On Being Busy

20 Aug

It only occurred to me today that I never posted on Thursday last week.  Oops.  Chalk it up to the momentum carrying me away last week.  Seriously, it’s been a crazy few weeks.  I worked nearly 30 hours per week at my retail job for two weeks straight, which would have been fabulous if I hadn’t also been working 35 hours per week at my consulting job.

As a result, I started seeing a lot of things fall through the cracks.  I forgot to return emails, I fell way behind on self-imposed deadlines, errands and household tasks went unfinished, and if the rabbit didn’t make so much noise when she’s hungry (or glare at me with a wall-penetrating stare), I’m not sure that I would have remembered to feed her twice a day.

Insert Monty Python rabbit/dynamite joke here.

Last week, I was finally able to catch my breath.  I worked less hours at the retail job, and made a concentrated effort to catch up on things I had set aside or forgotten about.  This week, I have no hours at the retail job, since they’re training a new employee on store opening and closing.  I also had a very productive Saturday, in which I ran errands, planned a month’s worth of Sunday School lessons, and with the help of two friends made significant progress on two costumes for Dragon*Con at the end of the month. I was feeling all kinds of proud of myself, and I celebrated by planning out the next week’s deadlines with a new enthusiasm (what, doesn’t everyone enjoy setting new deadlines?).  After all, this week I finally have time to get it all done!

Then I remembered that I’m going to Denver on Wednesday.  As in, just on Wednesday.  My flight leaves Atlanta at an obscenely early hour and lands back in Atlanta at an obscenely late hour (technically, so late that it will be obscenely early Thursday).  Don’t get me wrong- I’m super excited about this trip.  It’s an in-person meeting with the people for whom I’ve been working for over a year now.  That’s right- the virtual consulting coworkers become real people with faces and everything on Wednesday.

The big problem is that I’m not an exceptionally good flier.  I’m not one of those armrest-gripping, panic-at-30,000-feet people, nor am I one of those sleep-on-your-shoulder/remove-my-shoes-in-first-class people.  I’m one of those can-the-plane-just-drop-to-the-ground-because-this-leveling-off-descent-is-making-me-nauseous people.  As a result, I need to take an anti-nausea pill before each flight.  With my flight schedule on Wednesday, I have three flights within fourteen hours of each other.  Normally, three flights would mean three pills.  But since I’ve long since graduated to prescription strength anti-nausea medicine, I’m not supposed to take more than one pill every eight hours.  So now I have to figure out a way to a) not hurl on the plane, b) not overdose on anti-nauseas and sleepwalk through my meeting, and c) stretch time so a) and b) aren’t problems anymore.

This is my ideal airplane. Also, my ideal pilot.

Basically, I come to realize that I’m never not busy these days.  There’s always something for me to do, and there’s always three other things that I should/could/probably ought to be doing.  At first I thought that it was just the nature of having five jobs, but more and more I’m realizing that just about everyone else is just as busy.  We all have a dozen things clamoring for our attention at any given moment, whether it’s a phone, email, television, child, spouse, pet, boss, annoying wasp that someone let into my office, etc.  It’s getting harder and harder to just relax and focus on one thing without feeling guilty that other things aren’t getting done.  (Except for that annoying wasp that someone let into my office.  I will spend hours hunting that thing down without any shred of guilt.)

I used to want to learn how to stretch time so I could fit everything in.  Now I’ve realized that the real trick is not fitting everything in, but leaving the right things out.  It’s learning how to prioritize my life and shut off the excess noise.  It’s treating one day a week like my birthday and jealously guarding it from work and other appointments.  It’s realizing what can be dropped without taking out everything else, and it’s rearranging everything else to make it fit into the hours.

That’s the real trick.

I have not learned this trick yet.

Also, I want a TARDIS for my birthday, which really is on Saturday.

Someone get on that for me, please?

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5 Responses to “On Being Busy”

  1. Sue Maden August 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Katie – you remind me of a combination of both myself and my daughter. My daughter because like you, she’s has a strong sense of responsibility about all that she takes on. And boy does she take on a lot. And myself, because I too had to learn to prioritize. A million years ago when I was in college, I took a psychology class in which we were assigned to do a behavior modification project on ourselves. I chose to teach myself how to relax. Like you, I felt guilty if I wasn’t doing one of the dozens of things on my “to do” list. I’m happy to report the experiment was a success, and I did learn to set some things aside. As you said, it’s sometimes down to figuring out which things will live without you for another hour, day, week, forever. And at some point I heard someone refer to their “to do” list as their “glad to do” list, as a reminder that we do have a choice, and we can be grateful we have the energy, health, family, etc. to do the things we want to do. So it’s not just about prioritizing but also about perspective. Well done you for beginning to figure this out at a young age. Good luck on getting that Tardis!

  2. kim August 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    Does this mean you are missing Art Night?!
    I would totally miss Art Night for David Tennant…..

    • Losing My Cents August 20, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

      Sadly, yes it does mean I am missing Art Club this week. I am saddened by this, but I am sure you will somehow figure out a way to carry on without me. Hehe.

  3. Becky August 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    Stay calm… and have a bag handy, just in case.
    🙂
    Relax when you get back!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. On Being Really Busy « Losing My Cents - August 24, 2012

    […] Monday, I wrote about being busy, and how I wanted to learn how to let myself relax and let some things go.  Having worked five […]

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