Tag: stress

Keeping Calm When Plans Change

Most of the time I can deal with stressful situations. I haven’t done so well over the last 48 hours.

I am a planner. I can’t help it. I am usually thinking and planning three steps ahead. Sometimes it’s a curse. So when my plans become scrambled up, it can seriously throw me off.

I thought I had the next three weeks figured out but a sudden change in my dad’s health turned all of that upside down. You can’t plan on some things and I was ill-prepared for this one. With the calming help of my wife we were able to make the immediate necessary changes.

Let me tell you that work makes me mad. I don’t love my job but I like what I do and I am good at it most of the time. It made me mad because work has to take up so much of our lives. I hate that but it is the necessary evil of life. You have to work to pay for things but it never seems to be enough. Work is not the most important thing in life but we are so damn dependent on it.

I like being prepared. This time I am not and it is freaking me out a little. I have to keep hitting my mental reset button and keep focused on the current thing in front of me. Just this morning on the drive to work I was thinking about all the changes I needed to make and had to remind myself to remember that at the moment I was driving and I needed to do that before I move on to the next thing. I couldn’t think about tomorrow or the next day or my plans next week yet. At that moment I just needed to drive safely to work.

Being rattled isn’t the norm for me. I have been calm in the moments of being fussed at by judges or attorneys on my job while maintaining my nerves.

The dynamics of this situation are different. I won’t go into details but emotions are affected as well as changes in schedule. I suppose it’s easier to remain calm during a benign situation at work rather than one that involves more.

The two things that have been working are having someone to help you through it and doing one thing at a time. My wife has been awesome at helping me and even taking some of the planning off of me. I think sometimes I have to do it all but I’m learning that it’s okay to ask for help. I have also just tried to keep the next thing in front of me. Don’t get swarmed with future scenarios and trying to resolve those issues before they possibly happen.

I said that I’m learning this. I’m not good at it yet. It’s a very difficult thing for me but I’m having a chance to learn.

If you’re panicking about a situation, take my advice and keep calm. Focus on the thing that is before you at the moment. Don’t stress yourself about looking ahead. You’ll get there but you have to take care of this first.


Grounding The Ball In Real Life

243In football when a team is out of timeouts, the quarterback will take the snap and throw the ball to the ground.  They call it “grounding the ball” and “killing the clock”.  It’s a method they use to conserve time late in the game.

It’s too bad this doesn’t work in real life.  I could have used it today.

This morning the clock was ticking.  I had to be some place at a precise time.  The clock on the GPS was not in my favor and the traffic was jamming at places it normally doesn’t jam as much.  I called an audible and took another route.  It was a gamble.  Did I know where I was going?  Sort of.  I wasn’t completely sure I would save time.  I knew I was going in the right direction and relied on the GPS hoping it wasn’t simply re-routing me back to the same way I came.  It worked but the clock was still ticking.  When that clock is ticking, every light and traffic moves ahead of you are stressful situations.

I needed to ground the ball.

“Why is this person going so slow?”

“Go!  The light has turned green one second ago!”

“I’m not going to make it!”

Anyone that knows me know I hate to be late for anything.  I would rather be early and wait.  I don’t like for people to have to wait on me.  That’s just how I am.  Days like today happen but I’m not very fond of them.

Did I make it?

The clock was ticking.  I needed to ground the ball.  With ten minutes left I could see my office building but there were still some tricky traffic maneuvers I had to make to get there.

There was dreaded light at Division Street where it has a green left turn arrow but if the cars ahead of you are going straight you have to wait.  Stupid design.  I missed the arrow and had to sit in the intersection to wait for an opening to turn.  I scanned the defense – I mean – the oncoming cars.   Suddenly a break.  Accelerate!  I made it.

Now rolling down a side street that is a shortcut to my office parking lot.  But wait…the car on another street is attempting a rolling stop to get in front of me.  Not today ma’am.  I speed up to cut them off and make them stop.  Don’t need anyone in front of me now!

Tick, tick, tick.

I roll into the parking lot.  Now I have to go to the stupid parking machine to pay for my spot.  Could this machine BE any slower?  What kind of printer do they have in these things?

I’m waiting for my parking ticket to print out.  I have no timeouts left and have no time for any delays now.

I rushed to the building.  Flash my card and the guard stops me.  He has to see my I.D.  Seriously?  Today?

Okay, there.  I come through this door EVERY day.  He verifies me once again.  I’m in the building.

Tick, tick, tick.

I walk double-time to catch the elevator and race to where I needed to be right on time!  Whew!  Made it.

I really need that “grounding” rule on days like today.



Litigation Support On Call


One thing you can count on with litigation support is that you don’t always know how your day is going to flow.  There are some days that you can simply throw your schedule in the trash can.

To be sure, the one thing you can’t control is the lack of someone else to plan ahead.

I was reminded of that lesson this week.

Yes, this week.  The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day which is usually supposed to be the “slow” week.

I came in one morning and was working on a few projects when I got an urgent call that an attorney who needed to play a video in a court hearing.   It was 10 a.m. and the hearing was set for 10:30 a.m.   The courtroom, of course, had no presentation equipment so I got my cart that I keep ready for these situations and wheeled it down the hallway along with a projection screen.

I also pulled out my emergency necktie and sport coat and raced off to court.  It’s a good thing I keep those nearby.  I can’t say that everything matched but I was presentable and met the dress code for being in the courtroom with the attorney.

I quickly set up the projector and screen.  The attorney brought in the laptop and I had everything ready to go within 10 minutes.

Although I get annoyed with the lack of planning by others in situations like this, I know this is part of the job will never change.  The best thing you can do is be prepared for this to happen.  I was glad that I had the equipment on a cart and was ready for these contingencies.  After over 20 years doing this, you have to be ready.

Here’s what’s on my cart:

  • Projector with adjustable lenses (because you just don’t know what the projection angles will be)
  • Remote Control for projector
  • VGA cables with audio
  • Extension Cord
  • Cord covers/gaffer’s tape
  • Laptop power adapter (attorneys usually forget them)
  • Portable projection screen

In addition to the equipment items, I usually keep a few sport coats hanging on the back of my door and a neck tie in my bag that match my clothes I’m wearing that day.

As far as the court hearing goes, the video played without a hitch and no one knew the anxious moments leading up to the video being played.