Avoiding the traffic jam

Photo courtesy of Chris (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Chris (Creative Commons)

I have a traffic jam in my life!

I realized that is what it feels like when my obligations, responsibilities, worries and commitments hit all at once and suddenly I can hardly breathe.

It started innocently enough. “It’s only a meeting every month or so.” “That project isn’t due for a few weeks.” “Let’s meet for lunch next weekend.”

Somehow it all seems to be happening in the same month, or week or – gasp! – weekend! No amount of prior planning can help when you have back to back meetings or activities already scheduled. The key is in directing those activities ahead of time.

One of my three focus words this year is DIRECT (read more here) and I have admittedly not paid the proper attention to this particular word. I have let my life fill up with things that interest me and that I enjoy, but too many of those things can become overwhelming.

And if I’m being honest, the key word in that sentence is “let” my life be filled up. I have not deliberately involved myself in the things I need or want to, I have casually said yes to things that are interesting, but are not necessarily my main focus.

I need to be a traffic cop, and start intentionally directing more of my activities so that I can devote the appropriate mental and physical space and energy to them.

It’s hard to enjoy a conference if you check out mentally and spend the last portion of it planning your route home through afternoon traffic in order to be at your next appointment.

The week starts badly when you are so occupied over the weekend that you don’t even have time to run errands or take any down time.

No one benefits when you have meetings scheduled so closely together that you don’t allow for a mental break to prepare for the next discussion.

Like the police at an intersection, I intend to direct the flow of my activities more, and a well-placed “stop” might be necessary. Traffic from each direction cannot move forward all at once, so it’s necessary to stop one lane while the other goes and then alternate. I need to think of my obligations this way.

Maybe it means scheduling meetings with a buffer of time in between. It might involve asking someone else to represent me at a function. I am sure it would be beneficial to schedule an appointment for ME on the weekend so that I take a needed break to just sit on the porch or read a book. Or actually block out planning time on the calendar so that I ensure it gets done.

I am putting on my uniform and badge now. In what areas of your life do you need to be a traffic cop?