Scheduling nightmares, or Why I’m an anxious mess this week


As I’m writing this, my anxiety is an eight out of 10. My jaw hurts from clenching. My chest is tight. My head is pounding.

I can’t wait to go home, curl up on my couch and do nothing but be a human being. Like, for real, I’m just going to lie on my couch and breath. Maybe I’ll put my hand on a cat if one jumps up for snuggles.

Here’s the problem: I schedule my work life out depending on others’ deadlines to get things to me, my own deadlines and my availability.

I’ve become a master at under-scheduling and working ahead of time to leave space for last minute requests for my time and personal projects. Some company’s frequently come to be with work they’d like me to do in the next day or two, and since they’re polite and lovely to work for, I like to have space for them. Others, are a little too demanding for me to handle.

This week, I was booked in full-time at an office. The editor is wonderful and I was so ahead in my work, I thought, “Why not?”

Here’s why not: My week has been fraught with others requesting (or demanding) my immediate attention for rewrites and projects that are behind because they didn’t stick to their own schedules. I’ve had people follow up unanswered phone calls 30 seconds with more calls and calls and calls, filling my voicemail. I’ve had editors who had my stuff for months ask hours after sending me re-writes why I’m not getting to the changes yet.

Day five of deep breathing and calmly explaining that I can’t clear my schedule for them have worn me thin and I’m ready for the weekend. And a day when I can afford to drop stressful clients.

But, can I really afford to not drop stressful work now?

I do a lot of whining about needing money, needing it so badly that I’ll put up with all sorts of crap for a pay cheque. Today, I realize I can’t keep doing this. The toll on my mental health is pretty big. I run out of steam quickly when I’m anxious, leading to much less work getting done. This is especially unfair to the people I work for you understand I have a hectic schedule and give me at least a few days to get a piece complete, or make it clear that they don’t expect me to have time if there isn’t much warning.

Going forward, I’ll make time to help others with missed deadlines, when I want, and turndown the work when I don’t feel up for it. I’ll continue working ahead of schedule as much as possible so I have time for all the awesome bosses who might need me in a pinch.

And, of course, I’m going to keep up this exhausting, frustrating and slow-going process of ditching (at least some of) my anxiety.

If anyone has tips on dealing with demanding people in their work life, I’d love to hear ’em!

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