For better or worse, the type of person I have always been, is one that sets about a task, completes it and then moves on to something else. The only time for rest and relaxation is when all tasks that need to be completed are actually completed. I am sure that there are probably psychological terms to disturb a person who thinks like me , but hey, who really cares. This way of thinking has suited me well throughout most of my life, though maybe causing me to be a little bit of a workaholic.

The problem though is now I am in a country where this type of thinking is just plain impossible and leads to nothing but frustration. To give an example , I keep an online daytimer/calendar with which I list all the things I want to get done. Since I have people working for me, and I can not do all the things that need doing myself, I have to assign or delegate tasks to others. Usually, I will take about 5-10 task on myself per day, and delegate maybe 10 more to other people, all neatly color-coded by person. Every night, or early the next morning I review the tasks assigned to all, including to myself, and either delete them if finished, or reschedule them for future days. After a while the pattern became abundantly clear. Everyday, for just about every task that I had set for myself, I could delete them from my daytimer, however any task that I assigned or delegated to another would have to be rescheduled. In the case of my tasks, any that were not completed were usually because I had to depend upon some one else, whether that be a government agency , supplier or employee, and they did not finish their end of the process.

At first this whole situation frustrated me no end. I would get aggravated, belligerent and down right rude, but in the end, usually all I would do was compound the problem by pissing people off. And believe me, the minute you piss of a Filipino, you might as well totally forget them ever getting done the thing you needed done. It will be brick wall time!

So, hard as it has been trying to change, I have had no choice. I have had to learn to accept that my way of thinking simply does not work and I had to learn something which I guess is called compartmentalization. I still make my task lists, ensuring that the things that are most important to me are to be done by me. I do my best to get those things done, and for all the tasks that I rely on others to do that don’t get done, I do not obsess over or lose any sleep. Just reschedule it once again for a later date, with a polite reminder to the person it is assigned to.

Some simple points of what I have learned

  • Filipnos will avoid at all cost any task that might be uncomfortable to them. If they show any reluctance to do an assigned task, no use fighting over it, just do it myself or assign it to some one else that is more receptive
  • Do not show any anger, be rude or offensive to a Filipino if they are not doing a task to my liking. They will immediately shut down 100% and I will never get my goal accomplished
  • The culture here is easy going and laid back. Most people have little urgency to get things done, especially if it can be done tomorrow. Except of course if a family meber is in the hospital or has any other emergency. Then they want money NOW, and will mortgage anything to get it.
  • Like many things in my “new” reality, the only thing that I can really change is my own thinking. In this instance, that means not getting obsessed with things that I believe need to be done, or too frustrated when they don’t get done. Put anything that does not get done today in that little “compartment” and forget about it until tomorrow. No use losing any sleep over it.