0

There is no pill for this annoying thing

There is an ad on radio where a woman is asking another how she ‘gets so much done’ in just 24 hours. The super mommy who wakes early, makes food, presentations and evening park visits, credits it all to a pill (not THE PILL meant to keep aforementioned tiny park visit companions at bay).

Since she’s on radio it’s no secret that she’s lying, about three things mainly. First, no pill (or coffee) can make you fill your day with perfectly timed tasks done easy. Second, there is no such thing as perfectly timed tasks. Third, it is never easy.

All that the average lot of us manage to achieve on most days is avoiding a car crash while looking like a car crash. But there are some ‘highly efficient’ individuals, who spoil it for everyone really, because they have one (awfully boring) habit that unfortunately seems to work. It is called (don’t hold your breath) a To-Do list, named so that when it’s over you can end the day with the Ta-Da jig. In recent months I have had the undesirable pleasure of putting it to practice. Now I’m one of those people who either will not enter the rink at all or will go all Karate Kid on it (with many a bludgeoned face to show for it). So in my third decade on earth when I finally seemed to have a handle on what I wanted to do in life (write for peanuts & vino), I decided to begin ‘managing’ my time down to the minute.

Caution: it does not look pretty. It’s more kangaroo on acid on a trampoline (because she forgets she doesn’t need a trampoline). Here’s what the homo sapiens version looks like – you open a shared excel sheet (because it’s easy, accessible on multiple devices anywhere, does not waste paper), list down every darn thing that you need to do every day, decorate it with deadlines (I would curve the life out of them if they weren’t dead already), say ‘done’ on the side when you’ve got it over with and just to make it a party out there (if you’re the kangaroo like me) plugin the start and end time on the dreary bits so you’re racing to get out of there quick.

No one is going to put me on the radio to sell this pill but honey it works for this mama (so far) and it could work for you too. You don’t have to complicate your life exactly as much as I have with this attempt at becoming the boss of me. To your aid have come the good folks who make apps to glue us to our phones even more than we already are. They’ve created a few apps for the list lusters, so why not have a go at Carrot (lists turned into games) or Wunderlist (it’s pretty and allows you to share things like grocery lists with your partner, because c’mon, supermarket scuffles ARE the sex in cohabitation).

What lists allow us to do is break down tasks into surmountable bits that aren’t half as scary when they’re written down and ticked off one by one instead of floating incessantly in our minds. It allows us to do what writer Anne Lamott mentions in her brilliant book ‘Bird by Bird’, “Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

The biggest upside of the piecemeal approach to a day (other than the high of writing ‘done’ beside all tasks) is the patterns that appear over time, showing how you may be spending the majority of it in things that add little or nothing to your life (yes Facebook, I’m talking about you). More significantly, tracking your day can be the acknowledgement of one of life’s greatest truths – the only egalitarian treasure all humankind is born with and one we can enjoy until the end, is time (that is, when we can learn to hold down this Road Runner). Beep Beep.

Advertisements
0

’tis Nobody’s Business

Alone time, whether self-imposed or induced by circumstance, can often be fairly refreshing, as opposed to depressing as some people will tell you. One must hail alone time as the elixir for embattled souls and for those who’re as self-obsessed as certain people I know (yours truly included).

Whether you spend these glorious alone-hours indulging in tomfoolery or otherwise is merely a matter of personal choice (as ‘personal’ as choices can possibly be).

There are countless activities to choose from:

Making burnt egg-toast to satiate evening hunger, while dancing not-so-gracefully around the pan.

Wearing clothes with a colour combination that has the potential to cause blindness.

Watching movies rich in nonsensical content in entirety, and preparing to criticise them later.

Sending countless emails to friends who’re definitely busy at the time.

Telling yourself that you need to get back to work and not doing so at all.

Continuing to prance around the room.

Identifying the source of strange sounds emanating from certain corners of the house, just to make sure one is indeed alone.

Indulging in time travel (of the imaginary sort of course).

Sleeping and waking with particular disregard for dawn and dusk.

Not being busy at all but grumbling at the sound of the doorbell.

Losing oneself in the pages of a book and resurfacing only when the world comes searching for you.

…I’m sure there are those who use their time (whether alone or otherwise), rather judiciously (a term stubbornly closed to interpretation).

However, it is of no concern to me and neither should it be to you.

Suffice it to say that ‘tis surely a treat and luxury to be unnoticed and unheard, though only for a while.

And imagine what great potential something must hold when it is best described thus:
What you do on your own time is nobody’s business.