Every once in a while you wonder why you even bother planning and setting goals. You are juggling way too many things. You might have metaphorical balls and broken dishes all over your office.
I encourage you to put down all the balls for a moment. Take a deep breath. And make conscious decisions about what you will pick up.
Here’s an emergency technique
Use this any time you feel overwhelmed and like you are going to drop some balls.
Stop. Put the balls down for a moment. Take a deep breath. And ask yourself ONE question:
What is the most important thing I could do right now?
Do that. Repeat as often as necessary.
Make yourself a reminder
Reminders can help. I made a desktop background image and a phone background image with this question on it. You can download your preferred one below.
Download Desktop Background Image (220 downloads)
(Right click to select “Save as…”)
Download Smart Phone Background Image (187 downloads) (On your phone, click the link and then tap and hold on the image. A menu will pop up, then tap the “Save Image” button.)
You can get from here to the end of term with just that question if you have to. If that gets things clear enough that you can plan the next day, week, or rest of term. Then do that.
Use the 3 elements of a good plan:
- Priorities: What are the most important things you need to do?
- Boundaries: How can you allocate time so that there are containers for each of those things?
- Slack: Given the total amount of time, is there any slack in the schedule to absorb the unexpected?
Don’t forget to include “recharge my batteries” as a priority. You can’t juggle the rest of it if you don’t eat, sleep, and exercise.
If you would benefit from me sitting next to you while you make that plan, use the Planning Your Semester recording and PDF in Foundations of an Academic Writing Practice.
Two-Hour Blinders by Aimée Morrison at Hook & Eye
Edited November 12, 2015.