Friday, March 20, 2009

Shame on me

This has been one wild ride of a week. One of those too much to do, not enough time to do it kind of weeks. One of those weeks where all the things I’ve been putting off because of other things turned into things that simply couldn’t be put off anymore…all at the same time.

It’s the kind of week where you find yourself regretting every second of “me” time you took this month, you know? “If I hadn’t lazed around all afternoon on the fifteenth, I could have gotten X and Y done, but noooooooo, I was ‘tired’, I ‘deserved’ blah blah blah…”

You can firmly tell yourself that you do indeed need downtime every so often as much as you want. The little frazzled voice inside your head has no pity for you whatsoever.

You coulda, you shoulda, and if you had, you woulda avoided this whole mess.

And now we come to Friday, and while the list has gotten a lot shorter, it has gotten no less urgent. Still nothing I can say, “OK, and this I will push off to next week…”

Well. That’s not actually completely true. Lots of stuff has been pushed off to next week. Which means that it, in turn, will loiter around being put off until it turns into a FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! WHOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP! Somebody call the fire brigade, we’ve got ourselves a four alarmer over here!!!!

And you know what? Shame on me. This whole exhausting, stress-inducing fiasco could have been avoided so easily…if I’d just remembered what I learned about time/life management from Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Basically, you’ve got this set of tasks that fall into four general categories, or ‘quadrants’ as Covey calls them:

1. URGENT and IMPORTANT – looming deadlines, house on fire, kid stuck in a bucket
2. NOT URGENT and IMPORTANT – taxes due ‘soonish’, business planning, maintenance
3. URGENT but NOT IMPORTANT – phone ringing! cat puking! meeting to discuss the meeting to discus the plans for the meeting on the fifteens of Octember!
4. NOT URGENT and NOT IMPORTANT – video games, gossiping, watching brain candy on TV, etc.

Most of us tend to spend our whole lives puttering around with 1, 3 and 4…ignoring 2 until they “suddenly, without warning” become 1s.

We all know that if we had dealt with these URGENT and IMPORTANT things while they were merely NOT URGENT and IMPORTANT, by golly, we’d have much calmer, saner, smoother-running lives. It goes not only for mundane things like housework and advertising campaigns, but for purchases. How few of us actually make the savings goals and treat them seriously and are ready when the day arrives? I wish I could play holy on that, but you know what? I have been suffering a serious bout of screwing-it-up-itis lately.

I have to pay three sets of taxes next month, what we still owe for 2008, our first quarterly installment for 2009, and the property taxes on the Den.

I am playing a serious shell game, getting all those things covered. Why am I having to do that? Because I didn’t plan well enough, that’s why. I can come up with enough excuses about why to choke a cow, but push come to shove it was because it was NOT URGENT and IMPORTANT…and I was alternating my time between the other three things, saying that I “needed” a break from IMPORTANT things.

And sure, I do. Everybody needs a little R&R in the mix.

But see, thing is, I could have saved myself an awful lot of grief this week, and probably next, if I had just been a bit more disciplined and kept my head in the game. Spent some time sharpening my saw, instead of screaming that I didn’t have time for that, can’t you see how busy I am trying to cut up wood with a blunt freakin’ saw?!...followed by saying I can’t sharpen it right now, I’m bushed, I need a break, I need some video games and knitting and just sitting here staring at the comforting flickering lights of my TV…

I’ll sharpen it tomorrow.


Some other time.

Which I know is a recipe for disaster. It’s going to result in me spending all my time in that first quadrant, running from fire to fire.

SO! I’m going to take a step back this weekend, reorganize priorities, and try to get those important but not-actually-on-fire-right-this-very-second things handled now.

Try to get back to a place where I spend most of my time in that quadrant instead. It’s not only easier on the old stress-level, it fosters greater success in whatever you’re trying to do.

I’ll be happier, and a lot less crazed, if I do.

And I can stop shaking that finger at myself, too. Which would be nice, because I just annoy the crap out of me when I start that nagging thing. If you’d just taken care of that when it first hit your desk, you wouldn’t be all hysterical right now…

Yeah, yeah, thanks a bunch, y’bleating auld goat…naaaaaaa-naaaaa-naaaaaaa…


Anonymous said...

You are so preaching to the choir on this one. Every night I give myself a pepe talk about the important non-urgent things and then promptly move to quadrant 4 ;-). It's good to be reminded of the havoc it can cause.

ellipsisknits said...

It's good to hear from you again, if only because it implies that you had time to post again, I was getting worried about you!

By the way, was 'a kid stuck in a bucket' one of the crises this time around?

Anonymous said...

This seems to be a lesson we have to learn over and over, no matter how smart we are.

Galad said...

And over and over and over. I know better. I've taught time management classes. Damn that "I deserve to have some lazy, reading, knitting, cat petting do nothing time"

Ok - I'll work on it too.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. I hear you, I hear you....I just don't LIKE it!