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In the last week, we’ve seen the US have a few changes. During this global pandemic we are learning ourselves and the people we are around and some of us are doing the very best we can at the moment.

For me, this time is scary because it’s triggering a few monsters from the woodworks that I thought I had gotten past.

Depression and I have been unfortunate compatriots for chunks of my life. I thought I was free of it, till Sunday night when it screamed loud enough in my sleep. I’ve had bouts that went to suicidal to mere inconveniences that were a symptom of uncontrolled stress.

It wasn’t pretty. I knew that I had twenty-four hours to yank myself out of the cycle or I was going to go down and down and there would be a long recovery time involved. And my other health would spiral down, and since that’s not a good combo with a pandemic running everyone ragged I knew I had to figure it out.

So I decided the worst thing I could do was not have anything to do.

Which really is my truth.

I created a challenge where I take my best day in writing (my profession, my punching bag, and my outlet) and make it happen again and again.

It also happens that my birthday is April 1st (I’ve heard the jokes, y’all).

The best present I can give myself is a book that I wrote. Or at least that was the original intention. I decided that it wouldn’t have to be all on the same thing, though it wasn’t against the rules.

See, I had decided that I was going to get all the stories that are floating around in my head a place to land. It probably helps that my daily writings all go in a file called “MUD 2020” because I know that writing is all going to be trash anyways. It’s going to get edited into life and make something of itself.

You can’t edit a blank page.

This change into doing more work has helped. Sure, I didn’t make the challenge the first day, but I wrote more words than I have any day this year. So that’s a plus.

The other reason behind putting in a challenge of 5000 words was because I did a test pomodoro. My pomodoro length is 25/5 which lets me get a half hour of concentration before I try to get sidetracked. My mind has done really well with this set of timeslots because it’s how my rythym goes. There are other recommended times, but it’s really a matter of preference but it’s the consistency that gets you places.

I can write roughly 700-1200 words in that time. So if i’m going to follow that to an average of about 1000 words in 30 minutes because in reality it makes my math work better.

So that means that it should take me about 2.5 hours to write that time. But being honest I’ll get distracted. Work on responding to email or text messages while I’m typing instead of waiting till I’m at a break section to deal with them we’re going to had 1.5 hours of ‘distraction’ time. That’s four hours of my day.

The nice thing about this is once I’ve accomplished this, I’ve gotten something really big done and it causes a momentum onto doing the other things.

Like today, I’m not going to paint because it’s threatening rain but I can work on that rug I’ve been hooking since I took it apart six months ago.

I should also mention that I don’t own a TV nor have a video account that lets me stream. Because those are even bigger time-sucks in my life. Though I have been contemplating getting one for the next month or so because then I can watch the few shows that I haven’t seen in almost three years.

Know Your Monsters

All of us have that thing that takes away from our lives, we get less done, we get distracted, we think the problem is bigger than us.

Identify, Invent, Influence

Identify what your time wasters are. That is easy, and yet hard. At this point, we’re only calling them out. Pick three that really take away from your life. Then decide which one is going to be a treat.

Invent a way to reward yourself with the one that you decided was the treat. My five-minute breaks are divided between potty breaks and Pinterest. Like that’s a surprise to anyone who knows me.

Influence yourself into getting more things done because you now have a reward with which to make yourself a little better.

You’re allowed to grieve

This time has been a change for all of us. We’re suddenly not allowed to do things and suddenly have to find time to fill for all the twenty-four hours in a day. We don’t have all the tools in place to make sure that our productivity stays the same.

And you know what, it won’t.

That is the thing that everyone really needs to settle down about. We have to get certain things done. We need to respond to emails, but we’re also home with our families, our roommates, our pets and they need the attention that we should have been giving them all along.

I think the best thing is to identify your one thing that has to get done in a day and if that is making sure your toddler doesn’t torture your dog– then do that. It will all get easier as we all get used to this new ‘normal’.

Take it in stride and see where you can push yourself.

I’ve had a few years to plan this ‘work from home’ thing. I’ve had a few years of dealing with depression and making it “shut the **** up”. I’ve had a few weeks to get used to not going out and talking to people face to face.

Do you know what it’s like to go to an interview and not be able to shake someone’s hand? When that’s how you read a person and decide if they are a good person?

It’s weird. That’s what it was.

But it will go where it’s supposed to go. We all have to learn about this in a crash course of things. Take your time to move on from your expectations and let them go.

When you’re ready to make new expectations, we’ll be here, and more importantly, you’ll be here.

And then you’ll know that you can take the next step forward.

And you’ll pivot.

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