It’s the little things. It’s always the little things. They chip away at our sanity, they undermine our focus, and if we aren’t careful, they cloud our vision and generally make a mess of our lives.

Yesterday, I sat paralyzed at my desk. Those little things were having a big ol’ party, and they had accumulated to the point that I could no longer see the fire exit. I was staring down the barrel of one canceled escrow, two new escrows, two others on life support, one new listing, one looming listing appointment, and an inbox that had become its own life form, a Petri dish of spam cells and to-do items multiplying at a logarithmic rate.

I have a business plan, and it is involves a big picture, but at present my big picture appears to me as a big, pixelated mess, with each pixel being one of those nagging, little things. Some days I feel like I am living in a Rube Goldberg machine, my business comprised of too many moving parts and arguably over-engineered.

I know that systems are the answer. I have those, too. Yet, systems tend to break down when it starts raining sledge hammers. And when it rains, it pours.

So, I take a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other. If anything is going to get done, I realize I have to start somewhere. It’s time for some priorities. Whose hair is on fire? The transactions at risk get my attention first. What about the listing appointment? That’s what we work for, so this comes next. The new escrows need to be opened before sundown. Now serving numbers three and four! The inbox can mostly wait, for a little while at least. Dinner? In what we call at our house "foraging night," everyone will have to fend for themselves — again.

Priorities are a funny thing. It is easy to prioritize when you have just one task to accomplish, but the relative urgency of each of the little things becomes apparent only when faced with a deluge of competing demands. This week, I have enjoyed a crash course in the importance of not sweating the small stuff.

The reality is that I am currently a little short on RAM. At the very moment my working world has hit a crisis management crescendo, the past 18 years of my life has suddenly come down to 48 hours of little things. My oldest daughter is leaving for college, and we are struggling with the challenge of packing her entire life and a large part of mine in one large suitcase and a carry-on.

We have known for months that this day was coming, but my vision of how the final 48 hours would unfold was much different than the final hours I am living. Blame it on the little things. I don’t have the luxury of scheduling my work — my work schedules me. The fact that I had mentally put in for vacation leave means nothing because in our work as agents, time is of the essence. Contingency removals and offers, and buying and selling needs, wait for no one. Our clients are forgiving to the extent that it doesn’t affect them, and this affects us and our ongoing battle to maintain some sense of normalcy in our own lives every day. In my case, my scales have been tipping for awhile. It took this latest added weight to remind me that I may be too far off balance.

Don’t misunderstand, I love my job. Perhaps for this reason, I have often been guilty of letting the job play first string. Today, just today, however, I may have to come in out of the rain and ignore all of those little things. I think I will pull up a living room rug with a very beautiful 18-year-old and revisit a photo album or two. Next week, sadly, I will have a lot more time to spend on all of those little things.


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