Monday, March 28, 2016

The real life-changing magic?

I've decided that I need to Kon-Marie my LIFE.  I suspect I'm spending my time and energy on  things that don't bring joy or utility to my life. I am squandering my precious minutes and hours on things that don't matter, that suck away my joy and satisfaction and don't bring me any closer to my goals? And yes, simply being content with life and enjoying this phase is a goal.

What brought this on? Another weekend that was neither relaxing nor refreshing. Our weekends lately just seem like a long-ass slog of chores & yelling at kids. I was thinking to myself last night, as I sorted through some clothes and threw some out, "you know what REALLY doesn't spark joy? F&*king Sundays".  The day was busy, there was no "sitting around" but yet not one single thing could be described as FUN (I'll spare you the play by play). As I threw more ill-fitting sweaters and outdated tanks into the donation pile and looked at my neat, colorful, pretty tops fitting with plenty of room to spare in my drawer, I realized I actually could do the same thing with my life.

I've been feeling really overwhelmed with everything lately. Part of it is the not-sleeping, and the loss of efficiency and focus that mean I'm falling behind at work and too tired at home to keep up with all that needs doing (and what I do end up doing just seems a thousand times more onerous). The other part is simply that a lot is going on right now. WHEN am I supposed to do this? I wake up early as it is, and those hours are for exercise, chores, childcare, work. The only time I really get to think is on my walk to and from work and that time is generally used for planning my day and motivating myself to tackle the hard things first (in the morning) and again gearing myself up to be patient & present with my children and figuring out what to feed everyone for dinner (the evening walk).

I keep trying to institute new habits (meditate, journal, budget, spend less, limit social media, track steps, track calories, go to therapy, go to another kind of therapy, eat less, exercise, do this other exercise, and now this OTHER exercise, eat low carb, etc.. etc...), hoping this or that will "help" but there are just so many things competing for my mental energy right now---I can't figure out how to do it all and I just keep picking up and abandoning things. I need a more integrated plan that incorporates all the different aspects of my life and includes only the habits/activities that seem like they would make the most difference.

I also need to look at how I'm spending my time and see what I can cut. I know I spend time on things I really shouldn't---not because they are "bad" for me (I'm not planning on cutting down on good TV, for example!)---but because they are things I "should" do that I don't find pleasurable or helpful anymore (if ever). Example: while I LOVED our budget when we first started it, we keep forgetting to entire our expenses these days and then every couple of weeks I have to spend a lot of time going through our credit card & bank statements and adding things in. Which: 1) isn't the point of YNAB. If you aren't looking at the budget before buying something, its not doing much to change your habits and 2) its a real PITA and I get stressed out when I have to enter G's spending into his "fun money" category. The whole point of giving him an allowance is so that he could spend without me caring (or knowing, I didn't' go into the app and scrutinize his purchases!). When I have to see each purchase (and often ask him about it)---the stress/nagging aspect are back. I'm sure there are plenty more examples.

Like the Kon-Marie for clutter, you first need to assess the situation.  This means tracking my time. I am going to go back and think through this weekend and I started tracking at work today. No, its not an "ordinary day"---L inexplicably has no school today (WHY?) so we split up the day and I'm at home now & had to give up on real working because of the constant "mommy, mommy, mommy" and the clinging to my leg "NOW what are you doing" "NOW can you play with me?". I am traveling later this week/weekend for a work conference so I'll have some solitude a can hopefully figure something out.

..and, of course, share it all here with you!

26 comments:

  1. Good luck! I look forward to hearing the results!

    I totally embrace time minimalism. https://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/i-suspect-i-might-be-a-time-minimalist/

    I think with say, the shubox, trying out new habits is her hobby and that's part of how she can try so many things. My hobby is reading crappy romance novels (and blogging, I guess).

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    1. a hobby? interesting. maybe working on my habits is actually more of a . . . habit :) or mild compulsion (but one I don't mind). interesting on the hobby idea. if it is a hobby, at least it's not my only one :)

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  2. Tracking your time to figure out where the problems lie is a fabulous idea! And I might have to borrow it... I ALWAYS feel like I'm on the go, but accomplishing nothing meaningful, and I certainly don't derive joy from much of anything in my life these days. I discovered a while ago that adding new stuff isn't the answer for me- it just adds to my burden. It never really occurred to me to see if there was anything I could get rid of.

    And one more thing- I'm working on a plan to improve the quality (and to some degree, the quantity) of sleep I get- I'll be sure to share once I figure it all out!

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    1. there are a few things I want to add but can't find the time/space for (mediation for one, I think it could help for anxiety/sleep/general crankiness)---but I'm wondering WHAT I'm doing that I can't find a reliable 15 minute time span to mediate in my day!
      And YES please share re: the sleep.

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  3. Just leaving this here: http://www.amazon.com/Life-Changing-Magic-Not-Giving-Spending/dp/0316270725/

    It's really good.

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    1. #2 on our blog liked this book and has a partially written book review for it in our drafts. She should totally finish writing it.

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    2. Wow, that pretty much sums up what I'm trying to say here. Do the book review n&m! I'm not ready to shell out $13 ($13 will buy s nice bottle of wine which also helps with this)

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    3. I will tell her to!

      Does your library have it?

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    4. Nope. I always check when I get a book rec.

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    5. Can you request they purchase it? (One of my friends out here in Paradise does this all the time and after she told me, I suggested the second Lumberjanes book since they had the first one and they bought it and ordered the third!)

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    6. I can. It's never worked for me...yet. But I'll give it a shot

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    7. I did that with the Bloggess's first book and they listened to me. Then I got to be the first one to check it out! :)

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    8. I tried it! We'll see.

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  4. My inner introvert seems to be screaming these past few weeks. We were on spring break and it's just too much togetherness with the one part cute, one part exhausting kids.

    And that's not even mentioning the freaking sword of Damocles that is the unrelenting workload.

    No worries, I would never do anything stupid, but I totally understand the sentiment behind "One day he went to buy a pack of cigarettes, and never came back."

    I got a second round of reviews for a manuscript. We did EXTENSIVE revisions for the first resubmission, bent over backwards to respond to every point by the two referees. The paper is very long now and the response letter itself was nearly 20 pages. We get the second round of review, and one ref is happy, while the other hasn't actually read the response and/or the manuscript because he's claiming that we didn't answer to the questions we did, asks for even more outrageous additional work, has a ton of new questions, and tops it off with an offhand remark like "I am still not convinced this paper offers enough novelty for this journal." Da fuckin' fucker. I would bet any amount of money that it's a young dude, someone's postdoc or similar. Fuckin' academic job. And I can't even drink (have become a wuss, alcohol makes me feel ill.)

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    1. I'm sorry. I totally get it. How bout a nice cup of tea?

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    2. Sorry, tea! *muffled laughter *

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    3. I could go for some coffee... Feeling better today. Can't stay pissed for long, too much to do.

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  5. To me it really sounds like you need a break, and a little space, and time to re-evaluate priorities. I really hope you get it on your trip! The time tracking sounds good too - can definitely be helpful. Maybe esp on weekends so you can see where the time goes. Also - can you talk to G so that you each get a little bit of protected 'me time' on weekends to unwind/relax? Even if it's 2 hrs? I wonder if that would help refresh you from the slog feeling. And you would not be allowed to do laundry during that time . . .

    On a side note, interesting about YNAB. We are totally compulsive about recording purchases as they are made so I only have to do one "clean up" per month. And I love YNAB because it a) keeps me in check and b) gives me PERMISSION to spend within the allotted categories, which makes me much less stressed about overall in/out flow of $.

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    1. Oh yes, a break would be amazing. We DO give each other time off on weekends (this weekend g went away for a night to visit friends), I usually use my 2 hours off to exercise or do personal
      Grooming stuff (eyebrows//nails/hair color/cut). Or...if there is nothing I really need to do, I do laundry.
      I felt the exact same about YNAB until
      I didn't. The options are either to quit or BOTH of us get diligent again. I like option b but don't want to do it all myself anymore.

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  6. I kind of loved this line from a blog post I read recently: "I don't value that right now."
    Easier said than done, but just a simple phrase to keep in mind (not a major life plan or anything) along the same lines as what you're talking about.
    http://www.shepicksuppennies.com/routine-habits-value-dont-have-time/

    And yes with the 'shoulds'! Sometimes when I try to be mindful of my time it makes me more stressed out that I "should" be meditating, reading something important, writing thoughtful thank you notes etc etc when really I just need space to spend the time on something that doesn't feel like an obligation!

    Will be so curious to hear how the time tracking goes!

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    1. yeah, "I don't value that" or "its not a priority"...the Laura VAnderkam 168 hours philosophy, which I completely believe in BTW.
      its definitely the shoulds that are the problem here. And I can't really track those..they are in my head!

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  7. Hmm. This is hard. I feel like most of the things I don't enjoy are the things I really can't give up - laundry, vacuuming, commuting (well, I'm working on reducing the commuting, but it's slow going). Lately I've been focusing on looking for ways to do more fun stuff. Maybe that will also decrease the useless downtime. Like, over the weekend I spent hours half heartedly walking around the house picking up one thing, putting it away, picking up another, putting it away... The task expanded to fill the space I had. That could be eliminated!

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    1. Yes, exactly! What if instead of mindlessly trying to "tidy" you just...I don't know, poured yourself a beer and read a book for an hour? wouldn't that feel more satisfying? I spend probably 1-2 hours mindlessly flipping through facebook and picking up things that were just going to be messed up again, too. Its like I can't let myself truly relax, but then I look for relaxation in the wrong places (the internet, often)

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  8. I haven't read KonMarie but this idea of simplifying life is one that is important to me. I have a lot of thoughts about this topic but I'm not sure that any of them would be useful. I think that the hardest part is that, in order to really open up meaningful space when there is so little that is negotiable, you probably have to cut out things that are important to you. But, difficult choices aside, I think the process of evaluating priorities itself is incredibly valuable.

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    1. I get what you are saying, but I also think there is a continuum of "simple living" & each of us has our own sweet spot. I think I'm a little to the right of where I want to be right now and its probably feasible to get things back on track without giving up something too big. The more I think about, the more I'm realizing its mental load more than actual time constraints. All the things I'm worrying about, or actively "working on".

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  9. If I don't schedule in time for things that I enjoy, then it doesn't get done and I end up feeling overwhelmed, underappreciated and neglected.

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