Friday, July 10, 2020

Two Things I've Learned during the Pandemic

First, I need a plan. Not only a "big picture" plan but a plan for each day. On the days when I have only a vague intention to "get some work done," I don't accomplish a lot. One day this week, I took a break to order some groceries -- and discovered that in spite of all those images of paper towels on store websites, no local store seemed to have paper towels in stock. I finally ordered from Amazon and resigned myself to waiting until next week for delivery.

Now, I know that with the state of the world and people's lives in turmoil, my paper towels dilemma is unimportant. Who cares? But that's my point. When I have no plan, I obsess about small things. I waste large chunks of my day trying to do ordinary things that now require weighing pros and cons.   But when I am specific about what I want to do each day and prepare a road map for the day, I move through the day with much less stress. I don't become obsess because I do the important stuff first.

On Wednesday evening, I did three things I had been putting off forever because each involved tedious paperwork. That was when I discovered the second secret -- I work better with music playing in the background. But, it has to be a particular kind of music. I was on YouTube looking for an interview I wanted to link to in a syllabus I'm working on. I saw an official video for one of my favorite songs and clicked to listen. I went back to my syllabus, and YouTube began to run through a playlist. Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Gladys Knight and Pips -- songs that I knew the words to and didn't have to think about. For the next couple of hours, I sang along while I worked. And, contrary to what I usually find, I was not at all distracted by the music.

So what I've learned and intend to apply going forward is to have a plan and have the right music. And, I'm adding, set a timer to get in 5-minute exercise breaks.

I'm finding this article useful:

Of course, being a plotter, planning has the same appeal. Off to bed. I need to get an early start.


Susan D said...

Thanks. That's something I've just realised myself. I've been wandering vaguely in the world of, "Hmm, what shall I do?" past the signposts of "who gives an eff anyway?" into the Slough of The Couch of Unfocus.

So this morning, right after The Walk (the ONE thing I do daily) I made a to-do list for the first time in months. I feel better already. (One item is Cut Hair, so we'll see...)

And your post, Frankie, confirms I might be on to something.

Rick Blechta said...

I seem to operate on the same sort of wavelength, Frankie. These days I wake up and don't immediately get out of bed as I used to do. I go through the docket of chores and thing I want to accomplish, order them into some semblance of organization. At that point I'm ready to rise. It seems to be working really well.

This way of operating also helps me not to lie awake in the middle of the night thinking about everything I have to do the next day. I can explain to myself that this is a morning thing and I generally fall right to sleep. And that's a good thing.

Thanks for the thoughtful post! Hope your day is going well -- and profitably.

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Thanks, Rick. That's it exactly.

I actually got to sleep at a decent hour last night.

Take care and keep writing.

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Hi Susan,

I'm going to take a leaf from your book and try to make sure I'm getting outside for The Walk. I can exercise inside, but I notice every time I make the effort to walk outdoors and get sunshine and fresh air, I feel better the rest of the day.

And I know that Sough of The Couch. One afternoon I spent a whole afternoon sitting there with my cat, Harry. The thing about cats is that they're great company but they don't insist you get up and take them out.

I cut my hair -- but I had to keep trimming because it wasn't even. Now really short:)

Susan D said...

Reporting back that the haircut was successful. I've been dragging my fingers through my hair (like a romantic heroine) for weeks saying, I really should cut it. So, putting in the list (and in the comments?) had the desired effect. Cooler.... ahh...

Listening to podcasts, etc while walking is a big help, I find.

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Congrats on the haircut, Susan!

Beginning Monday, I'm going to try to start with my walk so that I can beat the heat and the rain. I'm wondering if I can combine walking with dictating notes to myself about my historical. I've never tried that before.