Friday, June 26, 2015

Inch by inch, life's a cinch.

Yard by yard, life is hard.

I had one of those Panic Mode days today. This happens to me when I get behind at work. Keep in mind, 'behind' is a relative term. There's often just the appearance of being behind: I have a few emails stacked up (OK, a hundred or two, because I was out of town again).  I have to evaluate what to work on, I need to prioritize and sort out what is important and what isn't.

Inevitably, when this happens, I end up feeling way stressed -- waaaayyyy stressed. I always have to take a deep breath, look at the Stack of Stuff, and just start digging through it. Usually an hour later I look up, realize I've accomplished a lot, and I start to relax. But there's always that initial "Oh, no!" Panic Mode.

I managed to avoid Panic Mode most of this spring. I deliberately turned my back on things that bugged me. I didn't rise to the bait when people posted annoying things. I kept my opinions to myself. I didn't do things that annoyed me (a lot of promotion, or exercising on days when I just damn well didn't want to). I gave myself a break. I relaxed.

What surprised me was how easy it was to slip back into Stress Mode. BUT -- and here's the biggie -- I can easily envision how easy it will be to slip back into Relax Mode. I've found that I accomplish almost as much when relaxed as when stressed. I used to think that being wound tight as a clock was the way to accomplish things.

Au contraire.

So I'm going to practice what I preach and relax today. I'm not going to panic. I've accomplished a few things already. Now I'm going to pick away at a couple of other things. And then I'm going to do what I want to do.

Can you do that? Can you shuffle the Stack so there's less stress? Maybe not today, maybe not every day, but ...

Try it. You might like it.


Leah St. James said...

JL, you and I must live somewhat twin lives. I've been in panic mode at the day job for months. (I support a VP and a team of about 70, plus write a weekly column about writing and coordinate a weekly book review by a local reader, so there's a lot to keep track of.) I returned from a week off on Monday and thought I'd lost all my personal email folders. (That's four years of archived history that I really need.) In full panic mode, I called the HELP desk and fast-talked my problem to the rep (Amy). Amy gently broke in to my babbling and said, "Leah, honey, breathe." Then she remoted into my machine and while I watched clicked on the email folders. They opened just fine. I felt like such an idiot. The panic hasn't subsided much this week -- corporate visits and special meetings and nearly missed deadlines, and... I really need to take your advice to heart! Thank you.

Jannine Gallant said...

Work is the only place I do get to relax. (Why do you think I picked this job?) 5am at the boat ramp I let a couple of fishermen onto the lake then kick back and write until the water skiers show up at 6am. Then more writing. The family boaters don't cruise in until 9ish. Okay, maybe July 4th won't be such a picnic with a million tourists trying to launch their boats, but I'm determined to just go with the flow and not stress over the fact that I'm not getting my word count in. Hey, don't laugh. I'm being paid to write! Great advice, as always, JL.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Ah, I remember job stress (high school principal) so well that my shoulders stiffen at the thought. I don't think I ever learned how to handle well the issues of 100 staff members and 1300 students. Every day was an avalanche, a tornado, a tsunami, an earthquake. I should have exercised more, eaten better...maybe meditated. My hot tub helped. All I can say to those of you still working (while writing!), better days are coming ;-)