Under Pressure!

As I may have mentioned, it’s a busy time— work-wise, personally, and otherwise. And I find myself feeling overwhelmed and being hyper-defensive about things being added to my plate, right now.

That’s actually good news, because I normally don’t push back when that happens, and overcorrection is a natural phase in boundary-setting. But I’m starting to see that some of the pressure I’m feeling is self-imposed.

For example, yesterday, I came into work. I’ve had two projects that are taking longer to resolve than I think they should, so I planned to spend my morning putting them to metaphorical bed— doing the last things on them to wrap them up so that I can focus on more important tasks.

I started on task 1, but quickly realized that it was more involved than I thought, and I got stuck in the weeds all day on it. The whole day, no progress on it, no progress on anything else. I dug into the problem and think that I’ve found a long-term solution that should resolve a bunch of other things, but it will require me to stay in the weeds for the better part of a week. And this is not the most important thing I’m working on. Urgent, yes, semi-important, but not my priority.

So I took it to my boss. I explained that this is a worthy task, and the long-term benefit is hard to argue against, but if I put my time here, I by definition can’t put it on my priority, which means my already-delayed priority is going to be further delayed. I asked for her help in prioritizing, so that I know what to let slide, given that something’s gotta give.

She helped me think through a thing or two to delegate about Task 2, and pointed out “you don’t have to do all of [the important but not urgent thing] at once. Work on it for awhile, take a break, work on something else, come back to it…” As I explored the issue, Task 1 for yesterday is on the urgent side, but the can of worms I unearthed has a clear priority order to it. And Task 2, I can wrap up any time in the next two weeks. It’s involved, but not hard.

And it makes me wonder how often I’m doing that to myself. I put them on the top of my to-do list because I want to be done with them, but they’re not that urgent and not that important, when I really look at them. And I’ve stressed myself right out about taking the time to research them enough to find out something that is important.

This makes me think of the cruise. The things I talk about, when I talk about the cruise, are the excursions and the time in port. And the excursions and time in port were inarguably fabulous. But they constituted, at most, 9 hours of a weeklong trip. One of the things that made it such a great experience for me was the time on the ship. The BFF and I locked down our plans for excursions early, and we held other things loosely. There was a lot of breathing room— time to hang out together, time to do our own thing, time to rest and explore, times where I compromised, times where she compromised. I think I need to be better about conceptualizing the big things, and fitting the little things in when there’s time, with a clear understanding of the difference between internal and external deadlines.


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