One of my talents – perhaps my best one – is that I respond well to crises. Faced with an emergency situation, I know instinctively what things must be done and which ones can be postponed or jettisoned.
I do the same thing with deadlines. I rarely finish something early, but I also rarely blow a deadline. If something is due by 5 pm, it will be filed on time. Other things will be put aside because they can be done at another time.
Under pressure, I know what is important and what isn’t. And I act on it.
Unfortunately, when I’m not under pressure, that skill disappears. Faced with my three-page, single-spaced, probably incomplete list of things to do for my move, I find myself meandering around, doing the tasks that don’t drive me crazy or the ones that are pushed to the top by outside forces.
And I’m afraid that’s going to continue until the move hits the crisis point.
I’d rather that didn’t happen. Even though I’m good at them, crises and deadlines cause stress, and I don’t like what stress does to me. I eat badly (because I need a reward for dealing with all this and sugar is a quick and easy reward), don’t exercise (no time), get too little sleep (no time), and get very grouchy.
There are several reasons I’m not good at structuring my time.
- One is that some of the tasks on any to-do lists are things I don’t want to do, so I tend to put those off.
- Secondly, some of the things on the list – writing projects, for example – are likely to take a lot of time and energy, which might mean that I don’t get to other things that must get done. So I put those off.
- Third, when I do finish one of the more stressful items on the list, I’m very proud of myself and don’t get the other things done.
- Fourth – and most essentially – I am a random thinker, not a linear one. I’m almost off the charts on this one. I can think linearly, but I find it unpleasant.
I always think understanding why something happens will show me the way to fix it, but the truth is more complicated. I’m not sure it’s possible for me to force my brain into logical planning unless I feel that sense of crisis.
This is not a plea for advice. In fact, please hold the advice.
I do not want to be told I need to skip reading my email and the news and do my key work when I get up in the morning. (I do that when I’m in crisis mode or on deadline, but otherwise I prefer to putter.)
Nor do I want to be told about dealing with each piece of paper as it comes in. Or not buying new clothes without throwing out old ones. Or how some people go through their houses once a week and get rid of all the unnecessary stuff.
It’s too late for that now – I have a house full of stuff that needs sorting – and anyway the odds are that it ain’t gonna happen. I make those resolutions, but I never keep them.
I’m just venting and sharing. Or whining.
It is said that women talk about their problems not to get solutions, but just to share, while men supposedly seek – and offer – practical advice. I don’t think this breaks down so neatly on gender lines.
I went to lunch the other day with a male friend who had a tale of woe to share. I kept trying to think of solutions to his problems, but the truth was, he just wanted to tell someone else about them. He wasn’t looking for help, just sympathy.
So am I. I don’t want help. I don’t even want someone else to take over my things to do list. I know that if I let someone else sort and pack for me, they’ll throw out the wrong stuff.
But sympathy. Yeah, I’ll take all the sympathy you’ve got.