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From Stop to Go


Female Executive Drawing a Flow DiagramThe time has come to have that meeting with myself. I sit down with a clean pad of paper, my “Have to do” list made earlier in the week and a determination to find both short and long term solutions to the overwhelming string of demands on my time.

As is my practice, I start my session with a prayer asking God for wisdom, clarity and strength to follow through. It is so easy to gloss over the things I may be doing that contribute to my problems.


Since we can’t manufacture extra minutes in a day, my job is to pare down my “Have To” list to what is absolutely imperative, what I need to do to function every day and what can wait for another time.

On a sheet of paper, I mark 3 columns with the following headings: Immediate – On-going – On Hold. Under each heading I put the designated items from my list. Together they comprise the demands on my time.

The first two columns demand immediate resolution and I focus on them. Each item is considered a problem and I convert them into problem solving terms: accurately defined problem, potential options and choosing one to put into action.

Options to Solutions 

In my prior blog I presented a hypothetical scenario of someone stressed to the max trying to meet the demands of work, home and still find time for rest and relaxation. While hypothetical, the problems presented are real ones many people face every day. To continue the illustration of finding both immediate and future solutions, I will use three of them as examples.

Problem #1: Your work load has increased at work, you are not given time to train, your boss is always angry and you don’t want to get fired. You are exhausted, you have to spend more time away from home and it is putting a strain on everyone.

The problem:How can I find enough time to increase productivity, maintain the required level of quality, and learn new procedures and still take care of my other obligations.

Your brainstorming options may include: Join with others at work, train together, collectively ask company for training time, eliminate everything that is irrelevant from your daily schedule.

Elicit the help of family. When children do chores, they learn responsibility. Hold a family meeting and together make a list of all the things required each day: picking up, cleaning up the kitchen, helping at dinner time. This is an excellent time for a family to come together as a cohesive unit. Use praise, recognition and simple rewards to continue to motivate and encourage.

Problem #2: Your child is having difficulty at school. When children have difficulty at school many things can cause it.

Schedule an appointment with your child’s teacher that fits within your work schedule. Maybe it is a phone appointment. Be prepared to listen and ask questions; but also bring your concerns to this meeting. The goal is to find a way to work together with the school so your child can achieve. If there is a personality conflict with a particular teacher a new classroom may be part of the solution.

Spend some time each day with your child to talk. Then listen. Encourage instead of punish or threaten. This can be ten minutes at the end of each day. Make a double date with your child on Saturday. On the first part of this date, give undivided attention to work on homework. The second part of is a play date – doing something fun with your child of his choosing.

Problem #3: You are the primary caregiver for an aging parent. This may include taking them to doctor’s appointments, shopping, or visiting them at a care facility, etc.

Before you can work on this problem ask these questions: What can be shared with others? Have I explored social services that can assist me? Are there adult day care centers? The most important thing is safety.

The second is letting your aging parent that you still love and care for them when others are required to help. Take time to explain the demands of your job and assure them that you care, are not deserting them and you are there for them. Encourage your children to become a part of their grandparent’s life. This is as important for your children as it is for their grandparent.

Everybody’s life will generate its own set of problems and challenges. When we become overloaded and overwhelmed our stress levels skyrocket, our productive energy is drained by worry, concern and a sense of helplessness. While there are no simple or perfect answers, we can reduce our stress levels by defining the problems we face, becoming a better time manager, learning to delegate, negotiate and solicit help from others. In the process we become aware of what is truly important in life.

Marlene Anderson






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