A matter of time


Photo by Icons8 team on Unsplash

Sometimes, I really have a difficult time getting work done. I don’t think I have an attention deficiency. I think I’m easily distracted. Maybe, I would be more focused if I didn’t have internet access, but it’s not an experiment I’m willing to run.

 I enjoy writing. In fact, when I leave the house, I tell my kids I’m going to work, but when I write, it doesn’t feel like work, it feels like play. Still, despite the enjoyment of it, when I sit down to do it, it takes me a while to get to the point where I’m actually productive. Why? Well, first, I probably need a fresh cup of coffee and then a snack, something sweet to munch on. I tell myself that I’ll use the sweet thing as my reward for hitting writing goals but that doesn’t happen. I don’t have self control. Then, I have to see what’s going on facebook and twitter. Once I pull myself out of that hole, then I usually find myself researching answers to questions I had thought of over the last few days. 

Questions like:

  • Can a person die of a sinus infection?
  • What is the best way to poach an egg?
  • How do I fight the spotted lantern fly invasion?
  • How far can two average sized people ride on one horse?
  • What kind of winter are we going to have this year?

From there, I might segue into some online window shopping, or I might indulge my voyeuristic side by looking at real estate listings. Sometimes, I end up on YouTube watching old SNL skits. The whole time this time suck is happening, I am yelling at myself: Stop doing what you’re doing and get to work!

That’s when I set a timer and start doing sprints. I work in loops of fifteen minute writing sessions interspersed with five minute breaks. Five minutes where I can waste time doing whatever I want as long as when the alarm goes off I jump right back into writing. I learned how to do this because it’s also how I approach exercise. When I exercise, no matter how tired I may be, I always can convince myself to go one more minute. I can really push myself because I know that it’s just a minute and you can survive a lot of things if it only lasts one minute. Incidentally, this was also my approach to childbirth. After all, contractions only last for one minute and surely you can survive that long. To be honest, that approach only worked for about the first ten hours of labor before I decided that no, I absolutely could not survive another minute of pain and begged for an epidural.

I also use timers when I do housework. If I look around my house and it’s trashed and I think there’s no way I can do anything about it, I set a timer for ten minutes and run around to see just how much I can accomplish in that time. Sometimes, my kids help, but their idea of helping is running around frantically trying to look busy while I put everything away. 

With writing, it helps me stay focused. When I find myself drifting away to ask questions or look at house listings, I remember that at the end of fifteen minutes, I have five minutes to do that, but for now I’m going to work on this project. 

I told my husband about it, feeling very clever about my time management.

“Oh,” he said. “Pomodoro timers.

Yeah, apparently I’m not the first person who discovered what timers can do for getting things done. It’s been around since the 1980’s. 

Depression is hell

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Photo by Alex Ivashenko on Unsplash

It’s been a while. I don’t really have an excuse except for this: Depression is a hell of a thing. Or what I mean is, depression is hell.

I went almost all summer without writing hardly anything. I didn’t do any painting either. No drawing. I didn’t bake. My garden was a mess, planted and then forgotten about until the tomatoes hung rotting on the plant. I slept late, pulling myself out of bed at the last minute. I kept my house clean-ish. I took showers and I kept my children alive. That was the high-functioning part of it but even that was drudgery, a slog. It was trying to get somewhere while always feeling like I was wading through chest-high water.

Eventually, the depression subsided.

I don’t mean that I waited around until I miraculously felt better. It required work. I went to therapy every week and saw a psychiatrist who changed my medication and this time I didn’t fight the concept of being medicated. I worked on being kind to myself, on not beating myself up for the loss of productivity. I read a lot of books, but only those that were funny or had happy endings. Everything else felt like a trigger. I worked through each day, one at a time

I’m grateful for the people that were there for me and supported me through this miserable time. Even more than that, I’m so glad that they didn’t give up on me. This might not be my last episode of depression but my hope is that each time I have them they become shorter and less severe.

Also, I want to remind anyone else who is reading this and is suffering through depression, you deserve happiness. You are worth whatever effort it takes to get through it.

I’m painting again and back to writing every day. I have exciting things to look forward to. What I mean is: I’m back.