Friday, February 25, 2011

Now where was I?

Wow, I'm glad that's over. Now, what was I saying? I forget.

It's a strange thing. I've had pretty much nonstop deadlines or other demands on my attention since before Christmas. A big all day seminar I hosted last Friday, combined with simultaneous out-of-town company last weekend, topped off the super-crazy-busy season, at least until next week when we demonstrate some of our research at a campus-wide tech show. But at least I didn't work this past weekend. I barely got out of bed on Saturday, and then mostly only managed to flop in the big chair and fail to find anything interesting to watch on TV. Sunday was pretty much a rerun of Saturday, though I did manage to make pancakes and start on my Lego Mars Exploration Rover.

One thing that I always find interesting in the denouement of these frantic times is how much they separate me from whatever it was that was on my mind before it started. I've actually had time to write a blog post for almost a week, but couldn't really think of what I wanted to write about.  So I finally decided to write about that.

The signs of stress are all over me. I'm not sleeping, easily frustrated, more forgetful even than usual, eating like crap, and drinking a little too much. But my head is empty of much of anything other than the tasks at hand. And I feel more productive than I have in years.

I have a few friends and co-workers that live their lives this way.* It occurred to me a while back that the empty head may explain why. There are no real decisions of import to make. Their priorities are already set. Stay up to your ass in alligators, and you never have to figure out how to drain the swamp. And nothing they do -- or fail to do -- is really their fault. They had to get that proposal out, or finish that report, or get the kids to dance-gymnastics-soccer-drama-art class. And in return, they get that crowning since of achievement, and the little thrill that comes with crashing a deadline with no time, little sleep, and a real possibility of failure.

I consider this a separate disorder from always having to be doing something disease, with which some of the people closest to me are afflicted. My father had a terminal case, and I have my moments. Besides being a serial hobbyist, I have struggled with a self-imposed "one home-improvement project at a time" restriction for several years. But the motivation there is internal, and much of the goal (at least for me) is more to fill my head than empty it.

Perhaps the end result is the same, I don't know. I don't really have time to think about it right now. I have a million things to do. (See what I did there?)

* So do you, I'll bet. If you don't know to whom I'm referring, than you are probably one of them.

1 comment:

  1. i've been on all sides of this discussion... frantic, 'deadline-to-deadline' mania dominated about a decade of my life. climbing the ladder, coaching kids sports, while serving on local community boards of directors. it was a rush... sort of like a narcotic high when you'd take a breather and say "can't believe i did all that!"

    i can still do it. 'burst mode' only. and most likely? these days i'm juggling play dates - ski, dance, dates, parties. need those naps, man. gotta have those naps.

    congrats on powering through it. and on the empty head. that's the part i miss most...