Vertical Clearance Warning Sign

Pay attention to the signs.

As we re-set and recalibrate, watch your vertical clearance.

I’m all for a full plate—literally and metaphorically. The problem for many of us is that once the plate is full, we start loading it up vertically. As it gets taller and taller, it is harder to manage, like a tower of ice cream scoops on a cone, and as filling and rich as a tall stack of pancakes.

Trying to slow the spread of COVID-19 gave us a forced intermission in our lives. Even if your job continued as you worked at home, and even if you were painfully reminded why you never wanted to home-school, your social calendar was lighter. For some of us, this has been a complete timeout.

Business stopped. Volunteer engagements halted. Social activity banished to virtual sessions. People post regularly on social media their wishes for a re-set on 2020. As much as there has been disappointment in my household—one child home from her semester abroad in Grenoble, France, one child’s senior year obliterated—I think THIS is the re-set.

This is what a re-set looks like.


We are forced to look at things differently.

We are faced with deciding what matters most. As my 88-year-old mother shared, “Six feet apart is better than six feet under.” Grim but true.

We’ve slowed down. We’ve re-evaluated. That’s a good thing. I would hope that all of us consider making changes as the world opens up again. For those of us in cities experiencing social unrest, newness will rise up like a phoenix and it could be painful. It’s a different place and our perspective has been altered radically and unexpectedly.


Mind your vertical clearance

Don’t gorge yourself with things to do. Put your schedule on a diet by minding your vertical clearance.

Above all, don’t go back to an irrationally stacked plate. Don’t return to dizzying multi-tasking that seemed normal. I say this to myself as much as I say this to anyone. I once blew a contact off my finger with my blow-dryer because I was unconsciously multi-tasking on overdrive. There was no rational thinking in that moment, no presence of mind. Wow! I was desperately over-scheduled.


The remedy is a calendar diet

Instill some portion control strategies so you don’t consume too much of what you don’t need like gorging on empty calories. Say no to things you really don’t want to commit to doing. Damn ‘duty’ and ‘shoulds’! Get on the phone or a video-chat instead of traveling so much. Highways and airports are stressful and we really don’t need more stress. We need balance.

Yes, we’ve been striving for balance for years, possibly all of our lives. It seems elusive, but it is not impossible to accomplish. Take advantage of this time when your plate has been scraped to make very intentional decisions about what goes back on the plate and mind the vertical clearance. You can always get a clean plate and return to the buffet.

Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and businesses of all shapes and sizes. Sign-up on her website today to receive helpful insights like this one in your inbox.  See how easy your efforts can be here

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