Image by Vivian Maier
So, I had to take a hard look at my life. I was feeling overwhelmed but it didn’t make sense. I work part time from home with super flexible hours. Why was I losing it?
Seems the answer is in the ‘super flexible hours’ and ‘home’ bit. I’ve paraphrased below from the book Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play when No One Has the Time
-In an interview with mothers in the Netherlands part-time working mothers had the most time pressure of all because they worked fewer hours in paid work than men but more than made up for it in hours put in on the unpaid job of taking care of children and the household. This is because their days are in stops and starts which makes time feel more collapsed.
I finally understood. I was NOT focusing on one subject at a time. Instead, I’d be writing, wondering about the laundry, prepping dinner, checking those damn emails that kept popping up, and not focusing on anything. I’d run from one task to the next without really setting aside time to properly complete something, and every time I returned to the task it would take me forever to pick up where I left off.
Another issue I have is the feeling that I must be busy all the time. I’m not alone. It seems that there’s a notion that the busier you are, the more you are thought of as competent, smart, successful, admired and even envied (again I’m paraphrasing from the book). Ask anyone, and I am definitely a busy body. I think this worked for me before I had a kid and had control over my downtime but with unpredictable sleep patterns, and an unpredictable kid, cramming my schedule is no longer an option.
Here’s how I am taking steps to take back control:
-Work in 90 minute uninterrupted chunks. No laundry, no food prep. Turn off email during that time.
-Write down the to-do list and prioritize. Accept that not everything may get done.
-Accept that it’s OK not to be busy all the time.
-Understand that it’s important (and healthy) for my son to play on his own. I don’t need to spend every minute playing with him. It’s also OK to spend leisure time NOT with my family.
-Plan for the day. What do I want to achieve? When it’s been achieved it’s OK to have down time.
-Be realistic, accept and move on. The cake I made for my son’s recent birthday party is an example. It was kind of a disaster, but it held together and no one cared.
-Move. I need to start getting some exercise in. This is a work in progress.
What about you guys? Do you have any tips? Do you feel overwhelmed?