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Accepting that 2020 Has Us All Off Balance

Most of us can probably agree that 2020 has us all off balance. It’s nt the pandemic or protests that are killing me. We are at the mercy of unpredictable humans and seemingly unstable leaders. Common sense says to do one thing, so people naturally do the exact opposite. It’s maddening, it’s draining, and it seems impossible and pointless to make plans.

On another level, though, things continue to operate with clockwork efficiency. The rent still needs to be paid on time, or else. Paperwork still needs to be filed, if you don’t want consequences. We still need to eat. Those things don’t jibe with the randomness and chaos and desire for a basic, functional schedule.

For the past few months my productivity routines have been changing. I have to release new books to keep money flowing in. There are filing deadlines I have to meet to maintain my immigration status. Inside my apartment it still feels like groundhog day: wake up, shower, breakfast, write, lunch, write, dinner, write, go to bed, repeat. I rely on my bullet journal, my white boards, and a wall calendar to remind me that time is not a meaningless abstraction. Meanwhile, a large part of the world has embraced that time in a meaningless abstraction.

Spoon Boards

Currently all of my planning centers around what I’m calling “spoon boards”. It’s basically just the bullet journal method with an emphasis on the reality that I only have so many spoons to use in a day. Everything gets pushed out to the furthest possible week of the furthest possible month – a spoon future log.

I’m using weekly logs instead of monthly ones. What needs to be done this week. Of those things, what needs to be dealt with first? Do that today. Then the next thing, and the next. With luck, toward the end of the week I’ll run out of tasks for the current week and can get a jump on next week.

I pad to account for the unforeseen. Keep some spoons in reserve for when I get blindsided by the thing no one could have possibly anticipated. Push down the urge to try and prepare for every possible contingency, and stick to high-level and universally useful things, like making money and keeping the cupboards full of food.

Anything that’s not on my dashboard for this week isn’t anything I need to worry about this week. If it’s not on the future log for this month, I don’t need to worry about it this month. The key is to not become overwhelmed.

Cry when in spite of everything I get blindsided and it takes up everything, including the spoons I’d held in reserve. Learn to live with the contradiction that I am in control but still behind schedule. Feel guilty about taking time for self-care. Lapse into self-loathing for needing so much self-care. Realize that guilt and self-loathing use spoons and get over it.

It’s been a hell of a week. I hold out hope that the coming week will be better, while mentally preparing for the likelihood that it will only get stranger and more difficult.

2020 Has Us All Off Balance

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