Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Busy, busy, busy

I'm so busy. Swamped. Completely stressed. Can't keep up. I'm totally, completely at my limit.

Have you heard one of more of these statements lately from a friend, co-worker, or even the person in front of you in line at the grocery store? Or is it you who has uttered one of these phrases?

It seems we Americans like to drive ourselves to our limit. AND tell everyone within earshot how absolutely, completely, totally productive we are at all times. After all, isn't that what life is all about? Doing as much as you can, as fast as you can until you completely burn out? Only lazy people take time to leisurely read a book. Sit in a hammock and enjoy a glass of lemonade. Listen to the spring peepers. Play catch with their child in the backyard. The rest of us have WORK to do, thank you very much.

Still, how productive can we really be? No one is "on" 24/7. And thank goodness as it's really not a healthy way to live.

Sometimes trying to cram everything in really makes us less productive. Tell me if this sounds at all familiar:

Sit down to pay bills. Calculator--where is it? Locate calculator. Pen is out of ink. Find new pen. Where are the stamps? Uh-oh, the little pea pod is waking up. Need bottle. No clean bottles? Argh! Wash a bottle and fill it up. Heat it. Too hot. The pea pod is turning red and waving angry fists! Bottle ready, feed the little guy. Ooops, spit up on my shirt. The dog needs to go out but can't put the baby down. Put wet burp cloth on pile of bills. Argh. Oh no, dog peed on the carpet. Phone ringing. Can't answer. Might be work-related and the little pea pod is screeching because he does NOT think he has any burps to share. Message on the answering machine--was work. Make note to call back later. Cats chasing each other and knock over the vase of flowers on the table. What were they doing on the table?! Baby is wet. Change baby's diaper. Little pea pod smiles. Cute! Where's the camera? Phone rings again. Husband with question. Laundry is done washing. Quick get it into the dryer or on the line before forget it in the washer again and it spends a day and a half stuck there! Uh-oh, what's that smell? Crap, forgot that I was heating lunch up on the stove. Scalded pan. Baby has lost his pacifier. Find pacifier and realize how many cobwebs are living under the radiator. Good grief~I'm exhausted. Now where did I put that calculator?

The situation might be different for you, but we've all had those days/weeks/months. That feeling like you just can't catch your breath. The sense of wanting "just had five more minutes" to focus unhurried on something.

While we live in a crazy, busy world, it doesn't become any less so by trying to cram 14 things into a half hour time slot. In fact, research shows that "multi-tasking" is actually less efficient than doing things more slowly but taking your time with each one.

Yes, you have a lot to do. Yes, everything feels like it needs to be done now. But it really, truly doesn't. (I tell myself this about five times an hour.) Advice columns in magazines will tell you silly things like, "ask for help--you're spouse/mother/brother/roommate will be happy to help you if only they know what you need." Well, depending on your situation you could ask until you're blue in the face! While there is certainly nothing wrong with asking for help, there's a simpler solution.

Ready? Here it is:


Or at the very least, do it less perfectly. (Perfectionists out there, brace yourselves.) Yes, the bathroom has to be cleaned. But do you need to scrub the floor on your hands and knees? Clean the linen closet every week? Dust behind the toilet? Let something go and see if you don't feel a little, tiny bit more relaxed. And really, isn't it the perfect time of year to relax and let go a little bit?


Faith said...

I could've almost written the same "running" commentary, minus the "pea pod" myself! Thanks for the reminder to slow down ('cause if I don't, I'm bound to break something really valuable)!

CyberCelt said...

I clicked over from the Conscious Shopper. My son is grown now, but I remember the feeling so well.

Luckily I had a friend I could call and she would come over and take the baby while I did what I needed to do. Sometimes it was just take a real bath. I was a single parent and this was a lifesaver to me.

But, I skipped a lot of the things I "should, coulda, woulda" done for things that meant something to my son.

ChicChick said...

Amen to that! I know, sometimes I have to just take a deep breath and remind myself that it's worth it to leave dishes in the sink if it means I get to see one of my son's smiles.

I can't imagine how hard it would be to be a single parent--kudos to you!