Recently I noticed an interesting and increasingly predictable shape to my weeks at the newspaper – Mondays I was close to useless, which stressed me out. Tuesday I started getting myself together and making some phone calls, none of which were returned, which stressed me out. Wednesday I made more phone calls and got a few calls back so my stress started to ease a bit. Thursdays most of the calls came back and I started to write. Friday I crafted the pieces for the weekend. (I tend to write a lot of Saturday features in addition to my Saturday business column, which means that Friday is always a big deadline day.)
Until I recognized the pattern, I got super stressed out at the beginning of each week because I felt like I wasn’t getting enough done and I’d never get all the work finished.
Two weeks ago, it occurred to me that what I’m actually doing is processing a lot of information on Mondays so that I can be ready to start making phone calls on Tuesdays. Those two days then give a shape to the week.
For the first time, I discovered that the “wasted” time on Monday and Tuesday was actually vitally important. There might not be a ton of visible output for that time, but without it I’d spend the whole week walking in circles.
And here’s another crazy thing – no matter how much I terrorized myself at the beginning of the week, I always got all the work done. So why keep terrorizing myself?
The next three weeks are going to be CRAZY busy – in addition to the regular weekly column and next three entries in the economics series, I also have to produce an entire special section about winter activities in our area. I’m staring down the barrel of a LOT of work for the next three weeks and I’ve been getting nervous anticipating how I’d finish it all. I figured today would be a disaster.
But something odd happened when I got to the newsroom today – I sat down and started working. Minus the stressful thoughts that I was wasting time, I actually had an extremely productive Monday. It’s probably the first one I’ve had since I started working at the paper.
But even if I hadn’t been productive, I already knew that I’d be okay with it because I’d seen the pattern. I knew there was no reason to terrorize myself, so I didn’t spend all that energy making myself crazy.
It still feels like a daunting amount of work to finish in three weeks, but for the first time I think I might actually be up to the task.
I’ll get back to you in a few weeks.
Have you read about The 30-Day Miracle Challenge yet?
If not, get yourself to THE CHALLENGE page and get psyched! I mean, come on – THERE ARE PRIZES INVOLVED!!!! :-) The Challenge starts on Thursday, Sept. 15 and I’d love to have you join in! Tell your friends and family – the more people we have participating, the more fun it will be…and the more miracles we’ll make!!!