It’s a common problem and one that will only get worse as our lives get even busier than they are already. Sometimes I wonder if life was really as hard as it was portrayed back in day when people lived on the land and worked to grow their own. I suspect that in fact it was probably easier even if it was physically more difficult.
We have extended our days into our nights, we no longer live a life governed by the passage of the sun and moon through the heavens. Our constantly on, 24/7 society means that we can work, play, shop and consume at all hours of the day and night and we frequently do. At least when there was no such thing as the electric light we would have slept when it was dark and risen with the dawn, at least a good eight hours sleep. Now the most we can hope for is six or seven simply because the demands of a normal life in the Western world requires that we fit 100 times more into an already packed schedule than we did last year or the year before.
The relentless rise of technology to ‘make life easier’ quicker or more connected means that we may fear missing something important if we aren’t keeping up to date with the news, our friends and connections.
I have to ask myself if it really matters that much though. I’ve just spent several of the busiest weeks of my life managing various aspects of my life and my businesses. It has been relentless and I’ve not had much time to just sit at my desk and wade through the amount of post and email that I have, never mind keeping in touch with my contacts and friends on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. During this time, I’ve had to slot in my work to the late night sessions that have kept things ticking over and I am looking forward to things calming down again next week.
So what have a learnt about what to do when I have too much to do. Firstly, I learnt that people can wait. It isn’t essential that you get back to everyone immediately unless they have a life or death crisis to deal with; mostly the world will not end because you took two or three days to reply to an email (or even a week in some cases for me recently) as long as you do reply eventually.
Secondly I found that if I left things long enough they actually removed themselves from my ‘to do’ list which means that they weren’t important in the first place.
And finally, I noticed that if I stopped adding in all the extra jobs I thought I ‘ought’ to do that I could create time to deal with the things that are important; like spending time with the people that matter and having conversations with my friends (wherever they happen to be) and sleeping without worrying.