Want to Save Money? Slow Down

About a year ago I sprained my ankle pretty badly. It happened as I ran out of a burning orphanage, carrying half a dozen toddlers.

Okay, that's a lie. But it sure sounds cooler than the truth, which is “I was woolgathering and fell down some steps.”

This happened on the last evening of a house- and dog-sitting gig in Los Angeles. As we headed down the stairs that led from the yard to the street, I started thinking about packing for the next leg of my trip, a flight to see my daughter in Phoenix.

Moments later I lay stunned on the sidewalk. My right foot was twisted under me and the ankle hurt like a tax audit. The skittish Golden Retriever was yelping and trying to pull away. I remember thinking, “Just how bad is the trouble I'm in?”

I also remember thinking about what a workplace safety advocate once told me. When you're walking down the steps you should be doing only one thing: Walking down the steps. You shouldn't be chatting, sipping coffee, or thinking about anything else.

Excellent advice, but multitasking is a tough habit to break. I'd spent the past seven years on a dead run: going back to college (commuting up to an hour each way by bus), dealing with a long-distance divorce, helping a chronically ill daughter, doing a very physical work-study job before winning a full-ride scholarship, writing three times a week for MSN Money and managing an apartment building. After I got my degree and quit the management job, I traveled almost constantly. Although my MSN gig morphed into writing only six or seven times a month, I started my own blog and began writing for Get Rich Slowly and other sites.

It worked pretty well, i.e., I never missed a deadline. I sure was tired, though. Remember, I'm 20 to 30 years older than most of these other PF pups.

This time, it didn't work. Thinking about the suitcase instead of the staircase cost me both financially and emotionally. (More on that later.)

The moral of the story: Sometimes the best way to save money is to slow down. Instead of trying to be frugal by jamming as many tasks as possible into your conscious hours, save money by doing fewer things.

How busy is too busy?
What I'm seeing and hearing these days is that one job isn't enough. People seek side hustles or dabble in part-time entrepreneurship until they can quit their day jobs. Heck, some poor bastards even blog for money.

Other people work just one job but spend much of their free time on frugal hackery: cooking, gardening, sewing, home repair/improvement, yard sale-ing, coupon hounding, food preservation.

The first group makes more money. The second group spends less money.

Sometimes.

Sure, they're earning/saving. But they may also be sneakily sabotaging their budgets. Insane work hours can translate to the need for extra child care, maybe a cleaning lady, more restaurant meals, additional vehicle wear and tear.

Or human wear and tear: Constant busyness wears you down physically, causing minor or even major illnesses — being sick ain't cheap.

Overwork and multitasking can have other repercussions, too. Some are minor: missed appointments, late fees for library books.

Others aren't. Ever had a fender-bender because you were in a hurry? Cut yourself while rushing through meal preparation? Landed on your kids like hot lead at the O.K. Corral because you were just too exhausted to cope with normal childhood yammering?

Do it right or do it twice
Let me be clear: I know that some people don't have a choice. They have to work one-and-a-half jobs just to keep the wolf (or the eviction notice) from the door.

For the rest of us? It's better, and probably cheaper, to complete a few tasks well than do a bushel of things half-assed. Do things right or do them twice, especially if:

  1. There's no chance for a do-over, or
  2. The half-assed method costs you in other ways

Case in point: People who text while walking. Sure, it's possible to do this safely — until it isn't. Seriously: Cut it out.

Recently I wound up paying what Dave Ramsey calls the “stupid tax.” I needed to deliver some business paperwork by Dec. 2. Since it contained sensitive personal information, I'd planned to send it certified mail. That probably would have cost three bucks, tops.

I had the paperwork in hand for a couple of weeks but I was too busy to mail it. Okay, that's a lie, too: I was busy but I failed to prioritize.

The paperwork remained unmailed until late in the afternoon of Nov. 30, when I rushed into the post office and asked, “Can I still get this to California by Dec. 2?”

Turns out I could — for $18.30. (Frugal fail!)

Exacting a price
Though trivial in the long run — that $18.30 is a business expense, after all — the goof was utterly avoidable. Bonehead stunts like that are a sign that I'm approaching critical mass.

For weeks or months (or years) on end I can successfully cram too many responsibilities into too few hours. Eventually, though, I start to fray around the edges. Mistakes get made. Fails happen. So do falls.

A woman I know ran for the bus one evening after work. She didn't want to miss it because she would have had to wait 20 minutes for the next one. In her hurry she tripped and broke her arm so severely that it's never really been the same. Given the chance for that do-over, she probably would have taken the next bus.

My health insurance covered the emergency-room visit as well as the walking cast and crutches. Even so, my instant of idiocy cost me:

  • $17 for pain medication (which I barely used)
  • $30 in tips to the wheelchair angels in three airports
  • About $7 for a gel ice pack
  • $50 to check my carry-on twice
  • $35 plus tip for an airport shuttle home (normally I would have spent $3 on the light rail and bus)

The injury also exacted a price in terms of personal enjoyment. I hadn't seen my daughter for almost a year and I was looking forward to walks and visits to cultural attractions. Instead, I spent way too much time with my foot propped up on a chair.

And all because I was thinking about packing, instead of thinking about walking down a few steps.

Galloping through the days becomes a habit. The trouble with juggling so many tasks is that you don't know how to set any one of them down without actually dropping it.

Try. Throttle back. Take a breather. Take a nap. Maybe even take a couple of days away from the forced march that has become the unfortunate norm.

Otherwise you might end up in the ER, hurting and feeling about as stupid as I did. At least I held onto the damn dog.

More about...Health & Fitness, Psychology

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Well Heeled Blog
Well Heeled Blog
8 years ago

Ouch! I winced when I read about the ankle injury… Having suffered one of my own. I’ve paid plenty of stupid tax – fees to expedite mailing, library fines, etc., because I was too busy doing something else and overlooked the “smaller things.” In terms of safety, absolutely do one thing at once. A girl I knew got hit by a bus when she was crossing the street wearing earbuds and listening to music. Fortunately she survived, but that was sobering. There has also been cases here people were robbed because they were paying attention to their iPhones and made… Read more »

Molly (Mike and Molly's House)
Molly (Mike and Molly's House)
8 years ago

I like your perspective. I do feel as I get older I am more careful and see the bigger picture of things. I’m still not there and so for now I budget in a ‘stupid tax’. Here’s my reasoning: It takes effort to be careful 24/7. So much effort it causes me stress that makes me crazy and neurotic. I’m not saying I not careful but my brain cannot stay at that slow detailed pace all day. The real reason for my stupid tax is that I love cross country running and I know one day I will trip, fall… Read more »

Cara
Cara
8 years ago

This is a must-read post for so many people! I’m a recovering productivity junkie, and I cringe at the “productivity at all costs” mentality in many PF blogs and in real life. I got into two car accidents in one year because I wasn’t getting enough sleep. When someone smugly says, “You can sleep when you’re dead,” I remind myself that not sleeping enough could kill me that much sooner. Not good. It’s so important to be mindful.

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  Cara

Agreed! I’ve been a bit of a workaholic myself so work/life balance is something I struggle with. I think this post offers a nice counterpoint to the “earn more money” mentality.

I know it’s a necessity for some people, but I agree that many people need to slow down and think about their health, safety and relationships.

Claire
Claire
8 years ago
Reply to  Cara

Completely agree! I’ve also been trying to be really productive, and not scheduling any downtime for myself. Big mistake. We all have limitations; we are NOT superpeople! You HAVE to schedule in downtime (and I don’t just mean sleeping!). You are entitled to some relaxation. A better rested you = a you that can make better decisions, both financial and personal (& better personal decisions = better relationships = less chance for bad, expensive things like divorces).

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Cara

It isn’t just our own ankles we should be thinking about, either. How would I feel if I injured someone else in an accident?
(“Real sorry about the broken bones and the ruptured spleen, but I just had to answer that text from my boss.”)

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago

Donna has gone Zen!

Say hello to Leo Babauta 😀

(and yes, “multitasking” is truly a recipe for disaster. ask the victims of cellphone drivers. next time, watch your step 😛 .)

stephanieg617
stephanieg617
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

This morning I was behind a driver on the phone who completely failed to notice the school bus in the other lane had stopped, the flashing light were on and came *THIS* close to hitting the kid crossing the street. I don’t think I have ever heard brakes squeal that loud or seen so much rubber left on the road.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  stephanieg617

Once I was nearly hit in a Seattle crosswalk by a woman who was chattering away on her cellphone. She slammed on the brakes and looked stricken. I gave her my best Norman Bates smile and said, in a conversational tone, “You know, if you kill me your insurance rates will go WAY up.”
(I should have added, “And I’ll come back from the effin’ grave and haunt your self-absorbed ass. HANG UP AND DRIVE!”)

babysteps
babysteps
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

bumper sticker recently seen:
“put the phone down and we’ll all live”
😉

Kaytee
Kaytee
8 years ago
Reply to  babysteps

My husband has “Everytime someone texts and drives, God kills a kitten.”

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Kaytee

Your husband is mistaken. In fact, every time someone opens a Christmas present early God kills a puppy.
https://www.getrichslowly.org/that%E2%80%99s-a-wrap-some-alternatives-to-traditional-gift-wrapping/
The people who kill the kittens are the ones who run over them because they’re too @#!$# self-absorbed to put down the phone and drive.

Kaytee
Kaytee
8 years ago
Reply to  Kaytee

Donna, I guess kittens and puppies just have big shiny targets painted on those little bodies. According to one of those cooking competition shows, everytime someone uses tongs on delicate fish, God kills a puppy.

Another Kate
Another Kate
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

I love Leo! I’m also a big fan of Dr. Richard Swenson’s books “Margin,” “The Overload Syndrome,” and “In Search of Balance.” (Note: Swenson is a Christian and writes about paring down life in order to focus on Christian values. I think people who aren’t Christians might still find them worth reading, but you should know going into the books what to expect.) I am increasingly interested in doing less and having less so I can invest more in what I see as truly important.

Wysteria
Wysteria
8 years ago

This is very topical for me today. This week I’ve commited to an Aikido class, two dance classes, making 20 pots of hand cream to sell to neighbors, working a full week with potential overtime at work, finding 4 jobs to apply for, fitting a half hour more of exercise into my day every day, updating my job search profiles, updating my writing blog twice, and ideally writing 1,000 words every day. I really can’t do all that. I might have a cold. I am, as yet, unwilling to drop any of these commitments. It’s a bit silly.

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  Wysteria

Just reading your comment makes me tired 😉 Good luck.

Trina
Trina
8 years ago
Reply to  Wysteria

Why are you doing all of that?

Cara
Cara
8 years ago
Reply to  Trina

I was wondering the same thing. When I decided to get serious about my writing and music practice, I dropped every other activity that didn’t directly help these two things. Blogging is for promoting my books, but I refuse to blog just to blog. I still run and cook to maintain my health, but streamline these whenever possible. I don’t knit or do crafts any more. I rarely shop, and never for recreation. I don’t do major DIY house projects. I even cut back my day job to part-time hours. And I make sure I have downtime in my schedule.… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Wysteria

At some point, the commitments will drop YOU. As in, you will collapse. It took me about 35 years of running around like an overscheduled chicken with its head off before I finally collapsed. But collapse I did. For extra credit, I felt a fair amount of shame for what I initially thought was “whining.” While I’m glad I was able to get so many things done, I would have enjoyed my life up to this point a little more if I hadn’t been stretched as taut as a fiddle string. Try to be realistic about your commitments. That “cold”… Read more »

Louise
Louise
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Donna and fellow readers, you may enjoy one of my favorite books of all time: Sabbath by Wayne Muller. It’s a beautiful and exquisite book on “Finding rest, renewal, and delight in our busy lives”. Overwork, mindless accumulation, and endless accomplishments are all forms of violence. Stop and rest. Be good to yourself.

Maddy Han
Maddy Han
8 years ago

A job interviewer once asked me how I multitask, and I responded ‘I don’t. Doing one thing at a time is better than doing a hundred things at a time.’ Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. It’s amazing, though, that when you pare down, you actually get everything done!

chacha1
chacha1
8 years ago
Reply to  Maddy Han

Good for you. I don’t multitask either. My job isn’t difficult or dangerous, but it requires attention paid to many small details, any of which (gotten wrong) can costs clients and the firm a lot of money.

One stupid little thing at a time, finish it, move on to the next stupid little thing.

Multitasking is splitting your attention, by definition – not always, or even usually, the best solution.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  chacha1

Multitasking is a useful life skill but it does fragment one’s attention and usually doesn’t lend itself to one’s best efforts.
Although I *am* rather proud of some of thwore k I did in my constantly fraught return-to-college days, producing work for MSN Money and dealing with all the other tasks described above while also turning out research papers and essays like “Effective Women’s History as the Basis for Subjectivity” and “Llévame al partido: El béisbol en Cuba.”

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Re above comment: See what happens when you’re thinking about lunch while you type? You spell words wrong! Should be “the work I did.”

Pamela
Pamela
8 years ago

Bowing to Donna–I have just decided to write you in for President in November. Or maybe Empress. Everything is easier when you build in extra time. This subject is very much on my mind on my sixth day without a car. I love riding my bike to work. I’m happy to ride my bike and cart to the grocery store or take the bus. But doing errands by bike takes me longer than it does by car. And with a full time job, two blogs, a 3 month old foster puppy from the SPCA, and all the other detritus of… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Pamela

How about “President Empress”?
I don’t have a car any longer and it does take time to do my errands on foot, or even by bus. (And since I live a mile or so from most of my errands, it feels stupid to take a bus.)
Wish I knew how to make more time in the day. If I do, I’ll start a second blog of my own.

OnABudget...Always
OnABudget...Always
8 years ago

When I start multitasking too much, I end up buying meals out instead of cooking, and buying what I initially find instead of shopping around for a better deal. I try to go slow and be “in the moment” for daily purchases as well. (Zen shopping…?) My life example was my 7th grade best friend’s grandma who took me shopping exactly once. She was the exact opposite of my supermom, and contemplated every last detail. She had such an effect on me.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

I once interviewed a PhD candidate who also worked. Her small condo was so cluttered that she found herself buying things she knew she owned but couldn’t find — and didn’t really have the time to look for them. Wow.

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

We had to buy a pill-box today. I swear I tore this house apart twice trying to find ours… at some point it just cost less to stop looking. And… having a pill-box is better for my health (since double-dosing Metformin is almost as bad as forgetting to take a dose).

Andrew
Andrew
8 years ago

Donna, you are the simile goddess!

“The ankle hurt like a tax audit” is good, but “landed on your kids like hot lead at the OK Corral” is even better.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Andrew

Your comment made me grin like a texting addict in a traffic jam. 😉

PB
PB
8 years ago

One sign of getting older — I am afraid of carrying my granddaughter down the stairs, although I don’t remember being afraid of doing the same thing with her father …

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  PB

Don’t carry her father down the stairs any more, either. He’s a lot heavier these days.

Jenna
Jenna
8 years ago

This post doesn’t really apply to me as I have already learned the hazards of multitasking. However, I just wanted to say how much I like Donna’s writing style. She is so funny! A few months ago she was writing about onions and referred to going back to the “cheaper weepers”. I still think that is hilarious, keep up the good work Donna!

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Jenna

[blushes, modestly draws toe across the ground — but cautiously, because that’s the bum ankle]
Hope your education of the hazards of multitasking didn’t involve the ER. Or onions.

Dallas+saver
Dallas+saver
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Such a great post. I feel like it is my anthem for this year. The stress of a job that requires way too much work is wearing me down. I have way too much to do and no way to get it all done, much less correctly. If I stay on this track no doubt I will have millions saved but my health, sanity and family would be iffy. I will take your witty post to heart.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Dallas+saver

Good call. What does it profit a man if he gains the financial world yet forfeits his stomach lining?

cc
cc
8 years ago

yikes, feel better soon donna!!

great post, too. i’ve been paring down my daily to-do list to only what i know i can reasonably accomplish. that way at the end of the day i’ve done a decent amount of work, concentrated on making it good, and have a list with all crossed-out items. high-score!

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  cc

Love, love, love the crossed-out list. Funny how the act of drawing a line through an item is like drawing a dagger across an enemy’s throat. (“My name is Donna Freedman. You killed my leisure. Prepare to die.”)

Ryan @ LifeFreshOut
Ryan @ LifeFreshOut
8 years ago

Great article. I realized this fact after being asked to get to work a little earlier since I had started to slip in late often. Once I left home early and stopped barrelling down the street, I noticed immediately that my gas mileage went up, I had fewer close calls with other drivers, and my overrall stress levels dropped significantly. All of these things had an impact on my finances that I never predicted.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

All those “other drivers” thank you, Ryan. As do those of us on foot who must dodge the distracted drivers zooming through lighted crosswalks.

Ash
Ash
8 years ago

Brilliant article and so true. As a teacher I was thinking about taking on a second job or doing summer/vacation work. I might be better off recharging my batteries and preparing some frugal freezer meals etc. When did life become so hard that we all need to supplement our main incomes to keep the wolf from the door?

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Ash

For some, life became hard when paychecks failed to keep pace with the cost of basic needs.
For plenty of others, life became hard when we decided we needed really expensive doors so that the wolf would have something pretty to look at before he forced his way in.

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Too true!

But on the other hand, starting a side business isn’t just about money — it’s about making a career transition. It’s scary to quit your day job to try something new so some people do both until they feel comfortable giving up that day job.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Beth

I wasn’t really addressing that segment of the job-and-a-half population. But the same advice applies: Right when you’re positioned to transition you may be so tired you can’t keep up the extra-herculean effort that working for yourself entails.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
8 years ago

I am horrible at multitasking, so I don’t even try. At the beginning of any given day, I usually have only one or two tasks lined up. If it’s a work day, my whole todo list might be “fix [some particular] bug”. That’s it. If I finish, I will either go home or pick another task, depending on how late it is. If there’s only one thing you’re even paying attention to, then it’s harder to get distracted. I still do get distracted by coworkers or emergencies or whatever else, but I get distracted far less often and have an… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago

Sounds like a good plan. I’m used to having multiple projects on the go, but I find that scheduling blocks of time to work on x, y or z helps keep me focussed. My job involves social media, so I find scheduling “breaks” to take care of it helps minimize the distraction.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Don’t answer any texts then, either, is my advice.

Quest
Quest
8 years ago

I’ve done my fair share of flying around like a blue arsed fly in the past and I hated it. I completely agree that it can and will end up costing money because there aren’t enough hours in the day anyway when one is dealing with a family/job/whatever and even less hours when one is disorganized. These days, I am consciously slower probably because I am older and wiser!

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Quest

Me, I’m slower because I have a bum ankle now. 🙁 But I’m also picking my spots more.
Yesterday I turned down TWO freelance opportunities, one of them a three-times-a-month gig, because I didn’t feel I could do them justice. And, yeah, because I’m still in my “if you don’t rest you will die” phase. More on that here:
http://www.donnafreedman.com/2011/10/22/heading-home-and-planning-to-stay-there/

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Donna, and everyone with “weak” ankles: I read that if you use your big toe to write the alphabet (after the ankle feels a whole lot better, that is!) it works all those little tiny muscles in the ankle. I’ve been doing that for a few years and have not had any more sprains. When I get bored with the alphabet, I conduct the band, spell out the name of my friends, numbers, my enemies (I run out fast there!), or whatever. It is also a pretty good way to bore yourself to sleep. Note: This will not prevent injury… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  SLCCOM

The ER doc recommended the same set of exercises. To prevent boredom I toss kanji and Cyrillic letters into the mix.
(No, I don’t.)

SF_UK
SF_UK
8 years ago
Reply to  SLCCOM

These are really good exercises! My mother was given them (with whole foot) to strengthen her muscles before a knee replacement. She really values her knees, so she did them religiously, even though her op was delayed 3 times because she had little infections. Both her surgeon and physio were amazed at how fast she recovered, and put it down to how well she had prepared her muscles to support the new joint.

kms98kms
kms98kms
8 years ago

I was once walking and reading on a pretty busy bike/running/walking path…Normally I am pretty good about paying attention (well sort of) while walking and reading, but my foot slipped off the path and I heard my ankle pop. The sprain was so bad I needed physical therapy to put it back to sorts. Its never been the same, and shockingly I don’t walk and read any more….

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  kms98kms

Ow. That hurt, even vicariously.
You’re also lucky you weren’t run down by some numbskull who was biking and texting.

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
8 years ago
Reply to  kms98kms

Big toe alphabet exercises, see above comment.

Jenny
Jenny
8 years ago

One Christmas Eve, I was running around my house like a crazy person trying to get the house picked up for my family that was due to arrive that evening. During all of this, my brother sent me a text message, and I of course I decided the best time to read said text message was while I was walking down the stairs. One sprained ankle later, while sitting on the couch with ice and an elevated foot, I realized that a perfectly clean house is not worth injuring yourself for. Great post, and very relevant! While I doubt everyone… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Jenny

I no longer underestimate people’s delusions about their ability to multitask. I read an article about texting-related injuries and one was from a guy who was texting while ROLLER-BLADING.
And please keep me away from the folks who say in all earnestness that THEY can safely text (and read texts) while driving. I just want one smack at each of them.

Terry
Terry
8 years ago

I can feel your pain! I hurt my knee while playing tennis with my boys. I could barely walk afterwards. I’m convinced that pain is how life tries to teach us valuable lessons. We may forget is when people warn us not to do things, but we never forget the pain of an injury. About the same time that I hurt my knee, a friend gave me a copy of the book “The Alchemist.” It inspired me because the story shows how seemingly random accidents can lead us to find our destiny. Here is a link to my video review… Read more »

Me
Me
8 years ago

You’re right about no “do-overs”. I was recently diagnosed with cancer and two weeks ago received notice my job was being terminated. Now we are finding ourselves digging even deeper into our savings for living expenses after we already went deep for my medical bills. It is these two hard lessons that made me proud more than ever we had my husband stay at home with our son. Because he was at home, he was able to take care of me and travel with me to another city for my treatment. I appreciate about your honesty with the “stupid tax”.… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Me

I hope the treatments weren’t too debilitating, and that you are fully recovered. How wonderful that your husband was able to be there for you.
And the point of outing myself as, well, stupid is that perhaps my bonehead moves will become other people’s object lessons, i.e., “Do this, not that.”

Dogs or Dollars
Dogs or Dollars
8 years ago

I was wondering about the damn dog from the beginning. Thanks for closing with that. 🙂

Yes, the forced march has become the norm. How sad is that? You have to hustle more and live life in the margins just to have a chance of quitting your day job. Figuring out how to throttle back, how to occupy my own life, that’s what I’m thinking about when I walk down the stairs. Event hough I shouldn’t…

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago

While still living in Alaska I took part in the Media Sled Dog Race, driving a three-dog team on a two-mile course. “Never let go of the sled,” we were told, because the dogs, maddened by the joy of running, probably wouldn’t stop until then got to Los Angeles. The area near the finish line was very rutted. The sled I was driving hit the ruts just right (wrong) and it tipped over. I was pulled across the finish line face-down, but I never let go of the sled. Still got the trophy. And the sense of relief that my… Read more »

Bella
Bella
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Having actualyl dogsledded before this is a hilarious (and a little frightening) image. It is so true – those dogs just go and go and go….

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Bella

When others finally grabbed the sled and stopped the dogs, I looked up and saw the race organizer running toward me. Written on his face in capital letters was concern, i.e., “Oh my god she’s gonna sue us…”
Sometimes I wonder if the description of that race was what convinced the “Jeopardy!” producers to call me after I took the test. In fact, Mr. Trebek did ask me to talk about the race on the air. And yeah, I copped to being dragged across the finish line on my face. Good times!

Tall Bill
Tall Bill
8 years ago

Great Reminder!!!

Kelly
Kelly
8 years ago

I read this article-and cried. It was like you were right there with your hand on my shoulder, speaking these words. My life has been very similar to yours these past couple of years, minus the writing but adding a disabled-but helpful and loving significant other-and two kids. The past several months in particular have been especially grueling. I have been in panic mode ever since I got laid off. Just didn’t really acknowledge it until I read your article. Thank you for finding the time to write it.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Kelly

Good grief, Kelly! Any of those items — kids, disability, layoff — would be challenging on their own. Put them all together and they spell “arrggghhh!” You’re doing well to hold it all together. As a mom you probably tend to put yourself dead last on the list. As the primary breadwinner, well, you end up in the sub-basement of the list. And being a primary breadwinner who has a disabled spouse is a situation that carries a very special set of pressures. (My daughter, who blogs at IPickUpPennies.net, would understand. She and her husband both have chronic illnesses. She… Read more »

brooklyn money
brooklyn money
8 years ago

Donna I really like this article. I feel like the same can be said for consumption. When you cram too many experiences or new “things” into your life at once, you don’t have the time to savor them and fully appreciate their value.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  brooklyn money

I agree. One of the things that may have helped keep me afloat all those years is that my tastes are fairly minimal, i.e., I have fewer things to take care of and I don’t give a rip what I eat or what I wear. If I’d had to add in gourmet cooking, trips to the dry cleaner and the dusting of thousands of collectibles, I might well have gone under.
And boy, do I enjoy the occasional terrific meal after my usual one-pot-glop theory of cooking.

Cat
Cat
8 years ago

Donna – as always, fantastic article. I love your sense of humour. I’ll have to write about the word “woolgathering” on my blog sometime.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Cat

It’s a word that doesn’t get used often enough, if you ask me.

adrian
adrian
8 years ago

That is good advice. I am the multitasking queen. I even named my blog AdriansCrazyLife.com because I was so prouud of always going in 9 directions with my hair on fire. But it gets old after a while. You can’t enjoy things because you are always thinking of the next 3 things on your to do list. Not going to g cold turkey, but am definitely going to pay more attention and at least slow down a bit. I don’t wanna end up in a hospital.

Debra F
Debra F
8 years ago

So glad to see a PF writer NOT encouraging everyone to get a side hustle. I have learnt that I can’t multi task, my brain is just not wired that way. Also I have found if I have too much on my plate I tend to get a mild case of depression. So I have had to learn to cut out things that aren’t important to focus on the things that are.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Debra F

To thine ownself be true, etc. There may be ways around the money gaps if you aren’t too exhausted (and depressed!) to look for and achieve them.

Laura
Laura
8 years ago

I am printing Donna’s post and framing it in my office. 🙂 Seriously, you are absolutely spot on. I just had a choice of two work assignments: continue admin support for 4 supervisors and their groups at 40 hours/week, or switch to 3 supervisors and their groups at 35 hours/week. I’m paid hourly (and well), so the loss of 5 hours is in the ballpark of $90/week. But ever since I took the 40 h/wk position, our budget for eating out has skyrocketed, I’m overwhelmed, my family is unhappy that I’m not home till late, and the less said about… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Funny how “five hours” can morph into “five hours plus whatever it takes to get everything done.”
Any chance you can switch to the 35-hour-per-week one?

Laura
Laura
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Urf, this is what I get for commenting while tired… I’ve been working the 40 hours supporting 4 bosses + their groups for the last 4 months (yeah, I know, 40-4-4, it’s weird). The choice to go for either 40/4 or 35/3 just came up, starting in January, and I opted for the 35/3. So next month, I *do* drop 5 hours/week. It’ll be less pay but more time. Time really does = money. 🙂

Suzanne
Suzanne
8 years ago

Enjoyed this article, reminded me how grateful I am that I like to slow down too!

honeybee
honeybee
8 years ago

Held onto the dog AND SAVED DOZENS OF TODDLERS!! Jeez, credit where credit is due…

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  honeybee

Well, somebody has to save the world, right? And once I get my “Simile Queen” belt with the grappling hook, I will be INVINCIBLE! (As long as I remember the Ace bandage for my right foot.)

Hillary
Hillary
8 years ago

I always find myself saying,”I could do more. I’ll just add another five or twenty-two things to the list. I’m just lazy.” I get home from work and grab my to-do list. I get a load of laundry started and immediately move to finish up that spreadsheet I need tomorrow morning for work. Then it’s time for dinner and, after that, cleaning the kitchen. I might as well get the vacuum out too. It will only take a minute. And hey, I should really outline that proposal for my online business while I have the time. In the middle of… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  Hillary

“The next morning, I find that damp load of clothes sitting in my washer and I have no pants for work.” I guess that would work only for REALLY casual Friday. But it illustrates the kind of life that many of us lead: one with zero down time. From the time you get up until the time you collapse into bed we’re always ON. You can live like that for quite a while. You’ll get a lot done. But ultimately, you will likely either get sick or just miss out on a lot of lovely stuff, or both. Full disclosure:… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Pants are the worst thing about having to go into the office.

shash
shash
8 years ago

I think this article is very timely considering how the holidays amp up many people’s “to do” lists. Although I still take on way too much, I have stopped multi-tasking as much as possible– even in my day job where the culture is to do everything yesterday. And, overall, I do make myself slow down. Shockingly, with this practice, I get more done and am a lot happier! One of my big wake up moments did not cost me money, but made me re-evaluate my need to hurry. . . falling on the subway tracks will do that to you.… Read more »

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
8 years ago
Reply to  shash

And to you too! Perhaps this should be our holiday song (sung to the theme of “Let It Snow,” if you must):
Well, the culture at large says “Do more!”
Is it good for us? Not so sure…
All wound up, too many places to go
Take it slow! Take it slow! Take it slow!

shash
shash
8 years ago
Reply to  Donna Freedman

Hah! I LOVE that!

Matt, Tao of Unfear
Matt, Tao of Unfear
8 years ago

You know how I keep the wolf from the door? With a couple of guns. *flexes* Just kidding. I’ve been running nonstop–figuratively–since I lost my job. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. I’ve started keeping an “already done list” instead of a “to do list” because my problem is not giving myself enough credit for all of the stuff I manage to cram into a single day. With response to running to catch the bus, I don’t think anything could have stopped me from doing that while I was still working an office job. Between the commute and… Read more »

Bella
Bella
8 years ago

Between sleep and getting ready for work, another 10 hours or so were wasted
I love that you list time spent sleeping as wasted – reality check – your body needs a certain amount of sleep!

Matt, Tao of Unfear
Matt, Tao of Unfear
8 years ago
Reply to  Bella

Haha. I meant the time getting ready for work was wasted. If I wasn’t a strict 8-9 hours of sleep a night kind of person, then I would have had plenty of time to do things. 🙂

Ro in San Diego
Ro in San Diego
8 years ago

This article spoke to me also. I have recently stepped up my gym visits to counteract the climbing scale numbers. Today I got home all in a rush and decided – no – my husband seemed to want some company so instead of rushing off to the gym I sat down to a leisurely dinner which we both prepared together and thoroughly enjoyed. The fast food I brought home with me tonight will be husband’s lunch tomorrow. It really does pay to slow down sometimes. Well, I still have to go to the gym but I didn’t need to go… Read more »

G Jane
G Jane
8 years ago

I never comment on articles, but I just had to say that you’re writing style is fantastic!! Perfect amounts of hilarity while making very clear (and important!) points. I will take extra note when I see you’re name on future posts! You’re message was a great one to hear, and it’s something that I’m constantly battling with myself over. In HS, I was the girl who was in ALL the extra curricular activities – and that type of “experience everything” mentality has never stopped. Life is short, right? But I also recognize that when I come back from a particularly… Read more »

Paula+@+Afford Anything
[email protected]+Afford Anything
8 years ago

“the ankle hurt like a tax audit.” — awesome phrase, Donna. Awesome.

Makes me want to avoid injuries AND audits 🙂

Which brings to mind another “stupid tax” — don’t fudge your taxes for the sake of saving a few bucks, and raise a red flag. Your tax audit will hurt like a twisted ankle.

Mitford
Mitford
8 years ago

Enjoyed this…Thanks and Merry Christmas.

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