I recently found myself trying to survive one of the worse crisis weeks in many years. It all started near the end of March when my wife informed me that the drain seemed to be clogged and she was calling the plumber. When I arrived home, there wasn’t one van, there were about five with hoses stretching across the yard. My home looked like ground zero for a hazardous waste site!
It basically was! To make a long story short, my main sewage line originally made from clay pipe had crumbled and collapsed, leaving the crawl space beneath my house filled with sewage for some unknown period of time. Emily and I stayed with a friend who loaned us a sofa bed. Both my girls stayed with their respective best friends’ family while great-grandma stayed with one of her friends.
While this was taking place, I received a call from a new prospective client. They wanted me to provide a quote for a ten-hour OSHA class the following Thursday. The quote was accepted and I realized that the following week would be impossible without some serious planning and time management.
1. I needed to finish a major project I was working on for the American Translators Association Chronicle Taskforce. I was pulling together quotes from many different application developers.
2. I also had interpreting assignments.
3. The two-day OSHA class was approved for the end of the week and also required some prep time.
4. I also was preparing a special discourse on the Lord’s Evening Meal to be delivered that Friday night.
5. Additionally, I was meeting with different plumbers to obtain quotes as well as bankers to seek out a home equity loan for repairs.
I made sure that Friday evening I was completely done with the public speech so that all I would have to do every day is just practice it. From Saturday until the speech, I practiced it once every morning, around lunchtime, and before going to bed. All my interpreting assignments were reassigned to other people to ease the stress.
I set goals to complete for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for preparing the OSHA class. In the interim, I attended various appointments with the bank and plumbers. I planned to work on ATA Chronicle stuff several times a day to break the monotony of the other items.
By Tuesday, I was finished with the ATA project, the banks, and plumbers. By Wednesday evening, I finished preparing for the two-day class and traveled to the hotel in Georgia. Thursday and Friday morning I taught the class with no distractions. Friday afternoon I was home, and took a nap.
Friday evening I gave one of my best talks ever! All of this and I was still homeless! It easily could have been overwhelming but it wasn’t. It actually all worked out well and the stress was very manageable. Looking back, I think I know why. Below are the basic principles that worked for me and I plan to continue using.
1. Planning. Write down what you need to do, prioritize, and set incremental reasonable goals.
2. Delegate. Sometimes you can’t do everything so find help.
3. Focus on one step at a time.
4. Change things up. I focus on one thing at a time, but sometimes it is good to change to something else to break the monotony.
5. Set reasonable goals. I knew there would be conference calls and e-mails about the Chronicle app, appointments with the bank and plumbers. So it made no sense to set a goal to finish in a day what I normally could without distractions.
6. Be flexible. Actually, planning and setting realistic goals helped with that. We had to manage food, rest, and laundry, things I took for granted at home. I found that there are things beyond my control and things I can control. Roll with the punches when it is beyond your control since nothing can be done about it anyway.
7. Rest. There is only so much we can accomplish efficiently before we tire out. I made sure to get a good night’s sleep and to take a nap if I needed it.
I realize that if I were to put into practice these principles regularly and not only when I perceive an upcoming stressful period, my everyday stress be handled much better.