January 22nd, 2010

humped zebra

A lesson I keep re-learning

I have a problem with trying to do too many things. Not just as numbers on a list, things you could tick off by sitting at a desk and grinding them out: too many big things. Programs. Retreats. Long-term goals. Trips. Offices.

The fact of the matter is, you have to balance the time you spend working with time off: really off. And the time you spend working can't all be banging and slamming on big things. You need days where you catch up, piddle around, plan ahead, do routine things.

Long ago, I learned that the day was divided into three parts: morning; afternoon; evening. You should, as a general rule, never try to work all three of these. One of these periods needs to be for you, to play or read or have fun with somebody. If your work is like mine, and you have tons and tons of evening meetings to attend, then you need to sneak off in the middle of the day and relax. You can't keep going otherwise.

What I'm now finally learning (again) is that you can't do all big things in your work. You need time to prepare for, and wrap up after, the big things (trips, programs, retreats, projects). Really Big Things (Philmont, for instance) take regular time over a long period to prepare for and wrap up after. And yet, at least half your work days need to be filled with routine stuff, "light work," in order to 1) "pay the rent" at your job, and 2) rest up so you can do the big things.

I've got too many big things on my plate. Then, I've got too many Really Big Things in the offing. And it's not just a matter of time management to get them done. There are just too many of them. So, I'm at the Whatever You Want, the Answer is No stage until further notice. I get there ever so often and stay there until I get the backlog worked through.

But it's still not a satisfactory method of dealing with things. As a very goal-oriented person, I need to figure out how to achieve my goals without running myself into the ground.