When reality intrudes on a superhuman schedule

You can work your list, but don't let your list work you

I don’t know about you, but I’m superhuman. I’ve always had a knack for getting more done in 24 hours than expected, which made real estate a slam-dunk kind of career.

Give me two hours in my office and I have a whole day’s worth of work done. Four interrupted hours and I might as well go on vacation! I jest, but only a little. Time management has always been my strong suit.

I start the day out with a strong cup of coffee and a legal pad divided down the middle. On the left hand side of the paper I break my day into 30-minute chunks of time, from wake-up to bedtime. Since I never get to leave work "at the office," it only seems natural to include any awake hours as potential working hours.

On the right hand side of the paper I write down everything that needs to be done, categorized into: household chores, errands, buyers, sellers, new business, baby stuff. I schedule in a few "unknown" appointments, for lost documents and clients that can’t find the title company. By the time I have finished my coffee I feel like I have a nice tight grip on the day.

What could go wrong? Let me count the ways.

The first thing that happened wasn’t a "went wrong" at all. My daughter is the love of my life. Now, her little sister is on the way. Together, a toddler and "Unborna," as we have so lovingly named her, now demand my undivided attention — pretty much from sun-up to sun-down. Thank goodness we have a dog who can take over as No. 1 playmate from time to time.

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One is hungry, the other needs a nap. One wants to read a book, the other just wants to do somersaults and kick me. One wants this, the other wants that! Thus, my schedule received a few red lines through the left-hand column.

Hearing of my agenda dilemma, my brother (who is currently studying for his MBA) signed me up for a great program: Lynda.com.

Lynda.com offers lessons on how to do just about anything you have ever dreamed of doing on the computer: software programs, business classes, Web design and social media. Along with the subscription, my brother wrote me a charming little note that included the phrases: "shifting priorities," "had great potential," and "dreams differed." Seriously, boys are so obtuse sometimes.

Anyway, I’d love to take on the challenge of the Facebook seminar (3 hours and 45 minutes) but I just can’t find the time. Because, along with my real estate career, I’m really trying to have some hobbies!

I took a look at Etsy.com the other day and felt inspired. I ordered a pattern for a stuffed felt horse and determined to create toys for my children instead of buying into the big machine. Sure, I realize sewing is off the table, but I can’t imagine making a horse out of felt and yarn could be that hard.

So, fast forward to Easter Eve. I’ve put First-Born to bed and I’ve completed the list of must-see homes for next week’s tour. With four hours until midnight I can still make a felt horse and listen to the Facebook seminar at the same time! I tune into Lynda.com with renewed energy.

By 10 p.m. my fingertips are red and swollen. By 10:30 p.m. my eyes are glazing over, but I will not give up. My Facebook page is going to rock! At 11 p.m. I have sewn the entire underbelly of my stuffed horse together, but I stop midstitch with an odd feeling in my stomach.

That’s when it hits. A very malicious 24-hour flu bug takes me down hard. By 4 a.m., I’m in the hospital wondering what happened.

Have I finally reached that age? Where time really does matter? Where 24 hours snap by in an instant and you have a deep sense of gratitude because you found matching socks and clean underwear? I guess I have. Because a hospital can really put things in perspective. Yep, they strip you down, hook you up to IVs and blood-pressure tourniquets, and deprive you of your schedule. Not so superhuman after all.

All that to say: You can work your list, but don’t let your list work you. At some point, God looks down at your little scribbled mess of a calendar and laughs. Then He sends you to the hospital to think about stuff for awhile. Smart guy.

Alisha Alway Braatz is a buyer’s broker for Coldwell Banker Advantage One Properties in Eugene, Ore., and a real estate humorist.

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