Thoughtful Thursday: Caught Up

March 28, 2013

Thoughtful ThursdayHow often do you feel like you have your shit together? I can’t remember ever feeling caught up in all aspects of life. No, that’s not true. The days before school would start in college: I didn’t yet have any homework on which to fall behind. My first job after college was one where at the end of the day I was done, and I’d go home and do something else like cook dinner or play board games with my husband. I think that was the last time. Once I started graduate school, there was always something more I should be doing. For the first couple of years, DH and I still played board games, until we both started working nights at home in addition to days at work. Ever since then, work-wise, we are never done, never caught up. For both of us, if we finish a big project, the next 5 are waiting. My field is such that even people who aren’t perpetually behind like I am still never really get caught up on everything; there is always more that you should have done yesterday, last week, last year. I love my work, but I do not love that feeling.

In other domains, I sometimes get caught up, and sometimes I am woefully behind. Bills and household stuff? Ugh. Sometimes I’m drowning in unopened mail, and sometimes I’m pleasantly up to date — until the next day, when that damned mailman comes back. And taxes, oh gawd, it’s almost April.

Laundry is put away as of today, but the sink is full of dishes.

There are minor domains where I am often behind but it’s not too hard to get caught up. Thank you notes, for example. I’m caught up right now, because there haven’t been any presents lately. I absolutely like getting presents, but sometimes they’re not worth the hassle of the thank you note. Today I noticed a housewarming gift we’d gotten a few months ago from a friend of DH, and I had this thought: “I’m so glad we’re not moving ever again — there won’t be any more housewarming gifts for which I have to write notes. Oh, but there are still birthdays and holidays, yuck.” What is wrong with me?

For more personal correspondence, I always feel like there are several friends to whom I owe long, heartfelt emails or hour-long phone calls.

Every 6 months I write posterity letters to Burrito and Tamale. I haven’t yet written the letter for their 3rd birthday. They turn 3 1/2 in a few days.

Blog and other online reading? When I was really sick and could barely move but could manage a few taps on the iPad, I actually caught up on everything. Now, my Reader once again has several hundred unread posts. That’s okay, I’ll take it if the alternative is being unable to walk nor use my hands.

Blogging? For today at least, I am caught up as of….. now.

Do you ever feel caught up? In what ways are you perpetually behind?

14 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Caught Up”

  1. Sara Says:

    For the most part, I’m generally caught up. The laundry is always moving forward — either in the washer, hung up to dry, being folded and put away — dishes likewise, they’re never finished but they never languish in a single state for long. I don’t worry about keeping caught up on other housecleaning for the most part by simply not doing it.

    I read my email and blogs regularly, and try to reply to emails promptly; if I don’t, then it’s likely to be 6 months – 1 year before I do.

    I used to be able to be up, showered, and out the door with breakfast in my hand in 15 min.; with a toddler, that’s no longer possible, but I’m still able to get up, get her up, get me showered and both of us breakfasted, both our bags packed, and us out the door in about half an hour, so even if we sleep late she still gets out to daycare, and I to work, at a reasonable time.

    I am never all caught up on my work projects, and that’s the way it should be; I work best when I’ve got multiple papers I’m working on, and if I ever finish up a paper without getting the idea for 2-3 more, then I’d be worried. Sometimes I wish the list of papers I want to write didn’t keep growing faster than the list of papers I’ve written, but for the most part, that’s what spurs me on and keeps me going. If I were ever all caught up at work, then that would mean I had no new ideas, no deadlines, no new grant proposals to write, and that would be bad.

  2. Ana Says:

    Work (research-related) is similar to what you and Sara describe—I think “caught up” would be a bad sign! I do like to stay caught up on my clinical work, though—outstanding phone calls, referral letters, lab follow-up all stress me out, and I try to catch up each week. At home, its a constantly moving target, as clean things keep getting dirty, clothes/toys keep getting outgrown, and bills and mail keep coming in to process. (We have not done our taxes yet either, btw, ugh). Usually by the end of each day I reach a state of “done enough” where the kitchen is clean, lunches made for the next day, disgusting (potty accident) laundry is dealt with, and mail is opened. But there is still way more that COULD be done. I am never on top of organizing pictures. Never done with phone calls/emails that need writing. Never done with household projects needing doing. I’ve heard before that when you’re totally done with all the stuff on your house, its time to move, which may be true!

  3. Elana Kahn Says:

    Being in school I very rarely feel “all caught up”. Basically only on summer and winter vacation. lol Once I graduate it’s going to be a HUGE weight lifted off, and especially once I take my boards. Then I will really be 100% caught up. Except then, of course, I need to apply for a midwifery program, so there goes being caught up! lol I never have time for housework or anything, so hubby does that. And that is never caught up because there’s so much to do. Mail piles up and it’s just awful… I would give anything to be caught up on absolutely everything and have a clean house. *sigh*

  4. a Says:

    Take a few days off and I have 200+ posts to read. I’m not caught up on anything right now, but I can’t really think of anything I need to do immediately, either. It’s good to be a slacker?

  5. strongblonde Says:

    that’s the nature of academics, right? never really caught up. 😦 i feel like with the research/academic part of my job i’m never done. never caught up. and i HATE that feeling. the house (chores, laundry, etc) doesn’t generally get too out of hand. mostly because a) i use cleaning as a means of procrastination and b) i tend to need to have control over something when i’m feeling out of control in my job (ex: last month we found out that two people who SHOULD have gotten promoted didn’t. that made me start freaking out even more. my method of coping: cleaning out cupboards, rearranging the family room, purging toys, etc). i do write a brief summary of the day ( for the kids. i’m over a week behind on that. it’s a little overwhelming!!!

  6. Geochick Says:

    I hardly ever felt caught up even before Baby X came along. I definitely feel behind all the time now.

  7. Mina Says:

    There are times when I feel so behind on everything and a terrible slacker and it brings me down to have so many things to catch up on with. And then there are times when the same amount of things needing to be done just makes me peppy and spurs me on to start doing them, which gives me a sense of accomplishment, not of an obligation weighing on me. So, with me, the sense of catching up depends on the urgency with which I view my to-do list.

  8. luna Says:

    there is always something more to do. always. when I was at work there were always things I could have been doing but for other pressing needs. even now PT from home there is hardly enough time to keep up. housework? always more bills, filing, dishes, laundry, dirty floors, etc. and kids I want time to hang out with.
    sitting down to read and write is hard too.

    nope, never caught up either.

  9. Mel Says:

    I am usually never caught up in the sense that things are “complete,” but for every task, I hit a doneness point where I feel the lack of doneness is highly manageable. For emails, it’s 15 unanswered emails. I can walk away from my inbox feeling on top of things.

  10. St. Elsewhere Says:

    I am currently swimming in the ocean of dire inefficiency as far as the deadlines of professional sphere are concerned.

    I feel perpetually behind in terms of publications and research credentials.

    I am doing great in some spheres of housework (laundry for example), am behind in replying to mails (even important ones), and am definitely lost out on the grapevine.

  11. I have trouble sleeping if any of my ToDo lists (which include my Inbox and Reader) get out of control. So I will stay up late getting on top of a pile because the thought of losing control fills me with irrational anxiety.

    Just got back from a several day road trip with only spotty Internet access. Starting to feel much better about things :-). Breathing easier.

    My book has meant that for 4 years, there has always been something I should be doing. Proposing, shopping around, writing, editing, now promoting. I suppose I better come up with a new project now that this one is in its final stage.

  12. Cat Says:

    I’m never caught up. On anything. In addition to the daily chores around the house, I also have a list of all the other stuff I need to do (like returning a container to a friend) as well as the extra things I’d like to do (like crafts to make). The list has 156 things on it and never seems to get smaller, even when I cross things off, there’s more to be added.

    I’m so rarely caught up on laundry that I was tempted to take a picture of the bottom of our laundry chute the one time it was empty.

  13. I’m perpetually behind in commenting on TT posts! And on filing… I can feel caught up with household tasks for about 5 minutes I guess. I think the last time I felt I was really caught up with things was before I had kids…

  14. Ernessa Says:

    Oh my gosh, bedrest was great for getting caught up on a few things. Now I’m a little hopelessly overwhelmed. This has given me a very rich near future fantasy life. I dream about all the amazing stuff I’ll get dove when the twins start daycare in June. Then I imagine I’ll start daydreaming about what great feats I can accomplish when they’re potty trained and after that, when they’re all at the local elementary school. Part of it is wishful thinking–won’t I always be overwhelmed? But then again my most profitable year so far was the one when Betty started preschool full time and got potty trained, so who knows? I take solace in all the stories I’ve heard about moms kicking butt career-wise after they’re kids go off to college.

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