WHEW. Last week was rough. A stomach bug got me and my kid last week and it took me out for DAYS. We’re all better now, but looking back on that week, until at least Thursday, I was done. Cooked. All plans out the window. I did what I could and the rest, well, it had to wait. Everyday I asked myself, what can I do today?
And not in a girlboss let’s crush this productivity kind of way. In a what am I physically capable of today? way. I was not able to make a lot of dinners, so my husband was on deck for that (and Seamless, tbh). I could read. Reading was fine. I could (mostly) email. I could also go to bed at like 9:30pm. DONE. But I didn’t exercise. I didn’t write. I did not conquer my to do list in the way I wanted to. And that’s ok. People with acute and/or chronic illnesses do this everyday. It’s a lot.
All I did, really, was check in with myself. I thought ahead, to the next hour or later that day and thought ok I have to be able to care for my kid and stay awake, what do I need to do now to make sure that’s tolerable? (I wasn’t at death’s door or anything, but this bug zapped my energy for days.) This is also something I’ve been doing in my work notebook, oddly enough. Checking in with myself. And I like it.
I’ve been toying with the idea of designing my own work-notebook. I’m a BIG notebook user for to do lists and ideas and plans and goals etc. I’ve used a few preprinted ones with fill-in calendars and quarterly goal tracking but the goals I have, work-wise, are not built like others’ goals and it just doesn’t fit. There are plenty of companies that let you customize a planner etc, but I haven’t tried any yet. You still have to choose between their templates. I don’t really have the skills to do it myself from scratch (though I understand Canva might have some viable options). I’m trying to figure out what exactly I want, anyway.
Each week I make a big bulleted list of things that need to be done. These will not be done in this single week and in fact MANY things carry over week-to-week (until I get sick of writing them over and over and finally do them ha). Here are my categories:
To Read (long)
To Read (short)
This is not rocket science. But here is how many items are on each of those lists right now:
To Read (long): 9
To Read (short): 6
Then each day of the week, I write a shorter, bulleted list of things I actually plan to hopefully get done, ideally taken from the big weekly list. Ha. That sometimes happens. But the lists are always on the right hand side of the page, and I use the left hand side for daily notes and scribbles and whatever. I don’t know why. I just do it this way. That leaves the left-hand side of the page on the weekly list blank, so I’ve started asking myself some check-in questions. They vary. This week they are:
How was last week?
What’s this week going to be like?
What do you wish you could do?
When can you do that?
Why is that so hard?
Other than that, what needs to be done?
Obviously, these only make sense to me. And I didn’t plan them ahead of time, I just wrote. Honestly, it’s just a bit of guided journaling to start the week. But you know what? It’s effective. It helps me drill down on how I’m feeling and what I really want to do that week (on top of what I have to do) and of all the productivity and creativity content I have consumed over the last 20 years, I’ve found that just saying out loud (or on paper) what you want to do gets you that much closer to doing it. All the other preprinted journals and notebooks I’ve used basically do this, but coat it in some kind of productivity candy shell like what is today’s happiness quotient??? or whatever. I don’t need that. I just need to ask myself what do you want to do? when can you do it?
Is this just getting older? Is this just self-realization? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The point of this whole, slightly meandering (sorry) newsletter that sometimes you’re going to get sick or get waylaid by life and you’ll fall off ALL your productivity horses and there will be big blanks in your calendar or to-do list or whatever tracking thing you use (because if you are like me you have 100 tracking things, sorry if that is not you, I am sure you can apply this to your blissful, tracking-free life) and it is OK and you just start again. There is a notebook on my shelf somewhere that has a plan in it wherein I have written a new, complete novel by this time this year AAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Whew. Oh well, it sounded good at the time. But just because I haven’t done that exactly according to the plan doesn’t mean I won’t ever write that novel.
I’ll start tomorrow.