Tag Archives: burnout

Only Child says delete

 

Only Child  contemplates deleting extra chores

Only Child contemplates deleting extra chores

Hitting the delete button is common with computers. We also need a “delete” button for all the flotsam and jetsam in our lives – something I’ve decided to apply.

Life is not as simple as when I was growing up – although back then I did not think life was simple. But I suppose with my Dad dying of cancer, being bullied, and turning into Worry Wart #2 (my late Mom gets the prize for Top Worry War), that is understandable.

When I start misplacing items – or in some cases items go missing and turn up in strange places (more on this in a future post), I get angrier than usual at so-called “little things,” I am not getting enough sleep so I can’t think and function normally, bingo – I’m in overwhelm. It’s time.

Time to take a look at what exactly is happening in my life and hitting the “delete” button for some things.

Off the top of my head, I know I have to make the word “no” into a very big word. I need to stop helping every Tom, Ken and Susan who wants my help. A lot of it happens in the writing department and I’m not referring to paying clients. I have reached the point where I use the “delay” tactic but I think I will have to say “no” upfront. It is good as an experienced writer/writing teacher/ and editor to help more newbie writers – but somewhere in there you have to draw the line at how many and for what.

Then there is this business of suddenly finding housework (some of it daily routine) to do after the 11 p.m. news. Or as one of my writing colleagues put it “no more dusting late at night.” I don’t dust late at night and my house is lucky if I dust it once a month. Yes, I have my priorities right there.

No, what I do late at night is empty the dehumidifier, shut the basement windows (those two in summer), fill the coffeepot ready to turn on in the morning, and sometimes finish washing the dishes, dump the recycling newspapers, etc. in the big bin I keep just outside the side door, and lock that door and the front door. And I haven’t even started on the personal get-ready-for-bed rituals.

Why can’t I do all this stuff earlier in the evening? If I’m watching TV, except for a couple of channels I watch, there are commercials. I used to laugh at my friend Diana who would rush into the kitchen during the commercials to do dishes, etc. Well, it’s a good idea and I do it for washing the dishes and most of the time they at least get done. So why not for other daily evening chores?

Other things in my life can fall under the delete button. I use a Plan A, B, C and D for what is important. The A box is “Have to Do; want to do;” B box is “Have to do; don’t want to do” (dusting goes under thus one); C box is Don’t have to do; want to do” and D box is “Don’t have to do; don’t want to do.”

Guess which one is the easiest to list.

How do you deal with too much to do? Do you have a plan? Or do you not have too much to do in your life?

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Balance, Burnout, Mom and Dad, Only child, Overwhelm, Sharon A. Crawford, Worrying

Only Child on eliminating big stressors

Sharon and her late mother in less stressful times.

Sharon and her late mother in less stressful times.

It all came together like a light bulb exploding inside my head. Three occurrences within the same time period.

Yet another editing client’s manuscript had big formatting problems beyond the usual editing – second one in a few months. I was beginning to wonder if it was my computer software programs. Nope. Checked other clients’ manuscripts from earlier this year and even my writing manuscripts and they were fine. I have to charge extra for this extra re-formatting which isn’t part of copy editing (unless the client can fix it himself) which doesn’t always sit too well with clients. But I didn’t create the formatting problem. No quandary with the first client here a few months ago.

My digestive disorder is acting up and giving me lower back pain so that sometimes I have difficulty standing up straight without pain. I find just moving around (gardening and longer walks) and drinking peppermint tea seem to help temporarily. I’ve also added some supplements, changed a bit of my diet, and play relaxing  music when editing. But stress and stressors trigger these attacks. (I have plenty of house and money-related stress and spent a good part of Friday on the phone trying to straighten some of them out only to find when I finally got around to checking my snail mail that the bank officer I’ve been dealing with screwed up my minimal RRSPs’ renewal – she didn’t listen to what I originally said and didn’t even return my phone call. I left her a blunt voice mail indicating that I was upset; she better fix it, and to call me Wednesday morning when she is back from her extended long weekend).

The final “wake-up call” was when my police consultant – a police officer and novelist of police procedures said he is  retiring  next year and he “just wants to write.”

Bingo.

Early next year I should be getting the OAS pension and can apply for the Guaranteed Income Supplement – that with CPP, hits on my small amount RRSPs (if the bank officer fixes them now so I can get at some) plus income from teaching writing workshops and courses, writing, doing manuscript evaluations and writing marketing consulting – hopefully I will be able to live modestly on that. Meantime I plan to get more gigs in those areas. By this time next year I plan to quit doing copy editing of book manuscripts. If the CAA Toronto branch still wants me as their Writer in Residence I’ll still do that – it’s only 30 pages per client and is often manuscript evaluation and for the latter it doesn’t matter how messed up the formatting is. I’m picking a year from now to tie in with when I would have to renew my Editors’ Association of Canada membership next year (not renewing then). Those few months will also give me some time to see how the new way goes.

I don’t know if it’s a taste of “like mother, like daughter.” As I’ve posted before, my late mother had to quit working as a secretary, then a proofreader for an insurance company because of severe arthritis. My medical condition is different and there are other stressors coming at me too. But I can imagine my mother had a lot of stress about her situation because she was a worrier too and also didn’t have a partner as it was after Dad died. Maybe the lack of a partner is “”like mother, like daughter.”

Now, I have another big stressor to deal with – getting help with and getting the window air conditioner replaced.  Wish me luck or maybe a miracle – maybe I might actually believe in miracles then.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Burnout, Decisions, Health, Health Seniors, Life demands, Old Age pensions, Only child, Pain, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, Uncategorized, Worrying

Only Child revisits overwhelm

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

After enjoying the holiday weekend for Canada’s birthday I am now back into the daily grind. And another bout of overwhelm is trying to take over.

I don’t know if my late mother ever felt like she’d spiralled into overwhelm. However, she could have won the title for Worrywart Incarnate. She had a lot on her life plate – Dad dying of cancer and after his death, her own health problems plus going back to work and raising a teenager, and a house. Mom may have come close to overwhelm when she decided to sell the house. And at 19, I wasn’t much help to her here. As I write in my memoir:

I am lying on that living-room chesterfield. My ears are tuned to the top 40 bleating from the radio and the rest of my face and mind are buried in an Agatha Christie mystery.

“Sharon, help me clear out this stuff downstairs. What are we going to do with it all?” Mom shouts up from the basement.

“In a minute,” I reply, as I tell myself I’ll just read to the end of this chapter. At 19, I am Mom’s confidant and unwished-for helper.

“Sharon.”

“Be there in a minute.”

“Sharon.”

“All right.”

I shove a bookmark in the Agatha Christie, place it on the end table and stomp down the basement stairs, around the sharp curve midway. At least I won’t have to look at the orange stucco stairwell walls much longer. What was Dad thinking when he painted them?

I am ashamed of my thoughts and as if to make amends, I dig into the latest box of stored possessions. This carton, tall, narrow and heavy, contains my school exercise books, drawings, high school yearbooks and newspapers.

“Do you want all of this?” Mom asks. “You decide.”

 (Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2012 Sharon Crawford)

Today I am thinking of a recent phone conversation I had with my friend who has the back problem. She’s been laid up with it for over a month as it goes through ups and downs. While she’s been literally on her back from the pain and sleeping off the pain meds, she’s had time to think. Like me (or worse) she was always trying to accomplish way too much. (And of course, she is alone, as well). She’s decided to focus on what is really important to her and let the rest slide or wait. She is drastically changing her life, including moving closer to her brother and sister.

She’s right – not just about the family part, but about figuring out what is important in your life and ditching or postponing the rest. I’m taking that to the micro. Each day I am now deciding in my work, (including answering those sometimes pesky emails), in my personal life, just what is absolutely necessary for me to do today. With client work, deadlines help here. If a client needs an invoice so I can be paid, that is necessary for today. I look at all the emails and decide which ones are necessary to deal with today – family, friends and work. I already don’t work weekends except for the occasional workshop so rarely answer business email on weekends. I will also now stop apologizing for being so slow to reply to an email even if I don’t get to it until four or five (or more) days afterwards. I will do as my hairdresser does – just reply to it when I get to it. I have also removed myself from some email subscriptions that were merely getting filed for possible future story ideas. I’m staying on my LinkedIn groups, writing organization groups forums and listserves and blogs I’m connected to, including writing this one. Connecting with other writers is important – we can all help each other. The intent now is to actually connect with them more often. I know – where is the time? It might not be every day, but I’ll do it.

I’ll also shove more stuff in “pending.” To take the reverse of an old axiom, I will “put off until tomorrow what doesn’t need doing today.”

That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it – for today, anyway.

Any comments? Ideas on dealing with overwhelm?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Burnout, email overload, Life demands, Mother, Only child memoir, Overwhelm, Prioritizing, Sharon Crawford, Time management

Only Child tumbles into overwhelm

Only Child contemplates getting out of overwhelm

Lately I’ve become a space cadet. I forget where I put things; why I went downstairs and people’s mugs sometimes create a blank stare on my part (I’m usually good with faces and sometimes can even summon a name). At the same time a virus invaded my body. My turning point  came last evening when I boarded the bus and tried using last month’s transit pass without realizing it. The driver was kind but I decided to return home and get the May pass because I would still have to return home by public transit.

While the virus may have added to my “space flights,” it is not the cause – it is more likely a result according to an article on preventing burnout at http://www.helpguide.org/mental/burnout_signs_symptoms.htm. The “cause” is too many things in every area of my life coming at me at once. Many fly in out of the blue (or black). Everyone demands my action NOW. Like that poor headless chicken I try to oblige. Some of these very people with the big demands tell me to “relax.” That’s an insult because you can’t turn on relaxation like the TV. So I now tell these people, “only person here. Have to do/organize everything myself.” I really think  being alone in the world is a factor. Not the only one, though. According to this article a person’s attitude can have something to do with it. I agree. The article also mentions a symptom of burnout as not having enough time for yourself. I agree and add not having enough time to make choices or sometimes not having any choice (or seeing my situation that way).

After reading this article I realize I haven’t quite hit burnout. But “overwhelm” and “stressed-out,” yes. So, after exiting that bus, I resolved to live my life according to my priorities. It is not essential that I answer every e-mail pronto; heck, it’s not essential to check e-mail like I was a gnat-in-action. The delete button is getting a vigorous workout. Of course, I try to be reasonable with my priorities. Obviously if a magazine editor wants my story in by a certain date, his or her deadline becomes my deadline and gets prioritized. I don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today; instead, I put off to tomorrow (or after tomorrow) what doesn’t NEED to be done today. Eliminating too much “food” on my life plate at once is starting to make my body and soul feel good. I’m becoming more assertive. Just have to watch I do it pleasantly not with anger – unless the person keeps demanding and becomes a nuisance, which happened last week. Somebody kept phoning over a two-hour period with a different question each call… all at the last minute before a meeting we would both attend. I also had my lawyer arriving for me to sign some papers just before this meeting. Bad timing? Maybe. However, he was saving me another trip up to his office in the northern parts of Toronto and he was only in my area that evening.

Then there’s the guy doing the excavation/sealing to fix the leak in the basement. That part  is done, including filling in the hole he dug, but the area must sit for a month to settle before he does the grading. I can live with that. However, I can’t live with his flakiness about when he will  bring me that patio table to replace the one he broke (a leg) moving for the work. He found another patio table that his neighbour wants to get rid of for free. I’m grateful for that. He keeps saying he’ll do it when he has a helper for his other contract work.  I tell him to call first to make sure I’m in and not meeting with a client. Meantime, the old patio table sits propped up with a large plant pot (turned upside down) and a brick. I’m holding back on some of his fee until all work is done and told him so last evening – after days of worrying over doing so – used the twofold reason I’ve never paid him before he finished other jobs and isn’t that standard practice?  It is in my editing business.

Felt better after that. Yoga classes resume tonight, so I will do another of my new resolutions – take care of my body.

Anyone else want to comment on how they deal with stress? Here’s the link to that article again. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/burnout_signs_symptoms.htm.

And if you are in overwhelm, remember the 3 D’s: delete, delegate (if you can), and delay.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Assertiveness, Balance, Burnout, Decisions, Life demands, Life learning, Multi-tasking, Only child, Overwhelm, Prioritizing, Public Transportation, Stress, Time management