The sorting that evens things out

by Suw on December 8, 2005

Still insanely busy, as you may have surmised. Keep hoping it will calm down, but every quiet day is ruined by a crisis. I have so much unread and pending email I don't know where to start. Paris was fun, but not relaxing (more on Paris if I ever get the chance to sit and write anything).
I need time off, because I'm so tired that I'm ineffective. I need to kick back and do some serious meditation. I need to do the sorting that evens things out, to quote whichever of the Daoist masters said that.
I always joke that I'm a crap Daoist, but that that's ok because Daoism allows you to be crap. But when I start to feel swamped like this, Daoism saves my bacon because it's now, when I most need to, that I can fall back on the main principles of Daoism and save my brain from frying. Instead of getting all wound up, it's time to just get into the flow of it and allow myself to be swept along. At a time when everything is equally urgent, do the things you can do. You can't do the things you can't do. It's plain and simple really.
Also, sleep helps.

Anonymous December 8, 2005 at 12:58 pm

Suw, I was recently in the same place. And a partner suggested something contra-intuitive. He said, “Sometimes when you set a goal … a really *big* goal … everything else gets aligned.” He suggested something that, in order to be done, would require millions and millions of pounds to come in within eight months. A Big Hairy Audacious Goal that we had no idea *how* we were going to make it happen but that was fun and excting to think about and got us going with excitement. Plus generating millions of pounds in a short time.
Here's what was interesting. The BHAG created a 'big broom' that began sweeping everything that was on the table off. To make way. And yet it wasn't just swept off into oblivion and not done … we began doing it … easier, faster, and lighter than we ever had before … just to make room for the now even more *important* work of accomplishing the BHAG. And that is where we still are.
I'd like to make some reference to the Taoist teachings relating to 'Big Brooms' but I know virtually nothing of Taoism and therefore can't even risk a joke. And I don't want you to think in any way I belittle your existing projects and what you have undertaken. I happen to find you enormously productive and accomplishing minor miracles. Yet, this was the lesson that I learned … sometimes if you have far too much to do … good stuff, too … it can all be made better by taking on simultaneously something even bigger. Everything seems then to align to its proper (relative) priority.
Live well and large, love. Boldly. Sweetly. Select your BHAG well. You'll be fine.

Anonymous December 8, 2005 at 1:36 pm

Alternatively, pretend you have a BHAG, use the resultant broom to cut down on the less important stuff and then be doubly pleased because not only do you not have as much stuff to do, you also don't have a BHAG to do either!
After all, the BHAG, even Daoism I guess, is only a gimmick to change your perspective on things. I suppose it's a form of low-level hypnosis. Hypnosis is all about focussing attention. If you can focus your attention strongly enough on poking yourself in the eye, you won't feel the pain that resulted from having your leg lopped off by an errant combine harvester.
Focus on a BHAG and you spend less time thinking about how much you've got to do and how tired you are.
And it works. Perception is a powerful thing. But it doesn't solve the problem. If you're sleep deprived, you can only drink so much coffee and poke yourself in the eye only so often before the fatigue catches up with you and makes you pay off that sleep debt.
You know what gimmicky mantra helped me most when work was really stressing me out?
“Do less work and sleep more.”
Still, I feel I could improve it if I could get it to rhyme. Possibly to the tune of 'pop goes the weasel'.

Anonymous December 8, 2005 at 1:47 pm

.
I?m doing less and sleeping more ?
And life is living better ?
And all of the tasks I had before
Are ? WOW! ? now getting thinner! ;-)

Anonymous December 8, 2005 at 9:11 pm

I suspect that if you make sleep the most important thing at the top of your list, you'll find everything else becoming a bit more manageable too :-) Sort out that one 8 hours of every day and let everything else fall into place around it. Easier to say than to do, I know. I've been having the same problem myself lately. But for the past week I've let myself just drop work, and go to bed early, and suddenly everything is SO much easier to cope with :-)

Anonymous December 9, 2005 at 12:12 am

Breathe.
Everything after that is a bonus. Just trust me on this.
Sleep is a most excellent bonus.
(As for Dao…Sorry but I think that we have emotions for a reason…)
–Living my life by Maslow.–

Anonymous December 9, 2005 at 7:55 am

Huw: What if everything on your list is a BHAG? Not so helpful then to have another one.
Reynolds: It's not about denying emotions, it's about not letting negative emotions make you run round like a headless chicken.
And to everyone, yes, sleep is good. Been getting more of it last few days. Still insanely busy, but more well rested.

Anonymous December 9, 2005 at 3:15 pm

Sometimes Suw, all you need is a good hot water bottle. You're on the right track. Take care, love. ;-)

Anonymous July 23, 2007 at 1:54 am

Thank you for these eye-opening remarks. great blog indeed.

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