#AtoZChallenge: P is for Too Many Projects, Not Enough Time (a Guest Post from Kathy of the Second Half of My Life)


stormtrooper blaster stickup

I will never catch up.

PSome of my friends will never understand that. They can’t fathom a life of to-dos and deadlines and commitments and unexpected obligations that pack the hours of 6 a.m. to midnight and sometimes beyond.

When does soccer end? they’ll ask.

They might not understand that after a work shift that starts before business hours and after a day truncated by travel and training schedules that sometimes I look at my phone and can’t even imagine trying to tap out anything cohesive on that tiny keyboard.

Today’s guest blogger knows something about this sort of life.

Kathy writes the wonderful blog The Second Half of My Life. Every day for a year, starting on her 49th birthday, she tried something new. Very cool concept. Today, she’s here to share tips on how to handle la vida busy-as-hell.

Please give her a warm CD welcome!

projects paper crafts
photo credit: wuestenigel Frabiges Geschenkpapier ( engl. Colourful Printed Paper) via photopin (license)

Too Many Projects And Not Enough Time

I try to manage my time so I don’t get overwhelmed, but sometimes (despite my best efforts) things go haywire and my work, volunteer, and social commitments collide in a perfect storm of busyness.

An example:

Recently I accepted a leadership position in a fellowship I belong to. Before we even had our first meeting, one of the other officers had to resign for health reasons. Someone else eventually stepped up, but there was a lot of back and forth emails before the new person settled into the job. Five weeks later the organization had an event, and the chairperson wasn’t able to be there. They did a good job of arranging for sub-chairs, but in the end, I had to quarterback several last minute details.

And, to top it off, the week before the event the treasurer figured out she couldn’t attend either, so she handed the checkbook over to me so I could write any needed checks.
While all this was unfolding, on the work front I had a series of challenging, time consuming, writing intensive jobs. And, because I’m self-employed, I had to keep on top of scheduling more work if I wanted money in my checkbook.

At home, whenever I did something my mind was thinking of the next four other things to do. I felt like I was on a hamster wheel. I was so busy I had to have visual reminders of each thing that had to be done.

Eventually, the reminders took over most of the flat surfaces in the kitchen…but then the clutter started to nag at me, leading to more stress.

Thankfully, things have settled down. In reflecting on the whole experience, I realized I’d learned some valuable lessons.

(OK, some of them I’ve learned for the second or third time. Don’t judge.)

• Just because I can do three things at a time doesn’t mean I should. None of them will get done well.
• It’s OK to delete some emails without reading them.
• Prioritizing your projects is a good idea, and you might even figure out that some of them don’t need to be done.
• As tempting as it might be when your mind is paralyzed and you can’t make any more decisions, playing computer games only makes things worse.
• However, five minutes looking at Facebook Friend updates or reading cached blog posts can be a nice break. Especially if you can do it on a tablet or cell phone away from Project Central.
• Getting exercise is always a good thing.
• It’s a good idea to set specific times when you can walk away from all the busyness. For me, that turns out to be in the morning (no emails before breakfast and the morning paper) and after 7 p.m. I can’t always stick to those times, but I try to make it a goal.
• And, make sure you leave time to relax. At the end of each big project, I try to schedule a day to do nothing. If I don’t my body will rebel.

What about you?  How do you offset the busy life?


The rest of the A to Z to this point:

A is for Addiction to Devices

B is for Burgers (3 Lessons I learned During a Month Without Them) Plus 3 Random Smartphone Pics

C is for Interview with a Cat

D is for Do What I Do and Eat What I Eat

E is for Eight Things I’ve Left Behind

F is for  Foods That Bring Me Comfort

G is for #GirlsRock: An Interview Mental Health Care Advocate Kitt O’Malley

H is for Halfway There

I is for Ice Cream

J is for Justification for the Blog Life

K is for 7 Women I’d Sing Karaoke With

L is for Last 3 Blogs I Read (and Why You Should, Too)

M is for Men I Forgot to Be

N is for the New Plan

O is for One Day From Payday Spicy Chicken Skillet

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76 Comments Add yours

  1. hilarymb says:

    Hi Eli and Kathy … yes I could easily get overwhelmed, but before anyone asks I say no I can’t … I can still help and be around, but not do the work that takes time – however much I’d like to or be capable of … it’s not easy saying ‘no’ … but sometimes an essential …

    Life can take over … good luck to you both and thanks for the reminders … to take time out, exercise, get off the treadmill … and relax … cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/p-is-for-pigs.html

    1. Kathy G says:

      Hilary, I’m working on learning to say no. Thanks for the reminder!

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Glad you didn’t say no when I asked you to write this guest post, Kath.

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      Best to get off the treadmill by choice than to be tossed off it after it spins you out and spills you on your own chin.

  2. Trin Carl says:

    Trying something new everyday for a year. Wow, she is ambitious. I’ll be lucky if my routine changes, although I do plan on seeing new plays at least two days out of the month which is why I’m writing my post.
    P is for plays

    http://theglobaldig.blogspot.com/2017/04/p-is-for-plays-atozchallenge-via.html
    @trincarl

    1. Kathy G says:

      Trin, My ‘thing a day’ project came at a different point in my life. I don’t think I would be able to pull it off now.

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        I’d struggle to come up with a thing to try every day for the rest of this week.

  3. Court says:

    I need to know more about trying something new every day for a year! That sounds like it’s right up my alley.

    I’ve got busy down pat, but it’s largely because my parents kept us BUSY! (2 kids with way too much energy for single parents? Sign them up for all the activities! Expect all the things and successes from them!) It’s in my nature though to keep moving or I get in trouble.

    Sometimes it’s overwhelming, but I manage by disengaging from electronics (except mindless tv) after 10-11pm, scheduling down time (which is actually still productive, but free) and every once in a while doing something that’s totally unscheduled. (I have this Saturday off from my part time job and I think I’ll see where the wind takes me.)

    And sometimes I spend a whole day out in the country drinking spiked seltzer in the sunshine with my phone in airplane mode.

    1. Kathy G says:

      Court, it sounds like we’re very much alike. I adore mindless TV and unscheduled days. I’ve never had spiked seltzer, but it sounds wonderful.

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        You’d like her place, Kathy. Check it out.

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      Check out her blog, Court. Maybe bring some of that spiked seltzer, enough to share, next time.

      1. Court says:

        I always bring enough to share. Sometimes I just drink it myself though.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Either way, you bring the same, right?

  4. You clearly are a God-send to any PTA, fund-raising group or activity committee. I wish I’d known you when I did that sort of thing.

    1. Kathy G says:

      HA! Yes, I did my share of school volunteering back in the day.

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’d like for Kathy to take a swing at my life for a day and give me tips, Jacqui.

  5. Trudy says:

    The title caught my eye. Too Many Projects, Not Enough Time seems the story of my life. I thought by this age (60) I would have more time to do the things I want to do. Not so. I have a hard time finding balance. It helps when I calendar some free-time, but even then I allow other stuff to interfere.

    I seek solutions, so I will keep checking back here to read people’s comments.

    Trudy @ Reel Focus
    Food in Film: Pancakes

    1. Kathy G says:

      Trudy, isn’t it true that when we choose to do something we’re choosing NOT to do something else? If anything, I’m busier now than I was ten years ago.

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        … and that thing ends up on the bottom of your list anyway!

      2. Trudy says:

        Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m busier, or just slower! haha

      3. Eli Pacheco says:

        I think of it as one elevator going up, one going down, Trudy!

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      We should group-think this whole journey to solutions, Trudy.

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Great ideas spawn from these comment boxes, don’t they?

  6. mividaocupada says:

    A hamster running on a wheel!! I know the feeling!!

    1. Kathy G says:

      Shall we run together? Exercise is always better with someone to talk to 🙂

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’m more like one in one of those balls, especially a dark color that prevents the hamster to see much of where he’s going!

  7. vidyatiru says:

    That is really cool! I have been planning for 52 things for 52 weeks (and I have a list down for that as well) for the past.. well.. some years now.. and yet to get on that one actively…
    Love the tips you have given (I need to work on the exercise part and stepping away for sometime each day from the busyness; though Saturday is our sleep-in day for now!)

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      This is for sure a good starter list, isn’t it?

    2. Kathy G says:

      In my opinion, the hardest part of any project is getting started. I LOVE sleep in days!

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Works that way for laundry, paying bills, washing a car …

  8. vidyatiru says:

    And Eli, totally get your comment about not being able to type something cohesive on that keyboard…at such times, it is mindless TV for me 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Yes! Or ginger snaps. (Or both.)

  9. YES! I just had a week like this at work last week and I definitely tried to do a few of those things, especially the walking away for a few minutes here or there!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I find that if i drink lots of Coke Zero, I have to pee a lot so I get up from my desk but then I’m so caffeined up that I sprint both ways so maybe it’s time to explore other solutions.

    2. Kathy G says:

      Beth, it sounds like you’re on the right track. Keep it up.

  10. Charlotte says:

    Colot me very impressed with the new thing a day every day challenge too–that’s incredible!!

    Sometimes it’s hard to find that elusive balance but this is incredibly sound advice. I’m a firm believer that if we don’t take care of mind, body, and soul, all else suffers ❤

    Thanks for this reminder and I love the one about emails!! Delete, delete, delete (unless it's important, of course).

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      *and unless it says “6 words” and is from “Eli Pacheco,” right Charlotte?

    2. Kathy G says:

      Charlotte, I wrestle with balance every day. For example, in the time I’m spending reading all the nice comments on Eli’s blog I should be working on dinner 🙂

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        You should see how much time it’s taken for me to approve them and answer, Kathy!

  11. Christine says:

    Thanks for the great tips Kathy and nice to ‘meet’ Eli too. I still use a paper agenda to keep track of things.

    1. Kathy G says:

      I’ve used several different methods to organize myself over the years. The “slip of paper” method isn’t the most elegant one, but I pull it out when I get really desperate.

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Beat the “write in Sharpie on my forearm” method.

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      Good to meet you, Christine. I tried really hard to make a paper agenda work in 2017 – and made it until March.

  12. emmaandroseblog says:

    This is a good read. I suffer from Too Many Projects, too. And I know most of it I do to myself. I can say no more often. I don’t have to do everything I think I need to. I’ve gotten to the point where it doesn’t feel right if I’m not doing one or two things at a time. I think that’s why I love going to the movies. I’m forced to watch and can’t take out my phone or do something else while I watch (which I do when I watch movies at home). And the popcorn tastes really good. 🙂

    xo, Lynn N.
    http://emmaandrose.com
    Pinterest/Twitter: @emmaandrose
    Instagram: @emmaandroseblog

    1. Kathy G says:

      Wow! Someone else who multi-tasks while they watch movies at home. I thought I was the only one who did crazy things like that.

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        I try to go one screen only at a time, but I’m currently catching up on comments while watching Hawaii 5-0.

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      Popcorn is best when it’s kettle corn and you don’t have to share it!

  13. Wow! This is really awesome! What a great idea to do something new each day for a year. And also, to have a guest post for A-Z. *wink* I am always trying to catch up with things, it seems. But, I have not given up. So, there’s a good thing!
    Put a Little Love in Your Heart
    Annie at ~McGuffy’s Reader~

    1. Kathy G says:

      Many of my friends mourned turning 50, but thanks to my ‘thing a day’ project I embraced the change.

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        People are going to want to go back and read about your journey, Kath.

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      I think people are going to be curious to check out Kathy’s early blog after reading this, too.

  14. messymimi says:

    Being overscheduled like this happens, and i deal with it by remembering that my decision making “muscle” can get overworked like any other. When that happens, it’s time for a break, no matter what.

    1. Kathy G says:

      Ooh, I like the idea of a decision making muscle! I’m going to remember that one.

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Be sure to stretch, Kath.

  15. ksbeth says:

    all good points, i am getting better at saying no these days, and that’s a start –

    1. Kathy G says:

      Getting started is the hardest part.

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Long as it’s on the to-do list.

  16. Vanessence says:

    Very good advice! Lessons we all need to learn, or re-learn!, from time to time. 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s an evolution, isn’t it Vanessa?

      1. Vanessence says:

        It is! I just wish I didn’t feel like I was always back at the beginning, lol. 🙂

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I know the feeling – but at least it’s a new start!

  17. Delete an email? I need a magic genie to look through all my emails and delete everything that I don’t actually want to read. Just searching “unsubscribe” and delete hasn’t been accurate enough for my needs.

    Great tips here though! Creating more “time” is always a challenge.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You might be onto something with the genie idea, Jamie.

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