Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Myth of the Less-Busy Future You

I am a chronic over-committer. This has been true for as long as I can remember. I certainly am not alone.

Over-commitment is a subjective standard. What appears to be a full plate to some is boringly empty for others. And cover-commitment can be contextual, too. Some people over-commit at work but manage to keep their home lives peaceful. Then there are people like my mother for whom a vacation to the beach isn't complete without cleaning the condo top to bottom -- even at the expense of quiet reading on the porch.

In the past year I have identified one of the pitfalls -- perhaps the pitfall -- to my planning, scheduling, commiting. It is this that leads to my being stretched too thin: I always imagine I will be less busy in the future than I am now.

How often do all of us do this? "If I can just get through X [Christmas, exams, the surgery, moving] life will settle down and I'll be able to get on top of Y again."

Kids, life won't settle down. In fact, it will probably get busier. If you have two free nights a week now, what makes you think you'll have four in June?

A correllary to this pitfall is the deceptive calendar. I look at the planner even a month from now and it's clean, empty. But most of the things that fill up time -- sick kids, emergency trips to Home Depot, laundry backlogs, longer-than-expected blog posts -- neither get scheduled nor get written down in retrospect. Last month's calendar in no way reflects how frantic you felt.

And so I am working to adopt a new scheduling checks and balances system. If I wouldn't/couldn't do it in the next 2 weeks, I can assume I won't/can't do it any number of months from now.

Recently this led me to cancel a doula interview with a woman I was just dying to meet. She's a first-time mother expecting twins in June. She wanted a midwife birth and is now in a high-risk OB practice. The day of our scheduled interview, however, I got home from work and thought, "there is no way I can head back out tonight." My plan was to call and beg to reschedule.

Then I applied the new rule and realized if I don't have time and energy to give to an interview, I sure won't have it for prenatals and a twin birth! Tough as always to say no, but at least I did it now instead of four months from now. Or, worse yet, completely fall apart physically or mentally from being over-extended.



Blogger Bekah said...

You're busting my bubble! I've been struggling with this in my life, too. I bet you'd never have guessed that homeschooling five kids and juggling academic midwifery studies and an apprenticeship, with the very occasional doula birth would keep one busy? My problem is that there are things I feel I *should* be doing, and I'm trying to convince myself not to feel guilty that I can' being more active in the local mom's club with my younger ones, or chipping in more actively at church, or teaching CBE. Those things will still be there when I'm done with AAMI and have my CPM. Maybe I'll have time to do them. Maybe I won't. But at least I'm not falling apart under the strain of too much.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Gentlebirthmama said...

I was just thinking on this while I grumbled in the shower that I won't have enough time today to get done what I want to...I think you've described it perfectly for most of us. I keep thinking that when I get this or that organized or finished, somehow life will be easier and I can then really focus on those things that I want to. Yeah right!! :) Just never happens. Life keeps happening and my overflowing plate just keeps getting things heaped on it...

I decided that it's time to take a day for myself...all that stuff will still be sitting there undone, not organized, unfinished...but I think in the midst of our chaotic, busy lives we need a day of rest to refocus.

BTW, as I sit typing this, my cat just puked up all over my more thing added to my to-do-list...clean carpet! LOL

10:38 AM  
Blogger I am a Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

I'm glad you caught'd have felt worse later or struggled and suffered to deal. Overcommittment has been my lift, of course. And it's like AA: "I am Hannah, and I am an overcommitter."


5:31 AM  

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