Getting Things Done aka Burn Out

The last week and a half without a computer has been educational, not in any kind of school-y way, but I’ve learned a bit about myself.


First, I work too much. I am usually finding little moments to work all through the mornings with my boys and the evenings with my husband. Since it’s such a hastle to find a time when Superman’s computer is available to me AND get it set up with my files, I just haven’t been doing it. Instead I’ve been knitting and watching TV with Superman and last night we even played cards. Shockingly, nothing exploded at work.


Second, I’ve been having a long period of, well, I haven’t really been sure. I was starting to think depression since I’ve been down that road before with PPD. I read something a few days ago though, that gave a name and a reason behind how I’ve been feeling:

If we shatter time into tiny fragments we cannot be fully present in it. We cannot be conscious that our work is a prayer and find the sacred in the ordinary. We cannot feel the presence of God. To go even further, if we bustle along at this pace, we are not readily available to the people in our lives either. And, finally, we are on the shot track to burnout, the inability to see, or hear, or feel, or sense the joy that is abundantly present in everyday life. We are simply too tired, too stressed, too preoccupied.

– from Elizabeth Foss and her book Real Learning.


People have tried to tell me this. My husband telling me I work too hard, friends and family (both in person and online) telling me I do too much, my son asking me to sit with him, and I can’t just sit without feeling like I should be getting something done… I got to this portion of Elizabeth’s book and handed it over to my husband. “Seems pretty fitting” he said. Very true.


The last few days I’ve been really working to do one thing at a time, to be completely present for my husband and my sons. It’s actually a lot harder to do than I thought, because there’s this voice in my head telling me over and over to get up and do something, that if I don’t I’m being lazy. This is why I’ve enjoyed knitting so much- I’m forced to stay in one place and concentrate on one task- my mind isn’t so busy. I’ve often wondered if my strange drive to multi-task is some kind of ADD- I feel obligated to multi-task and to structure my day in a very tight schedule or else I’m not “Getting Things Done”- I don’t know what that means exactly because I never feel like I’m really getting anything done!


So today instead of doing laundry and vacuuming and all those things I usually do in between school with the boys and playing, I sat and *really* played with them for the entire morning, rather than ten minutes here and there. I know those other things have to be done and they will be done another day. But this morning I was with my boys, and my presence there was more important than the clean house.

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4 Responses to Getting Things Done aka Burn Out

  1. Gardenbug says:

    My Dad used to say “If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.” I think we all recognize that playing with the children is worth doing well. Those times will be remembered by all. Laundry? Dishes? Dust? They’ll always be there. The children will not. But more than that, YOU. You get far more satisfaction from doing top priority kinds of jobs such as your school preparations, crafts and music. It is about taking care of yourself too. St Peter will not check off “Best dishwasher of the year” or “best multi-tasker”…

    I do admire your efforts at organization, your colored card approach to things. But I also guess that this need to do everything well is a bit frantic perhaps? I allow myself to let things be less than perfect, to leave dishes in the sink, to not cook a meal from scratch, to say no to a request to contribute time to a cause… so that I can work on those things that are most meaningful to me. Those are the things that make me…well ME! Then again, I’m 66 years old and there’s that feeling lurking that I’d better do what I want while there’s still time, and that the rest, well, so what!

    Right now there’s a beautiful pink horizon, and that is a top priority moment. 🙂

  2. violingirl says:

    The hard thing for me is that I feel so much better starting the day with an empty sink and a clean living room. So there is value there for me as well. The less cluttered my home is the less cluttered my mind feels and I feel like it enables me to do the other things that I truly care about with another level of ease.

    I do constantly struggle with the need to do many different things and to do EVERYTHING well. The perfectionist in me I suppose.

  3. Gardenbug says:

    I CAN relate! It was hard for me though because DH and others do not feel the same way or understand that it is almost a physical response to disorder on my part. I used to become very agitated by this. So I guess I could say I have been forced away from it to some extent. I think I could deal with a good personal housekeeper! Hahaha

  4. Pingback: Goal Check-In « Beyond Homemaking

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