Killing Me Slowly With Over-Scheduling and Stress

So, how about a discussion on being busy? Or perhaps I should call it over-scheduling ourselves?

See, I live by a perpetual task list, both at work and in my every day life. It helps me to keep things from slipping through the cracks and being forgotten. It also ramps my anxiety beyond 90 on the Oh-Shit-I-Have-Too-Much-To-Do meter as well. I use Google Calendar to keep myself organized with my home stuff. I like the cute, colored squares that popup on the calendar. Plus it is easy to add things to it as well. Which is a problem. But let me continue down the tools list. For work, I have Microsoft Outlook’s calendar, which sucks. Even my supervisor agrees with that. So, we moved the department (when it was nine people) over to Asana, where he could keep a better eye on the task lists for all of us. We’re back to being a department of two, but I am reluctant to give up the Asana task lists. Much like the Google calendar stuff, it helps me to categorize tasks, allows me to put notes into those tasks (explaining what I did, just as much as it is a reminder to me of where I stopped at the end of the previous day). These are great tools for keeping me on track. Except when the tasks start swarming me like hordes of zombies from The Walking Dead – I do what comes natural to me. I lose all capacity to set appropriate priorities and essentially freeze up.

Like I said, I love the ease with which a task can be added in Google calendars. And the recurring task feature makes it even easier to set things up in terms of longer ranges. And when the colors start to overlap, and each day looks like a pile of colored sticky notes that will never be beaten back by me even if I had Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon covering my six – yeah, the panic starts to set in. Now, consider – I have been living my life this way for the past two and a half years. Some weeks were better than others, but essentially it was a life driven by deadlines and to-do items. For public gatherings, conventions, and professional conferences – I would literally clear those days of tasks and to-do items and push all of those back. Which put all those items up against other items, and soon I had a literally looming tsunami of items on my calendar. Something was going to give…and hopefully it wasn’t going to be my sanity.

A few things came to mind. I could become a hermit…living in the woods in a tar-paper shack, cut off from society. Naw. That definitely wouldn’t work, but some things had to go. One of the longer reaching things that was always in the lists, but never completed was the next podcast episode. And I knew this was something to take a good long, serious look at. Plus there were other things that could be approached as well. So I shut everything completely down. Nothing was going to be done until I had decided how to de-clutter this wall of tasks into something a touch more manageable.

The podcast turned out to be a fairly easy decision. I had not put out an episode in nearly eighteen months. I could just dump it. Except that’s not the right way to end something I have been doing for a little over a decade (or something like that – I stopped keeping track of how long I’ve been a podcaster). I owed it to the people that listened to me to bring it to a proper close. So I added the last audio file edits I was ever going to do for a podcast to the new task list. It had been a while since I had done audio editing, and the two interviews I had planned proved to be a lot more challenging than I had anticipated. It took longer than I thought, but I handled it.

I have the blog here at Life With Trickster Gods, as well as my contributions to the Druidry side of the Moon Books blogging platform. Those were not going anywhere. I enjoy writing, and I was not about to give that up. In fact, I have added extra daily writing tasks to my life, in the hopes I can turn all of that into a book. Time will tell if I can manage that. Plus, I could stagger the writing tasks over the course of the week. I’m constantly writing stuff, just not the same thing every day. So far, that has proven to be a perfect addition to my daily life schedule. In addition to that are particular exercise days that I have built into the daily schedule. My pudgy self needs to get into better shape – particularly if I want to live longer than my fifty-two-plus years thus far.

But all of that doesn’t remove one of the biggest problems I have: saying “no” to other people. And this is where my daily schedule can literally go haywire. Because I over-commit and under-deliver. I say “yes” rather than “maybe, let me check my schedule and get back to you”. I also forget to add time between tasks, along with travel time into my calculations. And what I end up with, is being late to some things, and unable to deliver at all on others. So I find myself doing one thing at the end of every day. I have a task that reminds me to take my night dosages for my diabetes and other issues – but also listed is a “quick check of the next three days’ schedule”. This one task has allowed me to check timings, calculate travel times, and make sure that I have the time to do the things I commit myself to. Its a lot of steps, but it helps keep me alive, keep me sane, and keeps me properly focused.

I just posted this as a status on Facebook:

So, sitting here writing about my issues with over-scheduling my own personal time, and it literally just smacked me upside my head. Nearly everything I had put on my calendar to accomplish was stuff that got completed….indoors. Could part of my issue be about not getting outside on a regular basis (aside from my morning trips to greet the Sun’s rise from the horizon)? Yes…its bloody hot outside…but I can find ways to squeeze in some activities in when the sun goes down, right??

Walking on Wild Horse Island in Montana…and its an interesting point. I am a Druid. I am a Pagan. My belief system is deeply rooted in the idea of being outside in what everyone considers to be “Nature”; though I would be in the group that would include all aspects of out lives as Nature – not just the non-concrete and steel version. But I prefer to have my hands in the dirt, my bare feet in the grass or walking on a trail with my staff and my backpack (essentially my over-sized crane bag). All of my tasks seem to have me confined to a desk or somewhere indoors. So, I can see a need to add outdoor times into all of this as well. I probably need to find some time for shinrin-yoku – what the Japanese call forest-bathing. Essentially its spending time within a forest, just walking. No cell-phones, no electronic distractions…just time away from everything. Yeah, I can definitely see a need for this. Once every two weeks. There are plenty of places near me that can offer the ability for me to do so. When I was living in Corinth, I used to walk the trails out by the Goat-Man’s bridge quite a bit. I was in the middle of commuter-town hell, but it felt like I was far from such a place. Definitely need to add that to the list.

All of this over-scheduling was really killing me slowly. My stress levels climbed beyond belief. A trip to the cardiologist revealed a need to drop a lot of the stress from my life. Revamping my calendar and task list has helped. I have to continue being careful of how I schedule everything and taking down-time between tasks and events. After all, I want to be here a lot longer.

But I do wonder…are we over-scheduling our lives to try and complete more stuff in our lives? And in that process, are we missing the small, beautiful details of our lives as everything passes us in a speedy procession?? I certainly do wonder…


2 thoughts on “Killing Me Slowly With Over-Scheduling and Stress

  1. This is all very familiar. I got pretty sick from stress a couple of years ago and had to radically rethink – taking time properly off, more walking, more sleeping – it makes worlds of difference. And now I’m more on top of things I work more effectively and get more done, while still having plenty of time off.


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