Overwhelmed. This is the word I’ve been using lately when I can’t get together with friends or make it to meetings. Instead I’m stuck here at my desk. Working for myself means I don’t have an employer paying half my Social Security taxes or any of my health insurance. It means I say yes when opportunities arise, crazily rowing from work drought to work flood. It also means time management is up to me and my skittering mind.
My oh my does it skitter. My attention-deficit brain thrives on starting multiple things, then branching out in more and more directions as the day goes on. I rarely make linear progress through one project, instead coming up with new angles on other projects while also jumping up to make coffee, get mail, walk dogs. I’ve thrived this way for years but it’s no longer serving me well. I get to the end of the day unable to check much off my to-do lists. Instead I make longer lists for the next day.
As I posted recently on Twitter, Can’t. Accomplish. Anything. Time is glue stuck in the jar of me.
I am profoundly lucky to do work I enjoy. It’s been a long haul to get here and I’m grateful to write, edit, and teach for a living. I don’t have much time for my own projects but know if I possessed greater focus I’d be making some progress on them.
I meant to write a paragraph or two here about getting beyond self-criticism and telling myself a more positive story. But you know that skittering mind I mentioned? Yeah, it’s skittering off in another direction.
Because it seems time has gotten more slippery of late. Morning somehow slides into afternoon’s lap or what feels like Thursday is actually Tuesday. A week takes forever but suddenly a month is gone. Time falls into a jumbled stew of our own crises heated up by the shock of each day’s news. It’s not just me. Friends and colleagues complain about this same problem.
On top of work and home pressures, I suspect the era we’re living in is so unexpected that it’s just too hard to concentrate on our own daily minutiae. Things like getting the laundry folded or the next big project done make less sense when each day overflows with startling political changes and new environmental outrages. Perhaps this swings our sense of time toward an altered trajectory.
Are you overwhelmed? Is time getting away from you? How do you cope?