Every Thursday I answer questions from my inbox.

Question:

Dear Nag,

I am “stuck, stressed, overwhelmed, disorganized, . .” I want a system where things don’t pile up –so I can stop working on an “adrenalin basis.”

The thing is, really I have too much time. . . so “later” is often a valid option. Things pile up, I want to hide I get enough adrenalin energy that I bust through it and return to “too much time.”

I’d like a reliable ‘girl Friday’ kind of a system. I want to be my own able assistant saying, “This is on tap for today.”

…I get all done with a little polish and pizazz . . . I’m just tired of pushing through in a pinch.

Today is somewhat full already. Appointment in an hour, I leave to work with a client in 4 hours then the day is shot.

Thanks!!

love, love, love your work!!

Answer:

Dear girl Friday,

I see a couple things that you might want to try. Not knowing your whole situation I’m going to give you some general ideas and you can let me know what works.

Have you ever heard someone say, “if you want it to get something done, give it to the busiest person?”

When your plate is full (not overflowing) it does seem like you get a great deal more done and in a much more timely fashion. It may simply be because when you’re busy you’re more apt to fit small tasks and chores into the open crevices of a full day. When you have an open canyon of time, you don’t feel the same need to get something done and out of the way. Who knows, if your plate only has a few bites on it, you might be saving them so you don’t have to look at an empty plate.

I think the best answer is for you to get on a healthy diet of activity and find out how it feels. It is really important to be “in action” to know what you want to do more or less of.

Consider trying an experiment. When you get your next deadline start doing a little planning. My mentor, Barbara Sher, introduced me to a backward flow chart and I use it all the time personally and with my clients. Get a calendar. Put the deadline on the due date in pen, as well as anything else, like appointments that you know will be happening. Now, in PENCLE, start plotting backward. Let’s say you have performance on the 15th of next month. What do you need to do on the 14th to be ready for the 15th? Maybe you’ll need to have costumes backstage, and get to a dress rehearsal. What do you need to do on the 13th to be ready for for the 14th‘s dress rehearsal? Go back and back. Keep tweaking things until the calendar of activities looks doable. You now have your map. Each day is like a mini deadline. This map can go a long way to extinguish vagueness. It will also show you how much time you have left in a day. You might want to consider adding something else into your life, preferably something that really excites and matters to you. Use your same flow chart and plot backwards, in pencil, that other goal. Just a little action everyday on a big dream makes big, big changes in your life, almost from the start.

I look forward to getting an update from you and hearing about your successes.

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