This Friday I felt really overwhelmed by the number of things that were on my mind. I started listing them out:
- pick up the car - hope it isn't another thousand dollar expense
- anyday dishes - did they arrive at friend's house?
- family health issues - concerned over a family member not feeling well for a really long time
- ett version for tonofbeavers - a request for an unlocked version of an old form; this was enjoyable
- email servers - two friends of mine have email servers that I helped them set up, and both are sunsetting, and neither has gotten back to me
- discord engagement - always thinking about how to make this a nicer place for people to find and call home
- filtering journal posts - a technical thing I'd like to do for the atom/rss feed
- moving nameservers to opalstack - rather than have them located on a separate nameserver, more convenient if on same as host
- screens, new front screen door, locks - ugh, how do you even find trusted sources for this?
- faucet - it continues to leak
- vent cleaning - way overdue, as well as HVAC maintenance
- light bulbs - two are burned out and require ladders
- upstairs smoke - detector - yet another ladder-requiring chore
- recycling - there is a huge pile of built-up stuff
- laundry, closet sorting - yargh
- dispose of old mattress - yeeesh
At this point I just got tired of listing everything and stopped...you get the idea. There are a lot of things here, and I was finding it hard to prioritize them. So, I decided to just vent about them here in the journal.
Venting in the journal is a legit good way to get stuff out of my head so they at least feel "handled" in some way.
This got me thinking about how to frame never-ending chores in postive way so they does not induce anxiety but are still eventually handled? It important thing, I think, is just not to forget them. None of them are super critical by themselves.
Of course the first thing I do is not on any of these lists:
Added automatic blog numbering to
garten today command as well as some additional reminders of what the available stages and callouts are.
Added dmarc email antispoof records to another domain to see if I could...yes! Changed agregate records to all point to the same one rather than have separate reporting endpoints. Moved nameservers of critical sites to the webhost itself.
Classic Sri avoidance behavior? Or smart structured procrastination? 🧐
It occurred to me that I could leverage this year's strategic horizonsa replacement for more concrete goals; see strategic horizons trope approach to goal setting as a framework for handling overwhelm by recognizing that a project and a pile of stuff to do are kind of the same thing.
If "Strategic Horizons" are a way to frame an improvisational approach to goals, then perhaps by extension one could use "Strategic Piles" as a way to frame projects in the same way. A lot of my overwhelm list are all related to a project that is along the path to a desirable state of being. If there is a to-do item that is not part of a project pile, then it tends to get lost. Depending on the urgency of the task, it may create a lot of disruptive anxiety as well. I like this idea of a strategic pile; when I found myself sorted into the ADHD club earlier this year I have found that pile keeping is a pretty common thing amonst us. While attacking a pile of to-do items might sound like a terrible way to approach a project, that is only the case if it's a project that already has a well established methodology. For most of us with aspirational goals, I would hazard to say that there is NOT an established process yet because we have yet to LEARN and ADAPT it for our own situation. Ask anyone who has tried to "project manage" groundbreaking creative work to a schedule, and you will find that these are largely about making piles, reacting to them, then reshuffling them or abandoning them. I don't see why the same thing doesn't work for someone like me.
I can imagine how this might look with a fanciful GUI, and I'll certainly try to keep it in mind for the coming week.
I'm noticing a trend: I tend to think of improving or perfecting the tools and experiences that happen to me every day. I tend to work to the point where an acceptable amount of perfectedness is reached, so I don't have to worry about it in the future. This gives me a sense of satisfaction, especially when I see how much better the experience is every time I use the thing I did/made.
Saturday Brain Fizzle
I found it very difficult to wake up, very low energy. I tentatively categorized the feeling as being low on brain stimulation, due perhaps to some nutritional imbalance that was exacerbating my normally low mental energy when I have not been immersed in a mission of discovery with like-minded peers. So I decided to just do a bunch of brain stimulating things:
I went to the local farmer stand, ran into someone I knew, and was immediately overwhelmed by their conversation and had to leave
After resting at home for a bit, I felt I still needed to get some kind of alone with people brain stimulation. I am finding that just seeing things helps kickstart my brain. Because I am curious about where things come from and am always looking for superlative experience. Anyway, I...
Went on walk downtown, which was pleasant. I stopped by a restaurant that I remember not liking but wanted to see if their egg rolls were good.
On the way home, I stopped by another place to pick up an egg roll.
I did end up writing egg roll stuff, and made tweaks to the knowledge management system as I did it. It's interesting how just getting started on something creates a cascade of unplanned but useful work. A data point in favor of structured procrastination, I say!
Overall it was kind of a fizzle of a day, but I did manage to start doing laundry.
Sunday Low Energy
I found it extremely difficult to wake up again on Sunday, and ended up sleeping-in. The giant pile of overwhelm from Friday wasn't anywhere on my mind, but in its place was the thought that I need to really analyze my eating habits and try something like Whole 30. A second thought was that I'd neglected to take Adderall or drink coffee for days. So I took the Adderall to see if it would make any difference.
It's hard to say what Adderall does for me. On Friday and Saturday my brain felt like a deflated balloon, leaking air and only holding its shape because I was pumping external sensory inputs into it by walking around and looking at everything. However, maintaining that level of sensory input is rather chaotic, and it's hard to collect that energy into a bright spot of coherent focused work. After I took Adderall I didn't feel that much different other than noticing that the balloon felt more springy and air tight. It could support the weight of multiple thoughts without sagging or farting air.
I did a bunch of writing, then collaborated in brainstorming a bartering system for the coworking Discord. Then I crashed after eating an ill-advised tomato sandwich; the refined carbs of the bread knocked me right out.
When I awoke, I had the following thought:
My daily productivity cycle is dictated by my ability to motivate past the lizard brain gatekeeper, which says everything is not worth doing or will be too hard. Sometimes I can't even form the action, and this has been really a problem from the beginning of my childhood. Occasionally curiosity and immediacy and excitement about the idea are enough to propel me to do something, and if I can get past the barriers to finding answers quickly enough before the lizard brain tells me something is hard, I an make progress. A lot of time is spent just trying to manage the lizard brain. Sometimes it takes some research to "precache the brain" with information so later on I can think of the solution and bypass the lizard brain.
A few things that might be the cause of this:
- low dopamine puts brain into a conservation mode (Adderall might help with this)
- bad diet pulls energy out of me (I have blood sugar sensitivities and possibly others)
I have always worked in a somewhat wandering pattern which is hard to start, but once I'm going things happen. Because I get irritated by things that don't work well, I tend to fix them as I go. I also tend to have other ideas, and having a place to capture them as they pop up is distracting but it feels really natural. This is a very distracted way of working, but so long as there are some external guides OR I have the sense of having completed something then I'm ok. But then if too long goes by without recentering and refocusing on some target, then I start to feel a kind of anxiety about it.
Both these insights are possible data points in favor of the Strategic Horizon approach, but what remains to be done is capturing and collating everything I've done into some kind of currated collection of works that I can share with people. For September I want to be creating something NEW TO SHARE every day.
I'll make a note of this for Monday.