You think to yourself…”I have a tight schedule today. I have to knock out this paperwork, work on that project, go by the bank, send out 10 emails, and cook dinner.” Your day is packed and you need to be focused and knock things out. But the project you wanted to wrap up took an hour longer than you expected. You only had 10 emails to respond to, but while you were responding, 5 more came in that require a response, and you are behind where you thought you would be. At this pace, you won’t get everything done, so you want to push harder. Just as you bear down to knock things out, your cell phone goes off.
It’s your spouse calling to tell you about the hell of a day they are having. They seem upset, so you try to listen, all the while being distracted by your hell of a day. Finally, the weight of everything gets to you and you say, “Listen, we are all busy and we’re gonna have bad days. I can’t talk right now, because you are not the only one that is having a rough day.” Hurt, your spouse hangs up the phone.
Then that one person at work, who always just hangs around at the worse time, comes in your office and starts talking about something that happened to them. You usually give them the common courtesy of listening for a bit, but not today. You spin around in your chair to them and say, “I can’t do this today. I am too swamped. Find someone else to lend you an ear.” You spin back around and go back at work frantically. What is happening???
You’re Over It!!!
You are “over it.” You have lost your patience. You have to knock your work out and you feel completely overwhelmed. You are so distracted by the mountains of things you have to do, that you aggressively push people away. You may be thinking, “Everybody has a bad day.” And this is true, but you are finding that these days are becoming typical for you. You have more work than you can shake a stick at and your relationships are starting to suffer because of it. You are pushing yourself to the limits, but things are falling through the cracks and you are not really satisfied with what you are producing. You feel like you can’t get anything done and you are disappointed in yourself. Guess what happens when you feel inefficient and overwhelmed….
Your Temper Gets Short
That’s right. Your tolerance level goes down and you are less patient with everyone you come in contact with. Generally, you are not a mean person, and you don’t mean to be mean, but you can no longer tolerate anything that slows you down or makes requests of you that you can’t fulfill. You begin to get angry at other people, all stemming from your own feelings of inadequacy. You push away the people you love and your friendships are struggling because of your sense of being overwhelmed. So, what can you do???
You Need A Reminder
You need something that will help you focus. Sure, you can schedule your day, learn to say no to things, try to cut some of your projects down, but there is an even simpler way. Use a reminder. Set a timer on your phone and have it go off every hour, at the top of the hour. When it goes off, step away for a minute. Drop your worry about what you are working on. Do some light, mindful stretching. Sit down, close your eyes and take three deep breaths, not thinking about what you have to do. After your third breath, start to think about what you did over the last hour and were you productive. Then think about how you can make the next hour as productive as possible.
You Gain Focus
This little hourly reminder helps you focus. It gives you time to take a breath, walk away, and then look at what you are doing. Are you doing the things you want to do? Are you being the person you want to be? You need to put things into perspective. Use this hourly timer to help you keep calm, to remember what is important to you. Yes, your work and your list is important, but your family and friends are even more important. By re-focusing every hour on what is important, you can put things into perspective and feel less overwhelmed. And when you are less overwhelmed, you temper isn’t as short. You are back in control.
Too many times we let our schedules and to-do lists take over our lives. We are so focused on knocking things out that we tend to lose control and lose focus on what is really important in life. With the stress of everyday life on us, we tend to push our friends and family away as we feel overwhelmed and inadequate…but there is a better way. Use an hourly reminder to slow down, take a break and gain focus. Your feeling of inadequacy will begin to go away and you will not be as stressed. As a result, you are yourself again. You are no longer pushing people away because they are “slowing you down.”
My ritual is to stop every 90 minutes. I walk away from my desk, get some water, use the bathroom, do some stretching, and do some mindful breathing for a minute. I then re-focus and get back to work. This helps me to stay in control and take a needed break. Give it a shot. It could work for you too and your relationships will be better for it.