Ideas on Paper

I’ve always been a pen and paper person. So I always put down my ideas, my thoughts, my to-do lists and my notes on paper. I know it’s not a novel idea but I think when we write things down on paper, our ideas flow better. I have even written blog posts on paper and then typed them up. I know it may make me sound like somewhat of a luddite but I seriously feel that I think better and remember better when I write things down by hand.

The other good thing about putting things down on paper (and this could be done on the computer as well) is to list out all this things you want to do. I’m starting a new venture and so this has me doing a lot of new stuff. I also have to strategize as to how I want to put my plans into practice. I haven’t written it out completely but I’m starting to. I think when we write things it’s out there in the world. Ideas seem to take shape and I feel they’re more likely to come alive and take shape.

 

Self-discipline…. or the lack of it

I often struggle with self-discipline. Something I want to actively change. I can very well make up a schedule for myself and decide that I need to stick to it… only to completely ignore it. I don’t have a problem keeping appointments or even making sure that I submit work when there’s a strict deadline. I’ve never missed a flight or had a problem getting my kid to school.

My problem tends to be more personal and from the numerous articles and posts that I read, I realize that this is somewhat of an epidemic…. or at least it seems that way.

I’ve come across several good tips that I feel are helping:

  • Don’t break the chain: Doing something everyday and marking it off on your calendar is an effective method. So basically, don’t break the chain. This is useful for creating a habit and many people call it a habit tracker. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. I’ve been using this to journal (one paragraph of reflection/ gratitude), study, blogging.
  • Block out time on your calendar: Make a schedule and stick to it. The most famous of schedules is probably Benjamin Franklin’s. He detailed his entire day, blocking out time for work. The idea is to go into “Deep Work” mode or “Laser” mode. This isn’t easy when you have people constantly calling/ sending messages. It seems that we very rarely get uninterrupted time any more. I’m really failing at this one. 
  • Break down tasks: A big reason we don’t get around to doing things (procrastinating!!!) is not because we are lazy. It’s because we either feel overwhelmed with the sheer size of the project or we don’t know how to get started. I’m trying to break things down. I write out steps no matter how small they may be and then arrange them in an order to start. This is really helping me. Seeing a series of smaller tasks doesn’t seem so overwhelming any more.
  • Just do it (like Nike!): I’ve written about this before. Another big reason for procrastinating is the need for perfection. While it seems like doing something perfectly is a positive, it can end up being a big hindrance. The fear of not accomplishing something well enough often leads to no action at all. This is why when I came across the words… Progress over Perfection, it seemed like genius. We can spend hours thinking of the perfect was to do something or, we can just do it. It’s good to be accurate but it’s ok not to be perfect.

All these tips are easier said than done. Life and distractions always seem to get in the way. I’m trying to work at this everyday and pick up further pointers as I go along.

Inability to handle situations

There’s a video going around the internet about a cockroach in a restaurant and two ladies were frantic about it but the waiter was so composed when it landed on him. So the video goes on to say that what stood out was the inability of the two ladies to handle it.

The moral of the story is not what other people do but our reaction / attitude towards it.

While I agree with the moral of the story, I don’t necessarily agree that the ladies should have been all calm and composed like the waiter.

I am quite good at keeping my composure on the outside. Not so good on the inside. I let things stress me out even though I don’t react badly to it or throw a tantrum. However… I don’t think I will ever be able to keep my composure if a cockroach flew at me or sat on me.

There are just some situations in life that deserve an outrageous response.  I don’t think it signals your inability to handle situations and I don’t think it’s right to generalize. I think screaming would be quite a normal response… I mean seriously, it’s a cockroach!!

Pings

Sometimes your phone pings and there’s a message. You think you should answer it and then you decide not to. And then there’s another and another from someone else.

The problem with the ping is, once you answer it… the flood gates open so to speak. In this day and age, the ping means the beginning of a conversation. May be it’s a conversation you don’t want to have. But with time-stamps and activity reports, it’s so hard to avoid ignoring someone for too long.

I’m not trying to be condescending. Sometimes, you just need to be alone. Sometimes, I’m fine thanks…Hope you are too… should be sufficient. I feel guilty when I don’t answer. Although these days, I’m learning to avoid this feeling and answering messages on my own terms. I’m learning to politely say, I need to go or I’m in the middle of something. We can’t all be chatty all the time.

No spend days

I really have to get into a habit of “no spend” days. I have been very successful over the past few months of not heading to the mall when I’m down. But it doesn’t help when I have the amazon app on my phone. Retail therapy seems to be very crucial to my well-being. Well sometimes I invent reasons for requiring retail therapy but that’s a whole different story. I realize that I have a problem with spending money unnecessarily and I need to do something about it.

I have decided to start with small steps. The first step is not to spend on something I already have. I have a bad habit of buying variations of things I already have. I have to stop this.

The second step is not to stay away from apps just the way I stay away from the malls. I will trash shopping emails or just un-subscribe from them.

The final step is to institute “no spend” days. I need to make sure that I go shopping once in  two weeks. I know I won’t make it a whole month so this is a decent target to start with.

It would seem like I’m nagging about first world problems. But the truth is, shopping is an addiction just like any other. It doesn’t have to mean spending a huge amount of money but in the end it does add up. We live in a consumer driven society and sometimes I feel like everything points in the direction of marketing. It doesn’t help much when that is also the thing that helps you feel better.

 

When did I stop writing?

It seems like it’s been so long that I’ve written anything, let alone put up a worth while blog post. I don’t know when this happened and most importantly I don’t know when I stopped writing for myself. Over the last year, I felt like I was struggling to write anything because I felt like I had nothing inspirational or interesting to say. It started to feel a little narcissistic to just write about myself, my updates and my life. So, I stopped writing altogether.

Most days I am so exhausted from work that it feels my brain is permanently blocked. The thought of coming up with a post that has a point or something profound seemed like so much work. Then I realized that it didn’t always have to be that way. I am not writing for a newspaper and my posts can be bad. But, they’re still my thoughts and that’s the point of a personal blog. May one story, one line or one thought can help someone. May be it can make someone laugh. May be it can make someone angry or frustrated. But if it can invoke even a small feeling in someone, that seems like a good victory. And on the plus side… it helps me write again!