08 October 2015

Life Lessons: Excel At The Priorities

A few weeks ago, at the end of a long week in the office, I sat at my desk at the end of business hours with my face in my hands, frustrated and a little teary-eyed. My boss just happened to appear in my doorway at that moment and said, "You're frustrated."

I looked up, apologized and said I was just tired and still had our monthly report to do that was due first thing Monday morning. Taking it home sounded a little ominous at that point because I would have to prepare a lot of files and organize a bunch of emails for me to access to do it. She offered some thoughts on how to make that easier and in the end I ended up staying at the office and was able to get the report done in about 40 minutes.

This is a report that in my first few months on the job took me three hours to pull together frequently. I was so happy to realize that I was getting the hang of things around there and could do things that one seemed so hard much more quickly now that I had been managing and organizing the process myself for a while and knew where things were and what the data meant.

I thought about that day frequently over the next few days. I tried to understand what it was that made me feel so hopeless and frustrated. I later realized that what was frustrating me so much is that I wanted to really excel at my job but there were so many worthy and often critical projects on the table that I felt rushed and unable to do a good job at anything but rather running in crisis mode often trying to just make the deadlines and frequently feeling disappointed that due to workload it was difficult to give everything it's rightful attention. That IS frustrating.

As I continued to mull these thoughts over, my boss said two more things that impacted me. One was "we need to do the best for the city" and the other was "is this project 'neat' or is it a 'need." These two phrases rambled around in my head for a couple of days and then a lightbulb went on in my head.

I did not have to excel at EVERYTHING. I only needed to excel at the top priorities. I tend to get a lot of 'neat' ideas, but they are all "needed." That took a huge burden off my shoulders when I began to prioritize and it allowed me to breathe freely again without feeling so frustrated. I have repeated this to myself over and over again, just excel at the priorities. I think this has helped me be a better employee, a better support to the organization and I think I'm doing a better job focusing on what is best for each project and how I can better support our awesome team.

I still have a lot of learning to do, but for the past few weeks this has been an important lesson. I don't have to be excellent at every single thing a mom can do, I just have to be excellent at the priorities my kiddo needs. Will I be able to do EVERYTHING I see every other mom doing -- No, but I can do what is best for my kiddo.

I don't have to be involved in everything perfectly at church, I just have to prioritize what I can do and participate it. I don't have to be an 'I can do everything' wife but I can watch for what is most needed and appreciated from me and do those things. Can I give our new house 100% of my attention right now? No, but I can give it my time and energies when I can and work the most effectively that I can while I am there. Last week that mean going over and pulling out 30-year-old contact paper from the kitchen cupboards.

Another important priority is me. I can't do everything I want or everything I need every day, but I sure can take SOME time to care for me each day. Whether that means a great meal, more sleep, a nice long shower or bath, or just buying myself a couple of magazines. Last week I picked up the latest HGTV magazine and the big, beautiful issue of one of the fall fashion magazines. When I got home quite late from work on Friday night, we all climbed on our bed and brought something to read or look at and just relaxed. It was a great activity and I tabbed some pages in the HGTV fall issue that might inspire some good stuff at the house and made a list of some great places to save big on home furnishings.

The days keep moving along and life stays busy but it's sure nice to tie the days' experiences together by learning from them and finding ways to work smarter and make my/our lives easier going forward. I am so glad I have these clarifying thoughts that are helping me do better and be better in every area of my life. Now I just need to keep working at these goals....until the end of my life...haha. I guess this all goes back, as I'm thinking about it, to my goal for this year "SHINE" and I'm finding ways to shine more at fewer things. Good stuff!

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