People who use their car’s GPS for a trip to the grocery store amuse me. The directions couldn’t be easier or more direct—turn right as you exit the subdivision, turn left at the fourth stoplight, and make a right into the parking lot. When I question the logic behind their choice, the typical response is, “Oh, I just what to see where I am going.” I suppose it makes sense.
Yet when I ask them about their plans for the week, next month, or a year from now, I invariably receive a deer-in-the-headlights stare. Answers for the next week illicit expected activities like work, errands, and upcoming appointments. Extend the period thirty days, and you get shoulder shrugs or belatedly remembered mentions of an impending birthday, graduation, or wedding. I assure if you continue the line of questioning and inquire about next year, they will call you a weirdo.
Maybe I am odd. While others associate higher risks in short-term activities, I place my egg in the long-term planning basket. I find looking forward lets me be proactive rather than reactive. I don’t have a crystal ball, but it doesn’t take a fortune teller to predict you will never become a doctor if you are not studying biology, chemistry, or enrolled in Pre-Med classes. Imagining what life might look like in five or ten years gives me direction. Today’s dreams form the foundation of my goals.
Planning where I want to go forces me to assess my current position, establish a realistic roadmap, and set tactics for moving towards my future reality. I can anticipate pitfalls, roadblocks, and hurdles before they happen and devise strategies to avoid or minimize their impact on my progress. I know it works because once upon a time I dreamed of living the life I have now.
Monday took everything out of me. My concentration deserted me, and I bounced from project to project, accomplishing nothing significant. These days drive the annoying, disappointing, and frustrating feelings to the breaking point. Every bone in my body screams to move forward, but my brain won’t comply. The sensible thing to do is rest. Unfortunately, that protocol malfunctions, so I took a nice long walk instead. It was enough to sync mind and body, so they reached a consensus and let me sleep.
No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 139 words.
On concussion protocol, the first thing they tell you is to limit your screen time. Last week, I thought it was a bunch of hooey, but I did as I was instructed and followed the doctor’s orders. Yesterday was my first day resuming my normal activities, including my work and time with my computer and phone. By the end of the day, my head was hurting, I felt nauseous, and concentrating was difficult. I shut everything off and went to bed.
But it makes me wonder. If screen time is this detrimental to a concussed brain, what effects is it having when we think we are fine?
No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 404 words.
Once upon a time, I worked for a boss who held one core workplace belief. He maintained that a clean desk was the sign of a productive worker. He often walked around the office after hours, leaving notes for people instructing them to clean up their act. Thankfully, I never received his scathing reminder. The office manager gave me a helpful heads-up. I’m not a messy, clutter-producing, nick-knack-loving, office supply hoarding type of person. Instead, I tend toward the more neat and tidy side of life. Still, when I am working on various projects, things can look as if they are out of control.
I work on a pile system. Almost without looking, I can locate the exact document I need from the proper stack. Files with essential documents, post-it notes with directions, comments, ideas, and reminders, litter my desktop. My favorite pens, highlighters, markers, paperclips, and binder clips live where I can reach them without thinking. Controlled chaos reigns during my major project sessions. Business means you are working on multiple mission-critical projects every day. When I complete a project, the white tornado rolls through town and puts everything in its place. In a perfect world, I would have left everything where it lay each evening, but that would not have passed muster with the clean desk patrol.
I needed a solution to keep everyone happy and allow me to work in my preferred manner. I opted to enact an elaborate subterfuge scheme. Fifteen minutes before quitting time, I would carefully move each pile and place them in a side drawer, separated by brightly colored folders. My top drawer became the dedicated night-time home for smaller items. Each morning, I spent the first few minutes drinking coffee and resetting my stage. The work-around amounted to two-and-a-half hours of unproductive staging time every week. I wonder if he ever realized he was paying me to rearrange so much paper.
Sundays are family days, catch up on sleep days, and time to take it easy days. The crew from my new WIP decided it was also a good day to tell tales, and I was happy to listen and transcribe everything they had to say.
No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 527 (countable) words.
I prepare plans, consider the contingencies, check and double-check my schedule for a specific reason. I hate when I am blindsided by the unexpected. Yesterday I had a solid plan which suffered from countless interruptions. Yes, there were the expected, pesky disturbances from family, friends, and contractors who ignore my “Do Not Disturb” sign, but the most annoying buttinskies were the crew from my current WIP.
Apparently, I have not been giving them the attention they need and deserve. This group is a demanding lot who don’t care about my well-being or my sanity. They have a tale to tell, and I am their conduit to the outside world. According to them, I need to start pulling my weight in this relationship. Ah, the drama. Great for the storyline, but not so wonderful when I am trying to make up for lost time and hit my deadlines.
As my appeasement to them, I handed over an hour of my tightly scheduled day and transcribed everything they had to say. I stopped them when they started censoring, editing, and embellishing the story in the middle of the re-telling. Geeze Louise, don’t they know that’s my job?
No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 437 (countable) words.
Some days I don’t know where to start. They bombard us with top ten lists on every topic imaginable. To lose weight, eat this, run, walk, hang upside down while performing an impossible number of crunches. To ensure you succeed at work, don’t use these eight dreaded phrases, do contribute to the value-added proposition. Give 110% on every project, and don’t be that person who says “yes” to make the boss happy. Do you want to be the best parent at your kids’ school? Boy, do we have a list of must-dos, should-dos, and never-dos for you. By the way, you should indoctrinate your kids to these lists as well. It is what any decent, loving parent would do for the sake of their offspring’s survival.
Then for kicks, about every six to twelve months, they upend everything on us. You know those things we told you to do last year? Yeah, well, we completed a new study, and we have hot-off-the-press updates for you. That stuff we told you to do—turns out you shouldn’t do that anymore. Instead, how about implementing the bullet points under the heading “Avoid These Like the Plague.”
Even science is not immune to the total upheaval phenomenon. On Wednesday,The New York Timesran an article with the words “… particles known as muons suggest that there are forms of matter and energy vital to the nature and evolution of the cosmos that are not yet known to science.” Which prompted Mark Hamill to tweet, “The Force has been with us… ALWAYS.” I can’t take the constant upheaval of the world as we know it. Today, my soul is begging for an invigorating walk through the nature preserve, followed by a long, hot bath.
The best thing about Saturday morning is if you sleep past your alarm, no one cares. You don’t have to wake in a panic, scramble for your phone, make excuses or apologize to anyone. Face it, if you didn’t hear the annoying buzzer, it’s because you needed the rest. Your errands and the household chores will wait until you roll out of bed because I guarantee the house-elves won’t surprise you and finish them for you.
If you are lucky, you can parlay your late start into an excellent reason to immerse yourself in your soul-restoring solitary, creative pursuits. I have no interest in watching everyone’s favorite classic film for the umpteenth time. I have bigger plans. Besides, the movie assures me I will have an hour and a half of peace and uninterrupted me time. For those of us who are always on call, it is true bliss.
I encourage this activity and often suggest a movie with a sequel or two. Do you want popcorn? Are you sure a single bag of Airheads and Sour Patch is enough? The Root Beer is in the fridge, I made Chex Mix, and pizza and hot wings will arrive in ten minutes. Everyone settles, the show starts, and I make my escape into a fantasy world that exists only in my mind.
Every day is a battle. The 9 to 5 has specific, time-sensitive demands, and those demands are impossible to ignore, especially if you are looking for compensation. Add family schedules and my second job into the mix, and by Friday, you must dig deep to discover any inspiration in the creativity well. While the lingering side effects of a concussion are diminishing, everyone agrees you heal faster when you grant yourself the luxury of rest.
They did not include instructions for taking it easy in my playbook. So, when I realize I am staring at a blank screen, unable to make words appear, I start searching for another, less taxing task. Grocery shopping and household chores lead the list of mind-numbing, boring jobs with little reward. However, they serve a purpose. Rote physical movements don’t require thinking per se. If you’ve ever loaded a dishwasher, sorted laundry, or mopped a floor, even once, you possess all the skills necessary to repeat the motions. Mindless work lets your brain relax and recover while still allowing you to accomplished something productive.
No matter the challenges and the obstacles blocking my way, I maintain the item at the top of my list as a non-negotiable. Yesterday I wrote 370 words.
Certain Fridays have a greater significance than others, and this Friday calls for celebration. I can’t describe today’s importance. On the surface, nothing has changed, and yet, nothing is the same. Last night I worked late. Midnight arrived, and I didn’t stop. At 1 am. the world changed. Perhaps my perspective shifted, or the planets moved into more auspicious conjunctions, or maybe my long lost, single-minded, productivity-demanding muse whispered long-forgotten secrets in my ear.
It doesn’t matter who or what perpetrated the shift or why they chose today to finally flip the switch. I’m grinning like a fool, beyond excited, and I’m ready to double down on my goals, which yesterday seemed impossible to achieve. This morning I donned my superhero cape, tuned up my X-ray vision, and took my superhuman strength for a test drive. All systems are operating on pumped up, Give-her-all she’s-got-Scotty overdrive mode, and we are ready to roll. But what grand adventure doesn’t begin with a toast? My first order of business is selecting an excellent bottle of wine, and letting the wine escape and breathe. So here’s to cloudless blue skies, green lights, and honoring the unusual travel suggestions dictated by the gods. Happy Friday, everyone.