Originally published on my website, 26 Nov 2021
You’re getting yourself some water. It’s a busy day. You know you’ll need more than one glass of water to satisfy you, so you top up your glass an extra 25% just to make sure you have what you need for the day.
Of course not. The water will pour over your hand and onto the floor. You can’t physically fill the glass more than 100%, to the very edge of the glass. Even at 100%, it gets a tad messy. Things slop about. You start to move awkwardly. People give you odd looks (try it!).
We understand the physics of filling a glass with liquid… but isn’t it interesting how readily we try and pack that extra responsibility into an already busy day? How easily we take on that extra project, ramming that additional piece of work into an already packed workplan, adding that extra item onto a full agenda.
And isn’t it interesting how we don’t expect the overflow in our workplan/agenda//packed day to make a mess?
Didn’t get it all done? Shocked gasp.
Made a mess of things? Surprised blink.
Didn’t do it right? Aaaargh, fml!
Sometimes, we don’t have a choice. That item is urgent, or life tosses us a curve-ball and we need to restructure our workplan.
Yes, that word was restructure. It wasn’t ‘cram that extra 2-hour task in on top of what you already intended to do’. Hours do not fit inside hours any more than 125% of a glass of water sits neatly in the confines of that glass. Things spill over. It gets messy.
Before overfilling a glass, most people take a few enthusiastic sips and empty the glass a tad first before trying to add extra water.
We can do the same.
This is going to sound incredibly obvious, but we DO need to remove items before we pack those new items in. We need to let things go. Working faster and harder is not always the solution. We can injure ourselves, or others, or things we didn’t expect to fumble can overflow unexpectedly. Rather than have bits slide off or break or get dropped, choose what you will let go of to make the priority items happen.
Make lists. Understand your list. Set reminders. Deliberately and mindfully park important but not urgent tasks. Commit to revisiting that item in 3 months. Delegate. Permission yourself to acknowledge that this item is important, but I need to skip this today/this week.
We all have 24 hours in a day, 7 days in our weeks, 8-ish hours at work. Not all things will fit into these hours. Working harder and faster can result in a mess, skidding things off in odd directions, fumbling important tasks, dropping things we wish we hadn’t dropped (self-care, anyone?).
Is it time to mindfully and strategically check our commitments, expectations, responsibilities, agendas, workplans or schedules and check whether all the things we’ve packed in actually fit?
A good hint that things aren’t fitting is a mess.
Are you experiencing localised flooding, odd looks, fumbles and bumbles, injuries to yourself and others?
Maybe it’s time to check the status of the glass you’re holding?
Do we have an ooops?