On A Bad Day, Turn It A Good (Or So-So) One
Yesterday was crazy. I woke up at 4 AM to get a jump on the day. That sure helped a lot because if cannot imagine what my day would have been like if I had not done that. However, my day turned out to be rather productive and by around mid-morning, I began to turn things around.
Me waking up at 4 in the morning is rare now. I've done that since high school - zero period and jogging, work in college and I just got used to it. Now, 5:30 or so is more typical. My plan yesterday was to get some simple tasks done so I can get a jump on a jog and my own projects. I was able to do all that and I figured I would have time for some downtime as well.
But that did not happen.
Emails upon emails. Calls upon calls. Reports. Requests. A flurry of work related stuff flooded in within an hour. I admit I was sort of flustered from about eight through ten yesterday morning. That has not happened for a while. I generally prep ahead of time so avoid things like this - anticipate things, getting things done ahead of time, and generally have managed to cut down the time it takes for me to get a task done.
During this morning storm of craziness, the first thing I did was to step back. I stood up and stared at the laptop and papers. All of this will be taken care of. I can only do one thing at a time, I told myself. A minute or so later, I was ready to plow through it. What else could I do? How it all came together for a crazy morning was out of my control.
But not totally out of my control. I still did have control some aspects of it and how I take care of things. Upon reminding myself that (I long realized this fact - you might not be able to control something from happening. Life is unpredictable. How I react emotionally is within my control. Stepping back and thinking things through is within my control. Everything else doesn't matter.)
Instead of reacting and making things worse, I thought things through. Gotta do that.
There are other tools I have that helped me work through this craziness.
Make A List/Plan Ahead - I kept a list of what was making things look so bad yesterday morning. Now you're thinking "yuck, a to-do list". No, no. I see it as a plan. Plan things out ahead of time really helps.
Prepared to have any plan or list you make get blown up. That's life. Especially if you have kids. Still, planning ahead, seeing a big picture, and knowing where you're head at the end of the day helps you work things through and have a better mind set.
I took breaks. A few mini breaks and a longer one. Do nothing or step away and do something else. Don't thin about what you need to do during this time. I did this when I was in the office pre-pandemic. I would walk to a window and spend a couple of minutes just looking outside. Stepping away really helps. When I come back to the desk, I was ready to tackle the next time.
Routines. I have a routine or two that has allowed me to step away. Now, it is different for everyone so I want to point that out. For me, making coffee. Not just instant coffee. I'm talking about crafting my coffee. I go water the plants. Feed the fish. I clean something.
Winning. I look for micro-wins. In that, I list things that I have done. I try to keep a separate list for work and my personal life but sometimes they get mixed together. That's totally fine.
And list everything you do because no matter how insignificant, you just finished a task. Yesterday, I heard on a podcast that the person the host was interviewing considered brushing his teeth a win. I could not agree more. For me, I think I'm a bit further ahead than that so I fall back on a list of daily items that I can do to further my day and rack up wins - cleaning a corner of a desk. Dishes. Wiping down the kitchen counter. You get what I mean.
Breath. I have kept this completely separate from anything else. Breathing slows thing down for me but it does not mean I stop function. Mediate if you want. And maybe it is psychological but getting some air into my brain has given me an extra shot in the arm at times through the day.
I will leave it here for now. I had hoped to finished the majority of my work by 2 PM but I found myself working through the day. It was fine because I accomplished a lot. My plan list were mostly checked off and I had a nice list of what I accomplished including a 500-word article, plowed a small plot of the yard for planting, got a short video of a hawk that likes to visit us, made cookies, did a nice job cleaning the kitchen sink, and distributed some fruits to neighbors. Oh, and I caught up some podcasts and a Joe Ledger audiobook.