I’ve wanted to post an update, but I’ve been doing my best to stay focused on my work the past two days. I’ll try to sum up the highpoints.
— I’ve gotten up every day this week at 5:30 and exercised. This is huge for me — not so much the exercising but the getting out of bed when my alarm sounds AND early.
— I’m caught up at work. Edits, reading, all the tasks that I put off while on vacation last week have been crossed off my list. I even called deep and had a hard conversation with one of Linda’s clients. Before vacation I was annoyed and felt somewhat misunderstood and attacked. Having an opportunity to sit with my frustration and view it from a logical place instead of just an emotional one proved very effective. I’m feeling more optimistic at work than I was two weeks ago.
— I did a LARGE grocery shop on Tuesday evening after Gil was home and the kids were in bed. I didn’t want to, but I pushed through and did it anyway. I may not have had meals prepared, but at least we had adequate food in the house, and I have eaten better this week. This is a big struggle of mine. More on that another time.
— I’ve managed to get a lot of other stuff done — beef for soup kitchen, it’s drug-free week at my kids’ school and they’ve had a theme EVERY SINGLE DAY so I’ve been pulling together various outfits each night. Shoot me now, please. I can get the homework checked and in the correct folder, sign all the miscellaneous stuff, turn in the school tshirt order so my kids aren’t the only students lacking spirit, get them to school on time (every day but one), sign up to bring something for the Halloween parties, but seriously, must we DRESS UP for drug-free week? I KNOW! I feel bad saying it, and I KNOW it’s important, but have mercy, they’re in kindergarten and first grade. This mama needs one less task this week. OH!!! And they have a special ribbon that they’re supposed to keep up with all week. Piers lost his on the first day. Okay, I’ll stop now. We certainly need early reinforcements/education to stay away from drugs with our family history. The point is: I haven’t done everythig i wanted, but I’ve hardly been lollygagging.
— Our house is STILL a wreck and now it’s to a point where I’m MAJORLY overwhelmed. I walk in the living area prepared to clean and put away stuff that has been dumped by the door, but I get frustrated and avoid it altogether.
— Sherry gave me some amazing tips on making lists and breaking down tasks. I’ve done this with my job and somewhat with other things, and it is a highly effective strategy. The problem for me is that when I’m at work, I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I cross an item off my list. I feel nothing of the sort when it comes to domestic tasks and I think I’ve figured out why — in two days, they’ll all have to be done again, so where the hell is the sense of accomplishment in that? It just makes me feel defeated. My other realization is that I’m ticked off because I’m the only member of this family who feels that these tasks are important. Gil’s not going to do it when he gets home. The kids are too young to fully understand, and it’s a lot of work to teach them to clean and put things away, though I certainly realize the importance of teaching them these skills. BUT, after being out of town for a week, I just need order restored quickly. Sigh…
— I’m motivated by tasks in which I’m genuinely interested — writing, researching, reading, discussing ideas and big picture concepts, helping others clarify where their energy should go and/or assist them with problem-solving. Why is it sometimes we can do for others the very things that we struggle with ourselves??!! My socializing isn’t typically strictly socializing. I’m listening and helping my friends/spouse strategize and come up with techniques/ideas in their lives and jobs that they often can’t see because the situation is too close to them. I’m less emotionally invested so I can help them get out of the weeds. This even goes with writing. I have a hard time editing and streamlining my own writing (have a look at this blog if you don’t believe me — I’m wordy and rarely edit much here) but I’m very good at slashing the unnecessary for others. I do some of this in my current job, but I’m often very uninterested in the work, so I get bored and lose focus. I helped two friends out this week on papers — one was on mental health stigma and the other was a sociology paper for an academic blog — two subjects I know a lot about. I loved helping them make their work better, and I’m good at it. I’m saying all this not to brag — ugh, I really value humility, but I’m trying to recognize my strengths in order to eventually do work that I love and have some passion about. At the same time, my current job requires me to read fiction that doesn’t always spark my interest. I help with plot flow and character development, but I struggle if I don’t like the book, and often I don’t.
— When it comes to tasks that I dislike (and sometimes even those i like), I procrastinate and not just a little bit. I put things off until the VERY last minute. This causes stress, but also gives me a rush of adrenaline and is kind of thrilling in a bizarre way — so when it’s crunch time I summon up this crazy, laser-like focus and get it done. I get another rush when I feel like I pull off the unthinkable — what’s worse is that I often perform extremely well under pressure and I’ve convinced myself that I’m incapable of doing good work if I plan ahead. It’s twisted. In grad school I once pulled an all-nighter and wrote a ten page paper that was 60% of my grade. It was hard and I was down to the wire. But I knocked it out of the park. I made an A+ and my professor nominated me for some research committee that was presenting at a conference — nice, but it reinforced my bad behavior (major procrastination).
— This brings me to some of the *why* I’m working on all of this right now. Since having children, I have to schedule my time better. I can’t afford to pull all-nighters anymore. I don’t have the luxury of catching up on rest the next day. I’m pretty sure Piers was conceived (unintentionally) the morning after I turned in that ten page paper. I strolled in at 6am, high on adrenaline and probably Red Bull, feeling amazing because the paper that had been hanging over me was done. I crawled into bed with Gil and roused him from a deep sleep. Most likely I had been a raging, cranky ass all week because I had so much work to do. I wanted to make it up to him, plus I needed a full body release after a roller coaster week. I was tired but strangely hyper at the same time, and my focus was on the hot man in my bed — NOT on the fact that I had forgotten to insert that damn NuvaRing earlier in the month. I wouldn’t trade sweet Piers for anything but we weren’t ready for a baby then and had we planned better perhaps I would have actually finished grad school and we would have been better prepared financially. Okay, I have to confess reading back over this, the live-in-the-moment part of me is saying — It happened exactly as it should have. Planning is totally overrated…
The plan going forward:
— This will have to wait because this post is already crazy long. The short: I think I’ll be taking more money out of my vacation fund and hiring a housekeeper next week. I get overwhelmed when things feels dirty — bathrooms smell like urine, floors need sweeping and mopping, dishes, all that PLUS trying to get things in order to make things run better overall. I need backup in a bad way right now.
— I need accountability when it comes to household tasks even if I just announce to a friend or Gil something specific that I want to have done by the end of the day — for example, I’ll clean out my car by 5pm; I’ll fold and put away all the laundry that’s been on the chair in the den for a week. You get the idea.
— Gil and i talked last night and I shared some of my frustrations with him. He agreed to tackle some of the household stuff on Saturday — we’re still unpacking camping stuff. Dude… This is where my lists come in. I’m working on those, but right now I have SO many categories of lists and sublists — Store, Work Tasks, Household Tasks, Finances, Writing Projects, etc. I’m going to share the household task list with Gil and we’re going to each choose tasks to get done. This hasn’t worked well for us in the past, but I’m more motivated at the moment and need to run with it. More on this later.
— Oh, another thing that I have to remember. Timers are my friends. i HAVE to set a timer for certain tasks or I get distracted. For work I get overly focused and can’t make myself stop. For things like dishes, I get conveniently distracted because I’m bored off my rocker and also the act of resetting the time in ten minute increments creates some urgency and almost makes tasks I hate into a game — as in, how much can I accomplish in this nasty-ass kitchen in ten minutes. It sounds nutty, but it works for my scattered brain.
It’s a process, y’all. Thanks for enduring this if you made it through. And I appreciate all the kind words — more than you’ll ever know.
Feel free to chime in and offer tips on what works well for you. Any work-from-home folks reading? How do you prioritize household stuff and get your work done?