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?



17 thoughts on “Overwhelmed

  1. Thx for writing. Overwhelmed is a good words for me too!

    I am not sure who sent me to your work but I like how you think and process… often we come to the same conclusions, sometimes we don’t.

    I am thankful for the beautiful writing you do, the hard work of processing thoughts and trying to understand the world around you and then writing about it.

    I just recently discovered that we live in somewhat of the same area (I’m in Solon Ohio) which makes it fun for me to know a writing hero lives close.



    Liked by 1 person

  2. I will rant here a bit, because well.. Overwhelmed definitely. A new job after four years, youngest now in school, and a feeling of too much privilege to have gotten all of this. I probably started reading your blog due to a wish to homeschool.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These days, I’m content if I just get us fed, clean clothes on our backs and the washing up done. I have been looking at the same black mark on the floor in the bathroom for several weeks, but my butterfly brain doesn’t hold onto the fact that I need to clean it once I’m out of there. Same with the dirty windows, dust kittens in the corners and huge quantities of weeding in the yard. I cling to my creative work like a drowning person. My sewing room has a thick mulch of thread and snippets on the floor, but the work surfaces are pristine. There at least, I’m in control…

    Liked by 1 person

      • Staring down the barrel of 60 as I am, I’ve finally realised that certain things matter more than others, and so long as we’re well-fed, healthy and reasonably clean, all the rest is gravy. I find my creative life infinitely more satisfying than vacuuming, and that includes all forms of creativity, from writing through sewing to making stuff out of what other people throw away. Thank you for the kind words, and the link 🙂


  4. Laura, it feels like you reached inside my brain and wrote down how I feel, word for word. Like you, I am self-employed – a freelance editor and writer – responsible for my social security, taxes, etc. I take most of the work that comes my way, as I never know if I’ll have more work next week or next month. I’m overwhelmed by work most of the time, and often have three or four jobs running concurrently, so my brain is in a tizzy. And sometimes, when I’m already up to my eyes in work, a really interesting job comes my way that I can’t bear to say no to, further adding to my workload.
    Meanwhile, my own projects – my blog and other writing projects – are put on the back burner. In fact, they’ve been on the back burner so long now that I fear they’re burned to a crisp. My sister is setting up a writing and editing business and wants me involved. I really want to be involved but, as with such vicious circles, I lack the time to commit to what I really want to do because I’m caught up doing the day-to-day stuff I have to do.
    I very recently became a single mum and, although I am pretty organized when it comes to the chores, groceries, cooking, etc., I find myself starting work at 6am and finishing work at 11pm, all so that I can have a few hours with my daughters in the middle of day when they come home from school. Working immediately upon waking and until immediately before I go to bed is not good, and I want to get out of that habit somehow.
    Due to the unexpected circumstances of my recent separation I find myself, next Wednesday, taking my daughters to spend four days with their dad and grandparents in the middle of England. While they’re there, I have booked myself into a hotel in a not particularly pretty English city. I have decided not to take my laptop, but instead a couple of books I’ve meaning to read for ages, pens, pencils and notebooks, and I’m very much looking forward to four days of decompressing, writing, and figuring out how to make some tweaks to my work life to make it not quite so overwhelming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve described my projects too — “they’ve been on the back burner so long now that I fear they’re burned to a crisp.”

      But your stresses are far greater than mine, dear Martina. My kids are now grown and I’m not dealing with something as difficult as a separation. I am sorry for the load you are carrying. May this new direction lead you to unexpected and bright opportunities. Thank goodness you are taking some vital time to decompress even in a not-so-pretty place.


  5. My thoughts exactly.

    I have found that using a bullet journal is helping me capture all that needs to be done in my different worlds that are a part of my life.

    Putting family and friends and fun is also required.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me too Gail! I’ve been using my own (easier) version of daily activity journals for a few years now and it does help. The main idea I stole from bullet journals is putting specific shapes in front of each item. I use a circle for physical activity, a triangle for out-of-the-house appt, square for work, that sort of thing — then fill each one in as I do them. It makes the little kid-who-likes-to-color in me happy. And yes, family and friends and fun are essential!


  6. Laura, You are describing the world right now. Coping is not possible, in my opinion. I heard this from a comedian: Trump is like a horse loose in a hospital. The horse (and Trump) is not supposed to be there. He knows he’s not supposed to be there. Serious Damage, of course. We need him out of the hospital.
    Keep your heart light and light will be coming….

    Liked by 1 person

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