PLEASE NOTE: If your life is shipshape and full-speed-ahead, this post is not for you. Carry on!
If, however, you’re feeling adrift, keep reading…
In the May issue of Org4life News I wrote:
We are all weathering the same storm, but our boats range from yachts to dinghies. Some of us may be shipwrecked, and others caught in an eddy. I hope your boat is weathering the storm and you aren’t too seasick!
A brief exchange with a reader led to an extension of this nautical analogy:
Reader: You’re right! It started off making me kind of seasick. But I’ve got my engine running now and navigating pretty well.
Me: Glad to hear it! Yes, there’s the storm and the variety of boats to consider, but also the crew, the mode of propelling the craft, the navigational tools at hand, etc. My boat is seaworthy, but my sail has been luffing. Time to trim it!
Normally, when life throws me a curveball, getting back on track is a simple matter of resuming the habits, routines, and schedules that were working for me before, ala this post: Getting Back on Track
But things have changed a lot lately. And for most of us, it’s not even a matter of adjusting to a “new normal” because the changes seem endless. We don’t know when we can expect to return to normal, or what normal is going to be, or even what we want it to be. As my friend and colleague Julie Bestry wrote in her recent post, The Now Normal: When the New Normal Changes Quickly: The old rules feel like they don’t apply.
I’ve been feeling adrift
In my recent post — Are you wasting your “free time”? — I confessed to vacillating lately between being unproductive and feeling bad about it, and being unproductive and not feeling bad about it. LOL? I also wrote: If you haven’t been very productive lately, give yourself a break! Things are hard right now.
So, I’m not expecting super-productivity of myself (and trying hard not to compare myself to friends and colleagues who have been super-productive lately), but I do need a little more structure in my life than I’ve had. A little structure goes a long way.
I’ve written a gazillion posts about Time Management (which I have finally collected into a Time Management Resource Roundup for you). And I use tools with clients that I’ve never written about, to help them spend less time doing what they have to do, and more time doing what they want to do.
How am I going to trim my sails?
I think what I need, for now, is to return to my simple patented Chinese Menu Time Management Technique. My “major life categories” haven’t changed. They are still Home, Work, Self, and Others, (Or, if I wanted to rearrange and make an acronym out of it, SHOW. I could make it a thing – SHOW me your goals and priorities! – but your life is different from mine, and my job isn’t to impose my priorities on you, it’s to help you think through what is important to YOU.) Each of these categories has its own To-Do list from which to choose the next best thing to do. What has changed is that a lot of the goals and associated tasks seem unimportant now. And that’s OK.
So, my new Ideal Schedule will be more of a simplified checklist. For now, I will do one task from each category per day. If I have the time and energy for more, great! If that’s all I do, though, it’s more than I’ve been doing. It’s progress. And it doesn’t take a lot of progress to make me happy. After all, progress equals happiness!
What if it’s more than “feeling adrift”?
Before I leave, I must acknowledge that “feeling adrift” can also be a sign of clinical depression. I think MOST of us are situationally depressed right now. But if it’s worse than that for you, please get yourself some help. There are a few mental health resources in the Survive and Thrive Resource Roundup that you might find useful. You are not alone!
Where is YOUR boat headed? How is YOUR crew holding up?
Please share with us in the comments below!
Copyright 2020 by Hazel Thornton, Organized for Life.
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Hi Hazel, Love reading your posts. Also love that you don’t bug me if I skip one or three. I’m in a boat provided by the government and so far as I know it will vanish the end of July. I am struggling to determine the best life raft to replace the boat. I want to get a Masters in Education and a PhD in English (I have an idea of teaching writing to high schoolers and college students) but Freelancing is very hard for me. Feels like I work (pitch/propose/sell) for more than 40 hrs a week but the clients and money are just not there. I’ve got the costs for the schooling covered, but no idea of the room and board for my pup and I.
Thanks for letting me share.
Thank you! + You’re welcome! + I hope your life raft appears before your boat sinks! I hope you at least have a couple of life preservers for you and your pup!
You’ve hit the nail on the head, Hazel (again). I’ve never experienced mood swings like this in my entire life – and they seem so random. So thankful for people like you to keep me entertained, informed, and encouraged.
Well, if our boats are both adrift, at least we can signal to one another! Our spyglasses and semaphore flags are coming in handy!
I love how your honesty, humor, and realistic perspective comes through in your posts. The bell (as in, “yes, yes, and yes”) on my boat kept ringing as I read this one. Do boats have bells? I’m not sure about that. I digress.
My boat is moving. Where to? I don’t know. I’ve made some business shifts out of necessity and for now, I’m very happy about those changes. My work has become virtual. New York is still closed, so no in-person client visits yet. In the foreseeable future, my boat is traveling in the virtual direction.
How is the crew holding up, you asked? We’re in the boat. We’re moving. But some days we’re rowing, and other days we are just drifting. Energy levels change from day to day and within the day.
Just as we were getting used to being quarantined and shut down, a giant world pause, things are beginning to open up. How that will happen and what it will mean is still to be seen. So we’re in yet another big shift and just trying to stay in the boat. Perhaps it’s time to float for a while.
Buoys have bells. They help with navigation and mark dangerous reefs and such. Sounds like you and your crew are weathering the storm!
Very thoughtful Hazel, thank you for this. I really like your checklist menu idea, that seems much more reasonable than trying to tick ALL the boxes, every day. I’ve hunkered down with my routines and been grateful for them, but the sameness of the days is disorienting. I happened to read something today which resonated with my feeling adrift in my tightly scheduled ocean. The author suggested we remember to include some ‘Vitamin V’, which they defined as variety. I think your checklist idea would help me do that in a, well, a structured way 🙂
I like that — Vitamin V! Read the Chinese Menu post and let me know if you try it, OK?