by Christine Kling
You know how chart plotters these days have big buttons on them marked MOB or Man Overboard? I feel like I need a big button like that for my life right now – only mine would be marked WOW or Woman OverWhelmed. I’ve decided to head north from the Bahamas in the spring and on to the Chesapeake for the summer again, thus I am trying to get everything done so I can leave.
Which means I am trying to be a good writer, self-publisher, sailor, mother, friend, and dog owner but recently, I’m unable to juggle all the balls I have in the air. That first one, being a writer is my full-time job these days, and I’m trying to put in the hours to meet this deadline. But I’m also preparing for the new release of the Thomas & Mercer edition of Circle of Bones, planning book events, mailing ARCs, preparing my talk for the Sleuthfest on Saturday in about 10 days. Then I’m trying to prepare my boat to take off on a 10-month trip aware from home base here, ordering spare parts and belts and filters and stuff, trying to get the outboard running, making sure my registration, customs sticker and radio licenses are good, provisioning, checking charts, getting winter clothes out of storage, cleaning out all the lockers, etc. And all of this is not to mention the doctors’ appointments, vet appointments, good-bye dinners, and social obligations.
When I can’t cope with all that’s swirling around me, I have a tendency to withdraw. I stop answering my phone, and I postpone answering the too many emails. I have all this stuff I have to do swirling in my head, and because it is so disordered, I avoid dealing with it and it only gets worse. Then I fall further behind. If I am facing over 100 unread emails and a tall pile of paper documents that need attention, and I have 5 voicemails waiting to be answered, that is when I’m likely to decide it’s a good time for me to read that book I’ve always wanted to read on Social Networking or Italian Cooking.
What’s the matter with me? Does this happen to anyone else? Because I’m basically an introvert, I find it requires more energy to interact with people, so all the stuff that requires decisions and dealing with people, I postpone. And then I start to feel even more overwhelmed.
One of the tools that has been helping me recently is my iPhone. I’ve started using Siri, the voice recognition robot voice. I press and hold the button and say, “Remind me to pick-up the inter-library loan book,” and the text appears on my screen. Then Siri asks me “When should I remind you?” And I say, “Tomorrow at noon.” And then Siri tells me she has entered the reminder into the Reminder App. The next day at noon, my phone will chirp and the text will display on the screen. In this way, my reminder list acts as my to-do list, and I can set it to keep reminding me every day until I mark it as completed. Adding things to this list is so easy, I tend to do it more often than I ever did with a paper list or an app where I had to type letters on a tiny virtual keyboard.
The second thing I’m trying out is going easy on myself and not making goals that are too overwhelming. For example, I’ve been trying to build my Twitter following, so I’ve decided that I need to tweet or retreat something every day. One tweet per day, I can handle. And I’m only tackling two items per day on the to-do list rather than feeling overwhelmed by looking at the whole list. Accomplishing attainable goals makes me feel less overwhelmed.
But it doesn’t always feel like I’m accomplishing things even when I do get stuff done each day. For example, one day I cleaned the carburetor on the outboard. It ran great, but it wasn’t getting enough water through it. The next day, I ordered a new impeller for the water pump. When it came in, I took the outboard to a mechanic to install it in the lower end. I brought it back, put it back on the dinghy and it’s still not getting enough water through it. That didn’t solve the problem. That was when I started looking for that book on Italian Cooking again.
Now, I’m working really hard at answering all emails as they come in. But the phone calls? They’re still going to voice mail. I’m dealing with my case of WOW one step at a time.
ChristineShare on Facebook