Alright, Amie’s taking a nap. I have an hour, give or take. What should I do?
Well, let’s see, I need to grade four more papers today or else I’ll fall behind. I also need to do some reading to stay on top of what I’ve assigned my students to read. I also should try to write about 500 words in my novel today. Plus I need to get ahead on my blog, since my mom is coming to town tomorrow. Oh yeah, and I need to read some submissions for Bound Off.
Then I sat there and stared at my computer for a minute. Then I went through the list of things again. Then I (metaphorically) balled myself into the fetal position.
Minutes later, I was going through the list of things I need to do for about the twentieth time and thinking about what time it is, and how many hours there are left before bedtime, and whether my insurance will cover an extended stay in a mental hospital should I have a nervous breakdown. Meanwhile, Amie’s nap was close to half over already.
This is one of the biggest things that prevents me from writing—I think about everything I have to do, think about how much time I have to do it, become overwhelmed, and then waste what little time I have panicking. Maybe I’m right when I panic like this: maybe I couldn’t possibly get it all done today. But freezing up and wallowing in my own anxiety isn’t going to help me get any closer. Instead of knocking at least some things off the list, I get nothing done, which will just make tomorrow’s list all the longer.
So here I am. Getting started on the list. I tried to prioritize, but that just led to more panic. So instead, I just picked the thing I felt the most in the mood to do—get ahead on my blog. It was something I felt I could handle right now because (as you can tell) I suddenly knew exactly what I should write about. Amie’s up from her nap already, but you know what? My next step will be to ask Damien to watch her for a bit while I knock another thing or two off the list.
Because I can do this. I can get it all done. And if I can’t, big deal, I’ll get at least some of it done. Telling myself that I can’t, that there just isn’t enough time, has never, in my experience, been an effective way of creating more time. To my knowledge, there is no way to create time. Time is finite, there is how much there is. But worrying about how much you will be able to accomplish in the amount of it that you have is a waste of it. I’m going to try not to waste any more time with stress.
So, one task from my list: completed. What will I do next? It doesn’t matter. As long as I do something, it’s time well spent.