Are you a Pinball Wizard?


I don’t know if this is true for you, but it seems in the past week or so, I feel like a ball in a pinball machine, just being bounced around from side to side, and up and down.

Like most of us, I started the new year with goals, dreams, and aspirations of what I want to accomplish. It’s going okay — not great, as evidenced from my blog last week about my frustration.

This week, I started again with a fresh attitude. And almost immediately there were numerous things that cried out for my attention and had me floundering. Like I mentioned last time, I felt like I had too many tabs open on my computer, or more accurately, too many tabs open in my brain! I was quickly pulled in so many different directions that I wasn’t doing any of things that I needed to do.

I was like a pinball in the machine, rebounding off the obstacles around me. I’d rather be a pinball wizard. In the Pete Townshend song, the pinball wizard is the one who mastered the game. All I want to do is master my to-do list.

This leads me to a question. Why do we always feel like we have to do everything at once? Most of us know that when we get scattered, nothing gets done well, or done correctly, therefore we’re not accomplishing anything and we’re making more mistakes.

How do we rectify this?

It should be simple:

*Do one thing at a time
*Slow down to do that one thing very well
*Move on to the next thing – and do that one very well.

But time can work against me. Until I tackle everything I want to right now, I may have to spend extra hours in the evening or get up earlier in the morning to get a jump start on things. It will be  worth it to find that quiet time where I can concentrate before the rest of the day intrudes.

This is not a new concept, but it is one that bears remembering. It’s okay to re-group and begin again. (I wrote about something similar for my writer’s group, if you’re interested).

So, in order to start again, here are some suggestions:

  1. PRAY OVER YOUR DAY FIRST! Remember the words of James 1:5 (NIV) “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” Am I going to be instantly smarter by asking for wisdom? No. But in making time for prayer every day, I hope to stay within God’s will and on the path He has for me.
  2. Make a List. If you don’t have a to-do list, then make one. Whether it’s on your phone, computer, or handwritten, it helps to have a list to stay organized. Find a system that works for you.
  3. Do one thing at a time. Maybe attempt the biggest job first, so the heaviest weight is off of your shoulders.
  4. Get up earlier (or stay up later) and do some things in peace and quiet before the rest of the house wakes up, or while the rest of the house is asleep.

These are all fairly simple to do for those times when we’re being bounced around. Let’s try to be the pinball wizard, instead of the pin ball itself.

Hang in there, friends, and we’ll get through this.


How to Deal with a Frustrating Day

Today is a very frustrating day. My mind is scattered in so many different directions with things I need to do that I’m not doing any of them well. I know I just need to stop, take a breath, and take things one item at a time, but it all seems overwhelming at the moment.

Have you had days like these? I know how to break things down, make a to-do list, and knock that list down. There’s great satisfaction in crossing things off your list. But today, that’s not working. Everything feels like it’s going to take too long to do and I keep thinking about other things have just as much priority and shouldn’t wait. It’s like I have too many tabs open on my computer and keep skipping back and forth between them, but not finishing anything so I can close tabs, instead of opening yet another one. Too many tabs are open in my brain!

I’m a little angry at myself because I’ve been trying to complete a blog post for this site, and it’s just not coming together. I even missed my own self-imposed deadline to have it done. This only adds to my frustration.

So, I thought I’d just write out my annoyance with myself. Sometimes that helps me deal with things. And maybe I’ll settle down and finally tackle that to do list.

Now, it looks like this stream-of-consciousness writing will become today’s blog post. It’s real and it’s honest. I know this will pass, but it would be nice to know I’m not alone when I have days like these.

Let me know your thoughts. Are you frustrated right now? Or is your to-do list working for you? Let’s build each other up and turn a negative day like today into a positive one. Thanks for “listening.”

The Tough Days

We all have tough days.  The difficult moments where we’re so frustrated at our jobs or reaching our goals that we can do nothing but sit down and cry.

I had one of these days recently, where I felt so overwhelmed all I could do was cry, pray, and then push through it.  And guess what?  I got through it.  In fact, it felt great to accomplish all I did on that very difficult day.

In talking with my writing buddies, they understand those days and have them as well.  Days when the cursor is blinking on a blank screen and there’s no creative muse to be found. Or times when your critique partners dislike the chapter you thought was brilliant.

I imagine it’s this way for professional athletes or Olympians.  They train so hard, yet there have to be days where they wonder why they’re even doing this.  Even on a show like Dancing With the Stars, where the celebrity is trying to learn something new and their feet just won’t cooperate.

So, why do we do this?  Is it worth it?

I’m learning that anything worth while is worth it.  When the celebrities dance the great dance on DWTS, when the publishing contract arrives for my writer friends, or the review from a reader that talks about how much their words spoke to them — somehow that makes it all worth it.

Even the frustrating day at my daily job — pushing through that and achieving the feeling of a job-well-done makes it worth it.

I can’t imagine any goal you want to achieve in life as being easy. The tough days WILL come.

So, how do you get through the tough times?  Is the frustration worth the end result?



Finding the Balance

I’m busy right now — like most people these days.   There are times when I feel completely overwhelmed, but if I break it down, there’s a lot of time wasted in my day.

Social media is one time-sucker.  I enjoy Facebook.  I love that a lot of my cousins, extended family and old friends are there.  People I might not always keep up with are there. One thing I dislike are those who share their dirty laundry.  I love having celebrations on Facebook: birthdays, and most recently, my wedding anniversary.  My husband and I so loved seeing those special messages of love and congratulations.

But I’m certainly not going to go on Facebook and talk about the bad day on the job, the trouble my kids are in (not mine — thankfully, my kids are doing great!), or even go on political rants.

I want to celebrate life on Facebook. But not everyone feels that way.

Others get caught up in Twitter, email, or even daytime television!  (I’ve been guilty of all of that in the past).  Distractions are all around us.

So, how do you organize your day so you’re making the best use of your time?  For me, a calendar with a to-do list is essential.  Prioritizing that list is also a must.  Even with that, there must be flexibility in my day, for the unexpected crisis or unexpected event.

I will admit there are days when I’m much better at staying on task than others.  And I seem to work better with a looming deadline. I am trying to have a “work ahead” mentality so I’m not always under the pressure of a deadline.  We’ll see.  I guess I continue to be a “work in progress.”

Also, I believe you must have balance.  I will have busy days, but I schedule my time around the gym, and  coffee dates with friends.  I will make time for Bible study and church, and the occasional date night with my hubby.

Life is precious.  I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting time. I want to do my job well, and I want to love my family and friends well.  In order to do that, I need to find the balance between work, distractions and family/friends.  I’m not always successful, but it’s something worth striving for.

What about you?  Do you have any organizational tips?  Time management ideas?  How do you find your balance?