Over the weekend I got together with my three best friends. We all have that friend who understands you, accepts you, anticipates your sour moods, and knows the right thing to say at the right time. I have three of them (four if you count my husband). They’re pretty awesome.
While we chatted into the wee hours of the morning and relived our most horrid and morbidly embarrassing moments, one of my friends described the unexpected things that she’s had to do in her job. She called it “other tasks as assigned” which is how it was presented in the job description.
These are the jobs we never would could have anticipated or planned for. They pop up at the exact wrong time and of course demand all the attention. And they MUST be done before anything else. Now, an “other task” might be something that can be procrastinated, but usually not. It seems small, but becomes huge just from the sheer avoidance energy we expend on it.
I just had an other-tasks-as-assigned kind of month. It started out with my son having a migraine episode. He gets stomach migraines (for which he sees a specialist at Standard Medical for because his case is fairly severe, but we have it under control with preventative medication, sometimes the prevention doesn’t work and this was one of those times). I plan for the possibility and usually try to get ahead of any writing work I have, just in case. But also in the same time we had family unexpectedly in the hospital, lots of visitors, and overnight guests. I also had two writing projects take interesting turns. And a novel re-write, which takes precedence above any other writing related task. Also throw in a pushy sales man, a leaky toilet, and a dozen other unplanned things.
As a parent, I expect other tasks as assigned; I even expect that some surprises will happen. It’s called life. But when everything happens at once it starts to wear on me and I don’t get as much done when I split focus to several different things.
I’ve been trying to get better at this, since I’m prone to falling into old anxiety patterns and excessive worrying. I flitter around from one project to the next, not really getting anything done to completion. This time I was able to stay afloat, and get it all done. As far as stressful events go, this time was not at all as intense as it could have been, so it made for good practice. I attribute it to forcing myself to stick to my daily walk (even if I had to drag my company along for the ride), the new zero gravity chairs, and a really good book to escape to.
But seriously our new zero gravity chairs are amazing.
Also some really amazing friends at the end of it all.
The “other tasks” can be overwhelming, but I got through them, even if I had to slow down to a moment-to-moment planning strategy.
My emergency combat a stress filled week schedule looks like this:
- Daily walk
- Healthy meals/snacks
- Two goals. One that is a small “must do” and the second is a you’re-a-superstar-if-you-can-manage-it goal.
- Evening Yoga/or five minutes of concentrated breathing—even just closing my eyes right before bed and clearing my mind.
For me this keeps things sane. Of course, it all flies out the door when things are in complete crisis mode, but that is when something huge happens. This is just for those little pile it on unexpected zillion tasks days.
We love comments! Every comment you leave takes away one other task assigned from a poor unexpected soul.
One of the lessons of 7 Habits of Effective People is to figure out your values, principles, and priorities. Know yourself. Then when these tasks come in, you can more quickly decide which ones are important to you. Task triage saves time and worry.
I really like the idea of “task triage” — that sound about right!