Lately, my schedule has had a huge to-do list every day. I move from one task to the next with barely time to plan ahead. I thought I'd share three slightly embarrassing wake up calls that made me realize that it's time to slow down and do things differently.
Last Thursday morning, looking at the day's events ahead I decided to book a couple of personal afternoon appointments at the end of my workday that I had been putting off.
I called my dog's groomer to see if I could bring him over to get his nails clipped at 3 p.m. Then, since I looked like a sheepdog myself, I booked a hair appointment for 4 p.m. I plugged them into my scheduler to get the reminder half an hour before having to leave.
I felt in control! I was on fire!
At 3 p.m., I left the house. As I was driving, I thinking of the best order to fit in as many other errands before getting to my hair appointment.
As I approached the groomer's, I realized I forgot something very important. I forgot the dog! Groan! It could happen to anyone right?
I thought to myself, not for the first time in my life, that I may need to take stuff off my to-do list.
Later that evening, I spoke to my mother about a monthly medical appointment where I will pick her up at 6:30 the next morning. I also spoke to her nurse at the residence. Everything was preplanned and all the boxes were checked.
I felt in control! I was on fire!
Friday morning, when the alarm went off, my husband reaches over and asks me "aren't you supposed to be gone to your mother's by now?" It was his alarm that woke me; not mine! I have a whole new definition for the saying "fast and furious". Sigh!
A couple of months ago, I had taken my mother to one of these same medical treatments. As I was driving home, thinking of my next task, I was trying to remember if I had told the nurse everything I needed to. That's strange, I couldn't remember what I had told the nurse?
OMG, I hadn't spoken to the nurse, I suddenly realized that my mother was still waiting for me, sitting in a wheelchair, next to the security guard, while I had gone to pick up the car. Oh no!
She was only there for a couple of minutes but the guilt was intense! Thankfully, I realized right away as I live an hour away.
A couple of months ago, this was an aberration. Not likely to happen again. A story to tell at her funeral about the challenges of caregiving. But now, thinking back, it is time to get off this merry-go round. Obviously, this is not working anymore!
Not my first rodeo
About 17 years ago, I went to my doctor wondering if I had Alzheimer's. I was forgetting things that were important and seemed simple to do. I had read about early onset Alzheimer's and became worried. There were tests and chewed cuticles involved.
Although I had learned to manage my distractibility from my ADD, there was an additional diagnosis added that day. My doctor chuckled and simply said that I had too big of a to-do list.
He made me realize that I rarely said no and I didn't have a good sense of how much my calendar could hold. Some people called it the Superwoman syndrome. Looking back, I think I needed to feel needed at the time.
I had to learn to say no.
Actually, since then, I realized that, for me, boundary setting is heavily affected by feelings of guilt. When I catch myself saying yes out of guilt, I take back the yes. Nobody dies if I change my mind.
Lately, as a solopreneur, my overabundant to-do list is not created out of guilt but rather out of fear. Like all new entrepreneurs, I worry about doing what everyone is doing! I haven't figured out how to hire and delegate to others instead of doing it all myself. First of all, I'm not sure what to delegate. And what if I have a leaner month and can't easily pay later down the road? Fear!
Since I like lists, I made up a list of what this is costing me.
- I suffer from insomnia, thinking of my many simple tasks
- I forget to take care of my health trying to do all those easy and time consuming tasks
- My creativity isn't sharp (from lack of sleep and lack of self-care)
- I gain weight and look older (lack of sleep has many side effects)
- I miss doing stuff just for fun so my days are less joyful
My dog and my mother notwithstanding, it's easy to see that this list demonstrates a problem. Not wanting to spend money by delegating to other people, I was losing out on sleep, health, creativity, looking and feeling good, and joy. I needed a new list.
Although I ask my clients to reflect on what things mean and/or cost, it's time to use my own metrics on myself. I saw this when I was a counsellor. People went on trips, redesigned their kitchens and upgraded their cars while refusing to go to a psychologist, therapist or even a physiotherapist if their health insurance didn't cover it.
In my corporate trainings, it is common to have women participants talk about feeling taken for granted, especially around housework. Recently, one woman talked about how it was affecting her relationships with her husband and adult children who didn't follow through on their promises. She felt more and more dissatisfied and unhappy going home.
In brainstorming solutions, it was put to her that she could find housecleaning help to do their portion and present them with the bill. She said she didn't want to upset them. One of her colleagues asked her "Yet it is OK for you to be upset? Every day?"
Do we muddle through thinking we can manage? Or do we start looking at certain expenses as an investment into our well-being and joy? Sometimes, paying someone else to do a simple task is a bit like paying those uninsured health professionals.
I know a few women entrepreneurs who made the decision to pay a housekeeper while they built their businesses, even though it was an expense that their husbands disagreed as a necessity. They could not concentrate on building a profitable business if the house was dirty so they paid a housekeeper. They are wise women.
I now have a sparkly new to-do list for my business:
- Take care of my health before the business
- Figure out the time-consuming easy things I can delegate and pay for it without guilt
- Stop comparing myself to others
- Only tackle one new big project at a time until I have mastered it, I am making a profit from it and can delegate it
- Ask my husband to get the dog's nails clipped
I considered adding a housekeeper but I procrastinate whether the house is clean or messy. So, that one didn't make the list. This time!
If you wanted to increase your productivity, efficiency and personal joy, what would your list look like?
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