Stress, and time management: related

stressNew York Erratic, who needs to blog more – just noting – wrote on March 20, 2014 at 7:29 am:

What was the greatest stress in the last year?

And the answer, had I written it at that moment would have been: “IT’S RIGHT NOW!”

I’ve alluded to The Daughter’s mysterious ailments, which have been largely mitigated and only partially explained, and would take a lot more detail to discuss, involving talks not only with doctors, but with school officials about making accommodations for the fact that she missed so much classwork. The math and spelling homework she kept up with, in large part, because I was writing it for her; she was doing the intellectual work, but the pain in her upper arm made her handwriting/printing totally illegible.

As if my concern about her were not enough, I had my own stuff to do. Let’s throw in another NYE question here:

What do you do about time management issues?

In general, I like to do things early. If I have a deadline of a month, I like to do it as soon as possible. There are two basic reasons: 1) I’m enthusiastic about it in the beginning; later, as I muddle through it, I get bored and unfocused. 2) I get stressed about approaching deadlines. It weighs me down.

I had three specific things I needed to do in the month of March. In the usual course of going to work, doing some of it at lunchtime, or after work, it all would have been completed weeks earlier. But the last week in February, I missed at least two days of work. There were 21 work days in March; I went to work all day only five of them, taking a total of 7.5 sick days (only 0.5 related to me, the rest to The Daughter), and two vacation days, neither of which were purely used to vacay.

Item #1: I had agreed to take the minutes of the February 24 meeting of the Friends of the Albany Public Library. If you’ve ever taken minutes for a meeting, you recognize that that the sooner they are done, the better. I could not pawn them off on someone else because of my cryptic shorthand. On March 17, I’m being asked for them, and I just throw up both my hands in despair. Not having a usable computer at home at the time, and not having time to go to the library to use a public machine, I had no real options.

I FINALLY finish them on March 29, just before the March 31 meeting, too late for anyone to actually review and read, or to act on the items that minutes remind people they’ve agreed to do. Not incidentally, the minutes I took for the March 31 meeting were done on April 2.

Item #2: I had agreed to give a talk at the Community Loan Fund on March 27 about business reference resources that are free or cheap. I so infrequently get out of the office that I was really looking forward to this. The talking part was not the issue; it was putting together the handout sheet. We had one from about three years ago, but some sources had changed, and new ones needed to be added. On March 24, I’m STILL working on the sheet. If it wasn’t for my colleague Alexis, I never would have finished it.

Sometime around March 18, one of my sisters called me, and I was telling her about all of this stuff. She said, unhelpfully, “Why don’t you postpone some things?” I obviously had not made clear that ALL I HAD BEEN DOING was postponing things for – at that point – the past three weeks. She thought I should reschedule my dental appointment the next day; I thought that was a terrible idea; by not taking care of myself, I’d be unable to take care of my daughter.

One of the things I HAD postponed, from February 24, ostensibly a vacation day that began The Daughter’s ailments, was getting a haircut. I FINALLY got one on March 22, so that when I went to my March 27 gig, I didn’t look like Grizzly Adams anymore.

Item #3: I had this reimbursement program for medical expenses in 2013. I had put in $2500 because we kept thinking The Daughter was going to get braces, but she didn’t. So we had to get reimbursed whatever receipts we could find. We also had $1800 for the afterschool money to get back. I mailed it on March 27, and it was received on March 31, the very last day of eligibility, or we would have been out all of that money.

No, I don’t like doing things at the last minute. Don’t like rushing to the airport; the debacle of June 2009 STILL rankles me. Geez, I just reread what I wrote there, and I left out what inane thing we were talking about; I wrote about THAT months earlier. Don’t like rushing to the train or the bus, or to get to the movies on time.

I should make the distinction here between avoidable and unavoidable problems. I’m OK with the stuff you wouldn’t reasonably anticipate; things happen. Tree falls in a storm, blocks the road: unavoidable. Someone gets sick: unavoidable. Power outage: unavoidable. Trying to squeeze in one more task that makes everyone late: totally avoidable.

Are there some non-work activities that take precedence, and, if so, which ones and why?

I check my e-mail. I get a blog comment notices that needs approval, bills that needs to be paid, my sisters’ and nieces’ posts to Facebook, news and weather and traffic bulletins, info from the Daughter’s school district, ideas for my work blog.

Obviously, taking care of The Daughter trumped work in March.

I TRY to take off one day a month for mental health, but that’s not always been the case. February 24, as noted, I tended to The Daughter. March 31, I went to work to fax the last of those reimbursement forms.

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