I realise that there is the potential for this to be yet another article on particular techniques to make everything more manageable by scheduling emails to come in every 90 minutes or writing to-do lists but as usual it is the emotion of all of this that is of interest to me. We can all learn to develop techniques that enable us to work out what is most important to do but if we get honest with ourselves there are a whole heap of emotions that underpin the kind of decisions we make about where, what, how and why something has to be treated as more important than something else!
I am regularly confronted with one teenager groaning that I had forgotten that they said they were doing something (something in fairness that isn’t hugely important per se but is important to them) and another teenager requiring help with an essay that I feel utterly grateful that they are even attempting and want to grab the moment with both hands before they get distracted by a banal TV programme or the need to straighten their hair. Throw in a deadline for a workshop I need to create, a talk I need to write, the sending out of evaluation forms or a client I promised to send something to and bang! we have someone somewhere who is going to be upset. And what happens when we upset someone because we have let them down? We can get upset too.
For me it is the emotion of prioritising that I need to manage rather than the strategies. I know the strategies, I understand them and use them but sometimes life is bigger than a to do list. Most of the people I know are managing many things; families, projects, relationships, book writing, friendships, businesses, events. So how do we set about prioritising our workloads?
- Be more tolerant of others. If we want people to understand our lives then we need to try and understand theirs too. We are all essentially just doing the best we can.
- Don’t take what other people do or say so personally! If I get a cancellation, or someone can’t make something I’ve organised, then I trust it is because they have been through the process of deciding what is important on that day. We’re all adults and I make that assumption of people before I start. How are we to know the severity of a decision that someone has had to make?
- Be kind to yourself. We can’t be everywhere and we can’t be all things to all people. Fact.
- Learn to say no. I often think I’m really good at this but just this week, I didn’t say no to something and I ended up over stretching my diary at the detriment, on that occasion, on spending some much needed time with my children.
So by all mean do your lists, manage your inbox but also take care of the emotions that allow things to get out of hand in the first place. Leading a full and thriving busy life needn’t come at an emotional cost, but as with everything, it needs some care and thought…..
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