Stress Boxes

Stress Boxes

I found a perfect analogy to what creates stress in my life.

It is always difficult for me to explain to people what is creating stress in my life, but I think I have found the perfect way to explain it that anyone can understand.

With all my studying of Buddhism and my "at ease" way of thinking, I still manage to acquire stress that I have difficulty dealing with. Part of the problem is that I have the attitude: "No excuses. Just get it done. Nobody wants to hear excuses, they just want to get results. Don't provide excuses. Just provide results."

It gets even worse when I have tried to explain to people why I am stressed when I am stressed. It just sounds like a bunch of excuses instead of a bunch of results.

This analogy to my stress problems just came to me all of a sudden, and it comes from the way gets its orders out the door.

Let's say I'm in a room and my job is to fill boxes and ship them out. Somebody places empty boxes in my room. Inside each box is a piece of paper. The paper tells me what to put in the box and who to ship it to.

I fill each box with the requested items and ship them out to the person listed on the paper.

As long as I can fill the boxes and have them ready for shipping by the time the UPS driver arrives by the end of the day, I'm doing great!

But one day, there are so many boxes that I have 4 that I haven't filled when the UPS driver arrives to take them away. I'm not too concerned as I know that filling and shipping them out tomorrow will still be OK.

However, tomorrow comes and there are so many boxes that not only do I not get a chance to work on the 4 from yesterday, but I have 4 more that I didn't have time to fill by the time the UPS driver arrives to take them away. Now I have 8 empty boxes that need to be filled and be sent out!

As the days go by, I find the boxes piling up: 12, 16, 20, etc. It isn't the backlog itself that gives me stress, but the piling up of the backlog. If I had a backlog of 20 boxes, and then 18, and then 14, and then 11, I can handle that. As long as I see a light at the end of the tunnel and know the backlog will eventually be cleared out, I am OK. I can avoid getting too stressed. It is when I see the backlog growing and I see no solution that I start getting stressed.

There is more. There is also a telephone in my room. As the days go by, people start calling me who have not yet received their boxes. They can't understand why I haven't shipped their box. It is just ONE box. They have no concept that they are ALL just ONE box! The squeaky wheel gets the grease so naturally, I quickly fill and send out the box for the person that called.

After a while, another phenomenon comes up. I have all these boxes for people that are very angry with me. More boxes are arriving every day. Do I fill the new boxes first or the old ones? The new boxes are for people that don't know about the backlog. The old boxes are for people already angry with me. If I don't fill the old boxes, they will just get more angry, but they are already angry anyway. If I fill the new boxes first, I won't make any new people angry and they will be happy with my service. Thus, I fill the new boxes first and never seem to have time to get to the old boxes. That produces stress for me.

Then, I get even more angry phone calls. People tell me to forget about filling their boxes. The party has already gone by and they never got their order filled, so they don't want it anymore. Surprisingly, this is some sort of relief to me as each call like that is one more box that I can throw away and don't have to deal with. But, I do feel bad about having failed to satisfy that customer. But the people that submitted the new boxes are happy with me because they got their orders filled right away.

Though I have nothing to do with filling orders for TrainParty, this is a real good analogy for dealing with what is expected from me. There comes a point where I'm going to make somebody angry regardless of which box I decide to fill and ship first. Those that are already angry with me I figure I can fill last since it is too late to avoid their wrath. If I fill the new ones first, I can avoid any new people from getting angry with me. Actually, they will be quite happy with me and tell me what wonderful prompt service I provide.

Right now, I am filling and shipping boxes faster than they are coming in, but I do have a backlog. The longer it takes me to fill that backlog, the more people become angry with me and don't understand what takes so long to just fill and ship one box.

I can't delegate to someone else. There isn't enough work for another full time person. Plus, I'd have to get rid of that person once the backlog is gone. Then, there is always the paradox that the entire process has to slow down while taking time to train a new person to help fill and ship the boxes.

One big problem historically is that I create my own boxes with my own lists of items to put in the boxes! I'm trying my best to cut down on the number of boxes that I create. It is so easy to come up with ideas and say "We should pursue this!", but there is so little time to allocate to new ventures when we are already pursuing so many of them. Thus, I am really trying to not create additional boxes for myself by myself.