An Ode To The Overwhelmed

An Ode To The Overwhelmed

And as you stand there

Late again

Because you forgot to allow time to park
And the elevator was slow

And you left 10 minutes late to begin with
With your shoes that pinch

And your pants that are a little too small
Since you started eating white bread again

And as you paw through your bag
Looking for the suite number
That you’re not sure you wrote down to begin with

Let us now praise you.

You, the untidy.

You, the careless.

You, the easily distracted by sparkly things.

The money you spend on late fees alone
Could feed a family in Africa –

Which reminds you that you meant to send in the kids’ Unicef money and
Forgot.

And that despite your best efforts,
You rarely eat a square meal,
You almost never get enough sleep

And exercise seems like a word that magazines have developed
Just to make you feel bad about yourself.

But you are good and brave.

You, flying by the seat of your pants

Making it work

Putting out fires

Saying your prayers

And dancing your dance of now and later and maybe and

I’ll–have-to-call-you-back-on-that-could-you-send-me-an-email-to-remind-me-to-call-you-back-on-that?

As innocent as each morning’s sunrise,

You are a fount of good intentions.

Your good humor is as graceful as a baby giraffe,
Even if that joke you were trying to make to the hotel clerk fell flat
And your toast at the wedding came out sounding a little….funny.

But you have gifts that no one knows about.

You have the strength to bend in the wind

You have the joyful spirit that loves a good belly laugh,

You have the wisdom to understand that everything will all come out all right in the end and

You have the faith to light a candle rather than curse the darkness.

That is, if you could find the book of matches from that romantic restaurant that you went to for your anniversary but since you didn’t have a reservation they made you wait at the bar for half an hour during which you had two appletinis and the rest of the night is a bit of a blur.

So much for the overpriced lingerie.

You are beautiful.

You are beautiful.

Frazzled and overworked and underpaid

You are the one who forgot your wallet

And forgot your receipt for the dry cleaners

And forgot your keys which you just set down five seconds ago, so where could they possibly have gone?

But you never forget to say, “I love you”

And you never forget to give a big smile to that nice parking guy

And you never fail to show endless patience when the

Too-tightly wrapped and overly-conscientious start to offer their Oh-so-helpful suggestions about how you might feel better if you would just learn to alphabetize your spice rack.

You are beautiful.

So, wear the lingerie on Monday for no reason.

And why not just refuse to participate in the bake sale this year?

And give yourself a compliment for something you did well today.

Because you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known.

How Do I Schedule/Focus My Time

How Do I Schedule/Focus My Time

Here’s a great question I’ve gotten a bunch recently — it gets phrased different ways, like…

“What would a daily schedule look like for me as an independent artist?”- K.

“How to complete things and avoid being overwhelmed?” – J.

“Should you focus on one goal or several?” – Daddio

“Help! How to plan so I’m not just responding to the urgent?!” – C.

“Guidance on sticking with one project while so many new ideas call for action”- K.

Here’s my answer: I wonder if this is actually a problem for you.

Or to put it another way….

Here’s my other answer: What result are you seeking that you are currently not getting?

The thing is, creative people have a lot of weird ways of getting things done. Ways that look completely bananas to the outside world. It’s like we’re the rheumy-eyed uncles who drink and smoke and say rude things and somehow end up living healthy as a horse until the age of 102. We’re an anomaly.

Not knowing the details of your work or your habitual pitfalls, it’s hard for me to give you specific advice, so I’ll just pull back the curtain and let you in on what I do:

I don’t really keep a regular schedule. I work when I want to work, or when it’s needful for me to work, and I goof off the rest of the time. I spend an inordinate amount of time learning, reading, listening to audios, and a shocking amount of time just having conversations with people I find interesting. I’m not very good about setting time limits or about “balance” in my life — whatever that’s supposed to mean.

I often go through long weeks when, much to my frustration, it seems like nothing is happening. In those times I remind myself that every field must lay fallow.

At other times I’m scheduled up to my eyeballs and I’m an absolute whirling dervish of productivity.

I pretty much always DO do the following:no electronics on Sundays

  • no electronics in the bedroom
  • generally I’m done by 7pm and then I’m off all night
  • walk or swim every day
  • meditate every day
  • make a list each morning of the THREE things that MUST get done that day
  • keep a running list of the bajillion of other things that need doing
  • keep a “genius” folder for great ideas that I’m not ready to move forward on yet

I find that I work better when I have a few big projects going simultaneously. But “a few” meaning 3-5… not 12-30, you know?

Otherwise, I’ve learned to trust myself and to go with the flow. Some days I’m craz-zay-zee productive. Some days I go back to bed at 11am. Some days I write, some days I do the money stuff, some days I plan long-term, some days I putter and piddle the whole day away.

Now, I know a lot of very successful people who lead far more regimented lives than this, and I admire them.

And if you are NOT getting the results in your life that you want, well….you may want to try imposing some more structure on your day. BUT ONLY IF YOU KNOW YOURSELF TO BE THE KIND OF PERSON WHO RESPONDS WELL TO STRUCTURE. You know what I mean?

But make sure you do it in the way that works for YOU. So if you’re all energetic in the morning, schedule your hardest tasks for then. Eat your broccoli first, as it were.

And if you know that you only write well without interruptions, then for heaven’s sake, turn off your phone when you sit down to compose.

So my message is this: Put Down The Whip.

You don’t need to be better than you are.

You’re a strange bird, and you’re going to have to surf your schedule in whatever way seems right to you.

My guess is you probably don’t have to work any harder than you do already, but you may have to learn to work smarter. And that may mean saying “no” to people who are time-sucks, turning your back on household tasks and keeping your focus on your highest-income producing activities.

Please let me know how it’s all going with you

Do Less Stuff

Do Less Stuff

I get this sort of question a lot:

“Help me get my 15 minutes! Life is so busy. The kids, dog and husband need so much! I’m going crazy.” – K.H.

“Do you know how to squeeeeeeeze a few more hours out of a day? LOL – C.C.

 

Here is my not-kidding answer:

DO LESS STUFF.

That’s right. You heard me.

Do less.

And here’s an exercise to show you HOW to do that:

1) Write down all of the activities that you typically do in a day, like, say…

drive car pool
laundry
pay bills
make phone calls
write
work out
get the mail
read
work with clients
play with the kids
plan upcoming travel
coordinate volunteers/charity work
grocery store
cook supper
watch TV

 

 

2) Now, put an asterisk next to the tasks that ONLY you can do. Using our previous list that would be something like:

write
work out
read
work with clients
play with the kids

 

 

3) Find some way to get those other items off your plate.

You may need to hire someone, you may be able to simply ask some of the other grown-ups in your life for help. Teach the kids to do the laundry and get a co-chair to work with the volunteers.

Yes, you will have to get over some of your perfectionism – nobody else is going to do as good of a job cooking dinner or sorting the laundry as you do. But guess what? You have bigger fish to fry.

Your creative life is never going to take precedence over your quotidian life unless you make it happen.

Let me say this one more time:

The work that only you can do, you must do.

The work that anyone can do, someone else must do.

And if you’d like some help strategizing & executing, please consider working with me one-on-one and fill out my VIP Application here: http://bit.ly/VIPapp

Let me know how it goes for you, OK?

Meet Chaos With Compassion

When everything starts to feel out of control, it’s easy to get hard. Hard-headed, hardhearted and hard to get along with.

When we get rigid, we often try to exert some autocratic form of control (“Get into bed right now, young lady!”) which leaves everyone feeling alone and depleted.

Next time your world starts spinning, take a deep breath and concentrate on softening your heart.

Let me know what happens, OK?