Wednesday, May 11, 2016

In praise of the schedule

I’ve been quiet here through most of May, and I just realized it’s because of my new little habit of writing up a daily schedule. Nothing like mapping out a plan for each day to make you realize how little time you actually have! No time for trivialities like blogging! (I’m writing this at the end of a block of time vaguely labeled “Work,” which I realize is stretching the definition quite a bit.)

Scheduling is an interesting habit, though, because it’s making me really deliberate about what activities I choose for myself. And when I’m supposed to work (usually), I work, because I know there’s a limited amount of time allocated for it. It’s helpful this month that I have an enormous project from one client (can’t remember what I named them, maybe Bashful) with no real deadline. So I always have something to do during my work time—and if something else pops up, I do that instead.

I’m also learning to make sure that I don’t get too optimistic about how much I can accomplish in one day—or how long I can focus on work in one stretch. That means I have lots of breaks built in for things like yoga, walking, meals, and reading, and therefore I always have something to look forward to. It feels kind of awesomely decadent to hit something on the schedule like “Go outside and read in the sun.”

Unfortunately, I have one client (Sneezy) with the habit of occasionally blowing up my whole schedule by sending me urgent work at random times, but that’s OK. It’s not written in stone, and if I can’t stay on schedule, I can at least use the thing as a to-do list.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The angel and devil on my shoulders

We had to go to a swim-team-related banquet last night, and even though it would have been relatively easy to stay close to the AltShift plan, I made some poor choices regarding sugar. It started when I accepted some lemonade (I was starving, dinner was still 45 minutes away, and I reasoned that it had life-sustaining calories) and ended with…oh, just trust me when I say it ended badly. I had not had that much sugar in quite a while, and I felt pretty awful a couple of hours later and even more awful the next day (i.e., now).

It’s not really such a mystery to me why I might do this, but here’s my question: How can I learn to associate this awful feeling with sugar so that it no longer appeals to me? How do I burn this into my brain so I can stop using willpower to stay away from the stuff?

It occurs to me that I have the reverse problem, too, in that going for a walk and doing yoga both leave me feeling utterly fantastic, and yet sometimes—often—I have to force myself to do them. I have literally never regretted deciding to do yoga, and yet it’s still not half as appealing as a cookie.

I sort of feel like the whole point of meditation is to help you make these angel-on-your-shoulder choices; maybe I need to up my game.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

GREAT resolutions for May

I haven’t had a dud resolution all year, so I really hope I don’t end up regretting this impulsive “30-second flexed arm hang” thing. Here is the full May plan:
  • Goal: Memorize Psalm 46. An exciting foray into the Old Testament!
  • Rule: Start every day with a plan. Short story: There was one day in April when I had about 12 things I needed to do, I had no idea what to even start with, and I could tell that I was heading for paralysis. So I asked M.H. if he would make a schedule for me, and I agreed to stick to whatever he said I had to do. I wrote down all my tasks with time estimates, and he gave it some thought and came up with a nifty little plan with breaks built in. Then he made his own schedule with the same breaks. It worked like a charm for both of us, and since then we’ve been tackling our toughest days by making coordinating schedules. I don’t need to go to those lengths every day, but I think it would be interesting to see what happens if I at least set some intentions every morning for how I want the day to go.
  • Exercise: 30-second flexed arm hang. I find it ridiculous that I’m still not strong enough to even hang from a bar, let alone do a pull-up. I think a 30-second flexed arm hang should be achievable if I focus on it for a month. (I also plan to keep up with yoga and walking and lifting weights, but not everything can be a resolution.)
  • Affirmation: “Fix your gaze directly before you.” Those clunky “I take care of myself” meditations weren’t working for me, so instead I’m going to try some prettier words of wisdom from Proverbs.
  • Task: Digital decluttering. Specifically, I want to delete useless photos from my computer and phone, delete useless passwords from my password organizer program, and clean up my work files. If I get on a roll, maybe I’ll add keywords to photos or something, but that sounds scarily ambitious.