Day 42/365 Oh, Duck

My cousin, Kate snapped this shot and captioned it, “Every time I think I have my ducks in a row, I turn around and one of those fuckers has wandered off.

Lately I have been dealing with some anxiety around the fullness of my schedule. This is no “humble brag” about how busy I am. I actually don’t like it; not at all. I have no ambition to be busy, busy, busy!

I can get spun up in my head about how I need to check certain things off my list before I can relax.  The thing is, though, there are always going to be more things that need doing; more errant ducks to chase.

I jokingly told a friend the other day, “My list doubled today, but I got half done.”

In other words –

There is no end to the things.

Sometimes I can’t even find all the “ducks.”

So how to keep from feeling stressed?

Here’s what I’m trying –

I have a notebook with an actual running list. I have finally come to accept the fact that I cannot possibly remember all the things. I used to kid myself about that.  I am still holding on to the idea that I don’t need reading glasses. I can only let go of one illusion of youth at a time.

I like putting the list in a notebook so that it’s not just on a slip of paper I could easily lose. Also, I recommend getting a sweet little non-threatening looking notebook.  It might be full of stuff you don’t want to do – but look, it’s so pretty!

img_2513The list is good because it helps me to remember all the things…or ducks (which is kind of crucial to any attempt to line them up).  Also, by dumping all of the things out of my brain onto paper, I actually am able reduce my anxiety.  Somehow this makes me feel like I am in control of the ducks…or at least I know how many I am supposed to have.

(Self esteem tip: Sometimes I write down a few things I’ve already done just so I can cross them off right away and make myself feel better! Don’t judge me).

The second thing is, simply to remind myself that I am never going to be finished.  I am trying to tell myself this, not in a frantic “You’ll never get this done!” kind of way, but in a gentle “this is life, and you’re doing just fine” kind of way. Sometimes frantic me is louder and pushier than gentle me, but I’m working on that.

Third, if there is an item on the list which I am particularly dreading –

I do it first.

Okay, that is a total lie. I will procrastinate to the death.

Seriously though – if I am dreading something on the list I think to myself – is it something I can actually accomplish?

If the answer No, I take it off the damn list! If I literally cannot do it, why is it on the list?  Just to make me feel inadequate?  No, thanks!  I at least change it to read, “Ask so-and-so to do –  X”

Delegation. It’s a beautiful thing.

If the answer is Yes, I can do that, then I try to relax around it. It is doable. I might not enjoy it, but I have the ability (and I will make the time) to do it.

At the end of a week, I transfer all of the things I didn’t get done onto a new page, so that I don’t get stressed out about the list looking like this: img_2512

And I remind myself to breathe.  The list is a part of life, but life is not the list.

Those fucking ducks are never going to fully cooperate.

Let it go.

Besides, wouldn’t life be dull if they did?


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PS My cousin, Kate Oakley, is a talented photographer.  She specializes in portraits and branding. She works with a lot of small businesses and entrepreneurs.  Check out her website