Squeaky wheel syndrome

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This New York Times post on getting everything done struck a chord with me, because I, too, feel like I’m constantly pushing stuff to the bottom of the pile, where it languishes for days and weeks.

As a freelance writer, the stuff I bump down is either stuff I need to do for myself — like organize my files for my taxes or vacuum the office — or stuff from the people who are least demanding, because if someone checks in and asks me to do something, I instinctively rush to do it.

I call this “squeaky wheel syndrome,” and it’s something I try to fight, because, first of all, I need to do stuff for myself, and also because the people who are the least demanding are often the most deserving. Careful scheduling is the most reliable fix, since it prevents me from putting myself in a position where one task or another is compromised. But it’s hardly a foolproof method. Periodically reminding myself that I don’t always have to satisfy the squeakers also helps, and that’s gotten easier since I became a mother. (I don’t work on weekends; I can’t.)

Is squeaky wheel syndrome something you struggle with? How do you handle it?

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