Caroline O’Neil | Featured Contributor
Women are world class multitaskers. This is not breaking news.
What was breaking news to me was that:
- Just because I can juggle a dozen tasks at once doesn’t mean I have to, or even that I should.
- A woman’s time and energy have to be budgeted, as they have limits, just like a bank account.
- Women can, and frequently do, overdraw our reserves of emotional and creative energy. Not only does this ultimately lead to disappointed clients, we also fail ourselves and our children.
My simple solution? Shoeboxing.
When the signs of impending burnout start to appear:
- increased sugar reliance
- increased caffeine intake
- and tears
grab an empty shoebox (perhaps even the one you were saving for your child’s school diorama) and make a list.
What drains you, and what replenishes? Life drains us, even in the good times. Success requires as much, if not more, energy than stasis. We all need to be replenished before we again can give freely.
I take the things that drain me and put them in shoeboxes, sealed with packing tape, and neatly labeled with the dates and times they will be taken out of storage and addressed.
What does this do?
This helps me focus on my needs. I know I can survive. But abundance is more than simply getting by. What do I need in order to thrive?
Let’s assume survival is under control: bills are paid, home is secure, and the pantry is stocked. Now how do we uptier from surviving to thriving?
How do I focus? Stop trying so hard.
I can see it in your stressed out eyes: What fresh brand of foolishness is this? (I know. I know. But trust. Keep reading.)
If you Skyped me this morning you’d see a woman cross-eyed from compiling her To Do List for August. As a perfectionist in and out of recovery, my typical To Do List has appendices and addenda. You’d think I’d been hired as General Manager of the Universe.
Good news! I have not!
No one is paying either of us to micromanage every detail of everyone’s life on Planet Earth, so let’s just stop.
Pick up your stacks of mail and sort them: Today, Tomorrow, Never.
On days like today everything goes into the shoebox called Tomorrow. I throw the entire eight page chore list into the Tomorrow shoebox, tape it closed, and focus on what I will do today:
Replenish. Refill. Recharge. Rest.
Believe me, there is no success without rest. How many times have problems unknotted themselves as you slept? Did you ever have a solid nap, deep tissue massage, or good night’s sleep, and awaken with the answer to a previously persistent problem?
Have you ever been foaming-at-the-mouth mad about something or someone, and suddenly all of that toxic tension is released by belly laughing with your children? Try it. It’s magic!
Have you ever sorted through financial statements and muttered, “I’ll never retire. I can’t afford to.”
If you keep maxing out your mind and body credit limit, you may not live to retire. So take a mini-retirement day once a week. This is your Shoebox Day. Go on a day trip. Spend the night an hour from home. Set your email to vacation reply.
Do you hear a smarmy voice in your head primly saying, “That’s just procrastination.”
That voice has to go. Banish it. Get an exorcist if you have to. That, my friend, is the smug voice of Perfectionism. It is your enemy. Perfectionism will sabotage everything you are trying to do: please your clients, manage your household, nurture your family, and be at peace with yourself. Everything.
Shoebox Perfectionism. Write down all the negative voices in your head and print out your list. Put the list, along with the signs and symbols of your personal brand of perfectionism, in a shoebox.
For me that includes
- magazine photos of impossibly gorgeous celebrities,
- stock pictures of resort couples holding hands
- beauty products from the back of my cabinets
- a token bottle of that herbal weight loss supplement.
Seal up that shoebox, label it Never, and toss it in the garbage. (Or recycle bin. You know your shoebox.)
Out of mind and out of sight.
Caroline O’Neil – Multimedia Entrepreneur from CafeGirlsPress – Los Angeles, CA
Founder and CEO of CafeGirlsPress, and long a supporter of the independent film movement, Caroline’s mission is both to create multimedia entertainment content, and to encourage young professionals to pursue their gifts within the various fields of creative arts and technology.
Combining her drive, ambition, and focus with warmth, humor, and dedication to social justice, she challenges artists to educate through entertainment.
Caroline is inspired by her own two children, often her creative collaborators, as they develop stories by exploring America’s blue highways, the independent film culture, and California’s best Mom and Pop dining.
Caroline holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and is a member of the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG-AFTRA). She lives in California and North Carolina.
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Your Tomorrow shoebox will be dealt with tomorrow. You’re a truth-teller. You keep your word. So go on and enjoy today knowing that with fresh eyes you can better manage what Tomorrow has in store.