Under promise, over deliver.
This was something I learned in my professional career. If a client ordered some makeup, I would tell her it would be with her in a week, even though I knew the items should be with me in 48 hours and then on to her, first class, the same day. If the client received her makeup in three days instead of the week she was delighted, If there was a delay in me receiving my order or sending it out for some reason, then I had an extra four days’ grace.
I’m applying that “grace time” in now. I tell myself to schedule in only one thing a day, and then to allow time for recovery. Yesterday I managed the grocery shopping – a cause for celebration, as this is only the second time I’ve been able to do it since coming out of hospital. The price paid in energy is high, so I didn’t schedule anything else for yesterday and only this blog for today. If I get anything else done, it’s a bonus.
Tomorrow, I am taking my younger daughter to Cambridge to sit two A levels, then having some lunch with friends. On Thursday, the only thing scheduled is a visit from my hairdresser.
When one’s energy levels are severely compromised, as happens with all illnesses, including depression, it makes sense to manage oneself carefully, rather than try to do too much, become frustrated and set back one’s recovery.
It’s taken a long time for me to really understand and learn this lesson, to learn to listen to my body and rest when I need to.
I’ve finally learnt to look at what my techie friends call “The critical path,” and schedule in only the essentials.
Is having lunch with friends an essential? Well, yes, it is. These friends are my former colleagues and they have organised this lunch to say goodbye to me. Formal goodbyes are vital, both as closure for me and for them. I was an important part of the team, and they need a chance to acknowledge my contribution over the years.
Your critical path may look very different to other people’s critical path. More importantly, what’s critical to you may look trivial to others.
This is where it’s essential that you listen to yourself first. What will help you the most? If it’s something other people think unimportant then, while respectfully listening to the opinions of those who love you, you must still listen to yourself first and last.
Your critical path may include work or household tasks other people think you should ignore, or social events they think you should miss. Perhaps you know those tasks, if undone, will distress you enough to compromise your recovery. Perhaps those social events are important to you.
Do only what is absolutely necessary but remember that your necessary looks different to other people’s necessary. Make sure they respect yours as you would respect theirs.
Because we all have different judgements on what’s critical.