Four Steps to Feel Productive When Life Gets in the Way

I’m a go-getter and a do-er. I make a plan and get things done. That’s what I do. And right or wrong, that’s how I measure my success. It makes me happy.

This week, I had a lot of down-time because my daughter was in the hospital having a seven-hour surgery that was supposed to take five to six. Cue, the anxiety!

The past few days have consisted of taking care of her around the clock, but what do I see? I see unproductivity, gaps where I could have been writing, researching, missed opportunities and spaces of unused minutes. Where did the time go? I wasted all my free time!

But the truth is, I’m still working. I’m on alert for her every need. I count the minutes until her next dose of pain medicine. I focus to remember times and to keep them all straight. I wonder what my life would have been like if my children hadn’t been born with medically complex needs. Would I still be working in Corporate?

I feel guilty for actually watching television with my feet up while she sleeps it off. It’s my first time in a long time without a computer on my lap, multi-tasking, writing, researching, working. Why can’t I relax? Why do I, instead, mostly feel guilty? Why? Why do I do this? I can’t be alone in this. I can’t be the only one.

Here’s what I realized:

1. It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to not multi-task and work ALL the time. Don’t feel guilty. It’s okay to beat your highest score in the free app game you love. You can’t be ON all the time!

2. In order to stop feeling guilty, put a plan in place. My plan for today, my “job” right now is taking care of her (and myself) and that’s okay. Be where you need to be and do that. Stop feeling guilty about everything you’re not getting done. You’ll drive yourself crazy. You can’t be in eight places at once. Accept it.

3. Make a list of some small things that will give you a sense of accomplishment when you finish them. And yes, laundry should be on this list, too. Sorry! This apology is written mostly to myself. I can do laundry all day, but folding and putting it away is my nemesis … Disclaimer: my husband knew this about me before he married me!!

4. In order to get back in gear and feel like a productive member of society, you need to make your list! For myself, crossing off even the smallest tasks feels like accomplishment and motivates me to want to do more.

So take your break. Regroup. Then finish. Did you hear that? Finish what you started. You can linger, but plan how long that down-time will be, schedule your start day, and stick to it. Do something from that list and cross it off! You can do it!

I hear my laundry calling me now.

“Life may get in the way, accept it, but then you must decide to keep going. You MUST!” — Michelle Spray