The New Normal

Every once in a while, I will go through a period of time where I experience a higher level of stress than normal. I think that stress is caused by different things for different people. For me, it's generally cause by more critical work than I feel like I can get done in a given period of time (OK, truth be told, I want to do it all, not just the critical work). I'm not a great multi-tasker.

I've had a number of projects going on at work. I've also been recruiting for a few open positions on my team which are now officially filled (phew!). I have the kind of job where, when someone asks what I've been working on, I can rattle off a bunch of different things. I like the variety. But when deadlines bunch together or a number of new things are added to the plate (without an equal number of things falling off the plate), it feels like a bit much. That's adult life...I wonder how my friends with kids do it (though I remind myself that they volunteered for that!).

In the old normal, I could usually leave some of the so-called stress at the office (notice I said some) and mellow out in the sanctuary of my home. Now that I work a lot from home, there's less of a separation, but I do have a "home office" I can leave my work-life in, so to speak. Except when I am going through a kitchen remodel. I'm not sure if many of you have been through this. You basically remove everything from one room and scatter the contents amongst the other rooms in your house. Then you add dust and workers that show up at 7:30 AM or don't show up at all. I'm only complaining a little. It had to happen for me to get my fabulous new kitchen (which is almost done). It's starting to get back to normal, albeit a new normal that includes a fabulous kitchen.

I find that when I go through periods of time like this with a lot going on, what ends up happening is that I establish a "new normal". It's kind of the universes way of prioritizing. That which is least important naturally falls to the bottom of the list. New people come in to the equation. It's a great opportunity to evaluate why we are doing things the way we are (process improvements become important when you have a lot going on) because you need to get the important things done and you have objective eyes to question things (a trait which I love in people!).

So for all my whining (mostly about the kitchen), list making and deep breathing, I come out the other side being better off for it (I think it's the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel thing that has me thinking about coming out the other side). Well, that is what I have grown to expect. I'm not out the other side yet, but I do have a lovely new place to de-stress over some wine and food.

Comments (6)

  1. KW says:

    I think the "New Normal" is only temporary. When your stress level reduces or goes back to normal, your "New Normal" will go away….unless if you continue to put it into use regardless of your stress level.

    I have learned to deal with stress over the years esp working in such a demanding company, industry and environment. In my opinion, I think "Stress = Problem/Issue". My stress level increases if I have a problem….e.g. time constraint, too many deliverables, can’t solve an issue…etc. So, in order to resolve the problem/issue, I need to find a solution. By doing that, my stress will go away too.

    Not too sure if this applies to everyone…may be yes and may be no.

    P/S: glad that your new kitchen is also done. Any pictures that we can look at? 🙂

  2. Paul Pajo says:

    hi heather,

    sounds like something that needs GTD? 😛 must … close … open loops … heheh

    wow. I’m planning on doing something like that this week. I need to clear out the biggest room in my place — just thinking about it almost stresses me out …

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    KW – yeah. I think I am similar to you. We all have that "thing" that allows us to reduce the stress. For me, it’s making lists, because the idea that I might forget something is what is most troublesome. I even used the Covey system for prioritizing…scary! You get all these little wins when you can cross stuff off and that gives you the will to go on and do it some more.

    No kitchen pics yet…still doing sinishing touches but I should be ready on a few weeks. If I ever say I am going to remodel again, someone please encourage me to just buy a new house…..seriously!

    Paul Pajo – what is GTD? Up-tempo music helps with room cleaning. Also, if you think of it as exercise and try to work up a sweat. Maybe that just works with me.  Music helps!

  4. average-sized tim says:

    how do you find time for dating?

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    "That which is least important naturally falls to the bottom of the list."

  6. Paul Pajo says:

    GTD – Getting Things Done (by David Allen)

    here’s a one-page pdf for it:

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