When I awoke at 2:30 this morning, the first thing I thought was, "^%&%$, why am I not asleep?" The second thing I thought was, "Yay! I have a topic for my newsletter." So I got up and got to work (because sleep was just not going to happen.)
The first thing I noticed in those wee hours is that I was strung out. Heart pounding, mind racing, wide awake. I wasn't emotional or freaking out about anything, just jacked up and stimulated in a not so good way. As I got to work and tried to put some organization to what was happening, I flashed back to a summer patio conversation with a jacked up working mom. She described her frustration over what she called her "mental load." Ding! Ding! Ding! Yup, that's exactly what was happening this morning.
People tell me that they lose sleep over their bursting to-do lists and constant running around.
Yes, those to-dos are real.
And something else is going on. It's not just the to-do list that creates the stress. Keeping track of and remembering what needs to be done is what puts you over the edge. Let me show you what I mean:
Here's a partial list of my mental load. See if you relate, Jenntest. Your assignment is to replace my list with your own mental load then read to the end to discover some solutions.
- Make sure the dog gets her daily medicine.
- Children's high school applications including deadlines, recommendation letters, and thoughtful essays. Deal with their desire to play instead.
- Plan meals. Plan when to cook meals. Actually cook meals.
- Make list for upcoming international family trip.
- Write and review copy and graphics for upcoming big project. Deal with the fact that business coach doesn't like the graphics.
- Keep track of and follow-up on business insurance requirements for a corporate master services agreement.
- Help son remember to talk to the teacher and actually re-take his science quiz.
- As the chair of the board, track ahead 5 steps to make sure people in the organization don't freak out over some tricky politics and personalities.
- About a thousand other details and things to remember that wake me up running all crazy at 2:30 am.
I imagine that you have a similar list, and that sometimes your mental load gets the better of you as mine did this morning. And, here are solutions that you can implement in a few short minutes to bring more calm to your mind and space to your day:
- Release the martyr. Recognize the tendency to believe that all the weight has to be on you. (I don't relate to that martyr syndrome at all.)
- Stop cold turkey. (Too bad that my coach doesn't like the graphics. I love them. Tell him to pipe down and move on. I love you, George!)
- Share the love load. A nuance to sharing the love is delegate to people who will actually follow through so you can remove the item from your mental load. (Husband is handling the metrics quiz. Son is reliable to make is own lunch but not yet reliable to push through all the great socializing at school to remember to talk to the teacher.)
- Outsource. Outsource whatever you can. For free or for money. Hire help (assistants, cleaners, chefs - yeah, dare to dream). If you can't hire it, get your family to do it. Partners can become responsible for birthday parties. Kids can make their own lunches. I've even heard they can learn to cook dinners.)
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about your mental load or your magic strategy for resolving it. I could use the advice.
With rebel love,
P.S. I have been working in a big project that will be announced next week. It is a direct response to things I hear like, "I can't possibly make that change," "I'm too old to pivot," "my ideas are too weird to work." A huge dose of inspiration and motivation for your career is coming soon. Stay tuned!