POINT OF VIEW: The World Needs to Calm the F* Down.

Pride Season is upon us, and with it, so many things I have to do, and so little time to do them.

We have two readings in Sacramento this week (thank you Jeff Adams for managing one of them!), two pride celebrations, an author lunch, and that’s just the stuff on my local author group plate.

The world outside our doorstep seems to be spinning out of control, my writing is on hold until I can find time for it, and somehow I have about ten times as many things to do as I have time to do them.

So in this moment of rank insanity, I need to slow down, gather my thoughts, and figure out how all this shit is gonna get done.

In that spirit, here’s my handy guide to dealing with life when it throws the kitchen sink (full of dirty water, crusty dishes and rusting SOS pads) at you.

  1. Stop. Just stop, and close your eyes, and take some deep breaths. Breathe in deeply through your nose for four seconds, hold it in your belly for four seconds, and breathe out through your mouth. Seriously. This is a great technique to reduce stress and anxiety.
  2. Make a List. Or two. On one, write down what has to be done today. On the other, things you need to get done, but can wait until later. Getting them out on paper gets them out of my brain, and helps me sleep at night. I actually do this when a “to-do” item sabotages my sleep. I get up and write it down in the office in the dark, and hope I can read it in the morning.
  3. Charge Up With Self Care. If you are insanely busy, you don’t have much time for self-care by definition. But that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge it a little. Take a quick, hot shower and let the steam penetrate deep into your sinuses. Grab some dark chocolate or some Oreos or a cup of coffee, and take a minute to really enjoy the taste, the aroma of it. Light a scented candle. Just do something for yourself.
  4. Buckle Down. Start working on the items on your list. Do one of the easy ones first – it will make you feel better, like you can actually deal with the stack of to-dos that have suddenly descended on your life. And don’t just check each item off. Cross it off with a vengeance. Feel your sense of triumph deep down as you finish each item.
  5. Delegate. Is there anything you can send to someone else to get it off of your plate? Are you part of a group and have taken on too much responsibility? Spin some of it off to someone else if you can.
  6. Learn to Say No. When you’re in all-out-panic mode, people will try to add things to your plate. Give them a big smile and virtual hug and say “I just can’t right now, but I love that you asked.” So much better than “F*ck off, you mangy piece of shit.” I suck at this step. Honestly. People ask, I say yes, which may explain why I get myself into these pickles. So I am working on this one, right there with you. And if I fail? See #6.
  7. Don’t Beat Yourself Up. There are enough other people in the world who are happy to do that for you. You’re gonna get to the end of the day with some things undone. You’re gonna make a few mistakes. These are givens. But at the end of the day, your to-do list will be a little shorter. Send your flying monkeys home, grab a mug of hot chocolate or room-temperature vodka, and call it a day. You can fight the good fight again tomorrow.

So yeah, I’m in the breathing-list making-Oreos phases at the moment, but I will get through this. I’ve done it before, even if I did have to make twenty lists to do it. As they say, this too shall pass.

And check, Point of View column is written. One more thing to cross off my to-do list. *gets really black permanent ink marker.”

Oh yeah.

To my writer friends, how do you get out of your too-much-to-do jams?

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