Fall Back to find what’s missing
Time for what isn’t urgent but important
What a year. The chaos of living in a pandemic, especially as a caregiver, overturned so many aspects of our way of life. Has there been time for anything except the most urgent things to do? Keeping everyone safe has been full time work lately. While coping with what was before you, what have you left behind? Before this goes on any longer, it’s time to fall back for a moment to pause and consider what might be missing from your day to day experiences. Now’s the time realize and retrieve what isn’t urgent, but still of great importance to you. Read on about the two steps you can take to accomplish this.
Find what’s missing
Not everyone practices Day Light Savings Time, but here in New England our clocks “fall back” an hour each November. This year I see an additional meaning in “fall back.” It’s time to fall back into routines that were overtaken by this year’s crises and chaos. What might you want to fall back into? What daily or weekly activities do you miss? I hate giving up an hour of sleep, but the outcome is waking up to the light. First, find out what you are missing. Then, make room for the important among the urgent.
There is a time management technique taught by Steven Covey as a time management matrix, and by others as the Eisenhower Matrix (as in President Eisenhower.) Differentiating urgent and important are at the core of both methods. Sometimes urgent is not as important as it seems. It’s easy to get caught up in urgency. And conversely, sometimes important is not urgent. But in times of high chaos, lots of things become both urgent and important, and that’s where to focus. When chaos ebbs, take time to refocus on the important but not urgent matters. Things that are urgent yet not important, or neither important nor urgent can often wait, be delegated, or perhaps even ignored. If that seems like a tongue twister, you’re right!
Here’s an example. This week I needed a new washing machine. That felt urgent and important, so I dealt with it quickly and was able to arrange delivery in 2 days. My brother-in-law wanted my old washing machine, and that too was urgent and important as he needed to pick it up soon to allow room for the new one. I felt the need to clean it for him, which also seemed important and urgent until I learned he was not repairing it but selling it to a junk yard. Cleaning the 20 year old broken washer was neither urgent nor important.
Step one is to move beyond urgency to find what’s missing, what is important. Find a few moments to think clearly (also called self-reflection.) It’s ok if those moments are in the shower, or while making coffee, or anything else you can do routinely and safely. What is important to you that fell behind amidst chaos?
Make room for the important among the urgent
Now that you know what’s missing, make room for the important among the urgent. When it comes to prioritizing, the important/urgent must be attended to first. Give yourself credit for doing so. Now, the important matters come next. For a busy caregiver, there’s a secret to succeeding, and that’s to find ways of meeting important needs without overwhelming your to-do list. If you choose to refocus on your own well-being, you’ll find lots of ideas in “How to Stay Healthy During Hard Times including Pandemics”
Take a good look at your daily important/urgent activities. Reevaluate. What is no longer urgent, or important? Can you lighten up on anything? Can you delegate anything? That might create some time for other things that are important to you. If nothing can be changed, perhaps the answer is to do things differently. How you do things becomes the focus.
In our household, work and household routines were upended first by open heart surgery then by the pandemic. For a while, the learning curve was steep. We learned to do cardiac rehab at home, safely obtain groceries, do medical care virtually, get our jobs done, acquire masks and develop infection control vigilance. I’m now taking time to retrieve what isn’t urgent, but still of great importance to me. What got lost in the shuffle? I took a few minutes for self-reflection, decided to focus on my well-being, and realized that I want to resume losing weight. I was doing well last year, but although I continued to eat healthily during the past several months I have put on a few pounds. I’m “falling back” to my weight-loss habits.
When the clocks fall back
When the clocks fall back on November 1, take some time for yourself. Allow your Self a few self-reflection moments to consider what routines you want to fall back to. If you can find a few minutes of peace and quiet, even better. It might be fun to brainstorm with a friend or roommate. What’s missing from your day to day experience, that is of great importance to you? Find it, retrieve it, and discover a way to put it back into your life.
And if there is nothing you want to ‘fall back’ to, congratulate yourself! That’s awesome! Keep moving forward and take good care of yourself and others.
In peace, Gale
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