I’ve never used a batting cage, but I’ve watched people doing it – mostly in movies, I admit. There seems to be a stock joke where the pitching machine gradually speeds up till the poor batter is swinging wildly, simply trying not to get hit by the balls being spit out one after the next.
Lately, my life has been feeling a bit like that: things needing to be done are coming at me faster than they ever have, and it feels as though I’ve no sooner finished one task, than another (and another and another) have appeared on the horizon.
I suspect I’m not alone in this. So, in the interests of helping myself and others stay focused and not fall into the swinging-wildly-so-as-not-to-get-hit mentality, here are some approaches I’ve found helpful:
Take time off. This may seem counter-intuitive, but I’m finding downtime even more essential as my life speeds up. To watch a TV show, go to the gym, do Sudoku, sit on the deck with my beloved and watch the sun set…all these things are relaxing and rejuvenating – and even though the balls-to-be-hit may be building up whilst I’m resting, I’m better equipped to hit them out of the park when I come back.
Take one at a time. When there are a zillion things to be done, it’s easy to look at the whole list and feel completely overwhelmed. But really, you can only attend to one thing at any given moment – I often remind myself that I wrote my books one page at a time; that we created our garden one plant at a time. I just need to hit each ball as it comes over the plate. Which brings me to my third piece of advice…
Take the time to do it right. The ‘punch line’ of the visual batting cage slapstick is the person swinging madly, missing everything, getting beaned with ball after ball. I’ve found it’s even more important than usual to stay focused when things are moving fast: I attend to doing things as quickly as I can, while still doing them well. It’s a fine line, a middle path, a key discipline: mono-focus, hit that ball right on the seams and immediately get ready for the next one.
And after a day of that, I definitely need some deck-sitting…