The Gap Between The Possible and My Imagination

Balancing on the Invisible
Credit: flickr / Dru!

This is where I live. In this space between what I could achieve in a given day, or week, or month… and what in my imagination I’m capable of.

Of course in my imagination I never kick back and watch a movie with my friend and a bottle of wine (honestly, this rarely happens in reality either… probably why I felt so horrible this morning). I never get burnt out from training hard and sleep for 10 hours straight. I never say “You know, I’m not having a great week but one thing I could control is my hair” and bunk off the things I should be doing to get a haircut. I never get so overwhelmed by “the list” that I have to take time to breathe deeply and try and decide what my priority one is. I never stare at the blank page where I’m supposed to be outlining the plan for my upcoming talk and feel completely and utterly uninspired. In my imagination, I don’t get things to nearly finished, get interrupted and struggle to come back to them.

Other people don’t feature much in my imagination. Whilst I like working with others and I’m pretty social, there’s such a huge overhead and level of unpredictability when other people are involved. I struggle with this because it’s impossible to predict and hard to plan for. Because everyone manages their schedule and their list differently, it’s difficult to know when you should remind someone and when that would imply that they’re disorganized.

I’m the same, as usual when I’m a little stressed out the first thing to go is my email. So if you’ve sent me something that is urgent, or very quick to reply to, you’ll probably have a response. If not – I’m going to level with you here – it could be a while. And so there will be a disconnect if someone has sent me something they perceive to be urgent, but didn’t seem that way to me.

It’s not even February, but my inbox is out of control. I’m so behind on “the list” I can’t get a handle on what needs to be done anymore.

What do I need? A couple of days by myself to pull myself and my organizational system together.

I’m not going to get this.

So what’s the alternative?

Saying no.

To the endless demands that show up in my inbox, I’m sorry but I’m at capacity right now. I expect to get back to you mid-February.

To other things, too. What more can I eliminate? How can I better manage my interactions with others so that they are not time-sensitive? What’s the time commitment above which I should delegate (below which the delegation is more effort than I save)?

Other people are better at this, and I keep finding myself in situations where they say no and it falls on me or a commitment is broken (as was the case this morning). I need to balance my need to be firmer, with the fact that I hate to let people down.

3 thoughts on “The Gap Between The Possible and My Imagination

  1. Ah yes, I'm definitely stressed about my helpful reminders being perceived as condescending impatience! I think, for event planning, which is what you're discussing here, it's probably better to err slightly on the side of too many reminders. I won't be offended by a text message saying “Hey reminder: processing jam next Thursday”.

    Now, where it gets really hard is in restaurants. If you ordered a drink 20 minutes ago and it hasn't appeared, you can opt to kindly remind the waitress or not. Usually this is perfectly acceptable and your drink will be delivered shortly. But… once in a while, she'll snap back an angry “YES I KNOW”. I haven't yet found a sure-fire solution to this, but I go to enough restaurants that it's worth researching.

  2. It's not just events, I end up asking people to do things too. For example, I called someone in the university last week and left a voicemail, but they didn't call back. A week late I called again, left a slightly pissier voicemail… they called back. I'm still waiting to hear from someone else too…

    And this week I thought someone had agreed to do something and then they couldn't, and whilst I chased up I didn't get a response and in the end we let some people down and I have to feel guilty.

    I think if the waitress snaps, that's pretty rude. My approach is to just say, “I'm sorry but is my drink coming soon?” and then if they've forgotten it's a reminder, and a progress check if they're busy.

  3. It's not just events, I end up asking people to do things too. For example, I called someone in the university last week and left a voicemail, but they didn't call back. A week late I called again, left a slightly pissier voicemail… they called back. I'm still waiting to hear from someone else too…

    And this week I thought someone had agreed to do something and then they couldn't, and whilst I chased up I didn't get a response and in the end we let some people down and I have to feel guilty.

    I think if the waitress snaps, that's pretty rude. My approach is to just say, “I'm sorry but is my drink coming soon?” and then if they've forgotten it's a reminder, and a progress check if they're busy.

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