Reflection: Suppose you’re chatting with a friend and she tells you that, in addition to working full time as usual, these are the projects she has planned for the summer: repaint the house, dig up a new vegetable garden, xeriscape the front yard, host a friend’s outdoor wedding, build a new deck on the cabin at the lake, take her parents on a weeklong roadtrip, manage her son’s softball team, and chaperone her daughter’s soccer team on a trip to Minneapolis.
Any thoughts? Any advice?
Suppose the list shifted from personal projects to an equally lengthy list of workplace assignments with the regular family and community responsibilities ‘on the side’.
Any thoughts? Any advice?
I can’t help but think of the old parenting adage: “Be careful how you load up your plate. Your eyes could be bigger than your stomach.” The same caution applies to our ambitions beyond the dinner table. Far too often, our aspirations outweigh our capacity. It’s little wonder that overload is so often the order of the day.
Action: What, then, is the preventive medicine to keep us from landing in a state of overload quite so often – especially with projects that are within our control or under our influence?
A great first strategy is to minimize the fact-free planning. Don’t settle for a wild guess and a rough estimate on what’s involved and how long it will take. Draw on the experience of others who’ve done something similar. And, if you are normally pretty optimistic, ask a pessimist what could possibly go sideways. Get real about how long each project is likely to take – in best and worst case scenarios.
Strategy number two is to honor capacity. Yes, the days of summer may seem long, but they’re still only 24 hours in length. And despite a strong will and the best of intentions, our physical capacity often falls short of the example set by the Energizer Bunny. We do not have unlimited energy, and we’re not always operating at full strength, either. A bout of insomnia, a surprise problem, a health crisis, a last minute opportunity – any or all of these can affect our ability to give things our all.
Partner more accurate estimates with acutal capacity and adjust accordingly. Show a little compassion for yourself. Sure, go ahead and make that list. But, before you dive in or sign on, make like Santa and check it twice! Sober second thought can go a long way towards short-circuiting overload before it strikes.
Quote Of The Week: I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter. – Walt Disney
Resource Of The Week: Check out my new article in the Pauseworks Library titled: Renewing Energy & Commitment In The Workplace.
Readers Write: In response last week’s message, How Well Do You Pace Yourself, Pause reader JB writes: Just had to chuckle at the two images that came to my literal mind after reading your great post. One was walking all around Seattle with dear friend, Nancy. She’s 5’0 and I’m 6’0. Our strides both had to compromise to enjoy the sites.
Then I often laugh out loud as I watch the Westminster Dog Show. The trainers have to match their pace to the type of dog. Those miniatures trot and trot while a trainer just walks. Then the big dude dogs have a turn and the trainers become winded. Lessons for pacing all around us!