Ever have one of those days when you run around full speed ahead, but still feel like you aren’t getting anything accomplished? Days when you feel like you aren’t checking anything off your to-do list? I know I do! That’s why today’s quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning is a favorite. Browning said, “Measure not the work until the day’s out and the labor done.”
When we are having one of “those days,” we can feel like failures. We hit heavy traffic on the day we are planning to tackle a bunch of errands. Our child wakes up sick on the day of an important meeting. We lose significant time online or on the phone talking to machines when we are trying to solve a problem. In the moment, we can feel like throwing our hands up in surrender.
However, it is important to remind ourselves that just because a given point in the day seems frustrating, it doesn’t mean the entire day has been a waste. In fact, sometimes we can’t see what we have actually accomplished until we look back with hindsight. What felt like a roadblock in the morning may actually have led to a perfect solution by nightfall.
Additionally, the very moment of difficulty may have yielded an unexpected benefit. For instance, the traffic jam may have kept you from being involved in an accident, or your child’s illness might have forced you to stay home to accomplish an important household task.
When you feel like you are getting nowhere, audibly tell yourself that you are doing your best, and that you are making progress. Give yourself credit for everything you do get done, no matter how small. Did you empty the dishwasher? Good for you! Finally filed a stack of papers? Way to go! I’ve been known to record a task on my to-do list that I’ve already completed, just so I can have the pleasure of crossing it off. At the end of the day, review your to-do list one final time. If you see tasks that you didn’t get to, don’t berate yourself. Instead, simply reschedule them to another day. If you’ve dropped the ball on anything important, make a plan for redeeming the situation. Then go to sleep in peace, knowing that you will have another chance to tackle your tasks tomorrow.
Do you struggle when life doesn’t go according to plan? Have you ever looked back at the end of the day and seen a tough moment in a different light?