Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Breather

Now that it's summer, my days are filling up faster than Scarlett O'Hara's dance card. How does that happen?

It's my fault. I wonder if it's too late to learn to say "no."

I'm not the only one who sometimes feels my email owns me, or who occasionally needs to remind myself I'm in charge of my career and not the other way around.

Let's share some life tips today. Tell us what you do to whip your world into shape when it starts threatening to whip you.

25 comments:

Latino Heritage said...

Every so often I make a point of planning to say "no". It seems cyclical - times of yes and times of no.
When I ma feeling really whipped I write down my schedule. Somehow seeing it in gray and white makes it more real.
Oh, and if all else fails, I'll ask James to tell me to say, "no". If he's not around I ask a good buddy.

J+P said...

Well, a pessimist might say the glass is 11/16ths empty, but I prefer to see it as 5/16ths full.

Shell Sherree said...

Faster than Scarlett's dance card? That is fast! I close my Inbox for a while and choose something off my To Do list that makes me squirm when I look at it.

Turquoise Diaries said...

When I was working I used to write fully booked for a coming Sunday to my agenda once in while. It works if you get to see it as an ordinary item on your agenda.

Mister Earl said...

I think the problem is that I keep letting it whip me and practice denial-by-computer. I think I better think this through again.

Vanda said...

Ever since my experience with unemployment last year I've learned to be more zen about things. It doesn't work 100% since I got a temper on me. So every once in a while I lose it an rip somebody's head off (figuratively), but it passes and everything is better afterwards.

Petrea said...

These are all good. Today I'll start by ripping someone's head off.

No, I'll ask John to do it.

No, I'll fill up 5/16ths of Sunday's agenda with something that makes me squirm.

Wait. Let me think this through again.

altadenahiker said...

Yes, you should learn to say no. Except when I ask you for something.

pasadenapio said...

Man oh man, I'm the worst one to ask. I have a very strong work ethic and very high standards for commications efforts, so this results in burning lots of midnight oil. Excellent communicator? Or hopeless workaholic? I'll look at all these comments at the end of the day today in hopes of getting some wisdom.

Susan C said...

My problem is that I either have nothing booked or five hundred things booked for the same time.

That photograph is stunning!

Kat said...

Okay, here's one thing I do-- but I warn you I get laughed at because of it. My work is often very intense, and intensely collaborative -- meaning I don't have any control, or the luxury to say "no" ever. So, instead, I have to take a deep breath and focus on what I can control. For instance...

Coffee.. I bring my own coffee maker to work and set it up in my office. I choose what kind of coffee goes into it (Okay, I'm a coffee snob, so it's a small espresso machine.), I choose how its made, I choose how much is made. I bring my favorite cup to work. I bring in my own little accoutrements (sugar, milk or cream... whatever). And every afternoon, around four-ish, I take out five minutes from whatever I'm doing to make my coffee, my way (not the office assistant's way), pour it into my nice cup, bring it back into our main work room (maybe with a little cookie if I feel like it) and enjoy my coffee. It's a great little relaxing ritual -- setting everything out, putting it together, making is just so-- and it gives me a tiny breather from the other pressing issues of the moment, gives me a tiny bit of control, and helps me enjoy whatever else is going on. When I first started doing it, people laughed at "Kat's kitchen." Now, every day, people look to see what I make, and two days ago a co-worker said to me "that looks so relaxing. I wish I lived like you do."

The funny part is, he could if he wanted to-- it's just a cheap little coffee machine. It's doesn't change the difficulties of the job... but sometimes it makes the hard stuff just a tiny bit easier.

Shanna said...

I keep an "emergency" $50.00 bill (which used to go much further than it does now) in my purse and when I just can't relax, I announce to Jim that we are going out to Stoney Point where the food is great and there is always live music at the piano.

A glass of wine, something nice to eat, a smiling waiter and music get me out of sress mode. Then I can evaluate things much more easily.

Gina said...

I am utterly incapable of relaxing in the traditional sense of the word, e.g., just putting up my feet and taking a break. The very thought of doing nothing makes me feel anxious. Clearly I have issues.

I relax by doing something I enjoy that leaves me feeling productive, yet refreshed. For me those things are gardening (particularly if it involves heavy use of pruning shears or intense digging) and baking. When I am stressed it is not uncommon for me to bake a dessert and bread every day.

I also schedule my exercise just like a work commitment. If someone wants to have a late meeting I just say, "Oh I already have another "meeting" [my exercise class] that runs at that time" and inevitably we find another time to have our work meeting.

Good luck.

Petrea said...

I'm sorry, Hiker, did you say something?

High standards, Ann, there's your first problem.

How to average things out, Susan? This I can do, but then I've got 500 things in a week instead of one day, so every day is full.

Kat, that's ingenious. It's not completely ignoring your commitments, just turning your back on them for a while.

Shanna, this is good, too. A plan is forming.

Gina, you're like me. I don't like to sit still (unless I'm reading or watching a film or other entertainment). I feel anxious about falling behind. I really ought to learn about gardening, though, my back yard is literally a sore spot.

Bellis said...

I seem to be getting more done at home and in the garden now I'm working almost full-time than ever I did when I was unemployed - I seem to be energized by having less time, which is weird. (The work is only for a few weeks though).

Kat's coffee-making ceremony reminds me of the Japanese tea ceremony, which is very ritualized, needs a lot of focus, and is therefore very calming.

Wanted to say that's an amazing photo - don't know how you got that reflection, or what is in the glass.

Katie said...

Swimming after work keeps me sane. I always do the same workout so I don't have to think too hard, and there's no phone or computer to distract me. And I learned long ago to say no without guilt.

Ms M said...

I take a brisk walk (with camera in hand). Playing piano helps, too -- any form of creative expression. I schedule "me time" on my calendar if my schedule is getting out of control. I like what others have written, especially Kat's coffee ritual; many good suggestions here!

Virginia said...

First I love this photo.

Well, what do I do? I just enjoy my friends here in B'ham and Paris and across this wonderful world of the Internet. I"m so very blessed.

Petrea said...

Trader Joe's Rio Red Grapefruit juice on my breakfast table, Bellis. And you bring up an interesting point about focus and relaxation: the coffee ritual, gardening, cooking or baking, photography or playing piano as Ms. M mentions--all those things require focus. So maybe focusing on something relaxing is the idea. Though Katie's non-thinking swimming ritual blows that theory out of the water, so to speak. I wish Dive would check in and give me his ideas. I can only imagine.

How about that, Virginia? That's what I'm doing right now.

Thanks for all your suggestions today. I'll use each and every one.

Susan Campisi said...

I'm late today, my schedule also getting too full. I loved reading all these tips. Yoga used to be my favorite way to decompress. Then I got too busy and it became stressful trying to fit it into my schedule. So, that doesn't help at all. Maybe 5 minutes of sun salutations or just a few moments of downward facing dog?

Petrea said...

Susan, that goes back to what Gina said--I schedule my exercise, too, but I'm not as good as she is about refusing to schedule other things in its place if they come up. That's where a dog comes in handy--I must at least take a walk every day.

Rosie said...

Three. Deep. Breaths.

Kat said...

I'm really enjoying this little thread of comments... It's inspiring me, too, to try to find additional ways to de-stress. Yoga is something I keep dropping in and out of, and I'm no good at scheduling exeercise. I'm with you, Petrea, I can plan it, but if something else important comes up, it's the first to go.

Bellis: re: coffee... I never thought of it in a tea ceremony kind of way, but now that you point it out, I can see that. It is actually very centering.

Margaret said...

I try and go with flow. I try to let go of the illusion of control.

Petrea said...

Breathing! Rosie, how could I forget breathing?

Kat, I've been a level I yoga practitioner for almost 20 years. Talk about progress.

Margaret, that's--that's--oh, you're right. Control is an illusion. The pile gets bigger or smaller but it is never gone.