Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Thoughts On Being Overwhelmed

(I may have to purchase this shirt for myself, via Pinterest)

I am here with an extra post. Yeah! Actually the reason I have time to write this is because I am home with a sickly baby. He started running a fever yesterday at work so we stayed home today to make sure that he was on the mend. Thankfully, he is napping and eating and seems to be getting better.
A week ago I posted a photo on Instagram confessing my very cliche struggle with work/life balance. It is a pretty typical problem. We all have a lot of things our plates. A lot of it is good stuff or just plain important stuff, like work and spending time with our families. Some of the stuff is just boring, like scheduling doctor visits or paying bills. No matter what the mix is, we would all agree that it is a lot. It usually is not that big of a deal. We are used to dividing our time and attention. Sometimes though, the amount responsibilities and to-dos can overwhelm me. You know that quote in The Lord of the Rings? Bilbo is talking to Gandalf about feeling old. He says he feels "thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” That is how I feel when I get overwhelmed by all of the things I have to do. I don't like this feeling at all. It isn't pleasant. I am not enjoyable to be around when I am stressed out and I am not very productive. 
So what is a girl supposed to do? The short answer. I don't know. I was staring at my calendar and to-do list last week thinking of what I could better, how I maximize my time, wondering what got me in this spot in the first place. One thing I realized in the moment was that the answers to those questions really didn't matter right then. When you're stressed out and facing a deadline, it is not the time to be focussed on secondary issues. That is when you take a few breaths, promise yourself you will learn from your mistakes, and attack the problem or task right in front you. 
Thankfully, I am past that point and I am experiencing a little relief in the stress department. Now I have the time to ponder how I went wrong and what caused me to overextend myself. A couple of things have stood out to me.
One, I am need to not make pleasing people my main goal. I tend to overextend myself when I want to impress people. That usually happens in the area of work. I want to be a good employee and I desperately want to add value to the organization, so I take on extra tasks. I want to be the person others can trust to get work done and someone who goes above and beyond. While these are noble things, I need to be more realistic with how much time I can actually spend working. If I am constantly stretching myself too thin, my productivity is going to go down overall and I will not only fail to accomplish the extra tasks but I will not be able to do my core job. I need to be ok delegating and be honest about my limitations. 
Two, I need to be more disciplined with my time management. I need to guard my time carefully and not let it slip away. This is especially important in the mornings. I am not a morning person. I have a hard time waking up. I love to enjoy my morning cup of coffee and wake up slowly. This is not the most conducive thing for getting out the door on time. This last week I decided to bump up my wake up time from 7:00 am to 6:30 am. I wanted to have my coffee finished before I had to get the little guy up that way he would be content to play in his pen while I got ready. This has made a huge difference in how I feel. I am arriving to work less frazzled because I am getting there earlier with less hassle. There are still some areas I need to work on, like not being less distracted and procrastinating but I already feel like I have made progress just by making this little adjustment. 
I know there will still be times when I feel overwhelmed. That is life. It doesn't mean that I don't have control over how I act and what I do when those situations arise. I don't have to live in a pattern of stress and relief. I can make small, real changes that make a difference in my day to day life. There is always opportunity for improvement and there is always room for change. I don't like being overwhelmed, so why would I settle for a life that is characterized by that feeling?


  1. How much I can relate...and I do believe the battle for balance will follow us, quite possibly, till death. I like your simple, practical approach to improve, with enjoying your coffee before little man wakes up being one of my favorite tips. My morning runs better when I've had a smidgen of time before the crew emerges. :)

  2. I remember one of my professor's in school talking about work/life blend instead of work/life balance. The idea being that word balance implies equal time and effort spent in both areas while blend implies a more a mixture. His point was that balance is impossible to achieve because we can't spend equal amounts of time on both and do a good job at either. Instead, we need to blend the two and the blend would change based on life stage, deadlines, personal constraints etc. I having been trying to keep that in mind as well but it is hard.