Taking on the “Should-Dos” in a Sea of Distraction

I haven’t blogged in months. I feel bad about that. While I doubt any of my subscribers are waiting on the edge of their seats for the next post, I still feel I’ve broken some sort of commitment. Besides, blogging is an important part of my business model. It serves to remind current and potential clients that I’m out there, and I know a thing or two about a thing or two.

But sometimes you hit a wall.

The last few months, I’ve been walking the work-life tightrope. It hasn’t been all bad up here, actually. Part of the “life” part has been relaxing a bit over the holidays, and enjoying time with my grown kids, one of whom has returned to the nest after college and the other of whom has been home between semesters. (Her college features a “winter term” semester that allows her to do an independent study during the month of January, and she chose to do it from the comfort of her own home.)

Another, exciting but less pleasant part of “life” has been putting up with an interminable bout of home renovations. For those who still remember Gilligan’s Island: what started as a “three-hour tour” (read: 1-2 week project) has now left us stranded in an ocean of paint cans, tarps, and emptied cabinets for close to two months (with no Professor to devise handy escape devices)! Yet another aspect has been addressing the various crises and decisions that arise when one’s mother has turned 92 and still lives on her own.

On the work side, I’ve been busy with a number of interesting projects, supporting clients with benefits, diversity, and HR communications, and working on some “best workplace” applications. None of this has been overwhelming. In theory, I should have had time to blog. But blogging takes more than time. Like all creative efforts, blogging takes focus. And focus has been, for me, in short supply.

Besides the renovations and the family and the holidays, something else has intruded on my ability to concentrate recently—in fact, over the course of the past year: the world outside. I know I’m not alone in this. Once upon a time I had the luxury and privilege of relegating politics and world events to the morning paper and the evening news. The past year has changed that. The state of our government—of our country—are such that disruptions are a constant. Things change so quickly, news breaks at such an insistent pace, that by the time the paper comes in the morning it’s old news, and a day spent undistracted by world events feels like an unusually productive day.

Add to this that these world events have called many of us to action. I haven’t done much. Not nearly enough. But I’ve done a little. More significantly, I’ve had one more set of nagging “should-be-doings” to whittle away at my focus.

The conflicting demands of work and of life-outside-of-work are real. But they are often as much about attention and focus as they are about the time actually needed to attend to a task. Remember that oft-quoted comment by the late Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir?

“At work, you think of the children you have left at home. At home, you think of the work you have left unfinished. Such a struggle is unleashed within yourself. Your heart is rent.”

Based on my own observation, the world seems to be divided between people who become increasingly efficient in the face of multiple commitments and those who become more or less paralyzed. (I’m pretty sure Meir was among the former…) While I can always muster the attention to do what absolutely needs to be done, the sprawling “should-do” list is harder to corral. And when the outside world is begging for attention, it can be hard to look away.

So, I take my hat off to everyone who has been able to keep their head down and focus on getting as much accomplished as they possibly can, despite a cascade of distractions. I am trying to exercise more and watch the pundits less. To spend more time on the slow food of books and less time on the fast food of social media. And with this regimen, coupled with holidays being over and (dare I dream?) the renovations being finally completed, I hope to be back to blogging on my standard schedule of “whenever I have something to say.”

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  1. Robin, I read with great interest your blog. I was particularly inspired by the frankness and very honest expression of what has been on your mind and where you are today. We all go through times like this and your blog today has given voice to what many of us sometimes go through. I am grateful for your sharing this with us and wish you a great 2018.

  2. I hear ya, Robin! I have found it very difficult to write this year especially because of what you kindly call “news and world events”, and what I call “the dangers which may undo our democracy”. I look forward to hearing more “whenever you have something to say!”

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