These long stretches of hot summer days make me feel as if life is in limbo. It’s difficult to do anything cerebral. My brain is overheated. It cannot think clearly. It’s best just to chill and do just what must be done. In the early cool of the morning, when the temperature is in the low 20s℃, I do my gardening maintenance. This morning I focused on the front yard, watering all my perennial beds and fruit trees. And while waiting for the 3 raised beds to be filled from the rain cachment, I weeded here and there. It took about an hour and a half. It’s all I am able to do.
Yesterday morning, my focus was the back garden. I still have seedlings and spaces to plant. The garden was still in shade. Now there are no more spaces. It is afternoon and the backyard is in full sun. It is hot and sunny without the spruce trees. They came down last August to build a small passive solar greenhouse. It is well worth it. Even in this first year and our inexperience, it has been very productive. It does add to my busyness but very worth it. It forces me to be more organized, to work smarter and to value my time.
It looks like we will have another week of this hot weather and maybe more. Another week of drawn blinds to keep the house cool. Drawn blinds makes it feel like there is an illness. Indeed, our planet is ill. It’s a little scary. No, it’s alot scary. Record high temperatures. No rain. The whole village of Lytton, British Columbia went up in flames on June 30th. Will this, too, become our new normal?
Another hot day. I’m feeling the heat. I’m being careful, watching and conserving my energy. I still want to record my thoughts and observations. They are not sharp or profound but one thing that I did noticed today was that it’s difficult to stop the loop of non-stop negative thoughts and self criticism. However, I had this light bulb moment – that I have to sing different tunes. When I was young, I loved listening to music. I rarely do that now but tunes play in my head now and again. Today Funny How Time Slips Away was in head jukebox.
So I got onto YouTube and searched it out. That led me to other songs. The amazing thing I rediscovered was I still love music. Sitting and listening without doing anything else soothed all thoughts and wrinkles from my head. Here is my playlist.
I like to say that I am relaxed and focused BUT I am not. The harder and more I tried, the worse I feel. Logic would say I should stop trying so hard and just relax. Sounds easy but it is very difficult to do. I am restless. My stomach is in knots. I’m trying to stop thinking but I am bombarded with thoughts. Relax! Quit thinking!Let everything go! I could feel the gears in my head going round and round, trying to make it work.
It doesn’t work that way. So here I sit, tap, tapping my anguish onto the page, doing a brain dump. It’s more or less Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages. In my case, it’s the Afternoon Pages. It works. I’m finding relief externalizing my pent up angst. Sometimes my thoughts drive me crazy, into a frenzy. I’m like that girbel on the wheel, going nowhere. I lose so much time and energy in this state. It’s better that I can exercise my fingers and let it all out in words. I can call it my brainstorming. I get ideas. I get relief. I get somewhere.
I’m working on getting out my quirks and kinks. I’m focusing on what I can do. I try not to blame other people for my short comings. It’s tempting to throw it on others, but in the long run the only control I have is what I do. That sucks but that’s reality.
I had to abandon my Afternoon Pages yesterday. My mind was overloaded and stimulated. The day was getting on and so was I. So here I am the next day. It is late morning. I have time only to tap a few words before making lunch. I’m appreciating the tips from Chris Bailey’s The Productivity Project. Our/my attention span is short and getting shorter. There are so many distractions/things to check. For me it’s a constant scrolling – what is the temperature outside, what is the temperature in the greenhouse, messages, emails, social media….I didn’t realize how disruptive all that was for my brain until I cut back.
It’s not all that easy. It’s become such a habit. I find myself reaching for my smart phone whenever there is a lull, which is every few minutes. It helps if I leave it in a different room and if I ask myself if it’s important knowing a particular thing. What difference would it make? Quite often the answer is no difference and of no importance.
Now it is after lunch. I’m sitting with my cup of tea. I intend to finish this post at this sitting so the dishes can wait. If I was to do the dishes, it would lead to other chores. It would be more difficult to come back and refocus. That’s what happens with distractions. It costs more time and energy. When I am in a flow, I should go with it. Multitasking does not lead to flow. It makes me frenzied and freezes me up. It’s better for me to focus and do one thing at a time. Another important tip in being productive. It’s also important to know when to stop and that is now. Tomorrow is another day.
Just like that our heat wave is over. Not only that, it’s now cool. I woke up to 12℃ this morning, whereas only a couple of days ago I went to bed with 30℃. Life is like that now, swinging from one extreme to the other. Sometimes there is a short almost normal in between. Now is the time to pay attention and try to live the best rest of my life. I do need alot of help. My attention span is the size of a gnat. Can you believe that I paid my property tax twice this year? How inattentive can I be, especially when I do make written entries of paid bills. If I had only glanced up a few lines….
But not to worry. The city will probably send me a refund cheque or I won’t have to worry about paying next year. Do you know how hard it is to speak to a real person on the phone these days? I was lucky the first time I called the city when I was alerted that I had made another payment. It was first thing in the morning and a person came on the line after a few prompts. He told me to call the bank to have them stop payment because it hasn’t shown up on his end yet. But he could see that I’ve already paid up. I wasn’t so lucky calling the bank. No real person came on the line. No luck for me either at the bank in person. They could not stop payment. It had already gone through and because I had paid online, they can’t do anything.
All of this had cost me some time. It’s my own fault really for not paying attention to what I was doing. It cost me more time phoning the city back. Now all I can get is a recording about their high volume of calls and to visit their website. On emailing them, I was informed that they are experiencing a high volume of mail and not to expect an answer for 5 business days. If it is urgent call the telephone line! Round and round we go. It’s almost 5 business days since I’ve emailed the city. I have not heard from them yet.
It is helpful to pay attention where and when we lose time and energy. Most of us spend too much time and energy online and scrolling on our phones. The last few days, it’s cost me both, trying to fix my Fitness app. I still can’t log onto it doing everything I’m suppose to – even enlisting help from my fitness center. I’ve decided not to phone the helpline. I’m sure I will get a recording prompting me to press this and that. So while technology can help us, it also can do the opposite. It’s up to us to be mindful of how we use our gizmos.
I am glad to have stumble onto Chris Baily’s The Productivity Project. It came at a good time. The thing is I’m just reading it and not doing the assignments as he recommends. So I’m backtracking to make the lessons stick. Here are 4 tips from the project:
Consume caffeine strategically, not habitually.
Work on your hardest, highest return tasks at your peak energy time of day.
Focus on one task at a time. Multitasking is simply less productive.
Compartmentalize email and social media to specific times during the day.
I know these tips are really helpful. I did a caffeine fast for a week. I felt more relaxed and things tasted a lot better after. No. 2 is what everyone recommends. The hardest task requires more energy and focus. Multitasking screws up my mind and I make more mistakes. Limiting time on social media and online makes me feel more restful and peaceful. I’m not exactly that at the moment. I have been very busy during the heat wave to keep all our gardens and greenhouse watered. It didn’t leave me much spare time. Now is my unwinding time.
I am most happy when I am working on a project or challenge. Right now my challenge/project is writing this post and baking bread. I’m in between risings. I have a few minutes to tap out some first words/thoughts. I’ve been away for awhile. It might take some time for my fingers to limber up and my brain to gear up. Thank God the heat wave is over. The 30+- 40℃ have chilled. I don’t function well in heat but I did remarkedly well through it this time. And that is because I’ve learned to work smarter, not harder. I owe my thanks to Chris Baily of the Productivity Project.
I’ve finished baking my bread. The loaves are out, cooled, bagged and put away. The mixing bowl, tools and all the pans are washed and dried. After everything is said and done, I know that I’ve worked hard. I’m not sure about the smart part. But it is at the end of the day. I am tired. Though it is only 22℃ now, I feel hot. I am sure I am still processing the past week of heat. I do not bounce back like the EverReady Bunny. I’m more like the tortoise. I am slow but I try to be steady and committed.
I’m intent on writing this post as I had set out to do this morning. It’s a good thing that I chose only 2 things for today. I’m not sure I have enough energy for more. Oh, I’ve done more than just baking bread and writing this post. I’m talking about commitments- things I MUST do from start to finish. I have a bad habit of starting something and not following through. I hope to change that by working smarter, not wasting energy and time on the wrong things. Coming back to this writing space will help me chart my way. I’ve been away for too many days.