A little kingdom I possess, where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find of governing it well.
Louisa May Alcott
I had breakfast with a friend the other day who like so many of us, often gets overwhelmed with all the tasks on his plate. I know the feeling, we often say yes to requests more than we should, that coupled with procrastination and putting off some of the unpleasant tasks can really get you down. What’s even worse is that the overload often leaves no time to do things that would help us recharge. In my discussions with my friend I suggested that we all need to make sure our day includes recess time. For you in other countries, recess is time where school children take a break during the school day to play, relax and recharge.
So what can we do? I think we have to be careful to limit what we agree to do only those things that we can do well and do on time; we do no one any favors when we say yes and then don’t deliver. The second thing is to avoid putting the difficult or unpleasant tasks off until later for all that does is provide lingering dread since you are going to have to do whatever it is sometime. My third recommendation is to make recess mandatory and give it as high a priority as any other task and then use the recess to read, relax, play but not to think about or work on something on your things to do list, if you take a recess I think you’ll be surprised how much better things get done after you return refreshed.
I know it is not easy, but in my experience we make things worse when we get overburdened with our task backlogs. Not long ago happiness guru Gretchen Rubin wrote a piece that I think is on target. Here is what she said.
Six tips for forcing yourself to tackle a dreaded task.
Often, I know I’d be happier if I do something I really don’t feel like doing. Those dreaded tasks hang over my head, though; they make me feel drained and uneasy. I’ve learned that I’m much happier, in the long run, if I try to tackle them as soon as possible, rather than allowing myself to push them off.
Here are some strategies I use:
1. Do it first thing in the morning. If you’re dreading doing something, you’re going to be able to think of more creative excuses as the day goes along. One of my Twelve Commandments is “Do it now.” No delay is the best way.
2. If you find yourself putting off a task that you try to do several times a week, do it EVERY day. When I was planning my blog, I envisioned posting two or three times a week. Then a blogging friend convinced me that no, I should post every day. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, I’ve found that it’s easier to do it every day (well, except Sundays) than fewer times each week. There’s no dithering, there’s no juggling. I know I have to post, so I do. If you’re finding it hard to go for a walk four times a week, try going every day.
3. Have someone keep you company. Studies show that we enjoy practically every activity more when we’re with other people. Having a friend along can be a distraction, a source of reassurance, or just moral support.
4. Make preparations, assemble the proper tools. Clean off your desk, get the phone number, find the file. I often find that when I’m dreading a task, it helps me to feel prepared. There’s a wonderful term that chefs use: mis-en-place, French for “everything in its place.” It describes the preparation done before starting to cook: gathering ingredients and implements, chopping, measuring, etc. Mis-en-place is preparation, but it’s also a state of mind; mis-en-place means you have everything at the ready, with no need to run out to the store or begin a frantic search for a sifter. You’re truly ready to begin to work.
5. Commit. We’ve all heard the advice to write down your goals. This really works, so force yourself to do it. Usually this advice relates to long-term goals, but it works with short-term goals, too. On the top of a piece of paper, write, “By the end of today, April 7, I will have _____.” This also gives you the thrill of crossing a task off your list. (See below.)
6. Remind yourself that finishing a dreaded task is tremendously energizing. Studies show that hitting a goal releases chemicals in the brain that give you pleasure. If you’re feeling blue, although the last thing you feel like doing is something you don’t feel like doing, push yourself. You’ll get a big lift from it.
“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task”
MEMO TO ALL EMS PERSONNEL
To: All EMS Personnel From: Chief of Operations
It has come to our attention from several emergency rooms that many EMS narratives have taken a decidedly creative direction lately. Effective immediately, all members are to refrain from using slang and abbreviations to describe patients, such as the following.
1) Cardiac patients should not be referred to as suffering from MUH (messed up heart), PBS (pretty bad shape), PCL (pre-code looking) or HIBGIA (had it before, got it again).
2) Stroke patients are NOT “Charlie Carrots.” Nor are rescuers to use CCFCCP(Coo Coo for Cocoa Puffs) to describe their mental state.
3) Trauma patients are not CATS (cut all to sh*t), FDGB (fall down, go boom), TBC (total body crunch) or “hamburger helper.” Similarly, descriptions of a car crash do not have to include phrases like “negative vehicle to vehicle interface” or “terminal deceleration syndrome.”
4) HAZMAT teams are highly trained professionals, not “glow worms.”
5) Persons with altered mental states as a result of drug use are not considered “pharmaceutically gifted.”
6) Gunshot wounds to the head are not “trans-occipital implants.”
7) The homeless are not “urban outdoorsmen,” nor is endotracheal intubation referred to as a “PVC Challenge.”
8) And finally, do not refer to recently deceased persons as being “paws up,” ART (assuming room temperature), CC (Cancel Christmas), CTD (circling the drain), DRT (dead right there) or NLPR (no long playing records).
I know you will all join me in respecting the cultural diversity of our patients to include their medical orientations in creating proper narratives and log entries.
Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.
My first grade daughter and her friend both needed new boots as winter approached. The friend got in the car one morning and finally had gotten her boots.
“Tina,” I commented, “I see you got new boots! Where did you get them?”
“At the store,” she answered.
“Which one?” I asked.
She began looking at her new boots and after a pause said, “Both of them!”
In the long run you will receive more from life doing the job you enjoy than you will ever earn in money from a job you loathe.
Terry L. Mayfield
A teen-aged boy with spiked hair, nose ring, and baggy clothes was overheard telling a friend, “I don’t really like to dress like this, but it keeps my parents from dragging me everywhere with them.”
I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die of natural causes.
My sister brought her daughter a really nice Spinet Piano for her birthday.
A few weeks later, I asked my sister how her daughter was doing.
“Oh,” she said, “I persuaded her to switch to a clarinet.”
“How come?” I asked.
“Well,” my sister answered, “because with a clarinet, she can’t sing….”
“The really efficient laborer will be found not to crowd his day with work, but will saunter to his task surrounded by a wide halo of ease and leisure.”
Henry David Thoreau
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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