It's 5:51am and I have 9 minutes to write this post. Well, I just spent a minute thinking about what I want to say and so now I have 8 minutes.
Lately, it's been feeling like I just can't do all the things I want to do, let alone all the things I've already committed to do, let alone all the things I have to do. This last year of residency has been a great one and I've become involved in many different projects that I feel passionate about: research, education, resident wellness. I feel an increasing sense of clinical mastery, which basically means I know what I know and also how much I don't know but it doesn't scare me as much. I've been active in my synagogue and at my daughter's school. I feel like all the pieces of the puzzle are, if not falling into place, at least face up on the table and waiting to find their place. But it seems like there is at least 100% if not 200% more to be done in every day and week and month than I can do.
Every email I write starts with the phrase "Sorry for the long delay in my response." Balloons that were up for my daughter's birthday party two weeks ago are still up and the stack of Thank You cards for her gifts still sits blank on the cluttered ledge between our living room and dining room, along with unopened mail and other flotsam from our stitched together life. I've been getting up one hour earlier than I have to for the last month to try and get on top of some of the research and scholarly work that I want so much to get done, and this has been helpful, but I'm so exhausted by the nighttime that I feel like I am not the kind of parent I want to be to my daughter in the few hours we have together during the work week -- I'm easily frustrated, less playful, and distracted, just waiting for the moment when I can lower myself into bed. I fall asleep in literally 5 seconds. The cost of starting a couple of new projects -- all of which I am excited by -- is that I'm spread thin on all of them, taking weeks longer than I promise to get things done, always twenty or thirty items deep on the to-do list. If I feel like I'm a leg up on the work side of life, I'm one step behind on the parenting side of the equation, with friendships and marriage and housecleaning and family always tap-tap-taping at my chamber door. And did I mention the emails? Oh, the emails. How and when will I master the emails?!
Sometimes I wonder to myself: Are we busier than people used to be? Am I uniquely incapable of multitasking? But wait, all I do is multitask. And is the overwhelm an external reality or is it a reflection of something about me? Would I be overcommitted and frazzled even if I were shipwrecked on an island with nothing but palm trees? Should I be doing fewer things? Or maybe this model of living is a successful one -- after all, in the end I do manage to do a lot and much of it at the "good enough" or even "good" level. But I long for a little peace.
I'm already over time by 9 minutes and 9 minutes and late for the shower that leads to throwing some kind of lunch in my bag that leads to hitting the road, so I'll pose my question and see what your thoughts are. Does anyone out there have creative strategies for getting on top of the overwhelm?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts!