Imagine a blank piece of 8 ½-by-11 paper. Now slide it into a cross-cut shredder.
That one piece of paper turns into 300 pieces. What once could have been put to such good use is no longer useful at all.
This image represents your waking hours—and what happens when you face a steady barrage of interruptions throughout the day. Those tugs, tears, pushes and pulls on your time, energy and focus chop your day into teeny-tiny bits of time.
Individually, these minuscule slices of time are no longer nearly as useful as the big blocks of time that you had envisioned for your day.
In my two prior posts, I wrote about two of the factors that can result in the onset of “overwhelm”: Distracted Role Overload, in which we multitask between our different roles; and Contaminated Time, or doing one thing as we think about something else.
With time confetti, we are reduced to a few minutes here or there. The notion of having 30 minutes, let alone multiple hours, to zero in on one task is a fantasy—unless everyone else in your family is asleep, which is also when you should be sleeping, too.
And yet, there is still so much to do…
I have been on this crazy cycle for many of my years as a parent. It’s hard to accomplish most of my to-do list, which stares back at me and creates this nagging feeling that I am always behind.
For example, knowing how detrimental time confetti can be on those things that are my top priorities, it helps me to be even more disciplined in the “little things” like waking up early. Doing so is not drudgery when I see the significance it plays in reducing time confetti later in the day.
Years ago, I learned from Amway Executive Diamond Terry Felber, one of the top leaders with World Wide Dream Builders (WWG), the importance of making to-do lists for the following day, the night before. I found that preparing a to-do list the night before has two benefits. First, it clears my mind, and therefore allows me to fall asleep much easier and much quicker. Second, it allows me to start the day focused, ready to go, because I’m armed with an action plan.
Following that discipline, or failing to do so, really “makes or breaks” my day in so many ways, from the practical to the emotional. But as much as I know the good that it does, I have routinely stopped crafting those to-do lists.
Why? In the midst of my day, as stuff barged onto my plate of duties, I would grow frustrated that I wasn’t accomplishing anything—or, at least, anything on this list that I had so thoughtfully crafted. I would get overwhelmed.
Since reading Overwhelmed, I have begun a new kind of to-do list—one that is designed for my actual life, not some idealized fantasy of how I would like my life to be.
It’s more flexible, more realistic. It acknowledges that something that used to require only 15 minutes of my time now takes me 1 ½ hours because the array of potential interruptions in my life has grown exponentially. The bottom line, so often: I cannot do all that I used to do, and want to do, before having children.
It’s really about being mindful that we can’t do it all, so why not pick those things that are most important to us and bring out the best in us? That’s so much better than cluttering our lives as our time drowns in a sea of mediocrity.