So, we recognized panic, took a mind clearing walk, stopped to engage our brains and we made a list.  Outside of eating that paper list out of sheer frustration, what’s next?  The next step I usually take in managing my panic is to take a look at my list and do a little sorting.  Chances are, after you take a deep breath, stuff on your to do list will start to fall into various categories like:

Order of Importance
1.  My Pants are On Fire!  I’ve got to do this stuff today or they are going to repossess my stuff, or take me to jail or put me on the Jerry Springer Show.
2.  Stuff I’ve really just got to do.  (But secretly I know, that nobody will die if I don’t do it today or even this week.
3.  Really important stuff that I really want done but isn’t completely necessary.  (And actually if I don’t get to it this month, nobody will probably know but me.)

Order of Difficulty
1.  I can finish this in the time it takes me to write this on my list.
2.  If I push I could finish this in 20 minutes to an hour.
3.  I’ve already been working on this for a decade and I think I’m making some headway.

Order of Proxmity: How easy and close are these items to one another.

After I stare at the list for a while patterns seem to emerge, and I start to prioritize.  I usually don’t have to actually rewrite or number my list based on priorities, but just thinking it through in my head helps me start to organize things.

I try to let the stuff that isn’t a high priority drop off the list when I’m in panic mode.  There are a lot of things I’d LIKE to do, but is it worth trying to do it all and having a panic attack or nervous breakdown?  Probably not.  Notice I said that I “try” to do this.  As my husband can easily attest, I don’t always succeed.

Actually, I will let a few lower priority things stay on my list if they are super easy, i.e. buy paper towels and they are close and convenient to something I absolutely need to do on my list, i.e. buy toilet paper.  My method of sorting and yours may be totally different.  Everybody prioritizes differently.  But prioritizing is crucial to managing panic.  The point is, take a deep breath, accept you can’t do everything on your list at once, and figure out what on the list is most important to you.

I promise, I won’t tell if you don’t dust this week.

The Fat Chick

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