Afternoon InquisitionRandom Asides

AI: The Thickening

I am spread way too thin! I have too much to do, and not enough enough time in the day to do it. I need to be thickened.

I know, it’s a common complaint; one that I’ve made here many times before, I’m sure. But we’ve been talking about a lot of heavy shit on the blog lately, so for today’s AI, let’s dial it back. Let’s get mundane, and just talk about how busy we are (or aren’t), how many projects we’re involved in, how many family responsibilities we have, or how many things we have to do in a given day.

How thin are you spread? How do you balance? Are you a natural multi-tasker? Do you freak out if you’re not multi-tasking? Where would you make changes, if you could? Where would you thicken? How would you thicken? 

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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21 Comments

  1. I usually spread myself pretty thin. This usually means I don’t spend enough time with my wife or don’t read a book for a while, or something else gives. I deal with this by taking the thing I’m not doing enough and do that first. If we haven’t been out to dinner for a while we at least have breakfast together the next morning. If I haven’t read a book for a while I’ll open up an hour each morning until I finish a book. It seems to work well.

  2. Full time day job, live on a horse farm (night job), attempting to help run local skeptics group, attempting to help @antiheroine with the whole Girl Develop It thing, two close friends about to have nervous breakdowns and a spouse who’s ready to strangle half her family.

    Feeling pretty thin. Emotionally at least. So of course I take a side job making a web site for a friends CSA. Because I’m an idiot. I don’t think I’d change a damn thing. Except maybe being fantastically wealthy, so I could spread myself thin more on “fun” things than “pays the bills”.

      1. And the funny thing is, I meant that as a joke but as I thought about it… it really is true. When I’m getting too thin I force myself to slow down by baking!

        Old school bread is perfect. None of that wet dough bullshit. 20 minutes of old school bread kneading is fantastic for prioritizing your life. Bonus: BREAD! Bogus: if you’re not careful stress will lead to being a fatass, because you’re eating bread and cookies all the damn time.

  3. Spent many, many years spread so thin I nearly snapped. I worked full time, had 3 school aged children when my husband developed optic neuritis and, among other limitations, was unable to drive. If I wasn’t working, I was in the car. I cried a lot and took very little joy from life.

    Now, weirdly suddenly, the kids are gone. My husband takes the train to an out of state job and is gone Monday thru Friday. I work part time. I have time to exercise, volunteer, read, sing,comment on blogs etc. I am so happy to have some time to myself. I truly appreciate and am grateful for this chapter in my life.

    How busy you are may be a choice, sometimes a necessity or sometimes a consequence of some unexpected life event.

    I think some people complain about being crazy busy but they really see it as a badge of honor. Busy is not the same thing as effective or meaningful or right. You can do less and do better.

    1. “I cried a lot and took very little joy from life.”

      Yes, it concerns me that being too busy can prevent us from smelling the proverbial roses; or proverbally smelling the roses . . . or something like that.

      So I suppose, with the thickening comes the smellening . . . or something like that.

  4. I don’t believe that one person can multitask without the help of machines or other people. We just need to recognize that when spread too thin not much gets done. Prioritize and let the things at the bottom of the list suffer, it’s better than everything suffering.

  5. I feel thin…stretched. Like butter spread over too much bread.

    I need a holiday, a long holiday, and I don’t expect I shall ever return.

    The ring is there on the mantelpiece. Oh wait, there it is in my pocket. But why shouldn’t it stay there?

  6. I’m a guy. I just blow off lots of stuff I don’t think is all that important.

    “But you hafta… _____ !!!”

    “No I don’t.”

    I do one thing at a time. I focus like crazy. There are a truly amazing number of things that I just don’t do. If that bothers somebody, then they can go do those things. >;->

  7. I can tell when I’m stretched to thin when I start doing anti-work. It is when I work harder, but get less done, or sometimes create more problems than I solve.

    At that time I switch to a rigorous plan of monotasking. Focus on finite short-term goals yields a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment before being ramped back up to the chaos of keeping 20 balls in the air.

    1. I get the mono-tasking. My mom taught me that when it seems that the world is crumbling down, just stop everything and…go do the dishes. She may have just been really good at tricking me into doing housework, but I think the lesson was what you’re describing: Tackle something that you know you can complete and then reassess. The small success and the break from the real issues will lessen the stress.

  8. I take things at an even pace, probably to the chagrin of my family and friends. Everything gets done and is prioritized and if a Birthday card is late then so be it, but I will get it out even if it is a month behind. It is just the way I am.

  9. My last few months have been really non-stop. Workwise, I’m a developer and my boss is away for a few months. I have a huge project to deliver for the end of the year that a few people’s jobs could depend on.

    It’s home life that has been really non-stop though. I have a 3 year old and a 15 year old. I’m technically a single parent, but the father of the 3yr old is still my boyfriend, we just don’t live together. (We usually stay over with each other maybe 2 or 3 nights a week.) He broke his leg when we were on holiday in July. It was a really bad break and he is still recovering – was 2.5 months before he was even allowed to put any weight on it at all, so he has had to just stay at his house. (logistics of his house were easier for him). I haven’t really been much use to him because my 15 yr old and myself both have Crohn’s disease and my son’s kicked off at the start of the summer too. He has been in hospital for pretty much 4 months (missed 3.5 months of school – 4th year – important exams this year). So for the last few months my day has been: up at 7 to get ready, drive the little one into nursery, head in to work, up to the hospital at lunchtime, back to work, back to nursery for the little one, grab some dinner, head back up to the hospital, then finally head home and crash at 9 or 10pm. And at weekends, it was just see my boyfriend and try to help him in between the hospital visits. Pretty much no shopping, housework or washing was done during that whole period. My own Crohn’s has been acting up a bit too but it’s not too bad.

    Things are on the up though, they thought my son was going to need major surgery as no treatments were working but finally everything just turned around and he has been home for a couple of weeks. He is back at school today. I was worried about whether he was too far behind but they suggested he drop 3 of the 8 subjects he takes, so that he does the few subjects well that he is likely to continue with in 5th year, rather than just trying to catch up on all of them.

    My boyfriend’s recovery has picked up really quickly too and he is a lot more mobile. And I finally have some clean clothes. My 15yr old is staying with his dad this weekend and my mum is babysitting tonight, so I am having a night out for the first time in months!!!!!!

    My only worry now is delivering this project on time.

    I tend to procrastinate, a lot, which is clearly what I’m doing right now.

    Thanks, this was quite cathartic.

  10. I can’t do more than one thing at a time, usually. All too often, I find myself hyper-focused on one particular task, and “wake up” to find that hours have passed me by without notice.

    When I was younger, I would literally forget to use the bathroom until it was almost too late. (and by younger, I mean in my 30s).

    At least I finally learned how to live without meds.

    ADD is a rea …OMG! A PENNY!

  11. HA! I also get my groove back by baking. Nothing says “slow down” like homemade bread. There is something about a process you cannot rush that reminds you that you too need time to rise. I’m a full time mom of four with one homeschooler and three fosters who need alot of special attention. I’m also on call back-up for my friends who foster. (Respite can be a sanity saver.) So, I can end up with a house full on weekends. Hubby is a big help, but he is often on call or working late. I seem to always be on my way to some class, appointment, meeting or training when I’m not cooking, shopping, cleaning up or helping with homework or a project. Luckily, I enjoy this domestic goddess business. I know that isn’t hip to admit, but I dig it. I have three high energy dogs with big pleading eyes that let me know when I’m not taking enough brisk walks in the park or sitting on the floor in a cuddle pile. They help me keep my balance too. I used to over-commit and volunteer too much. There is a pressure when you don’t have a real job to prove you aren’t slacking. It used to get to me. Now, I shrug it off. It is OK to be happy and to feel rested. Dogs and kids are good at reminding you of simple truths like that.
    Since taking up skepticism as a hobby I have an ever growing list of books I wish I could read and bullshit I want to ferret out and be able to speak to with some confidence. Usually though I only have time for a few podcasts a month and maybe some light reading online or an audio book now and then. But, I’d rather have more interests than time than be bored. Que sera sera.

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