Thursday, May 14, 2009

Needed: bins & a labelmaker for inside my head

Do you compartmentalize? My head is swimming, and I could use some tips.

There are 101 things are swirling around in my mind vying for attention, and I'm having trouble pinning any one of them down for more than four minutes to make progress. My manuscript for book #2 is coming back for revisions, I'm working on a proposal for book #3, and in two hours I have a radio interview about book #1 (that I'm so terrified I'll forget to call in for that I've postponed all errands until this afternoon.) I have two fun talks to write, and five books to read that I think might give me wise and pithy things to say in those talks.... And yet here I sit in a heap of things that need to be done--things I'm actually excited about doing--not sure where to start. (I'd try the "eat the biggest frog first" approach, if I could size up the different frogs...)

In the middle of this, I'm staring at an amazing quote I copied into my journal back in November by Robert McKee:

"We stretch toward the bests and worsts because story--when it is art--is not about the middle ground of human experience."

So true! But how do we go after that when so much of real life is middle ground? Can I simply skip getting a NY driver's license or taking my dog for this year's round of shots? What about the towels that have been sitting in the dryer since Monday night? At some point, the middle ground needs some attention, too.

Maybe I need Julie Morganstern?

How do you manage the ups, downs, & middle ground of your human experience? How do you put the 100 other things on hold so you can focus on the one? How do you pick which one?


Anonymous said...

For the most part ... I make lists of everything. And I use the reminder tool on my email ... and I have a very colorful calendar. Best thing ever? Gmail's calendar option - offers reminders, too! That email themselves to you! Wahoo.
However,if I get to the point that those things overwhelm? I start to compound things ... and suddenly the world is too large and fast and busy for me. Scary times.

Good luck getting your things under wraps.

Ryan and Abby Green said...

When I feel like I have a hundred and one things to do, Ryan reminds me "one day at a time"...or when often necessary "one hour at a time"...and somehow that phrase can totally de-stress me and help me see how to prioritize.

Stella said...

Post-it notes have saved the day for me, but keep in mind that she who lives by post-it notes alone can end up living in a colorful sea of little flappy taggy things.

I was just(!) listening to a Joyce Meyer tape in which she spoke to the "middle times" that make up most of our lives. The gist (according to my understanding of Joyce's talk) is that learning to be happy in the middle times (and not focusing so much on the highs and lows) allows us to feel a deeper sense of fulfillment and is edifying when viewing our lives overall (and not just from a hindsight view of the ups/downs). She suggested that one way to do that is to find ways to be of service to those immediately around us in the "middle times" and not be so entrenched in "What about me?" mode.

Guess I have to give up thinking its ALL about ME! Darn, and I'm so good at that ... HaHa!

*Hug* to help you through your day,

kim said...

I slow my life waaaayyyy down. When this doesn't work -- I live overwhelmed, disconnected and crave sugar.

Gretchen said...

As much as I'd like to think I'm superorganized, the sad truth is I'm not a by-the-moment kinda gal. I like to be organized, but I'm a mix between having to have every moment scheduled and flying by the seat of my pants. My method is usually to list out the things that have a definite time assignment (as in, choir rehearsal at 12:30). I look at how much time is there in between those appointments and then think through what I need to do. I start to tackle those things that either appeal to me or really, really need to get done (telling myself that they won't take as long as I think they'll take). I rotate tasks as needed.

Suzanne said...

Actually it sounds like you must be doing a great job of keeping it all straight given the amount that you are accomplishing! Other than that, I'll join the chorus that keeps a notebook in my purse to write a list of things to do.

abigail said...

Oooo - if only your post headline could come true!!
I did a Bible study last year by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. In it she has this great quote:
"There is time in every day to do every thing that God wants me to do." I wrote that down and keep it close at all times. Between going back to school, housework, husband, and life I feel my head might pop off at random moments in the day. This quote has helped to keep me grounded in my faith, and in the knowledge that He'll always help me prioritize. Hope this helps you too! :0)

LEstes65 said...

I'm not being snide here. This is really how I deal when my plate is too full or my mind swims like yours is. PURGE. I really do think too many people today are taking on too much. There is no reason to have every minute of every day completely booked so that the end result to almost every day is a dissatisfaction with how little we were able to juggle or accomplish. I keep my to-do list pretty short most days. And it has allowed me to have more spontaneous time with my boys, my parents, and my friends.

But that's just me.