Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I always feel rushed, and as a result, I feel like I'm always forgetting something. I have two jobs because one wasn't enough to pay my bills. I work about 15 hours a day, six days a week. I find that I can hardly get everything done. Trying to do my laundry and clean my apartment become second to everything. Even grocery shopping is hard to keep up when I have so little time off. I don't mean to complain, but I don't know how to manage my time. -- Frustrated, Bronx, New York

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Especially since your time is so tight, it is essential for you to maintain a written schedule. I make a daily to-do list that I write in the evening and execute the next day. I include everything on my list, from what time I have to be at work to drinking water and calling my mother. I used to only include work-related tasks, but I discovered that all of my personal needs were being forgotten. So I expanded my list and put myself on top.

You can do the same. Break down your time off into manageable chunks, such as 15-minute intervals. Include exercise, grocery shopping, cleaning your home, having fun and relaxing into those moments. If you stick to your list, over time you will discover that you will be much better able to enjoy the fullness of each moment.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister invited me to go on a cruise with her -- primarily because her boyfriend just dumped her and they were going to go together. It's a very nice invitation, but I'm worried that I will end up being her shrink for 10 days. She is a mess after this breakup. While I love her, I don't know if I can handle listening to her drone on and on about what happened when I do not have the skills to heal her. How can I go and be supportive without being overwhelmed? -- One Foot In, Shreveport, La.

DEAR ONE FOOT IN: You have to decide what you can handle. Know that you probably will be in the same cabin as your sister. Usually these are close quarters. If you choose to go, you may want to make a plan with your sister for time out, meaning when you are in the cabin and quiet as well as when you are off on your own and not with her. Talk to your sister about your desire to be there for her and your concern that you are not equipped to be her therapist. Be crystal clear with her that you have to have boundaries in order for this trip to work for both of you.

Be prepared to do things to refresh yourself so that you have time each day to support your sister. Since she is emotionally fragile, you may want to invite her to participate in fun activities that will engage her and get her mind off her sorrows.