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How to "Do You" When There's Too Much to Do



Hey, hey - I hope you're doing ok! I’m Andrea Griffith, a.k.a. AG, a very busy TV executive trying to juggle a packed production schedule with raising a family. A few years ago, I started applying my skills as a lifestyle TV producer to my own lifestyle. A little convenient, but superbly effective. I’ve been making observations about what I do when I’m producing hit shows and transferring what works (at work) to home. I’m documenting my process and what I’m learning in hopes that sharing my journey might help you.

I said this recently in a text to a friend – this newsletter is my way of encouraging myself to be myself. I was surprised at how true it felt when I pressed send. Thank you sooooooo much for hangin’!

I’m fully aware that I can present as PollyAndrea - chipper, positive, always looking for a laugh. God help you if you’re ever in an elevator with me. But I’ve got range! I love my alone time. I get my crank on like the best of us.

I’m not about toxic positivity or sharing only happy face. Leaning into the light works for me. And when it doesn’t, I don’t.

Most mornings, I turn on my inner flashlight because it feels like I’m honouring my true self. Second reason, since I’m looking in, it’s because my schedule is tighter than a pair of yoga pants.

Between being a hockey Mom, a “How was your day?” Mom, a wife, the family chef, the family booker, a TV exec, an advocate for diversity and equity, AND a writer, my calendar is stacked. If I don’t walk into my day with a beam of light inside and out, I will start paper bag breathing and succumb to the stress.

Being light helps me stay afloat when I’m feeling overwhelmed. It’ll get done. The swell will pass.

This post is all about how I’m trying to fit in what matters to me when the to-do list is alarm bell long.

Next, rundown!

  • 1 IDEA – How to “Do You” When There’s Too Much To Do

  • 2 YESCESSARIES – Two Tips on How I Get My Sugar Together

  • My YES-ESSENTIALS – Links to What I’m Loving Right Now

Sample, scroll, click in any order. Here we GO!

 

1 IDEA – How to “Do You” When There’s Too Much To Do

I’m no longer proving myself. I’m enjoying myself.

This is my newest affirmation. T-shirt worthy, if I may. I’m applying to both work and home. Big emphasis on joy.

I use the Notes feature in my phone for lists. I’ve done away with paper lists unless it’s something immediate like groceries or a keepsake like my Christmas notebook. Maybe I’m late to the Cloud club, but phone notes are my hallelujah. I can refer to them months later, change the priority, and still tick “done.” The scariest list of all is my running “We shoulds”. This is where I keep the family/home to-dos.

Friends, I’m going to show you something. It’s either scary, familiar (equally scary), or completely foreign to you.

Maybe you have a longer list? Maybe you don’t have a list at all. Maybe your partner is the keeper of a list like this, and you’ve never seen it? Maybe it’s all in your head. How?

Putting in my pass code folks. This was legit our list for April. Wait! May. Much of this just crept into June…

  • Find weeknight/weekend swimming N & AG

  • Sign up O for House League

  • Sign up N for hockey summer camp

  • Order N’s team’s tearaway pants

  • Research/book new acupuncture

  • Email/Call Sunlife

  • Transfer RRSPs

  • Find ERRSP from Lou

  • Fix printer!!!!!!

  • New system for tax/work receipts 2023

  • Clean bedroom office

  • Go through papers in basement

  • Reorg basement

  • Find outdoor plate set somewhere in basement

  • Reduce Christmas decorations

  • Find patio lights for backyard

  • Go through N’s summer clothes – reduce

  • Switch over spring/summer clothes AG

  • Switch kids spring/summer clothes

  • Donate clothes/shoes, etc

  • Find new swim trunks O

  • Summer shoes O & N

  • Sandals O & N

  • New trainers AG

  • Find raincoat N

  • Book doc appt

  • Book hair trim O

  • Book AG hair appt before conference

  • Figure out wardrobe for conference

  • Pack for O’s overnight trip

  • Find rain pants, sleeping bag for O (trip)

  • Three bday parties this weekend - find/buy gifts

  • N to write three bday cards

  • Send thank you photo from bday party

  • Sign waiver Treetop Trekking

  • O passport renewal

  • Revise bio Linkedin

  • Research board of directors postings

  • Plan vacation September

  • Buy plants for garden/get Black Earth

  • Clean eavestroughs

  • Fix rainwater basin (broken)

  • Fix closet (rod broken)

  • Figure out Shaw Everywhere (WT..?)

This is what I’m willing to show you! This doesn’t include TV exec work. This doesn’t include the labour of love of writing/posting this newsletter. Also not included: groceries, meal plans, lunches, practices, games, those good ol’ time sucks we call chores.

Firstly, gratitude. What a bountiful list! Our lives are brimming, interesting, safe, healthy, blessed, and if I look again, a little bougee. No one knows that more than I do! I’m the daughter of Black immigrants who came to Canada with hope and tenacious accents. We had a two bedroom apartment, loads of ambition, too much discipline, and cans of Chef Boyardee for lunch. My life is my parents’ and my dream come true.

Gratitude aside - the list could do with an anti-inflammatory.

I will come back to the unchecked boxes and how we get ‘er done in a future post, but first I’m staying true to my method of prioritizing.

How do I fit in my yescessaries when there is so much to do?

How do I (a working Mom) have a life in this life?

I took myself for a long walk one night a few weeks ago with these very questions in my head. I was feeling the pressure. It felt like I was failing at what I’ve set out to do.

AG aside – I don’t usually subscribe to using the ‘f’ word. Fail is too hard. It’s too judgmental. As Nelson Mandela once said – “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” But for a spell last month, I felt that I didn’t make good on my promise to myself to carve out time for my soul-quenching, soul-supporting activities. So many glorious things happened in April and May, but these months haven’t been balanced. Hence, feeling like a big, all caps ‘f’ word.

For a refresher (or those new to the newsletter) Yescessary is my approach to lifestyle. A yescessary is what I do for myself to feel calmer, more balanced, nourished and/or enriched. It’s a preferred practice or an activity that connects me to my deeper self.

Though I’m all about the rubs, creams and ‘cures, yescessaries are beyond self-care, they’re soul-care.

I believe that making time for and prioritizing my yescessaries is the key to powering my inner flashlight. Yescessaries give my deeper self energy. They bring me joy.

I asked myself questions like these to identify what works for me:

  • What healthy activities are my stress relievers?

  • What activity, ritual, practice causes me stress if I don’t engage in it?

  • What activity can I do for a good spell that lights me up inside?

  • What brings me joy?

  • What energizes me?

  • What activity am I grateful for?

  • What do I know I need to do for myself that I’m struggling to find time for?

Now, I do them. Most importantly, this self-identification exercise gave me the courage to speak up. I say what I need in my life OUT LOUD to my family. They help me uphold.

I figured something out on that walk. In producing, we use our gut instincts a lot, but we also use metrics. Does it meet our checklist? Did we follow all the feedback from the broadcaster? What are we predicting in ratings? How did it rate? How many integration dollars will/did this series bring in? We measure.

Even though I’m committed to doing what feeds my soul, I realized I didn't have a tactic to measure. I know I did them, but did I do them as often as I could? Did I do them daily? I sure didn’t feel like it last month.

What would happen if I could quantify, not qualify my yescessaries?

Imagine me rubbing my hands together in glee because I cracked it!

Even when life is jammed, I feel most balanced when I tend to these three zones:

Head – Engages me mentally/cognitively.

Heart – Fills me with passion and delight.

Body – Supports and/or strengthens my body physically.

I decided that if I did one thing from each zone a day, that would be a win for me. And If I didn’t, well, there's always tomorrow.

I organized my top yescessaries like this:

Head - Meditating. Reading. Swimming.

Heart - Writing. Family Time. Sitting by water. Farmers’ Markets.

Body - Walking. Working out. Stretching.

I encourage you to try it!

First: list your yescessaries. Try to have at least six. Too many yeses is a bit frosh week. Let’s cap at your top 10.

Categorize what works for you on a deep level under these “zones”:

Head -

Heart -

Body -

If you see that you’re light on one, give it some thought and seek to fill it. This is the core of feeling balanced. We want equal weight and we want to tend to all three.

Where you put your yescessaries is fully up to you! Notice I put swimming under Head. That’s because I learned to swim very late in life. Each stroke and breath are an act of reinvention. I’m not the little girl sitting on the side, watching. It's hands down my favourite thing I do for myself. I shamelessly fist pump and roar after every swim like I’m in a WWE Smackdown. For real.

Also, to note, I didn’t add any minimum times i.e. meditate for ten minutes. Nah. Soft. If I meditate for three minutes or five - win.

And this is LIFE. There will be days that are pure drudgery and that’s what that day is. There will be all-in days where there is no “me” time like a packed day at a conference or a day at an amusement park. I bet if you apply this metric, the rewarding days are because you hit Head, Heart, Body. You just touched on them differently than usual.

If you’re not feeling particularly introspective at this moment and don’t want to dig in on your yescessaries, don’t worry! Try Head, Heart, Body anyway. I encourage you to walk into your next few days thinking about how you can tend to all three zones. This level of awareness and intent has changed so much for me.

Guess what? I wasn’t failing! I was being too hard on myself. Big surprise. In my head, if I didn’t do an hour and half at the gym, then I wasn’t exercising. No more of that. I’m lighter. Looser. I can’t make it to the gym three times a week right now so, I jam in a short walk instead. That counts!

The beauty of the Head, Heart Body metric is that I feel the quality of my days more. I feel more energized and empowered to delegate the snot out of that list because I know I tended to myself. I am hitting this epiphany in under 2000 words, but I can’t emphasize enough what an utterly, life-changing redirect this is. I made a radical change to the boxes that I tick each day.

I thought Head, Heart, Body might be interesting and could help you as you navigate your bountiful life and to carve out precious time to “Do You.”

Enjoy!

 

2 YECESSARIES – Two Tips on How I Get My Sugar Together

This is the section where I share what I have scribbled in my Idea Log over the years. This is what works for me and my family and I’m ready to share. ROCK A SUMMER UNIFORM


I came up with a summer uniform out of necessity. When my daughter played outdoor soccer, I would race in from work around 6:00 pm and had to boot it to practice for 6:30 pm. I would dash up the stairs, rip off my work clothes and slide into what I call my uniform a white cotton Oxford shirt and jean shorts. Then we’d hustle out the door with the trio - soccer bag, ball, water bottle. I was in and out in about seven minutes.

Now that she’s chosen hockey over soccer, the weeknight practice rush is more about bundling up for the arena. But when I’m pressed for time, I still opt for the summer uniform! Preppy, but functional - white button shirt, jean shorts. White reflects the sun, I tend to choose lightweight, and I don’t even iron. Shhhhh. My mom will buy me spray starch if that gets back to her. START SOAPY WATER


I’m pretty sure Step was the one who put the bucket out for “Soapy Water,” so this lightbulb is all his.

Like kids like to get dirty when they play. Even now that they’re older, they still like a muddy, mucky, sand in their pockets fix.

Instead of having my darling dirt magnets come inside to wash up, we fill a bowl or bucket with water and a couple squeezes of soap. We have some old towels for spills and dirty jobs, so we yank out one of those. The kids get cleaned up and the dirt stays outside. Simple.

It works for me, too. If I know I’m going to be in the garden for a spell, I get the Soapy Water ready first. Why bring all the muck inside, when I can pour the bucket outside and enter with clean(ish) hands? Game. Changer.

If anyone has a suggestion for a better name, lay it on me. Soapy Water sounds like a cover band.

 

MY YES-ESSENTIALS – Links to What I’m Digging These Days!

PIT STOP: I switched to the natural stuff over ten years ago and haven’t looked back. But on long meeting days or if I were presenting, I used to reach for those reliable brand names that rhyme with Love or Bitchum. I'm so happy this one passes my stress test.

CURL UP: I’ve just started finger coiling the kids’ hair and then drying with the diffuser. Say what? Best curls yet. And they last!

Q THIS: Fellow beef eaters, let me hook you up. Try picanha, an affordable Brazilian cut from the top sirloin cap. Your butcher knows. Salt it good. Grill it whole. Beautiful shaved steak leftovers for sandwiches. Num num.

WEARING: I don’t have long hair, so I have earring game instead. Staying on point with this local brand.

READ: I use the term “bountiful life” in this post, but the other great descriptor (and feeling I'm chasing) is fulfilled. This article really resonated with me.

GUT CHECK: It was my friend, Kelly, who blew my mind with this helpful nugget. I don’t eat bread often because gluten makes me faire dodo, but sourdough (hello?) is low in gluten.

TRY: A bite of this choco for an after dinner treat. Divine.

COOK: Jocelyn’s Grandbaby Cakes site is one of my go-to’s for recipes. African Jollof Rice is the perfect flavoured rice. I go heavy on the ginger. Total contender for the Jollof Wars!

That’s it for now. Really chuffed that you came for a spell. Fist bump. Holding on the roar. For now. Thanks so much for reading!

I hope you have a wonderful week that’s full and fulfilling and that you manage to carve out time for what’s yescessary.


Back soon!




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