Stepping off the treadmill

I am overcommitted. Again. There are some lessons I can’t seem to learn.

In my defense, some commitments have grown since I took them on. One 8-hour work commitment has ballooned into 25 – 30 hours. When this happened, instead of standing up for my basic quality of life and asking for a reasonable deadline extension, I just smiled and said, “No problem.”


So anyway, this morning my brain was running nonstop on the “Oh-no-I’ll-never-get-it-all-done-in-time” treadmill of shame and despair.

Just as I felt my head might explode, I stopped, closed my eyes and breathed. Sounds goofy, but it was a great call. Yes, I lost 15 precious minutes during which I could have crossed something off my list. But I calmed down, and I had an epiphany. Ready for it?

I am right. There is no way I am going to get all of this stuff done today, or even tomorrow. No matter what I do, it’s not going to happen. I know this because my basic grasp of math tells me that completing roughly 40 hours of work in one day is not possible no matter how efficient you are or how little sleep you allow yourself.

So there is no point in trying. I am behind and will be until I can catch up. Period.

The only thing I can do is manage some expectations about when I will deliver on my commitments. And I’m sure the reactions won’t be as bad as I fear. I am very good at fear (as we know) and not so good at imagining people being reasonable.

Stopping to breathe might not be brave, but it is much more sane than what I had been doing. And taking the time to write this blog instead of working? Fearless.

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16 Responses to Stepping off the treadmill

  1. bigsheepcommunications says:

    Averting a head explosion was the right thing to do and unless you’re in the middle of performing open heart surgery, your projects can just wait a little longer, right?

  2. notquiteold says:

    You might think about which of your tasks you really DON”T WANT TO DO. and then…DON’T DO IT. And I don’t mean for now. I mean don’t ever do it. Give it up. Trust me…it feels GREAT!

  3. Nothing like a good freak out every now and then. But then you prioritize and get on with it.

  4. Stopping to breathe is brave, especially when it takes 15 minutes of productivity away from the treadmill. We should all do that more often, I think. Or, at least, I should!

  5. gatehouse13 says:

    HUGE epiphany! I had a whole week like that with a customer that pushed and pushed for more every day. Finally when my stress levels reached about the same as yours I finally had to say – stop – no – you can’t have that today. Much like you it kills me to have to say no, I’m a horror for the smile and ‘yes of course’ just like you. But heck it felt good to finally call a halt to the mayhem and say no, you can have that next week. If I hadn’t how would this customer ever understand that there are limits to what is humanly possible? Good on you for recognising that Rome can’t be built in a day!

  6. winsomebella says:

    Half of the battle is having the ability to step back and look at what is happening and redirect. Breathing = Very brave.

  7. I’m very good at saying no. See that, no. Nope. Nada. Don’t think so. No way. Zero. Zilch

  8. workmomad says:

    You can do basic math? I’m impressed! I was a math major for my undergraduate degree, which meant, of course, that basic kitchen math is pretty far beyond me!


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