There’s a reason why this site has been quiet for the past couple of months. My wife and I have moved to a place of our own.
We’ve been looking forward to this day for the past five years, and when it finally happened it took far more time, effort and money than we expected — and we’d already expected a lot.
Preparing for our new place ate up every bit of our free time, and the move itself made for a lot of bone weary nights. It was a solid time of overwhelm; of juggling a full-time job with a full-time side project.
Thankfully, our families were a source of great support, and it wasn’t the first time either of us had to keep multiple projects in the air.
I’ve found that the best way to deal with overwhelm is simply to accept that crazy is the new normal. Crazy is not ideal, but fighting against reality only makes you more miserable and less effective.
Every other ask becomes a hard “no.” I’ve learned the hard way that projects usually take far more and far longer than I ever plan for, and trying to take on more during times of overwhelm is simply asking for it. Focus on the ‘alpha projects,’ the top one to three projects that absolutely need to be done.
The one thing that has kept me sane and productive during my periods of overwhelm has been using what David Allen, founder of the Getting Things Done method, a ‘trusted system’ to organize my projects.
Simply put, a trusted system is a place where you keep your tasks. The ‘system’ can be as simple as a notebook or as sophisticated as an app. The ‘trusted’ part comes frequently reviewing and updating the system, so you can trust that you know you’re doing what you need to be doing when you need to do it.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned during these last few months, it’s how cranky I can become when tired and stressed, and I’ve said and done (or not said and done) things that I’ve regretted later.
The one antidote I’ve found to stay solid with my wife during this constant period of work is to do random acts of kindness. Whenever I was tired, I’d think that she was probably feeling the same too — and then I’d try and do something nice for her, instead of always trying to get something for me.
Think of random kindness as a precautionary method to prevent acts of random stupidity. I haven’t always succeeded, but I’ve found that being kind helps to take the stress off of both the recipient and the giver.
Finally, if there’s one thing that’s really driven us forward, it’s in having a shared purpose. While these past few months have been busier than most, getting a place of our own has been something we’ve looked forward to for years. It’s a blessedly good problem for us, and in spite of the overwhelm, we’ve had a mostly positive experience in creating a new home for ourselves.