I get asked an unusual question fairly frequently. To my way of thinking, I wouldn’t consider it anything different than anyone else does, but I suppose that once I scrutinize it, it does come across as a rather interesting trait.
When it’s brought to our attention, we might suddenly think, Hmmm, I thought everyone did it this way. And by “this way,” I mean that we run hither and yon trying to make sure we we get what we need from the store, the kids picked up from school, the mortgage payment to the bank….an entire arm’s length list of things that “have” to be done.
In my twenties, I was the King of overcommitting. I said yes to everything and figured I’d get it done somehow. That, of course, wasn’t a very efficient way of doing things, and I disappointed a LOT of people. See, it’s part of the “people pleasing” mentality that many of us learned as children. It’s not our parents fault, because they probably learned from their parents and so on. However, some of us never outgrow it and we continue to feel that we’re somehow failing all of humanity because we’re not superheroes.
In my thirties, I was beginning to see that saying “yes” to everything not only kept me hopping unnecessarily, it definitely cost me a lot of sleep. There’s a certain wisdom that comes with aging. Yes, not everyone will admit to it, but it’s true. It’s a hard-won type of wisdom, wisdom our younger selves might have scoffed at.
That wisdom: It’s okay to not please everyone. At the end of the day, the only person you only ever need to please is yourself. This might sound, at first hearing, somewhat selfish to say. But what happens to us when we’re not getting our own needs met? We tend to be overly tired, or frustrated, or cranky or mad.
Why do you think that shen flying on an airliner, the staff tells you to ALWAYS put your own oxygen mask on first in the case of an emergency?
Because we can’t help others if we are unconscious.
As a writer, not only am I required to hold the characters and stories in my head at all times, but I must also get my needs met outside of writing. The rent must get paid, so I must make sure there’s money coming in, the bills must also get paid….and not all of us can afford an assistant to do those things for us. Nor do all of us have a spouse to carry some of that weight. So that means that we must survive on our own in our own ways.
So it becomes crucial that we don’t allow ourselves to get buried under a crapalanche of stuff. Ther more things we own, the more maintenance must be done on them. For cars, that makes sense. Not so much for an aquarium that holds only saltwater fish or anemones. Or a huge yard that must be mowed weekly. There are so many ways we can pare downtown the absolute necessities. I use the need/want method. What do I need, and what do I want.
I want a new computer and monitor and printer. But the one I have is only a few years old, so I don’t need it. Or new laundry machines. Or a mountain bike.
Time management starts with what we perceive to be priorities. I’d venture to say that if you sat down and made a list of the things you absolutely NEED and compare it with what you think you WANT, you’d get a really clear picture of what I’m saying.
Try ridding yourself of one “want” a month. Something that really brings you no joy or fulfills you in any meaningful way. We have a certain sense of entitlement that is slowly smothering us. We’re becoming buried under things and obligations that should never have been made a priority.
Take as much time as you need. Rid yourself of one thing a month. Or a quarter if monthly is too much. However, if you go much beyond that, you won’t succeed.
I made a living for fifteen years organizing other people’s lives. How can I help you with yours?