DIGGING YOURSELF OUT AND NOT UNDER
We all get buried by work, commitments, challenges. Some emergency arises, and we divert our attention and effort to taking care of it, and the next thing we know, we have two or three new crises to handle. We find ourselves perpetually functioning in full-blown crisis-mode. That increases stress, impacts the quality and quantity of work we produce and all of that has a profound impact on our mood and attitude. We struggle to cope and not curl up and just let the load bury us.
It’s tempting some times. We’re totally overwhelmed and likely feeling under-appreciated, too. That’s a combustible mix. We get more impatient, more frustrated, and the temptation is really strong to just say, Forget it! and walk away.
The problem with that, as tempting as it might be, is that it’s not a fix. Sooner or later we have to come back and, when we do, all those problems are still waiting for us. Worse, they’ve all gotten more critical for not being attended to and so now we’ve got that extra bundle of joy to contend with as well.
We know we’re buried. What we need to know is why we’re buried and how to dig ourselves out and not under. If you’re in this position now, here are a few tips:
1. If you are not now in this position, you might want to keep these tips handy, because everyone gets into this position at some point in time.
2. Reveal the source. If you don’t stop to figure out why you’re buried, you’re going to get buried by the same source again and again. If you do stop and figure out why you’re in this position, then you can take active steps to keep yourself out of it in the future. That’s important. We want to live and work balanced, not maxed out.
Ask yourself these significant questions:
A. Are you over-committed? Trying to do too much for the time you have to do those things? If so, prioritize, doing the most important things first. Can any of these things be delegated? Combined with other things so you can multi-task (read once, clear a couple items off your to-do list?)
It’s so easy to have a broad range of interests and to take on more when you just don’t have the time or resources to do the tasks required well. That’s not beneficial to you or to the tasks. Something worth remembering: No is a complete sentence. Do what you can do and do the very best you can to do it well. But if you can’t do more, then don’t. Just say no.
B. Are you ill? If that’s got you buried, you don’t have a lot of choice but to deal with it. You do the most critical things that you can do first, and you accept that you must take care of yourself to get well and to stay well.
It’s the staying well that trips us up. So acknowledging that when you’re ill and down you can only do so much, ask yourself what you can do to take better care of yourself to prevent additional illness.
Are you getting enough sleep? (Most of us are sleep-deprived, and that’s just bad all around for functioning much less functioning efficiently.)
Are you eating right? Healthy foods that give your body what it needs?
Exercising? I know, I know. But do it anyway. It impacts your body and mind in so many ways. Rather than considering exercising a chore, consider it your time to do something just for you. Consider that time your personal treat. Then it will bring you joy because it’s your time and you’re claiming it. When you do, the work afterward will be far more efficient.
Bottom line, take care of yourself. If you do, then you’ll be in a position to take care of the things you need to; don’t take care of you and you’ll have nothing left to care for anything, including you. If you won’t, soon you can’t. That’s worth remembering.
C. Do you lack motivation? If sitting on the sofa watching mindless TV appeals more than doing something, then you need to take a hard look at what you’re doing. Do you enjoy it? Does it make you feel good about the way you’re spending your time? Are there rewards for your efforts?
Many draw a paycheck and that’s important. There’s dignity in work. But the fact is, money alone isn’t enough. There has to be a worthiness reward. You feel good about what you’re doing. You see purpose in your work. You respect your efforts because they serve a purpose that’s bigger than you.
This is feeding your soul and spirit, and we need soul food, spirit food, every bit as much as we need food for our bodies and minds. Find a purpose in what you do that makes you feel good, happy, purposeful. That is what makes you eager to get up and going in the morning. That’s what makes work a pleasure and privilege. That’s what gives you the sense of accomplishment that motivates you.
Money is great for what you can do with it. Purpose is found there, but it’s physical. Important, but we three-dimensional human beings need more. We need soul food and purpose, too. We need to do things we consider worth doing for reasons we consider them worthy.
Okay, now that you have the tools to identify the source of what got you buried, you’re ready to grab a shovel and dig out. You’ve identified the problem. Do not dwell on it now. Dwell instead on the solution to the problem. Constructive solutions to the challenges.
Prioritize what must be done—most critical comes first on your list. That will help keep you out of crisis-mode. Now look at the list and determine what truly must be done versus what you’d like to do. Must be dones have priority. Look at the list of those must-be-done things first.
On that Must-be-done list, can any of the tasks be combined to save time or energy? If you can combine tasks, you must get familiar and up to speed once. If you can do that and knock out three or four tasks, you’ve saved both time and energy.
Can you recruit help—an intern, a teen who’d like to earn a little extra spending money? A virtual assistant? Someone from church or the neighborhood? There are tons of smart, ethical people with solid work ethics around. Find one to assist and help you tick off some must-do items until you get the list whittled down to where you can manage it.
Look for constructive solutions that accomplish the task with minimal upheaval, upset, and stress. Again, stick with must-be dones and get the most critical items done first. Soon you’ll whip past the critical and then be working on items before they become critical. That’s a stress-buster and worthy goal. That’s digging out and not under.
It’s easy to get buried. It happens to us all. How we cope with digging out isn’t a great mystery. We have to be methodical to stay calm and balanced and capable of digging out. Having been buried, we’ve gained experience and insight on digging out and not under, and if we put it to good use, it’ll help us now and in the future.
Digging out constructively takes time, patience, and effort. It takes persistence and determination. But it’s worthy work because, when we’ve done it, we’re not just more balanced, we’re also more content.
That’s a win/win—and a signal we’re out not under.
© 2014, Vicki Hinze. Hinze is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is Down and Dead in Dixie. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s online community: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. www.vickihinze.com.