I’m sometimes asked if I don’t occasionally feel overwhelmed and overextended — with so many projects demanding my immediate attention, so many people to see, places to go and tasks to complete. (An avalanche comes to mind.)

Well…no, I don’t. Not really. Rushed, certainly. But not overwhelmed.

That’s because everything is compartmentalized into individual areas to be addressed, some one at a time, others logically clumped together. It can take years to find that balance — or a mere moment of intense awareness. It all depends on how well you’re paying attention and how eager you are to see things evolve. Once I’d gained my own footing and put my assignments into a sequential formation, it became instinctive, automatic.

Here’s what I learned along the way: Life is full of stages, some leisurely and untroubled, others unapologetically frenetic. Don’t wish yourself out of frenetic too quickly. If you don’t absorb its lessons the first time around, you’ll wind up retracing some steps.

You are not wasting as much time as you think. Don’t beat yourself up for not learning/progressing faster. Soon you will. And meanwhile, never scold yourself for sitting on the porch with a glass of wine. You not only need reflective pauses between those spurts; you deserve them.

Relationships can wear out. If their maintenance becomes too draining, the finger-pointing too frequent, you must look elsewhere. Cut loose quickly anyone who continually drains your time and energy without providing anything stimulating in return.

Find dignity in every accomplishment, and not just your own. Study others who take on far less “rewarding” enterprises. A superb waitress who juggles six tables and makes everyone feel special creates more goodwill in one day than many well-paid “professionals” whose jobs I won’t name do in a month. Laud trash collectors, for example. They provide a swift, reliable and essential service, yet their work tends to be invisible. Until, that is, they miss a day.

Never say things like, “I probably won’t live long enough to complete my entire To Do list.” You have a responsibility to take good enough care of yourself to make everything that’s vital happen in reasonable time. Will you get here? You will if you choose to.

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