In late March 2016, as I was getting ready to return to my full-time academic job after 13 months’ maternity leave, I had a session with one of the people in my peer-support group. Five minutes into my session, I realised how overwhelmed I felt. Through a flood of tears, I rattled off about 20 items that I was doing at the time: I was taking a certification course in Compassion Key, offering practice sessions towards my qualification, doing another online course on clearing blocks around time, singing in a choir, doing tai-chi in the local park, taking violin lessons once a week, blogging, editing my manuscript – the list went on and on, and this was even without other important things, like my kids, husband and home. How was I supposed to fit 40 working hours on top of all of that? I wasn’t willing to let go of things I loved, but something had to give way.
And it did, once I cleared the limiting beliefs and frustration that kept me stuck and constantly overwhelmed. Gradually, what’s important came to the forefront, and what was secondary fell away, at least for now. As I eased back into working life, my schedule became more manageable. I was still super busy, but with my key priorities clearer. The truth is I couldn’t do all of those things well, if I tried to do them at once. Now, I’m looking at my calendar in a new way. For example, I’m batching up activities: writing up several blog posts in one go, scheduling them and not worrying that I may not have time on the day I’d like to post. It keeps me focused on the task and doesn’t let it spill all over my week. I’m also considering having a few free days every month when I plan to do very little. That free time is as important to productivity as doing lots.
Do you feel overwhelmed at times, dear reader? How do you cope? How do you distinguish between what’s important and what’s urgent? I’d love to hear from you.