I’m more of a rough spreader of jam on toast while I know people that are particular about ensuring an even spread and that all the corners are covered in full. This blog however is not about spreading toast, but it is about those times when we use the term “spread thin” to describe how our daily lives are panning out.
First – How often is it happening?
Feeling that you are skimming over multiple tasks at a time but never really getting to the bottom of any (“spread thin”) happens to everyone. The first thing to contemplate is how often it is happening – all the time or sometimes.
Warning lights should be going off if your answer is all the time.
Sometimes, with a track record of getting past it to a more effective and efficient approach – feel ok with this.
Next – how long does it last?
Extended periods or you can’t remember when last you didn’t feel this way – major warning lights!!
Stop right away (by the way, if you have not learned the power or benefit of “stopping” you have to attend our Wired to Influence programme.)
Short periods, with effective recovery strategies – feel good about this.
Let’s get some terminology right
If you justify feeling thinly spread by calling it multi-tasking, when your actual experience is skimming over multiple tasks at a time but never really getting to the bottom of any, be careful, call it as it is, otherwise you are justifying something which you really should not be.
Focus on one thing at a time
Caroline and I have been spread a little thin lately with moving home, preparing for a retreat, arranging for the sale of our place in Riebeek, selling things that we can’t take with us to Cape Town, getting important health checks done including new spectacles, staying in touch with friends, getting our new home and office sorted out, making time to exercise, running Ripple, facilitating programmes and finding Easter eggs. It has been so important for us and our sanity to know that the list is long but to trust the list, to trust ourselves and to focus on one thing at a time while not carrying the awareness of the lengthy list with us into everything we are doing.
Celebrating has also been important – the cork we popped the last night in Riebeek as our formal home went as high as any cork popped before (Pongracz to it). The bubble afforded us time to reflect on how much we had achieved and how many things we had successfully completed (largely with thanks to Caroline).
Minimise any negative impact
We minimised negative impact by getting our dates right. The recent public holidays afforded us the time to concentrate on the more personal things while not comprising work time.
When you are going to place heavy demands on yourself do it mindfully.
I enjoyed a breakfast this morning with toast which is where the spark was created for this blog. The toast was the catalyst for the reflection and an important reflection it was. A lot has been going on and a lot lies ahead. We have a lot to be proud of and I know that it is important for anyone who gets through challenging times to pat themselves on the back.
Be gentle on yourself
It can be tough when you are in it – when you are spread extremely thin – so in closing I offer the final bit of insight gained – be gentle on yourself and on the other people in the situation with you.
No value is created when the people around you are deploying all their coping mechanisms, just to get through the days without too much harm, and you force them into having to deal with your lack of ability to deal on top of it all.
Our Wired to Influence programme is filled with the things that will equip you to prevent and recover from being spread too thin.
By Louis Gerke
Development Facilitator – The Ripple Effect
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