Overloaded and Overwhelmed

Too much work…not enough time or help.

I think everyone can feel that way from time to time.  Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, homeschool mom, career mom, husband, wife, volunteer…everyone feels that squeeze from time to time.  It’s when the “squeezed feeling” becomes a way of life that you start to have trouble.  I’m so predictable when I’m feeling the squeeze.  I usually react in one of two ways.

1.  I put my head down, put blinders on and just work until I drop…and I mean literally drop.

OR, if that doesn’t get results…

2.  I start feeling sorry for myself and allow myself to feel overworked and under-appreciated.

OR…if I’m being logical and level headed, I do the unspeakable.

I ASK FOR HELP.

 

With the challenges or opportunities we face, often comes the time when there is too much work…not enough time and not enough help.

So, I told you that I have faced some challenges in the past few months…well, past 2 or 3 years actually.  For awhile, I had reaction #1.  I put my head down, put blinders on and worked until I dropped…and I did literally drop.  I experienced some serious health issues.  Now, the doctor will tell you that the issues I had were due to a condition that I’ve had for years but had never really “acted up” before.  And, I can tell you why my Fibromuscular Dysplasia finally acted up…or at least my theory on that topic.  I had pushed too hard for too long.

So, I then went to reaction #2.  I let my self wallow a bit in self-pity and allowed myself to dwell on thoughts of being over-worked and under-appreciated.  Not a pretty sight.

Then, I finally realized that “stress is a choice” ..or at least my reaction to stress is a choice.  I also realized that the amount of work I was facing was due to a series of choices I had made within my home, within my family, within my relationships and of course, within my ministry.   I also realized I could alter the situation with other choices.  So….

#1 – I hired a virtual assistant.  Yes, I went on odesk and put an advertisement for someone that was familiar with homeschooling, had corporate administrative assistant experience, social media manager experience and most importantly, could work with a personality like mine.  Meaning…needed little direction.  Someone I could throw a “long pass” to…and they could complete the yardage for a touchdown.  Tall order right?  Well, God supplied one…and not only did He supply, but He supplied one that just happens to live in Denver so that we could occasionally see each other face to face.  She started helping me in late October of 2012 and life began to change.

#2 – I hired an administrative assistant for our local campus of Artios Academies.  Again, I needed many of the same qualifications listed above, but I also needed someone that was completely sold on the ministry of Artios.  It soon became clear that God had supplied this person as well.  Since I would see this person more often, I needed someone that wouldn’t try and “mother” me.  Does that make sense?  I needed someone that would assist me…but not boss me around.  I needed someone who respected my strengths and could “shore up” my weaknesses.  God supplied her too!  She started in May…and life changed more.

#3 – I started to take back control of my calendar.  I’ve always been a planner.  Most people think that an artsy person never plans and is always unorganized.  I haven’t found that to be true in all cases.  What an “artsy” or creative person does do, is commit to too many things and lose control of their calendar so that details start to fall through the cracks.  Back in the fall of 2012, feeling the stresses I’ve been relating, I began reading some good leadership and personal growth books again. One of those books was, “Creating Your Own Personal Life Plan” by Michael Hyatt.  He didn’t say anything new.  I had heard it all before.  But, under the weight of my responsibilities, I had forgotten some of these principles and strategies and needed reminding.  So, in the spring I began to really plan ahead and say no to meetings, responsibilities and deadlines that would not fit into my overall goals for my family, my marriage, my personal growth and my ministry.  Yep…as expected some people started feeling slighted.  Others didn’t understand why I couldn’t take time to do some of the things they expected of me.  But, it was the right move for me and for my family.

#4 – I made some needed staffing changes.  These were changes that needed to happen about three years ago but the timing wasn’t right and the right people weren’t in place.  But as I was reading in the fall, it became clear that the time was right and that I needed to take the bull by the horns, step out of some of the minutia, and let my leaders lead.  That’s what I began to put into place after the first of the year….and I can’t wait to feel the effects of those changes when fall rolls around.

#5 – I lowered my expectations in specific areas.  In other words, I quit trying to do it all…and do it all at the same time.  I realized that at certain times when I was facing a huge deadline in one area, that it was very likely I needed to let another area slide for a bit or to delegate that area and/or ask for help.  This wasn’t just at work.  This was also within our family with regards to meal preparation, house cleaning, errands, and more.  Guess what?  Everyone was happy to help…eager to help.  It bound us together as a team.  Why did I wait so long to communicate that to those who loved me?

#6 – I also became a bit realistic on the whole homestead thing.  You may remember, that at the other ranch we had chickens, goats (we had gotten up to 12 of those critters), dog, cat, and six horses.  That’s alot of responsibility.  Moving to a smaller location and a smaller, less equipped barn was a reality check.  Not having the space needed to “contain” the chaos that comes along with animals, all of us began to realize our sojourn into the world of goat herding was over.  So we gave a large family a couple of the goats that would soon be in milk.  We sold some back to the original owners and we took the rest to the sale barn where they were purchased by a rancher needing them for weed control.  So, no more goats.  Then spring came, and I knew we needed more chickens to replace those that were getting a bit “old”.  But, the thought of dealing with chicks during all the spring snow storms along with the need to expand the hen house, well, once again reality set in.  We didn’t buy any new chickens….we sold one of the horses and have two more up for sale.  We are “simplifying” our “ranch” I guess you could say.

I could go on with other changes that I’ve made and am in the process of making.  But, I guess my point is this.  Feeling overwhelmed and overloaded happens.  Most of the time, it is a result of my own decisions.  BUT, it is not a hopeless situation.  Just as my decisions got me into the mess.  I can also make decisions to begin to pull me out of that mess.  The challenge then becomes an opportunity to grow personally, to work with a team of talented people, and to become even more effective.

I would love to hear from you about steps you have found that helped you make the challenge of being overloaded and overwhelmed into an opportunity for personal growth and change.

 

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