But I Digress

The Daily Post, a service which pops up whenever I log in to WordPress, has a Prompt Idea feature which Prompts an Idea for you to blog about. Today’s Prompt Idea is:

Embarrassing

Why am I all of a sudden interested in, not just posting again after weeks of going post-free, but  participating in this project? Good question.

The answers are as follows, and yes, they are in a very particular order…

  1. I logged on to WP today because, after a conversation with my husband about the reality of book publication, we came to the conclusion that getting a non-fiction book published today– like, actually published old-school with an agent and a publishing house– is largely reserved for people who are already established and well-known in their own right.  I’m not a celebrity, I’m not a media insider, I have not committed any crimes, unless you count the tardiness of my census form (they had to send someone to my door before I got a move on it).

Bloggers, however, have occasionally scored book deals, and for good reason; as evidenced by their millions of followers, they’re very readable and, the logic follows that since so many people already know about them, they come with a built-in customer base.   With that in mind, I decided to start using some of the hundred-plus pages of notes I have written for the purposes of the book and adapt them to this blog. I will of course, as I am doing right now, put in some spontaneous material.

SURPRISE!

See? I very spontaneously said ‘surprise.’  Of course, because you are an avid follower of my blog (FOLLOW ME FOLLOW ME HELP ME GET A BOOK DEAL)
you will know that stream-of-conscious writing is my default and that plenty of thoughts and reflections and photos of my slowly-evolving to-do board will be posted in regular intervals.

2.  I have ADD. Adult ADHD. This Prompts Idea thing caught my attention a couple of hours ago and I went with it.  Here’s how The Adult with ADD/ADHD ‘does’ something. Actually,  for comparison sake, let’s first talk about how an adult sans ADD/ADHD does something:

  1. they decide to do something now
  2. they start
  3. they keep going
  4. they finish
  5. they move on to something else.

When an adult with ADD/ADHD decides to do something, this is generally how it goes:

  1. They decide to do Something now.
  2. They start
  3. They decide to look something up online (strictly in relation to the Thing that they are Doing)
  4. They follow a link on the page where they’ve looked up the thing strictly relating the Thing.
  5. They notice that there are too many tabs open on their browser.
  6. They flip through the tabs, closing the ones that are superfluous and arrive at their WhatApp Web app.
  7. They post a funny comment to an ongoing WhatsApp conversation where their fellow ADD/ADHD adult friends congregate, not with the sole purpose of distracting each other from their work, but with the constant effect of distracting one another from their work.
  8.  They get hungry
  9. They browse the fridge
  10. While waiting for the kettle to boil, they decide to call that person they’ve been meaning to call,  so as not to waste precious time.
  11. On their way to retrieve their cell phone (from the bathroom where they left it) they notice a pile of clothes that need to be washed before tomorrow.
  12. They take the pile of clothes to the laundry room
  13. They start to finish (mostly finish) organizing the tool box, which is kept in the laundry room– a job they started the night before but then forgot about.
  14. They remember about the phone and calling that person they meant to call.
  15. They find the phone, determined to really call that person this time and not forget not forget and not forget and not forget.
  16. They unlock the phone using the code they installed so that the kids won’t waste time  or battery life of their phone, because kids just don’t understand how precious time really is.
  17. They notice that a new e-mail has come in.
  18. They open the e-mail. Someone has sent them a link to an article on Organizing Your Life. They decide, in the interest of time, to save it for later.
  19. They decide to see if Mindy Kaling has posted anything new on Instagram because she is hilarious and beautiful and she lights up their life. They check Twitter. They open links to interesting articles but, in the interest of time, save them for later reading. They check their other e-mail. They figure they can play a few rounds of DOTS– just until they break the 250 points mark.
  20. They break the 250 points mark and then decide to play for 5 more minutes.
  21. They get a phone call. It’s from their husband. They rush back to their desks where 7 Pinterest windows are still open on their browser.
  22. They bravely ignore the Pinterest windows, open the Word file they’ve been working on, and answer the phone. “Yes, Hi Honey. Yup, I’m just working on something here… Yep, I’ll get the kids. Oh is it 3:30 already? Yep, I’ve just got to make these last few minutes count so I’ll call you back later, ok? Love you.”
  23. They hastily get back to the Thing and work on it furiously for 15 minutes, accomplishing more than they have in the past 3 hours.

Remember, the scenario above is completely theoretical and should not be mistaken for a list of events that has actually happened to the author of this blog or  to any other person with ADD/ADHD. But you get the idea of how an ADHD mind functions.

Besides, I generally only stop playing DOTS when the phone runs out of battery.

(To summarize, the anonymous ADD-er in the above scenario has neglected to: Spend adequate time on their intended project, find the information they started looking up online, eat lunch, make coffee, do their laundry, organize their tools, call that person. Wow, as I write this, I am quite honestly astonished.  The amount of unresolved things in my life — I mean, in the life of a typical ADD-diagnosed individual — is even worse than I thought. Fodder for a whole blog post.)

3. I am in a little bit of a slump in my book writing and sometimes it’s good to have some inspiration to get me going. Of course, I ended up doing this all day and not tending to my book.

But I digress. Maybe that should be the name of my blog. Or my book. “But I Digress – Thoughts from the Blogger behind WordWile.”

You might be wondering what the connection of all this is to the Daily Prompt theme of Embarrassing. I’ll tell you.

  1. It is embarrassing to learn that I do not have a handle on the correct spelling of the word embarrassing. Saved once again by the squiggly red line. Two ‘R‘s two ‘S‘s. Got it. Two ‘R‘s two ‘S‘s. Two ‘R‘s two ‘S‘s.
  2. At one point, I tried to do the whole blogging/google ads/make big money from home thing. I had a breastfeeding blog and a pregnancy blog.  At that time, about 8 years ago, I was learning a lot about SEO and online marketing– you know, trying to drive views to my site. But so much has changed now. You can’t just stick your link in the comments of any old site and hope Google won’t notice that you’re trying to undermine the integrity of their search.  Just now, I tried to shamelessly promote this blog in the comments section of the Mashable article I linked to above.  The article,  (in case you’re not ADD and did not read the post) is about blogs-turned-book. Here is a screenshot of what I wrote.

mashable

I’m not completely out of the loop. I figured that I’d have to sign in or create a profile or mail in a blood sample or something in order to get my comment posted, and that my comment will be one of dozens, if not hundreds.  That button got me to a second screen which asked me which social media outlet I would like to sign up through. I chose Twitter, since it’s the one I use most frequently, and it’s connected to my old blogs and I still have followers from the Mommy Blogosphere. It’s not unusual for an app to link your social media account to their sign-in feature– presumably for ease of access, but I never expected this:

mashable_

Mashable wants to be able to update my profile and post Tweets on my behalf? Am I missing something here?   Perhaps these are broad terms for a more specific kind of behaviour that I am supposed to understand because I am, ostensibly, a Mashable reader– why else would I be posting comments on their site? However, when I invite people to my house for lunch, I don’t necessarily present them with a key an invite them to redecorate. I expect them to come, eat and leave.  I don’t expect them to propose a shared bank account. Is this what Mashable is trying to do? Merge my social media with their own? To what extent?

You see? Mashable is a mainstream media outlet and I have no clue, right now, what they’re all about. It’s embarrassing! And I spelled that word wrong again! It’s embarrassing!  (Two ‘R’s two ‘S’s. Two ‘R’s two ‘S’s.)

3. But really, let’s be frank.  It’s been all day and I’m still at this post.  That’s the embaRRaSSing part. This post is crazy long, goes in fifteen different directions, and does not really deserve the time I spent on it or, rather, the intervals of time I spent on it between sorting out my kid’s birthday party, fielding phone calls from various family members, bathroom breaks (this seems to be an emerging theme– maybe I have IBS and not ADD), and making plans for the weekend.

OK and Pinterest, WhatsApp and a few YouTube videos on how to create a heater out of tea lights and a terracotta flowerpot.  And the dangers of said heater. (Find the links yourself, lazybones! I don’t want to be your ADD enabler!)

I am embarrassed when people ask me what I do.  I say that I do my husband’s bookkeeping and administrative stuff, which is true to a large extent. But it’s not the fulfilling occupation I’ve always dreamed of.

I am embarrassed when people tell me that it’s OK, that I have kids, that motherhood is a full time job– all of which is true to an extent but none of which makes me feel better, especially because I’m really not a very good homemaker– but that’s a post for another time. I love and value my family, and I would never trade any of that aspect of my life, but I am left wondering if I couldn’t have gotten myself to this stage with my career intact.

I’m embarrassed that I have not fulfilled the potential that I’ve always believed myself to be capable of, that I’ve let so many opportunities slip past. That there are so many abandoned and unfinished projects in my wake.  I am embarrassed because other people have done it– people with whom I am comparably intelligent, motivated, educated.

I’m tired of dreaming about what I want to be when I grow up. I grew up but ended up, for a variety of reasons– some better and some worse– leaving some of the important dreams behind.

And for those reasons, I am embarrassed.

Two Rs. Two Ss.

Embarrassing

 

 

 

Exciting Times for My To-Do List

I’ve taken a major step today in the evolution of my to-do list.  I added a section. It’s called Followup.

to do list.jpg

 

I often find that I will take a step towards completing something on the list– booking an appointment, registering for something, or just sending out that initial e-mail to get things moving.  Then I remove them from my list, because the following steps are not up to me– the ball is rolling and in theory the task should get done on momentum alone.

Other times, I will expect that a task is actually complete, but then it will come back to me: An invoice that was never received, a question or comment on something I wrote– and I’m crushed because I haven’t accomplished all that I’d originally thought.

The solution, I hope, is the Followup section. I move tasks in there (this is why my low-tech system is so great– it’s so adjustable!) when I’ve started the ball rolling but kno
w it either is not complete or that I might need to revisit.

As you can see, I have also bought a date stamper. I’ve been wanting one of these for a while. Don’t you ever just tire of writing the date? I do.  I guess that counts as a second new development in my unrequitable journey towards hyper organization.

And here’s another new development:

2016-04-01 16.01.28

I know, it looks like  file. And it is.

Before you give me any pitying looks, please not that I’m not new to the concept of  files. I file. I file all kinds of things. This set of  files is different from the other files in my life because they are transitory.  Nothing is meant to be in there for long. It’s a place to put things after I’ve sorted them off my desk– that is, things that I haven’t handled right away.

The file with the longest ‘shelf life’ is the ‘for taxes’ folder.  So I don’t have to dig around the general ‘to file’ box.

The idea is that I won’t forget about he things in the file because they will correspond to something on my to-do list. I started this file a few weeks ago. So far– it’s working pretty well. I’ll keep you posted.

 

Update on Big Secret Project

Just wanted to let all… none of my faithful readers know that I have not ADD-ed out and given up on this big secret project. It’s still in the works! I’m working on it every day.

Most days.

Some days.  I work on it some days.

Though given the option I would really work more because is really so much else to get done. And so many articles to read and so many you tube videos to watch.

White Board Revisited

My whiteboard was starting to look a little messy, What started out as a good system had stalled because of growing pains, which is a nicer way of saying that it lacked foresight. I was unable to move stuff around efficiently from one priority to another. Also, the urgency and importance of different tasks was poorly delineated. The system needed reworking. Also, after being on the board for a while, depending on where I’d positioned the task, things had the habit of getting rubbed off inadvertently.2015-03-23 11.12.54

Of course, I also had all these adorable magnets I needed to find a use for.  That’s my reflection holding up the camera in the whiteboard, btw.  Hi, Reader!

The first thing I did was to copy each task on to a slip of paper, simultaneously erasing them from the board. Here’s what I was left with:2015-03-23 11.32.12

The tasks remaining were those I’d already taken care of but hadn’t rewarded myself for by rubbing them off the list, tasks that I hadn’t completed but whose time had passed and were now irrelevant, and tasks that, turns out, I’d had on the list twice! Oh, and then there were one or two I couldn’t make out.  Can you, reader?

Actually, it’s a good thing I’m doing a visual review while writing this blog because I just realized that I didn’t copy down one very important task, thinking it was irrelevant.  All of which teaches me to write my thoughts more clearly and legibly.

In the interest of disclosure, and also for those sharp-eyed readers who noticed, I had to rewrite one of the tasks for the benefit of the picture because I’d erased it by accident. Can you tell which?

I’ll spare you a photo of the cleanly wiped whiteboard.

You’ll notice on the next image that there are three different colors of paper. That’s because the first paper I tore up was white. Then I realized that I should really use something brighter in case a task happens to fall off a wall or mysteriously relocate to the bedroom of a resident child (one of the hazards of this method over the last one! But at least room-transference doesn’t result in permanent erasure!) then I can identify it for what it is and not throw it away. Also, I have this pile of red printer paper that I’m not sure what else to do with. The light blue paper– there is only one in the image but there are now two on my board– is for tasks that are repeating.  Clean the office, back up my phone memory. That sort of thing.  The reason some of the papers are shorter is just because I realized that I might eventually run out of space so I cut the bottoms off where I could. 2015-03-23 12.01.57

Isn’t that pretty? It makes me feel calm and happy.  Note that this board was the only accomplishment I had today.

I went out this afternoon and got a few more (considerably less adorable) magnets to hold up the remaining slips of paper (which you see taped to the board here with pretty ‘stickers’ I trimmed off the edges of free fundraising address labels for a home we never lived in. Waste not want not.)

The purpose of fist category, marked ‘TODAY’ should be obvious, on the advice of my Gone-But-Not-Forgotten ADD coach, I limited myself. Four is very ambitious for the number of tasks to set out to accomplish in a single day, depending on the nature of the task and the nature of the day. Booking a doctor’s appointment is only expected to take five minutes, whereas rewriting the application for the program I tried and failed to get in to is wont to take longer.   Also, some things, like ‘Passports’ may take multiple steps to complete. I can rewrite these as individual tasks and reprioritize them once I get started.

Speaking of Michael (GBNF ADD Coach), I should give credit where it’s due and say that organizing my needs in this way is a method he first walked me through. After a few different modifications on method and materials, I think I like this one best so far. He also gets credit for the expression ‘Dragons to Slay’, which didn’t make it on to this whiteboard incarnation.

Next come my gradated priority categories. Priority 1 are things I would really like to get done this week. These are things that will hopefully get moved to the ‘Today’ category sooner than later.  If something had a specific due date attached to it, I wrote ‘DUE’ on it in big letters. We’ll see how that plays out. I’d better add ‘DUE’ to the ‘Personal Tax’ scrap.

Things that I don’t expect to get done this week but which I would really like to get done soon, or things which I can classify as ‘important to get done’ are in the Priority 2 category.  Some of these are simply not due yet, or they require an action from the Priority 1 category, such as ‘File Papers’, which needs to happen before ‘Personal Tax’.

The third Priority category is for things that are important to me but which are not necessarily time-dependent. However, due to my ongoing concern about the collapse of All Things Familiar, they are things I really would like to accomplish before it’s too late.  Organizing my photos into photo books, printing my old blogs for posterity, some household tasks– these are not urgent, but I would be happy to get them off my chest. So when do the items in this category ever see the light?  Well, these are mostly things I do to relax or kill time when I don’t feel like doing things that require focus. So some of them are actually partially started– either I’ve researched them a bit, or I’ve begun putting the wheels in motion… they’ll get done. Especially now with my super duper White Board Revisited.

Last, and actually least, is the Eventually box. This consists of dreams and goals which are achievable but not conceivable at this time as they are buried under four other categories. Also things that really are not even possible at this time, such as signing up my kid for hockey, but which I don’t want to forget about when the time comes.

At the bottom, I taped an inspiring message that I found printed on the back of the fundraiser mailing labels that I used to stick up my tasks:

2015-03-24 01.12.16

Someday is Today.  Meaning that I need to get around to writing my book now.

More disclosure: I can’t actually see this inspirational message most of the time because it’s covered up, like the lower priority, by my computer screen.  But familiarity breeds contempt and so maybe it’s just better to glimpse it once in a while.

Here’s my board (are YOU bored of this yet?) at the end of the day.  Actually at the wee beginnings of the next day.

2015-03-24 01.44.51

Post Script:

Things that are not on the list:

-most household chores

-write a book and or book ideas

Tu do bem

Tudo bem tudo bom tudo bem tudo bom.

Catchy, isn’t it? Sort of like a rhythmic intro to a classical music piece? In fact, it’s Portuguese for “All is well (bem) or all is good (bom).”  It’s also how I title many of my tu-do lists, as if to say ‘ this is gonna get done, and it’s going to get done WELL.’ (My bad grammar only extends as far as the word ‘gonna.’ ‘Get done GOOD’ is beyond my artistic license.)

Last year when I still had Michael, my ADD coach, helped me make a bunch of different kinds of lists and charts, all broken down in different ways and to different degrees.  A few months ago I decided to go back to one of these models. Problem is, once you have a list on paper, you’re going to have things crossed off and you’re going to eventually run out of space, which means basically rewriting your list every day or every week. That idea doesn’t work so well for me because I feel like, over time, some important things (and many less-important things) fall by the wayside and don’t get copied onto the new list. So I hunted down a suitable whiteboard and I went to work on my list of things to do well.  Here is a picture of it as of this morning:

2015-02-09 11.14.31

I need to rework the four quadrants, I think but as of now they are:

1. Dragons to Slay– My apologies to dragon sympathizers, but I got this expression from Michael and it made a whole lot of sense to me. It’s the thing you MUST get finished before anything else gets done, sometimes because its’ time sensitive, and sometimes because you have decided to prioritize this one task today because it has been languishing for too long in another quadrant and waiting for it’s day in the sun. You must get through these things above and before any other distractions.

For the record, the first item on the list is done-da-done-done done. I have been keeping it up there until I could get a picture of it. I will now indulge myself in the satisfaction of erasing it.  Aaaaahh sweet relief!

2. Time’s A-Wastin’ – In theory, these are the things that I will move to the dragon box when the dragon items are done.  I realize now that not everything I have written in this box really belongs here. Some of the things maybe should be in a box marked ‘some day’– but who ever looks in their some day box, and if they do, who ever intentionally accomplishes anything in the some day box. The Some Day is the box you have before you get a bucket for your bucket list. You don’t write ‘learn Russian’ in your bucket list bc if it’s a list of things to do before you die, then it’s kind of useless waste of time if you’re planning on being six feet under sometime soon.  The bucket list is about experiences. In the some day box are things you would like to do in order to improve your life, but your life is too cluttered to make room for them right now.

Which is why I don’t have a some day box.

The bottom two boxes I literally hardly even see. They are hidden behind the monitor of my laptop.  I need to do some rearranging in my office.  In other words, these might as well be the some day box.  On the other hand, looking at the items, I see that some of them got done, ironically, as distractions.

3. Follow up is for things where I got the ball rolling and am waiting for someone to roll it back. Don’t you hate when you set things in motion, wipe your hands of the task, and then the ball gets rolled back to you covered in grass and slobber that you need to wipe up before sending it back out in to the world again? I find this to be a problem with insurance companies. Maybe because once you finally settle on a policy, someone else calls to tell you that it’s not good enough. Sometimes we do a task that requires a ‘part B’ but then we forget about that part. That’s what the follow-up box is for. A gentle poke.

4. The last box doesn’t have a title any more. I don’t remember if i called it anything and then it got erased or if I just never called it anything at all. it’s the junk drawer of the tu do bem list.  Things I want to do but don’t have to. Things that you kind of want to accomplish before the inevitable happens and the entire internet crashes. Things like printing my previous blogs so that my precious thoughts and memories are present in the physical world and making photo albums from the pictures stored on my computer.

I think I need to make a list for space-sensitive items. Things that I have to go out of my way for and plan ahead for. Passports, a drive to the distributor to pick up new parts for my food processor, getting my lawn mower fixed. So far these items are in three different directions from my house. However, there is usually some other kind of task– regular or occasional–  I can take care of at the same time that also requires a trip outside of my immediate radius.

I realized early on that there was a missing element to this form of list keeping, which is that you don’t get a sense of accomplishment by being able to see all of the different items that actually got crossed off the list.  Also, I had no sense of how long something had been on the list.

I corrected the second problem by adding a date to the end of the end of a task.  I solved the first problem by taking periodic pictures of the board– or at least planning on taking periodic pictures of the board in the same way as I plan on taking periodic pictures of my shopping list so that I can refer to my phone when I’m in the store.  Yes, technology can work but you have to actually use it.  Another way to maintain a feeling of success is to use a bulletin board and just pin up tasks in various quadrants. When a task is done I can keep it in a box or in another ‘success’ board, if I really want to have a visual reminder of my accomplishments.

The different colours are thus far meaningless.  I happen to have a bunch of dry erase markers here from some past project or another.  However, I think that, once I have my picture of the chart, I will be able to erase it all and redo it neatly once in a while. I will start to use the colours more wisely- like put the tasks with a deadline in red, for instance.

So far, it’s been working out ok. The board is right in front of my face so I’m forced to look at it once in a while, and sometimes when I am faced

Idea Graveyard

The draft folder is where my ideas go to die. I will start writing down some brilliant thought only to be interrupted or to run out of inspiration or to realize that the idea is not fully developed and that I must revisit it.  WordPress says

‘it’s not problem, Doll. I’ll just put it in this nice folder here called ‘drafts’ and you can come and visit it whenever you like.’

It’s all very deceiving. I do visit my draft folder. I read the little teaser lines that are the opening sentences of blog posts-to-be. I decide that my current topic is far more interesting and my cursor wanders over to the little pencil plus button on the top right corner of the screen.

‘Bye bye’ I tell my old ideas ‘I’ll visit you again sometime.’

As my mouse heads north east I can hear the groans and the shrieks of my abandoned thoughts.  Rest in peace.  You haunt me no more.

Word Press promises the possibility of resurrection, but this author knows that ideas need to watch their step and be at the right time in the right place.

So Proud… At Long Last

Do I deserve to congratulate myself for completing a task that has taken me probably two months longer than it could have, six weeks longer than it should have, and four weeks longer than I anticipated? It’s a complicated question.

Did I mention that I still have to review and edit it. It’s an application to a program that will hopefully support my writing habit, if I can turn it into a habit.

Oh, there are reasons and there are excuses.  There were priorities that arose. Real priorities and also invented ones. Hospitals were visited, and so were shopping malls. Winter break happened, but so did back-to-school.  People count on me, but I need to count on myself too. I had other projects going on and still do… but let’s be honest, I could have allocated more time to them and been ahead on each one.

Everything in life comes down to the serenity prayer.  God grant me the power to change the things I can, accept the things I can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Of course, knowing the prayer and repeating it is the easy part.  There should be a little asterisk next to the granting of power part.  I think I know, more or less, what is in my power but then there is the issue of motivation and focus.  There has to have been at least twenty opportunities that I could have furthered my work on this application or some other project but instead chose to zone out on Netflix.  Yes, I deserve to relax sometimes. No, I don’t need to zone out as much as I do.

Now I am going to edit.  Gosh– ten to four already?  Time flies when you’re step-stoning towards your goals.

What are my goals again? Good fodder for another post.