First Things First


If you have been following my column each moth you will know how I was always trying to complete my long lists of “to do’s “. I was overwhelmed, I was so frustrated, and my life seemed unmanageable. My lists always had more to do than I could handle and my fear was some kind of punishment if the chore was not done in my childhood.

This made a very desperate life in my mind. It seemed to be so overwhelming and I had no clue how to sort it out in my younger days. I was a walking zombie feeling overpowered and devastated. The shame of this goaded my life. I felt like a juggler in the circus keeping all the plates on sticks turning so they did not fall.

There was no way I could resolve them all at once. I was so responsible I tried but I was not equipped to cope and was confused. This all brought on a loss of proportion and distorted my objectives. My lack of order was not productive. I was so intense about the outcome, before I ever got to working out a plan.

I spread myself too thin, trying to do it all at once. I lost sight of the bigger picture. Then I become so frustrated I had no direction. I have not been a person to give up, procrastinate, or deny the tasks to be done. This was not my way. I was always reminded of what needed to be done. I did lose my sense of proportion and distort my objectives.

Recently, again I went into this mode of too much to do and it all had to be done right now. I was beside myself without a way to sort it out. I called my friend who suggested that I write them all on paper so I could prioritize them. She helped me calm down. Surprisingly, as I picked out the most important project to be first, all the rest of the supposedly drastic items that had to be done, were not so severe. Just sorting them out and bringing them into a proper portion of what needed to be done, seemed to smooth the waters more quickly than in the past. When I tackled the first one, the rest of them seemed almost to take care of them. They were not large and looming obstacles. I saw how I had created them into huge tasks.

Learning to use the saying, “First Things First” lately, has reduced the stress and anxiety in my life. It has given me a plan. It helps me remember to consider the importance of my various issues and to deal with them in their appropriate order. I find that thinking and acting in a logical sequence not only results in efficient solutions and strategies, but it also provides me with a sense of accomplishment and progress. This has strengthened my sense of self. It reassures me that my crisis and commitments can all be handled, one thing at a time and each in its own time.

Looking back, I think that my Bipolar Disorder kept me in that overwhelming place. Now that I healed it, I can find good orderly direction more easily. My life was in overreacting in the old days. My recovery has brought me into not reacting excessively. This brings things into a new realistic perception that is more rational.

To help me move through my list currently, I find the next right thing that I need to address and stay on that focus. This brings me into a focus that is “now”. Keeping my focal point on what I am doing right now has helped me lose the sense of being overwhelmed.

I pick from my list, what is the priority of items to tackle. I work on it and move on to the next right thing from my list, which needs to be addressed. This actually puts me into a plan that smooths out in my mind and work is accomplished quite successfully.

This coming week, my boyfriend is having surgery for his eyes, so all my lists will be on the back burner until I am free to get back to work.   Later this month, we are going to the ocean for some fun. During the trip my focus  will be on enjoying my little vacation.  My lists are not my only life. When I return, I am fresh to again revisit the list for the next right item to accomplish.

More work seems to get completed as I move through this scheme. I actually achieve  more  than when I had no order to my madness or thought possible for the day. Now my next challenge is not to get distracted from the plan. I am a curious person, and can find myself searching out something on the internet while on my task.  So that is my next step to stay on First Things First.

However, First Things First has brought better organization to my work. I get less frustrated about all my many items on the list. I have a list, for household errands and shopping, a list for writing, a list of activities with my boy friend, a list of family and friends with which I need to connect. My clients for the week go on another list. I have many lists. If I stay with the First Things First, it works.


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