Whenever I’m overwhelmed, Donna reminds me how to eat an elephant. One bite at a time. It’s really good advice, and yet I still try to poke that thing down in one gulp. I always fail of course, and have guilt, more stress, an increasing workload, and a lovely shame spiral that seems to never end. Ahh, RealLife™, how greatly thou can suck at times.
A big problem with my conundrum is that much of my work is based on creativity. Yes, I make crap up for a living. It’s quite lovely. When a seemingly endless workload mixes with dozens of half done projects — the end result is usually shoddy product. Which adds stress, adds guilt, and the shame spiral begins again. What’s a geek to do?
Quite frankly, I’m open to suggestions. Here are the things I’ve tried that have NOT worked:
- Scheduling everything in Google Calendar. This is fine, until something goes wrong (I work in IT, something ALWAYS goes wrong). Then I’m off schedule, have guilt, more stress, you see where this is going…
- Keeping a TODO list for all the tasks in my various jobs. This works better than scheduling everything in a calendar, because there is no timing on the things. HOWEVER, it’s a bit like shoveling snow from a driveway that happens to be 30 miles long. I never see progress. I have guilt, shame, stress, and yes, the spiral begins again.
- [INSERT PRODUCTIVITY SYSTEM HERE] — I’ve read books, watched videos, etc, etc. Whatever system is pitched always sounds great, but my problem is I get caught up in the system and never get anything else done!
- At work, we’ve implemented a trouble ticket system that is a bit nicer than our old clunky one. I think this will help at my sysadmin job, because I can just do the top ticket, and work from there. They’ll never be gone, but at least I can see what to do next. For the rest of my jobs (writing, producing videos), that doesn’t work, because there’s not just a list of things that need to be done, it varies and changes.
So I’ve been trying to think what might actually work. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
- Get up early and try to accomplish one thing before anyone else gets up. Getting up early sucks, but if I only have to accomplish one thing, it might not be so bad. Plus, I can have a nice quiet hot beverage, and maybe my creativity will flow a bit.
- Make a daily list of things to do. NOT all the things I have to do (30 mile driveway again), but rather a smaller list of things that I need to accomplish THAT DAY. I think I’ll put this on paper, because if I put it on something electronic, I’ll spend weeks designing the perfect list software…
- When I’m done with the list, STOP WORKING. I think this is important, because I suffer pretty badly from burnout. It seems like I never accomplish anything, so stopping cold turkey probably won’t really change productivity, but perhaps it will help my brain.
- Do something fun every day. I miss fun stuff. Perhaps this is a silly video. Perhaps this is a silly poem. Perhaps this is just a snowball fight with the dog. Whatever it is, I think I should insist on doing something fun. For science!
- Take time to read. Even if it’s just a little. Reading is brain exercise, and quite frankly, my brain is getting flabby. I need to tone it up a bit.
So that’s it. It’s not a list of New Year’s resolutions, because those never work. It’s not some new "system" I’m going to get caught up in. It’s just me brainstorming how to get stuff done, and be happy while I do it. That last part seems important, ya know? I’m open for suggestions on how to get stuff done without instilling the wrath of Mr. Shame Spiral, but we’ll see how my plan goes. I spoke with Fred about it, and he seems to think it’s a grand idea. Although, to be honest, I think he just wants me to feed him earlier, so he was in favor of the early rising thing. 🙂