You’re Not Bad at Time Management. You’re Doing Too Much.
Overwhelmed? Feeling scatterbrained? Missing deadlines? Do you feel like you’re constantly scrambling to catch up, but never getting anywhere? Is every day an uphill battle of chipping away at your inbox, chipping away at your chores, trying to make a dent in your to-do list, struggling to find time for the other things in life that matter (like exercise, cooking, socializing, hell, even having a hobby), and fighting against the massive tide of sadness, guilt, fear, and tiredness that’s always threatening to swallow you up?
Are the surfaces of your home covered in dust and crumbs? Are you wearing a sweatshirt that started getting funky two weeks ago, but you don’t have the energy to wash it, so you keep hitting it with Febreze? Did you miss the extended deadline to file your taxes? Have you been meaning to call your mom for a month, yet find that at the end of each week, you lack the energy and positivity necessary to update her on your life without making it sound depressing and scary?
Despite all of this, and despite all the horrors of the pandemic, does some part of you still suspect all this is your fault? Do you still labor under the belief that you’re uniquely bad at time management, particularly lazy and adrift? Have you hung all your hope on finding the right calendar app, or adopting the right “self-care” schedule, thinking that once you get it right, you’ll magically unlock all the productivity and mental clarity you seem to be missing? But when you do try to enact these time-managing, stress-reducing plans, do you find they immediately fall apart?
Maybe you aren’t bad at time management. Maybe you’re doing too much. Maybe there is no solution to all this stress that allows you to still be “productive.” Maybe the only way to move forward is to let some things drop.
About a year ago, at new-student orientation at the university where I teach, I sat on a panel with other faculty and some alumni to offer our new…