The Responsibility Problem | Giftie Etcetera: The Responsibility Problem

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Responsibility Problem

The problem with carrying a planner is that you get a reputation for getting things done in a timely manner. You start to be considered "the responsible one" - and it's all downhill from there.

Think about it.

Your friend who is late for everything? You don't expect her to show up on time, you quit calling her for time sensitive activities, and you don't ask her for a ride to work.

Your friend who is scattered and forgets things? You likely don't call her to bring brownies to the class party.

Your friend who never finishes a project? You don't ask him to help fix the roof.

I am the one who always knows my schedule, so I know immediately if I can help or not. I buckle the kids in the car seat every time and always have healthy snacks in the pantry, so I get to babysit. I honor my commitments, so people are constantly asking me to volunteer. And I am a good listener and problem solver, so it is not unusual for me to get five to ten communications a day from people, needing advice or help.

It can get overwhelming. There are times (several times a week, in fact) when I am simultaneously getting phone calls, emails, texts, Facebook messages, and in person requests for my time and talents. (Funny, no one ever offers to pay, even for stuff like legal advice. Of course, my student loan officers expect me to pay for the privilege of knowing the law.) I practice saying no, but when I get five or more legit (in the sense that the person is truly a friend or family member and someone I want to help if I can) requests, just saying "no" five times can take up too much of my day. And sometimes, it is quicker to say "yes."

Sometimes, I'm jealous of people who don't care. I look at people who procrastinate, ignore deadlines and communications, and turn off their phones for hours a day, and I just want to be that.

But I can't. It's not in my nature.



Josh LaPorte said...

Interesting. There is the saying that if you want to get something done, ask a busy person. Usually this is pretty accurate. I deal with a lot of considerate people and also am pretty confident to either say no or to simply say "I'm really busy this week, but I can help you next week."

I work with law students and lawyers and notice that a lot of them overextend themselves and try to do too many things for too many people. Maybe it goes hand-in-hand with the type-A personality?

I remember a Garfield cartoon where he says "I'd love to help you out... Just show me where you came in."

Anna said...

I'm with you on that. :) I've had a few people tell me that I have a lot of energy, when the fact is that I've always had less than the average person. I try to be conscious of how I spend my time and prioritize what I want to get done. That's my secret to seeming energetic.

I do have to admit that some people drive me crazy, when the can't do certain things because they "won't remember" or they let time sensitive things slide. I want to say "Get a calendar & make a list" But so far I've resisted. :)