How do we find the line between just being busy (which aren’t we all all the time but especially this time of year!) and being overwhelmed to the point of needing help? On top of that, some of us are our own department – where can you even look for help?
Last week, I was overwhelmed. Not quite to the point of needing much help, but to the point where if one more thing dropped in my lap with a fast approaching deadline, I would (and maybe I will this week!). But last week was nuts, between spending multiple days in the schools, starting far earlier in the morning than I’m used to, and our last staff meeting before summer starts, I’m feeling a bit frazzled. So much so that after the staff meeting, my brain seized up and I was unable to get anything done for a good two hours. Which is most unhelpful when you have a million things to get done in very few hours.
It took a dinner break and a couple deep breaths before I was able to rewrite my giant to do list, prioritizing things that needed to be done that day and things that needed to be done by the end of the week versus things that could wait until this week when I’m back in the library full time. It helped. I found myself backing from the precipice of overwhelmed down to a more gentle just-very-busy. I was able to get everything done before the end of the week that was critical. Today, I’ll reassess my list (our summer program registration starts a week from today, programs on the 26th – I’m a northeaster, we do things late sometimes!) and see what needs to be done of critical importance before book logging starts and before programs start. Hopefully it’ll keep me in the busy but not overwhelmed category.
How do you identify the difference? For me, it was after our staff meeting when I found myself staring blankly at my computer screen despite the fact my brain was shouting ALERT all over the place about everything I had to accomplish. It was an obvious red flag. You have to figure out for yourself what your red flags are. I suspect some people’s are more subtle – and might involve doing work outside the office to a large degree since you don’t have enough time to fit it into your normal schedule.
I’m lucky enough to be part of a youth services team even if I’m the only one dealing with ages 10 and up for programs and for YA materials for collection. So if I needed help, I know some of my coworkers would step up (and have this spring!) to help me out with getting everything sorted. Others are part of adult reference and you’ll have those coworkers, hopefully for support. What about those of you all by yourself? Hopefully you have a supportive administration and/or coworkers from other departments that could make sure you received the help you need when you need it.
Obviously, I don’t presume to have all the answers, but if nothing else, I hope this post gets you thinking about where your support is, and when you might need to call on it. And, of course, if you can’t find an answer to a problem you need, stop by our facebook and you might be able to find it! Good luck!