The upside to being busy

My two year old daughter has been quite the hit on Facebook lately. It started when I posted this:

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The comments were unanimous:

I could use her help at my house!

Please send her over!

I need her to come by and take some things off my list, too. 

I joked about how she dropped the pen when I walked into the room. I said she could start her own business, "Time Management, by Cate" and the tagline could be, "Just don't do it."

The whole exchange was a fun sidebar to a busy week. I held three days of auditions for Listen To Your Mother, and I'll stop there. I'll resist the urge to name all of the other things on the to-do list—all the things that Cate scratched off. I won't try to convince you that my plate is full. 

Cate's (not so) innocent act of scribbling my plate clean made me think.

Right now my list is full of things I can't, or don't necessarily want to, scratch off. Between now and the middle of May, I'm in deadline mode. I love the projects I'm working on, and there's a certain thrill to the momentum it creates.

But, there are limits to how many things I can accomplish in one single day. Last Monday, I was frustrated that I had to use my prized "preschool time" to get some meds for the cold that had clearly turned into an infection. I felt like I was losing precious time, taking a detour in my morning just to tell a doctor that I felt like my head was going to explode and I couldn't stop coughing and blowing my nose. 

An hour later, I left the doctor's office with a prescription. The simple act of slowing down and taking care of myself made me feel almost instantly better.

I keep learning this lesson over and over. 

Recently, I stumbled across a TedX talk by Erin Giles, charging the audience to F their plan, and find their point. Cate had it absolutely right. It's not about getting it all done... check, check, check, check. It's about being a better gatekeeper of what's on the list in the first place. 

Being busy, balancing my big visions and high expectations while simultaneously crashing into my limits, forces me to ask: What's the point? What's the why?

When I answer that, I see the day—and the true priorities—with a new set of eyes. 

I'm also considering making Cate my assistant. She's really on a roll these days.

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How do you manage your own personal "crunch times" and mile long to-do lists? Do you have any personal tips for staying focused and sane? Do you ever feel yourself losing sight of the big picture... and if so, how do you regroup? 

Also, new stuff on the Year in Pictures page: A case for selfies and singing Happy Birthday even when it's not your birthday. 

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