HELP OR HINDER

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:

  1. Consume caffeine strategically, not habitually.
  2. Work on your hardest, highest return tasks at your peak energy time of day.
  3. Focus on one task at a time. Multitasking is simply less productive.
  4. 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.

DAY 13 UBC – WHAT IF I JUST SIT

What if I Just Sit

The bread is in the oven. They will be done in 30 minutes. I have a bit of a breather. Even when you think you got it together, it’s still an all day affair. There’s just no way around it . I’ve been doing this same recipe for almost 9 years. I know it by heart and the knead of it. I’ve learned to give myself over to this bake bread day. I do savour the breaks in the process.

Usually I like to sit and sip my tea and scroll or read. This morning none of that was appealing. I thought why don’t I just sit. Why don’t I? It was easier said than done. I think my brain has been slowly eroded and reprogrammed by all our technology. It felt peculiar to just sit and stare into space. I felt my impatient self talking. Now what? I can’t just sit. I felt my brain doing a scan. I don’t want to read anything. I don’t want to scroll on my iPhone. What is it that I want to do?

My head is talking to itself. I have only 30 minutes before I have to tend to the dough. Think fast. What can I do? My Jesus cross stitch flashed through my mind. But how much can I do? Now I have less than 30 minutes. Then I hear my mother’s voice talking about a bucket filling with one drop at a time. So I translated that into a stitch at a time. I dug out my Jesus kit. Once upon a few years ago, I said I would have it done by Christmas. I can make it this Christmas. I have two and a half months. It’s never too late until it is.

I get about 8 cross stitches done and my timer went off. I was just getting back into the hang of it. But I had to tend to the dough. I didn’t quite hop up right away. It was a bright sunny morning and the sunroom was warm and such a delight. I didn’t tarry long but when I walked into the kitchen, I was greeted by an over eager and over festive dough. Eeeek!

I haven’t sat much after that till now. But it’s all water under the bridge. The loaves are baked and cooling their heels on my new racks. All the clean up is done. Why don’t I just sit for a little bit longer, eh? I feel a bit done.

POWER SWITCH

Starting is the hardest part to anything, including my day. With so much to do, I wouldn’t have thought I would have trouble. But I do. The getting up is not bad at all since I don’t go to ‘work’ anymore. I like getting up at 6:30 in the morning. I enjoy the still early hour when the world is just stirring. I sit with my tea and a book. These mornings, I’m reading Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller. It’s a very good read. I could spend the whole morning/day reading it. But I wouldn’t get anything else done, would I?

It’s disquieting having a murky list of to dos in my head. When I have no clear vision of what I want to do, how can I start? The thing I have to remember when I’m like this is to do nothing. Sit tight or rather lounge loosely. Do not attempt anything cerebral at all. This is after spending over an hour trying to on top of paper/financial crap. I understand clearly why I avoid them like the plague. Sometimes it is wonderful to have online service at our fingertips. We can do our business without leaving the house. You can get your stuff done with a few clicks and a send. No need to get bundled up in heavy coats and strangling ourselves with our scarves. No getting into your boots on and then discovering you can’t find your mitts and keys. None of that!

But then there are other times when things are not so simple. You don’t know what you have done with your clicks and send. There’s no way to find out. When you find that phone number, you get an automated voice with recorded options but none for a real person. When you do, you’re told there’s a 5 – 20 minute wait. You get canned music. Every once in awhile a recorded voice says you are important. Stay on the line. I did this a couple of times before finally giving up. I tapped out an email. WHAT HAVE I DONE? CAN I CANCEL? I will receive an answer usually within 24 hours was the answer.

I’ve calmed down after deciding that I haven’t really done much of anything. My attempt at trying to make my life move seamlessly was the opposite. All I got was vexation and waste of time. But at least it was free. Was it though? Why would a bank give away any free service? When I thought about it, I was stupid falling for it. You see, I got my new credit card with a new expiry date. I do have some pre-authorized payment on it – one. I should not have read the instruction letter on activating the card. Then I would not have known about PowerSwitch, this wonderful tool to make my life smooth as a margarita. NOT!

I feel like I got verbal diarrhea. I can’t stop my tirade. Who’s out there listening to me anyways – Siri? She will tell me to ask a question and she’ll try to help. She never gets it right though. I made one more call – to Sasktel, my one and only pre-authorized payee. I got the automated voice with options, of course. But at the end of it all, there was a real person. I gave her my updated info. I could have waited till the payment wouldn’t go through. Then they would have to call me. It would have been much easier. What a much of to dos for nothing. I need to do my own power switch next time.

My head is all messed up. Have to rethink on technology. We do have it. But not all is wonderful or good for us. What can we do about it? What do you think? I don’t think I would like online grocery shopping or shopping at Amazon’s high tech grocery store.