I had an epiphany at work yesterday.
I was scurrying around trying to manage a major action item while mentally keeping track of a host of smaller action items. Periodically (as it happens every day) I would suddenly get a question about a particular item from someone else: "What about this particular issue? How do I address it?"
As I continued to whirl through the day and came to the end, I was once again overwhelmed by the fact that I had seemingly accomplished nothing while others had successfully moved single items off their plate. I felt extremely depressed about this - once again, look how much I had failed - and then the epiphany came.
These individuals are only working on small amounts of things at a time.
They have the time and effort to address one thing and then another because the scope of what they do is overall smaller. They can dedicate 4 hours to resolving a document because they do not have 40 other things that must also be accomplished at the same time and have the same (or greater urgency).
It was not the fact that I could not do it; it was the fact that I am responsible for doing far more.
This was a comforting thought - even (dare I say) an empowering one. Does it mean that this solves all my issues? Not at all. I still need to learn to prioritize better. I still need to practice the art of delegation more actively. I still need to learn to lead better, work more effectively and be more focused.
But what it does mean to me is that if only I can figure my way through this, I can come out of the other side a far better worker - perhaps even a better person. For to learn to accomplish important things simultaneously in the past is the mark of someone who can do such things - for himself or others - in the future.