As I write, two men from a restoration company are ripping drywall out of our basement ceiling and walls. Last Thursday I left the laundry room faucet running. I’m not exactly sure how long it had been running before I was called down to the basement where water was streaming from the light fixtures. Let’s just say it was greater than twenty minutes and less than an hour.
I have noticed that just when I think my plate is full and I can’t possibly take on ONE MORE THING, I often get thrown a curve-ball. Or should I say that I often throw myself a knuckle-ball. Whether it’s self-created like this sink fiasco, or caused by the actions of another person, there are always lessons at times like these.
Lesson #1: No matter how busy I think I am, there is always room for more on my plate.
It happens all the time – an extra project, an urgent family situation, a flooded basement. We always have a choice to expand our capabilities and get a bigger plate, or to prioritize or delegate so that less urgent and less important responsibilities and tasks are treated according to their merit. Is it really necessary to spend time on Facebook when there’s a presentation to prepare or a business to grow? Really?
Lesson #2: In the heat of the moment, only I am responsible for my response or reaction.
I prefer to think of myself as a responsive person and not a reactive person. Well, I was 100% in reaction mode in the aftermath of my oversight. It’s almost painful to think about it. The toxic cocktail of feeling overwhelmed, stupid and fear that insurance would not cover the damage got the best of me in the moment. It wasn’t pretty, I’ll just leave it at that. But it does lead me to
Lesson #3: When I have done something truly unconscious, own up to it, apologize, find the solution, move forward and LET IT GO.
The fact that we have been listening to commercial fans for four days and my teenage son has temporarily lost the use of his washroom is 100% my doing. There’s also the matter of the insurance deductible. In the past I would have still been beating myself up for allowing myself to become distracted, causing the accident. No one is hurt. No one is sick. It helped that the man from the restoration company said this is probably the fifteenth of this type of incident this year that he has personally dealt with. It helped to know I have the company of other equally distracted adults!
Lesson #4: Multi-tasking is not virtuous. Everybody sucks at it once they’ve reached their threshold.
Know your limit and stay within it. Learn how not to pick up the phone when you are working on a project. As my husband asked, “Why was it so important that the plant got watered in the middle of the day?” There isn’t a good answer for that! I often get in the mode of wanting to “get things done”. Are they really the important things? Are the important things getting done when they should be?
Lesson #5: I must define and defend my boundaries, particularly when I’m working from home.
This one is tough. Whether it’s unscheduled phone calls, members of my family interrupting those phone calls, the injured dog, household chores, or the plant crying out for water from across the living room, I need all of my energy focused and directed. Do I have clearly defined goals for the year, the month, the week and the day? Most of the time. Do I allow myself to be distracted and derailed more often than I would like? Yes. Until I can simplify my professional life, this is the area that I must give full attention. Even if I end up having to leave the house to work from home!
Lesson #6: Read the signs – before they get bigger
The one up side (so far) has been the conversation that has followed this incident. There were a lot of things swimming around in my head that I wasn’t articulating. It’s amazing how quickly they have dissipated with some clear, honest communication. I’m grateful for a partner in life who is willing to listen.
I’m sure the lessons will keep on flowing. In the meantime, if you have any tips or insights, feel free to comment below.
Have a productive, inspired and “accident”-free day!