01 April 2008

Overwhelmed?

I want to reinvigorate the blog a bit, so I am trying to up my posts for April. I thought about some clever April Fools post for today, like the funny "Send Your Emails Back In Time" bit that Google is doing. I had also thought about a "What I Have Been Reading" post, because I just finished a novella and am working my way through a big long novel right now. But then I got to work, read a chapter of David Allen's Ready for Anything, and instantly felt overwhelmed. The book didn't do it itself, it just helped me crystallize what is on my plate at the moment, which is a lot.

This is always a very busy time in the semester. We only have five weeks left, so everyone, including me, goes into "panic mode". Right now I have three classes worth of tests and papers to grade. I have the end of semester stuff to prepare for all my classes (one more test for my freshmen, material for the graduate class). It's advising time here at Winthrop, so a couple of hours of each day is devoted to that until April 9th. I just returned from a conference and have another one to go to next Thursday through Monday. I have a call for papers to write for the conference I am program chair for and a conference proposal to write by the 18th (and, btw, I am on that program committee as well). I have four papers/research projects that are in various stages; three of those could be made into submittable pieces with just a few solid hours of work, but it is hard to find those hours. And that is just work stuff.

I don't write all of this to complain. I was hoping that putting it all out there would make me fell better, but it hasn't really. Are there things I can be doing to manage my workload better, so things don't get like this? That is a clear "yes!". Several of the above things could have been done weeks ago, yet I didn't do them. It's easy to succumb to the lulling rhythm of the academic semester, when there are weeks when things are light and you feel you have the time to randomly surf the internet. That, I am beginning to realize, is a mistake. Constantly chipping away at these things, keeping track of all your commitments and "open loops" so things don't pile up and fall on your head is really the best way to go for me. It allows me to feel better about getting things done, so when I choose to NOT get things done (like playing with my daughter at home), I can concentrate on that and feel good about it. That's one of the goals of the GTD system. I have to focus better and remember that how I spend my time is a choice, and if I choose to muck around then I am choosing that over productive time and, in a sense, over family time and leisure time. When you look at it that way, the choice is pretty easy.

There, now I do feel better.

Leave some comments! What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? What do you do to avoid getting there in the first place?

4 comments:

  1. I am SO not the person you want advice from on how to avoid getting overwhelmed. It's sort of the way I go through life... When I get really overwhelmed, I tend to start to shut down, and only focus on the things that absolutely have to be done, everything else just slides to the side. Thats not a very good way of dealing with things, as all that stuff just piles up and is waiting for me when I do have time for it. It's lead to some uneasy times at home and work, as things that should have been done just seem to have disappeared from my radar until someone comes screaming for it, and then I have to bluff my way out of it. Luckily, I spent a few extra skill points on Bluff during character creation.

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  2. I am not looking for advice so much as just how folks feel and deal.

    I think most of us act in that way -- we deal with WHAT HAS TO BE DONE RIGHT NOW and, since we don't have a handle on things, there is always something that has to be done right now. It's constant crisis mode.

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  3. Right now I am overwhelmed. I have a lot going on and I am looking forward to clearing my plate.

    So what do I do when I've a ton of stuff to do...I take a break. I go out of town, I read a book, I get outside. I do anything other than what I am supposed to do. I shut down the part of me that is worrying about all the stuff I am supposed to do. I go have fun.

    One or two days is about all it take for me to get it all out. From there I take one good solid day and knock stuff out. One by one my list gets shorter and shorter. My mind is clear. I don't look at it as a pile of stuff that I have to get done, it turns more into a pile of thing I "WANT" to get done.

    I know it is a weird system but it works for me.

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  4. I hear what you are saying, len. Sometimes you just need to get away and recharge. I find it hard, though, to block out that part of my mind that is worrying about all the stuff I have to do.

    Welcome to the blog, btw. Keep stopping by!

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