It’s been a busy few weeks and things have occasionally got a little overwhelming. I have a week-to-view diary and I write deadlines in here, and gradually each day fills up with a to-do list around it. It’s become a mass of scribbles and I was feeling panicked every time I opened it.
I had to take a step back and look at a few things logically. Such as, was I actually very busy? If so, why? And for how long?
I drew out a ten-week planner and filled in my deadlines. I noticed immediately that they were in bunches, two or three a week. Next, I filled in my other commitments such as Bikeability teaching until the end of term, my week in France, and my week at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School.
Was I actually busy? Yes.
Why? Success breeds success, of course, and I’ve carried on with my usual commissions while constantly seeking out more, in the fear that whatever I’m doing is not enough. Furthermore, as I seem to have become a cycling journalist, the summer is packed with events and opportunities for me to cover. Last week I was teaching Bikeability all day then dashing off to interview someone about the Rossendale-Bocholt challenge, or heading to Manchester for a bike polo session, or taking part in the World Naked Bike Ride (yes I did, and no you can’t see the photos). This week has been equally busy, including my first attempt at a Time Trial.
Seeing it all laid out over the next 10 weeks helped to calm me down. I can see the end, I can see the peaks and troughs, and I can see my deadlines. I can see when I have a gap – and I am determined to keep those gaps as gaps. They are not chances to fit more things in.
It’s also useful to split up what I have to do from what I’d like to do. I only put on my planner what I have to do. I discovered that lots of my diary scribbles were vague things that I wanted to do, and it made it looked more pressured than it was.
I think we all get points in our lives where everything crowds in at once. On the one hand, we know we ought to be grateful for the busyness and work, but if you don’t step back now and then it can feel relentless. Everyone has their own way of taking time out, and if you don’t – or it’s not working for you – block off half a day in your diary right now.
And write down: staff mental and physical wellbeing session. Priority: urgent.