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Gini Dietrich

I’m Behind

By: Gini Dietrich | August 24, 2010 | 
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There is no way around it – I’m behind. Traveling and speaking these last two weeks truly got the best of me. I’m behind on coaching my team. I’m behind on client work. I’m behind on reading my RSS feeds. I’m behind on Twitter. I’m behind on LinkedIn. I’m behind on Facebook. I’m behind on comments here on the blog. I’m behind on laundry and grocery shopping. I’m even behind on my time trial training.

Therefore I have nothing to share with you today. I was riding this morning, trying valiantly to come up with a topic for today’s blog and my mind was blank the entire time (well, that’s not entirely true – I was thinking, “Don’t get dropped. Don’t get dropped. Don’t get dropped”). So my apologies, but I’ll be back at it tomorrow!

But while you’re here, help a girl out…what do you do when you get so far behind you’re overwhelmed and nearly paralyzed?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

40 comments
Jan Beery
Jan Beery

Gini,

Sometimes that's just when we need to take a deep breath and do what we can. I am there with you and yesterday, forced myself to go out an just watch the tall ships come in at the lake. I needed the air, the peacefulness and some time to regroup. Remember, work to live, not live to work.
We do this because we love what we do!

Rachael
Rachael

What's funny is this is exactly how I felt yesterday too. I think prioritizing and remembering you just can't do it all is important. But also take a deep breath and do what you can...you will get to it!

Hope today is going better for you!

@kuuiposeda

Nancy Cawley Jean
Nancy Cawley Jean

Oh Gini, we feel your pain! Knowing the little bit I do about you from your amazingly honest blogs and tweets, I know you accept nothing less than doing EVERYTHING and having it done to a tee. And you do somehow! But sometimes you just have to sit back, take a deep breath, and make a list of the priorities. If you have to let a few of those older posts in your feed go unread, that's OK! If you can't respond to a tweet from a week ago, that's OK too because many of us in Twitterville have REALLY short attention spans. If you have a few unanswered e-mails, well, if it's REALLY, REALLY important, you'll get a reminder on it. So sit back, dive in to the most important stuff and check it off your list. You'll feel SO much better after a couple checks. Oh, and if you can't do a blog postfor a few days, don't worry, we'll be waiting, albeit impatiently, but we'll still be here. Sometimes you just have to say there's not enough time in the day so you protect your sanity, and PLEASE stop banging your head on your desk! ;)

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

Holy moley! 36 comments?! You are all such a beacon of hope as I try to calm myself and not run around like a headless chicken.

A few weeks ago, my friend Les McKeown wrote a blog post about dividing your to-do list in two (just like what you suggest, Julia). I began writing down what only I can do and what others can do. Turns out, there are very few things I'm doing that *only* I can do.

This actually is a work in progress as I learn to delegate even better so I can focus on: Making rain, developing content, and coaching (not managing) my team.

Before today, I had "working with clients only at the very high levels," but a client said to me today on the phone, "But if you want us to work with your team, you coming in and out only makes their job harder and us confused."

Very poignant, John. So I'm taking that off my list.

I also scheduled a vacation for myself in October - the first one in two years - and I'm going to unplug. I'll still read and write because that is where my love is, but I'm not going to read email or call into the office. I know everyone knows what it's like to need a break and I'm 100 percent certain no one will mind not being able to reach me for a week.

The to-do list is still gigantic, but everything has dates against it and there are lots of things checked off from today.

So watch out! It only took me a day to be human. I'm baaack!

Starr McCaffery
Starr McCaffery

A lot of good advice here. Tried to comment hours ago but just couldn't get thru the list early enough! Managing expectations - your own of yourself and others' of you - is one important step. The response to this post demonstrates how many high-achievers have the same struggle, but even more importantly also how many people like & respect you, Gini, even if you rarely give yourself a break.

Erin Margolin
Erin Margolin

Hi Gini,

I'm a friend of Shelly Kramer's and came over here from her blog.

I think you should take a deep breath (or several), pop open a beer/bottle of wine, forgive yourself a little bit, and make a list. Ask for help. Prioritize.

And yes, MARK ALL AS READ.

;-)

Davina K. Brewer
Davina K. Brewer

Gini,

In addition to the delegation, list prioritization, learn to let things go, take care of your self advice (all excellent BTW).. I am a big fan of multi-tasking and maximizing my efforts.

What I do: give myself an hour, power through and gut out as much as I can, then cross that off the list. Lather, rinse, repeat.. with breaks until I see daylight. FWIW.

Courtney
Courtney

Couldn't have come at a better time, I guess we all get overwhelmed? I definitely have been, and I think it's just getting back into the swing of things whether it's getting back in from 2 weeks on the road or getting used to new things. Taking every little thing and prioritizing. Everything needs to be done but what HAS to be done? That's how I'm looking at it, that and being thankful that I have such an amazing mentor!

Barry Silver
Barry Silver

1st Thanks for a glimpse into "We are all human".

2nd When I'm in a hurry and way behind, I slow down. Very few things are as critical as they appear, like a new blog post for example.

Chad Cohen
Chad Cohen

I throw something on the grill, open a bottle of wine and try to remember that we work in PR, not in the ER. If that fails, I'm up clacking away on the computer at 2:30 in the morning. It's not sound advice, but it works for me.

Diane Court
Diane Court

Oh! @Molly that is such sound advice. That perspective - that it's not the beginning of the end" that "no one died" is so essential to moving forward with a perspective of priorities.

When I have that sense that everything is urgent, it's time to take a break - even if its in the first minutes after a vacation; walk away, and revisit "the list" and knock out #1. Moving past the first helps get he ball rolling again.

Gini, I'm certain after all I've read of yours that - if you aren't there already- by COB your spatial metaphor will have changed to "on top of it"!

Molly Fulton
Molly Fulton

There are lots of great suggestions here, but mine is to change the language you use - you are not behind, so don't try and catch up. Just jump in and do what you do.

When I got back from vacation, I felt like I had dropped some balls, and I had. But no one died, the business didn't go belly-up, my lights wern't turned off - I just joined the real, imperfect human race again. You'll get your rhythm back.

Angelica
Angelica

4 words. "Mark All As Read"

Vaneska
Vaneska

Wonderful post! I'm more impressed after speaking with you yesterday AND reading this today.

kevin
kevin

I think you should give more work to Arment. He is slacking and not pulling his weight. Want me to do another video?

OK, I don't have much to add beyond the excellent comments already posted. The list idea works well with me, but really it's more about writing the list. Sometimes I follow it, sometimes I don't, but writing things down clears the brain a little and relieves some of the stress. At least it has done so for me. Wish I did it more.

Also, I think back to a time when I was 16. I had a job as a dishwasher for Ramada Inn. I used to work large wedding receptions and the amount of plates, cups, wine glasses, water glasses, silverware, butter dishes, etc. would overwhelm me. It is only when I quit looking at the big picture (all those dishes), stopped fantasizing about smashing them all against the wall, and just started attacking the pile, one dish after another, that I would successfully get through the mess. Beginning is often the hardest part so let inertia work for you and not against you. Once I'd knock out a few dishes, I'd get a increased sense of accomplishment and renewed energy to knock out more dishes. Before I knew it...Ok, usually around 2 AM, I had mowed through all the dishes.

It might not be the best analogy, but when I feel like I'm behind and a bit overwhelmed, I think back to those days and how I was able to knock out the piles of dishes. I still fantasize, though, about how smashing things against the wall can help me today.

Anne A. Buchanan
Anne A. Buchanan

1. Take a deep breath (or several, if needed).
2. Make The List. Prioritize it. Enlist help in ticking through it.
3. Ask your terrific team to forgive you. They will.
4. Ask your wonderful clients to forgive you. They will.
5. Forgive yourself.
6. Migrate your anxiety and despair into gratitude. You have a full (sometimes too full!) life and an amazing gift for sharing, communicating and multi-tasking. Sometimes it gets the better of you. But it's not the end of the world. Don't stop celebrating and being thankful for the good parts. Learn from the occasional bumpy parts, and move on.

Thanks for a great post, Gini. Today, I needed it just as much as you did!

Anne

Molli
Molli

I don’t know whether to be funny or serious. I’ll guess I’ll be serious. I make lists. Tons of lists. Personal, professional, divided up by client and categories. I put every little thing on there because I seem to get a second wind when I am able to start crossing things off. I also break big projects down into pieces so it seems not as big of a task.

Charlene Jaszewski
Charlene Jaszewski

Damn. I thought you HAD the tips for dealing with being overwhelmed!

Rick
Rick

List everything, and get tunnelvision on the things in the list first. Top down. Look at "what's next" and DO NOT looks at "what's left" - that'll only cause more paralysis.

Carla
Carla

This might be heresy but.... I turn off Twitter. And Facebook. I am always amazed at how much clearer my mind is when I am not constantly being distracted by various online conversations.

That and a hot bath, sometimes a good cry and yes, lists :-)

Lynne Kenney
Lynne Kenney

I love these comments so much, esp. Sally G, wish I cld carry you around in my pocket. I wish the comments above were a booklet we could hand out to the families in our neuropsych practice. We all feel so overwhelmed some days. First, I try to breathe and let go. Holding too tight leads to being stuck. I agree totally, believe in the affable you, create lists, check things off, do one single step at a time. Remember to laugh. Without google docs and listplanit.com I think I'd stay stuck, but having calendars I can check throughout the day with my tasks scheduled keeps me productive.

Mimi Meredith
Mimi Meredith

First, "what Abbie and Blair said." Second, I'm doing a little happy dance because Gini Dietrich is human, which means I really might be able to be like her, and third (actually, I'm making this my third and final because I could go on about this all day and then, if you actually read my comment, you'd just be farther behind!) my favorite quote: I am so far behind, I look like I'm in the lead! Just harness that thought and give yourself a break.

Kris Schindler
Kris Schindler

I think what you've shared today is important.

You offered up a great conundrum that is sparking good discussion and will help the community here assess their own issues with managing all that's expected of us.

Spend some time with you team today, get groceries on the way home so you'll eat right, get to bed at a reasonable hour tonight and restart tomorrow.

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink

Sometimes you just have to say it is not going to get done. Laundry and grocery shopping are inevitable. Missing a few blog posts isn't the end of the world. Give yourself permission to hit the delete button. You know the bloggers archive everything so you can always go back and check.

As for clients and your team - honesty is the best policy. Admit that you've gotten a little behind and ask for a few days to get caught up -- they'll appreciate it because chances are they've had the same thing happen to them.

Elissa Freeman
Elissa Freeman

Everyone's comments are fabulous and tremendously applicable.

All I wanted to say was, "Hey, you're human!"

In fact, you say you "tried valiantly to come up with a topic, but couldn't". I disagree! Your admission has spurred some important conversation re what happens when we have too much on our plates.

Love it! Now go have some lunch...

Mandy
Mandy

I tend to make lots of lists when I'm overwhelmed, just so I can keep things straight! Then, I try to tackle all of the time consuming (and mind consuming) projects first. When I finish those, I knock off a few of those little things that don't require much thought or action.

I also schedule in some time to reign in the crazy so that I don't lose it in the process of getting caught up. I make it a point to give myself a breather, usually in the form of microwave popcorn and Netflix :)

Jon Buscall
Jon Buscall

@Gini, First things first, prioritise yourself and your health. Every business owner overdoes it from time to time, but you need to take care of you.

The great thing about building meaningful online connections is that folks will come back to you even if you're away for a few days. Especially if you have something meaningful to say.

Leo Laporte (over at TWIT) discovered Buzz hadn't updated his feed for over two weeks and no one had even noticed! So there's hope for all of us that take time out now and then.

Steve Findley
Steve Findley

Gini,
Thanks for being honest. I go back to Covey's 7 Habits and concentrate on Quadrant 2 (important but not urgent). And as my late uncle would say, "just put one foot in front of the other." Good luck, you are an inspiration just doing what you do.

Patrick Reyes
Patrick Reyes

Keep pushing through Gini! We've all been there. You have a great supporting cast at Arment Dietrich and we are all here to encourage you.

Just take on what is manageable. The stuff that isn't important will surface and you'll know you can either discard or put off until later.

@pgeorgieva
@pgeorgieva

Hi Gini,

I can only try to imagine how busy is your daily agenda currently.

When I have too many things to do, as Jaimie said too, I wrote them down in a list and put the priority things first. So that I have a clear view what has to be done asap. On the other hand, I feel better and more peaceful when I just start with the most pleasant things to do or the easiest stuff, so that I feel like getting ahead with the work and this inspires me and gives me power to continue with the other issues. And not to forget to point out - it is really helpful when before starting with all the have-tos in the list, I just try to calm down, to run away from the panic, to think positive and to be patient.

Hope this will help you. And what's more, I am sure that just in several days everything will be fine. :) Keep my fingers crossed! :)

Best wishes,
Petya

Julia Stewart
Julia Stewart

First, remember that you set your priorities -- don't let others set them for you. Few things in life are absolute, just negotiate. Second, I read some great advice recently that I've been working to execute: Divide your to-do list into two lists -- one list of the things that only you can do, the other list those things that others can be empowered to do -- then delegate that second list. I know I tend to think I have to do it all, but I don't! And I can encourage others to grow in the process.

Blair Minton
Blair Minton

Yes, you are behind...but so what. Don't let feelings like that control your life. All CEOs get behind several times a year and then we freak out about it. Make a list of what has to be done and then prioritize the list. Start clipping off the priorities in order, tackling the worst priority first and getting it behind you. I find that about half the stuff on my list isn't really important or can be offloaded to someone else. Now, smile, relax and enjoy the day and the fact that you are busy. Lot's of people would change places with you!

Sally G.
Sally G.

I see it for what it is ~ an opportunity to step out of the eye of the storm where everything's whirling around me at break-neck speed and move to quieter, more stable ground where I can clearly determine my true priorities, empowering my Self along the way.

There is significant power in being Still. Not 'forever still' to the point where nothing gets done - but Mindfully Still ... where you honestly clarify where you desire to invest your time and energy ~ and commit to slowly releasing aspects of the whirl that once mattered more, but now weigh you down.

You are infinitely likable and will continue to be so regardless of the direction you commit to taking towards your goals. Remember to include your Self on your priority list ~ and nurture yourself back to luminous.

@Chi_Sarah
@Chi_Sarah

A lot of us are there Gini! Jaimie and Marcela are right on. I prioritize by making lists and force yourself to focus on the "asap" needs first. And - ask for help! Your team is there to support you as well.

Sarah

Marcela Saeb Lima
Marcela Saeb Lima

What you just did, is what I do... you say you are overwhelmed, however you are responsible of your acts and will get everything done as soon as possible...
I liked it!
I am just in the same situation... so you are not alone..

@JaimieField
@JaimieField

Hey Ginni:

I am so with you on this right now. I got behind because I was absolutely so far under-the-weather last week I lost a week of work.

However, this morning, I made a decision which has allowed me to not be as overwhelmed as I was feeling yesterday -the first day back in my office. I wrote down everything that had to be done, everything I wanted to get done and all the things I wanted to do but were not so imperative that they could go by the wayside. This morning, I began tackling the have-tos and it's gotten a tremendous amount done and it's only 8:44 am.

So, write it down, and start tackling them one step at a time.

Best,

Jaimie

Davina K. Brewer
Davina K. Brewer

Mandy,

I was gonna say the opposite. After I prioritize what must be done right NOW, I tend to tackle a few of the smaller projects that can be done fast and easy. Quickly scratch a few items off the list, it doesn't seem quite as daunting, then you're not so behind. FWIW.

Heather Whaling
Heather Whaling

I love this idea! I use Toodledo as my to-do list system. It has a "tag" function. I just started using that to identify what can be delegated and which person on my team is best suited for that specific task. That way, I can still see the big picture, while also realizing that I don't -- or can't -- possibly do it all myself. By creating my to-do list in a way that shows what *I* have to do vs opportunities to delegate, I'm able to make sure that everything is getting done ... and on time.

That said, there are times when you just have to cry uncle. I need to remind myself which deadlines are "hard" deadlines and which ones are self-imposed or movable.

In these really busy times, I also try to remind myself that having this much work is a really good thing and that there are a lot of people who aren't as fortunate. That helps me keep things in perspective, too. :)

Good luck, Gini!

Heather
@prTini

Deb Evans
Deb Evans

You have an incredible team. First and foremost catch up with them. They are the glue that will keep you and your business together. Let them coach you out of your nearly paralyzed state.