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There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

February 22, 2013

Albert Einstein once said “without changing our pattern of thought, we will not be able to solve the problems we have created with our current pattern of thought.

I try to keep Einstein’s words in mind when I get extremely busy. It is easy to get buried under a huge pile of emails or to get stuck on a never ending conveyor belt of to-do items. As I respond to email after email, my inbox just continually refills without any end in sight- almost everyone can relate. Unfortunately, I often wait until I reach DEFCON 4 before I take a step back and start making changes to eliminate the cause. Often times, these issues can be resolved by having a quick meeting or phone call.

During the frenzy, it is vital to get out of the reactionary state of distress and work toward a more sustainable process. Otherwise, this leads to more stress, less productivity, and your quality of work suffers. After recently going through this, I have decided to follow the simple advice of the nursery rhyme about the old lady who swallowed the fly. The nursery rhyme starts with “there was an old lay who swallowed a fly” and to treat her sudden ailment, the old lady swallows a spider to catch the fly, and progresses to swallow larger animals, until she “swallows a horse and died of course!”  This silly rhyme illustrates a common tendency to treat the symptoms of the problem, rather than searching for a cure.

So the next time you feel overwhelmed, spit out the fly and proactively change your approach.


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