I have done it again

horse - César AstudilloHas this ever happened to you? You get organized and have a great list of things you need to do. And then all of a sudden, you get really busy – meetings, unexpected issues, family commitments, and craziness – and suddenly you are out of control. You end up putting out fires. You are taking care of the things that are yelling at you the loudest, and then by the end of the day you are exhausted and don’t have the energy to review your list or stay on top of things.

You might add to the list, but you don’t take time to mark things off or to review the priorities. So instead of taking care of things early, you end up hitting and missing and being late or frantic. Whew. Sound familiar?

It feels like the time at camp when I was riding a horse that started galloping before I was ready. I was bouncing along, unable to do anything but hang on and not fall off. What a scary feeling, and what a relief when the horse finally slowed down and I had control of the reins again.

As you can guess, I’ve been going through this lately. Feeling completely overwhelmed and inundated, knowing that there are things I need to deal with but not taking the time to sort it all out. Reliving that ride on the galloping horse!

Until this morning. I decided I had had enough, so I stopped and went through my pages-long list.

What I discovered is that because I wasn’t taking the time to review it properly, I had added a few things several times – and had done a bunch of those things but they were still hanging out on there. A couple of tasks took literally a minute to do – it actually probably took me longer to stop and write it down than to have just done it in the first place.

Once again, I am struck by how critical it is to set aside time, even just 15-20 minutes, at least once a week to do my review. Surprisingly, reviewing my tasks freed up all sorts of mental energy and clarity because now I wasn’t worrying that I was forgetting something important, or processing the other things I needed to get done in the background while I was trying to focus on the task at hand.

My list is not elaborate or in any fancy program right now. It’s just written on a pad of paper. Simple. Easy to deal with. Uncomplicated. But I feel like I’m reining in the craziness, I’m more in control again, and I can focus on getting done what needs to be done – now.

How do you rein in the craziness when you are overwhelmed?