To Write Or Not To Write

I’m supposed to be writing.  I know, I am writing, but I’m supposed to be working on one of the project’s that I’ve tried to complete for the last decade or so.  Maybe I don’t really want to write.  Maybe I just want to want to write?  I mean, thinking is easier than doing, right?  Except, it’s not, really.  It’s just as painful to avoid as it is to confront – at least in this instance.

Am I afraid I’ll be found a fraud?  Out of ideas?  Stupid, incompetent, poser?

I’m all that.  I’m just me, trying to figure out a way to make my time on this spinning living planet work for me.

I thought I wanted fame, and I am sooooo glad I never got it.  Fame is crap – unless you get rich by having fame, and then it’s not the fame, it’s the wealth.  For some, it’s the fame.  Egomania.

Of course I’m ego-driven.  I wouldn’t be writing if I didn’t think I had something worthwhile to say – even if it’s just worthy to me.  I also get inspiration, edification, joy, and connection from other people’s writing, art, and other creativity, and it’s satisfying to get positive feedback – or even neutral feedback.  Negative feedback sucks, but then I have to step back and ask why I got that kind of comment.  Was I offensive?  Are they reacting from their fear?  What’s my responsibility to them – or them to me?

We owe each other nothing, which makes connection all the more beautiful.

Often, I write to survive.  Just getting something out is therapeutic, especially when I feel the nothingness crowding in.

Some things are far too personal to share except to skirt around the edges, and other instances have found me kicking up all the muck and slinging it around on the page, hoping that someone will relate – that someone will tell me their story too – that someone else’s noise will quiet mine.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

I Wish I Had Learned This Sooner!

pomodoro timer

Do you find yourself procrastinating when there is a deadline approaching, or something unpleasant needs doing?  Welcome to the club!

However, in Learning How To Learn, a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) through Coursera.org, taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley, and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, through, UC San Diego, I learned that procrastination can be overcome!  Understanding why procrastination happens, and what to do about it, has helped me enormously.

The pain center in our brain lights up when we’re faced with something we’d rather not do, so your brain experiences procrastination as a form of pain.  Staying in the process of what you’re working on, rather than focusing on the finish, or result, helps eliminate the ‘pain’ associated with what needs doing.

A great technique described in the course is setting a timer for 25 minutes, or perhaps a reasonable amount of time to complete, or make good progress, on the task, and rewarding yourself.  Maybe it’s a nap, a walk, or some other, healthy, bonus for working through your allotted time.  Known as, the Pomodoro Technique, this helps to focus on working, as well as setting a limit, while knowing you’ll give yourself a treat for work well done.

Another important aspect of the Learning How To Learn course, was understanding our two modes of thinking and learning.  We all know about the focused mode, but I didn’t know about the diffuse mode of learning and thinking.  This relaxed mode occurs when your attention is on other things like when you’re walking, or other exercise, or when you’re taking a shower, or just ‘spacing out’, as well as during sleep – as long as you were focusing on the problem(s) before going to sleep. Your brain works on problems when you’re not consciously focusing on them.

We sometimes gain insight into a difficult problem, or come up with seemingly random solutions, by letting go of our focused mode of attack, and giving our free-form, unconscious mind a chance to work on it.

Spaced-practice, or spaced-repetition, is another concept I learned that helped me a lot.  In learning how to play my guitar, I began by practicing for hours, going over notes, chords, theory, and playing, which got me bleeding fingers and not really much gelling in my head. When my fingers healed, I applied spaced learning by taking a break for a day, then returning to practicing no more than a half-hour a day (understand that it was super tough for me to let go of trying to master the guitar in a month…), and to my delight, I’ve begun understanding more, and next week I’ll be at Carnegie Hall!

OK, I’ll be cleaning Carnegie Hall, but one day I could be playing there!

There is so much more I gained through this course that this could be the longest blog post I’ve ever written, but I suggest Dr. Oakley’s wonderful book:

A Mind For Numbers, as well as taking Learning How To Learn, Dr. Oakley, and Dr. Sejnowski’s, 4-week MOOC, where they include lots of excellent guest-speaker videos that further illuminate their subject.

Happy learning all!

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

Seven Things To Do Today To Increase Productivity

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  1. Get off social media, or set a timer for fifteen minutes, and when the timer goes off, so does Twitter, Ello, Facebook, et. al.  There are apps that will kill my sessions if I lack will power to stop.
  2. Write down what I can reasonably accomplish today, allotting time to each task before beginning work.
  3. Focus on my most important task, determining how long I need to be at it, and break it up, again, setting a timer so that I stop, stretch, look outside (focusing my eyes on something further away to exercise them too), get a drink of water, and maybe a snack  before continuing.
  4. While I’m taking a break, pick up things lying around that need to go back to their place – I’m making ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ a mantra.  Seeing the clutter gone helps my mind focus better.
  5. Practice 5 minutes of mindful relaxation before getting back into work or starting a new task.
  6. Remind myself what my goals are.  “I’m clearing this area so I have more room to work, thus reducing my stress level too”.  “I’m writing several pages today, not the whole book.” “I’m making my living space a place I enjoy being, and feel good about inviting others into”., etc.
  7. Reward myself intermittently.  Psychological studies have shown that intermittent reinforcement is the most powerful type of conditioning, eliciting better responses than continuous positive reinforcement. The reward needs to be consistent with my overall goals, so if I’m rewarding myself for writing several pages with a piece of cake, I’m ignoring my goal of healthier eating or weight loss.  But if cake makes me happy – a bite is better than a whole slice for my overall goals.

Having A.D.D.  and anxiety makes it hard to get down to work, and as I’ve learned to do with exercise – I ignore my thoughts about it and just begin.  Exercise is easier because I have a routine, so I know where to start.  My clutter and procrastination happens because I’m overwhelmed with so much that needs doing that I can’t start.  Once I started narrowing in on ‘one thing’, I tend to get in a zone and try to do everything, which is also counter-productive because it makes it less likely that I’ll do that again knowing that I’ll have a hard time stopping, so I have to set a timer as soon as I do or finish that one thing, knowing I’ll only continue for a half-hour, or whatever I can do at the time, but usually never more than an hour, unless it’s a dedicated task I’ve allotted a few hours to.

Dealing with brain disorders is daunting!  It’s not a personal failure, but I tell myself that anyway.  Shame is part of the package for me, but I can lessen it by remembering that I’m limited.  Not to give myself a pass, but to remind myself that my accomplishments are harder earned, and any progress is great progress.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current