, Marilla used it, and it means that everything seems to happen at once. This is how I felt about my workload for most of my adult life. It seemed to me that I either had nothing going on, or everything going on. Now that I work from home and have two kids, it’s more often everything than nothing. Partly, this is because I have unrealistic expectations for myself, when it comes to what I’ll be able to pack into my day. But an equally big part is related to how I handle normal fluctuations in busy-ness.
Let me paint you a picture: I have a to-do list that is miles long. I have no idea how I’m going to get through it, but somehow I (mostly) do, and I come out the other side. At this point, I still have stuff to do, no two ways about it. But whatever’s left isn’t as urgent and pressing, and I frankly need a break, so I take it. I ignore my inbox and avoid social media, until something urgent comes up again. And then I panic and return to operating at full throttle. Meanwhile, all of those little things that I still have on my plate haven’t gone anywhere, even though I know that doing some of them would actually simplify my life considerably.
You could say that I spend much of my life moving from crisis to crisis, and then running for cover when I get a moment to breathe. I’m not beating myself up for taking downtime – we all need some from time to time. On the other hand, though, I can see that if I spent less time in crisis mode, and more time planning what I have to do and allocating a reasonable amount of time time to do it in, I would probably be more productive and happier. I would have more predictable rest periods, and life would be sunshine and rainbows.
Okay, maybe not. But constantly putting out fires simply isn’t working for me.
Since we’re into mid-November now (aside: how did that happen, exactly?) I’m starting to think ahead to next year. One of the things that I’m thinking about is how this year has gone, and how I can improve my life in the year ahead. This year, my focus was on finding space, and I had mixed results. Next year, I think I need to switch things up, and find a way to move out of crisis mode and into a way of working that actually works for me. I don’t know how exactly I’m going to do this, yet, but I think that recognizing the problem and being open to solutions is a good place to start. I’m holding it in the back of my head and I’m working on it, and I’m trusting myself to figure it out.
In the meantime, I’d love your input. Do you find that you’re constantly moving from crisis to crisis? How do you avoid that? And which of your work habits are negotiable, and which aren’t? I’d love to hear!