Time to Regain Control

I’m just back from giving two presentations to Media Network of Idaho. The good thing is that they were presentations I had previously given to organizations in Virginia so with a bit of tweaking I was ready to go. It still required travel and time away from the office, as well as giving up a weekend at home (the bonus, though, was a visit to Yellowstone in the fall, which was a good trade).

By Nina Matthews Photography

The presentations came on the heals of the NFPW Conference in Chicago, launching the website and representing my organization at a Rotary meeting. I also have launched a Writer Wednesday series at my local library.

I’ve had a lot on my plate both at work and at home. I recognize that these are activities I’m choosing to be involved with, and I really enjoy being involved. But, I was starting to feel overwhelmed.
One good thing is that the crisp temperatures of autumn are upon us and that always adds a spring to my step. My work, however, was still piling up. In fact, there were days I just couldn’t seem to get anything done. I was easily distracted.
One evening at home, I put a CD on and allowed myself to clean and organize my desk for as long as the CD was playing. When it was finished, I had to work for 47 minutes (I needed a random number to make it feel less like work) so I set the microwave timer and sat down at my desk. I finished one blog and made some updates to the NFPW website. Then I tackled the biggest item, which was finalizing the contest rules.
So now I’m doing the same thing at my office. One afternoon, I simply had enough. And for one hour, I allowed myself the luxury of cleaning out emails (I set a goal of reducing my inbox by 25), shredding papers and organizing files. At the end of that hour I felt much more relaxed.
Next I made a list of the big projects and deliverables that were waying me down. I prioritized them and set aside an appropriate amount of time for each one. Suddenly there were enough hours in the week to finish each of the assignments.
I don’t have a clean desk yet and my inbox is still not at the manageable point, but the “To Do” list is shorter, and at least now I feel as if I have a handle on it.
How do you regain control?

3 thoughts on “Time to Regain Control

  1. I like to get started early when I feel overwhelmed. Like Ms. Stephens, I’ll start with a pile that’s within eyesight and clear what I can. The last two hours before lunch are spent writing/working. Lunch and another clearing project in the afternoon. Then I’ll knock off an hour early and do a quick workout or read quietly for a half hour.

    I always make a list at night, so I don’t have to think about anything when I hit the sack.

  2. Well, even when I’m busy on a big project, I try to take care of at least one personal item a day, like scheduling a doctor’s appointment, going to the bank, or making a call on a health insurance bill. I mean, a lot of To Do items like that only take a couple of minutes, but if they accumulate undone, they negatively impact my focus on larger priorities.

  3. Kay Stephens says:

    Nice post, Cynthia. I especially like using the CD as a time control device.
    Here’s another idea to “regain some control.” Focus on what you see. If the pile of papers on the right side of your desk makes you feel overwhelmed, work on that stack of papers and reorganize. Seeing one side of desk taken care of sometimes provides the energy to work on the other side — or whatever else has been low on the priority list.

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