Tag Archives: unproductive

Being in the Right (Head) Place at the Right Time

26 Feb

How often does this happen to you?

After hours or even days of depression, procrastination and self-loathing, you finally find yourself with the energy and mood to do what you want/need to…but by then you’ve run out of time to do it. 

A couple cases in point, just from my last week:

At Work: (Not) Tackling a Mountain of Tasks

I spent one morning hungover (a story for another day) in meetings, struggling even to pay attention, let alone participate. Then a few more hours stressing over my workload, going out for smoke breaks and ruminating over my lack of productivity. 

Only when I had less than an hour left before I had to leave did I “snap out of it” and kick into the high gear I needed right after my morning meetings. In that last hour I got more done than in the previous eight…but I left with a mountain of unfinished tasks I promised myself I’d tackle over the weekend (not going well so far). 

At Home: Household Chores

Today I had the house to myself for five solid hours, and a manageable list of chores to go along with it. I spent half of it at the bar at the end of the street, and another hour watching Bill Maher, before doing the only productive thing I did all day – putting away a single hamper of already folded clothes. 

After another trip to the bar for a quick couple pints, and with 20 minutes before having to leave for my kid’s hockey game, it happened again. Only when I didn’t have the time to do it did I snap out of my rut and feel almost enthusiastic about tackling even the most onerous chores on my list. 

Sometimes it’s as if the only time I’m in the right mood to get something done is precisely when I don’t have the time to do it. 

What’s Your Secret?

I know I’m not alone so I want to hear your stories. And what I want to know just as much is, how do you align your mood with the time when you need it? 

Or…how do you end up in the right (head) place at the right time?

Did Hemingway inspire my very own witching hour?

29 Jan

First, an answer to yesterday’s question, did I catch my inner critic, and put my own inactivity behind me, in time to keep the day from being a failure? In short, yes.

But the yes came with a bargain; I continued to put off my main priorities (a single job application and a handful of personal letters) for another day, and rolled more than one more joint throughout the day, but I did make a fantastic dinner and spent some quality time with the boy in Call of Duty. I even cleaned up the kitchen afterward, including hand washing the half dozen pots and bowls with various caked on messes from the meal’s preparation.

Today I find myself in a similar situation and time, not long after my own personal witching hour, 11:00 a.m.

For the last few weeks, as long as I’m up and have my first coffee and meds before 8:00, I’m usually optimistic about the day’s prospects, even anticipating my wife’s pride in recognizing my day’s accomplishments. I can sustain these feelings too, for the entire day if I do things right.

I need to put serious work into one of my top priorities, and I need to be at it before 11:00. Immediately after that, my self-confidence and optimism for the day take a nosedive. I start to minimize, then write off entirely, my prospects of touching my main priorities for the rest of the day. My thoughts shift focus from all the time I have to be productive, to the limited time I have left to myself before the boy and my wife get home.

I describe these feelings as mental momentum, something I have to keep up before I hit my witching hour. If I keep my mind in motion on my priorities, I drive through it. If not, it’s the immovable object that puts me at rest.

Oh, and why 11:00? I think it’s because there’s still time to make the morning productive, so I can see something that’s come from the day being half over. But that’s not all; I’m fairly sure I’ve heard virtually the same sentiments expressed by a famous writer. Hemingway was known for doing his full day’s writing before 11:00, at which time he’d say, “Eleven o’clock. What the hell, it’s noon in Miami. Let’s have a drink.”

Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of Hemingway, but could he be my unconscious inspiration? And if so, is he inspiring my writing…or just my lifestyle?

Quick confession before church

27 Jan

I’m on my way to church – that’s my new code for my weekly group therapy – and I’m sharing a quick confession or two so I can at least report some work-oriented progress to the group.

My confession is that since my last post I’ve done virtually nothing on the job front; still no application, no networking emails or calls. Not even making the amends I feared would be a distraction from the job hunt.

No, instead I worried myself into a tailspin of familiar habits; smoking pot, watching TV, playing the boy’s Xbox, and dreading my wife’s return from work out of shame for having obviously done so very little.

As I write this, I can already see a way out of this week’s rut, or at least the way I’m thinking about it. And if nothing else, I’ve got a familiar tale to tell the church crowd tonight.

Day 4: Back in the saddle again? Ha!

13 Jan

As I’ve said recently, beware the mad rantings of a man [only] days into a lifetime journey. A case in point, I started this post yesterday, musing about whether or not I was (albeit slowly, finally and only in the earliest of days) getting back into the saddle of life again.

Suffice to say that I didn’t finish it, and today is a different story.  Today it’s taken me the effort of ten men to come back and finish what I started, itself a post I wanted to publish yesterday to stay on my regimen of daily writing. And this isn’t even the first time today; late this morning I think I almost consciously induced a panic attack when I first picked up my laptop. Heart racing, my inner critic getting louder by the minute, my inability to write a simple blog entry just the latest in a string of failures that too often define my life in my eyes.

What I need to remember is another pillar of my new approach to 2015, setting manageable expectations and celebrating small victories.  I did come back and finish this post (without a point it may be). I went on a long walk and read the newspaper over coffee at my old watering whole. I looked up job postings at the companies I want to approach and found at least one that’s a great fit with what I think/believe/hope are my strengths and skills.  And after fearfully (of what?!) putting it off for almost a month, I finally made a phone call to book a doctor’s appointment for my son.

Small victories. Celebration. At least I have therapy tonight.

Day 3 and already playing catch up

12 Jan

Well technically, it’s now day four.  And I’m already catching up on a missed day, the third in my plan to make writing a part of my daily life. I’ve even coined a cute little hashtag to make me feel young and tech savvy; #just5 is my reminder that I can do anything for five minutes a day, and writing is an activity that produces immediate benefits felt most by boosts in self-confidence and feelings of accomplishment.

In short, just by writing this post, I know I’ll feel substantially more productive and confident about the day as a whole. And by definition – for a change – I won’t see the day as a total failure, the all too common judgement my inner critic hands down at the end of the day.

I digress…check in to follow later today.

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