For the past week, I’ve encountered the same message each time I open my laptop:
“You are running out of disk space.”
I did what most people do when they see messages like that: I ignored it.
Then, today, I opened up my laptop to write this post and the message was different:
“You have no more disk space available.”
I deleted a few things and hoped for the best.
I also decided the message was a metaphor for my life right now. I had made a list of all that I need to accomplish this weekend, and once my heart rate calmed down, I came up with a solution. “I think I can get everything done if I don’t sleep this weekend,” I said to my husband as he packed the kids up for soccer.
“Like an all nighter in college?” he replied, thinking back, I’m sure, to writing papers at 3 AM in the fraternity house.
I sighed. “Yes, and I hated all nighters,” I answered.
I remembered one all nighter in my senior year of college. In was in the days before everyone had easy access to laptops and desktop computers. I used a word processor to do my class assignments. Remember those? (For those too young to know, a word processor was a souped-up electronic typewriter. You could edit and save documents on it, though the screen was about six inches across and maybe four inches high, with bright green type. It was also big, clunky, and took forever to print.) I was up all night—sustained by Pepperidge Farms oatmeal raisin cookies and cold coffee—finishing a paper for one of my communications classes. Just as I reached the end, we had a power outage (of course), causing me to lose the last hour of work. I must have panicked—who wouldn’t? The sun was shining already, a sign that I was close to the paper’s deadline. I picked up that clunky word processor, ran across the hall to our neighbors’ apartment (I lived in off campus housing), and banged on their door. Stumbling to the door from a deep sleep, one of my friends let me in. I plugged the word processor into an outlet in the hallway and finished up. I sat in that hallway for a few more hours, watching each page slowly print, as my friend and her roommates stepped over me to go into the bathroom to get ready for their day and to go into the kitchen to grab their breakfasts. Once done, I threw on a baseball cap and raced to my professor’s office to drop off my assignment. I made it—with a little bit of time to spare—but it took hours to breathe normally again.
Stressful, right? It’s even stressful to write about!
I didn’t like all nighters then and they are not my thing now—not by choice anyway (taking care of newborns, notwithstanding). But when you’re overextended like me this weekend—when you’re out of disk space—it might be the only choice. The other choice is to say no, of course, but sometimes that’s not an option that’s available.
How do you manage when there is too much to do and not enough time?