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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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Procrastination is the thief of time
I have a question. It is, i suspect, both a very silly question and a very intelligent question, not to mention one which is both very eassy and very difficult to answer. It is this:

How do you do stuff?

Not any specific stuff, mind; just stuff in general. How do you ensure that you spend time actually doing things, rather than drifting through life never making proper use of the time you have?

I feel that this is probably something that I really ought to know, and yet it's a life skill that I somehow never seem to have learned.

When I was a young child, I think I did fairly well on this one. ?I would generally go out and play with friends at some point on most if not all days, which involved a reasonable amount of being lively and active, and even when it wasn't then it would still be doing stuff. And when I wasn't with friends, I was alwaysgood at amusing myself.

We moved house when I was 10, and I never made any new friends in the area we moved to. So that was one potential source of Doing Stuff gone. I would sometimes go over to visit friends either from school or from where I'd used to live, or have them over to visit me, but these were special occasions rather than everyday events. So mostly, I was left to my own devices to entertain myself.

School wasn't a lot of help at teaching me diligence and avoidance of procrastination. I don't remember a whole lot about my first three years in secondary school (11-14). There are a few scattered bits of memories (mostly bad ones), but I can't really remember how I felt at the time, or what my daily routine was. I do remember my GCSE years (14-16) fairly well though.

A typical day during that time went something like this: be woken up by my dad at about 7:15. Roll over and go back to sleep because I hadn't got enough sleep. Be woken up again at about 7:30 by my dad shouting at me that I needed to get up now. Run around like a headless chicken trying to get ready in time. Skip breakfast, because my digestive system was still asleep and eating would likely make me feel sick. Be ready to leave at about 7:50, at which point my dad would drive me to the bus stop a few hundred yards away. Frequently miss the bus, which would result in us having to chase after it, gaining on it when it had to stop to pick people up. Get on the bus. Be bullied, teased and insulted by the fuckheads there. Get into school at about 8:30, and sit down in a zombie-like stupor, occasionally answering questions from people trying to complete the homework that was due in that morning. Morning lessons. Still not really awake, but not to worry. Start to properly wake up around mid morning. More lessons. Lunch break at noon. Skip lunch, since I generally don't like whatever crap is being offered as the school lunch that day (the option offered there was "take it or leave it"). Probably get some chocolate or crisps from the vending machine. Sometimes did some club or society during lunch hour, sometime not. Afternoon lessons. School finishes at 4pm. Bus home leaves at about 4:10. Further torment on the journey home. Get off bus and trudge slowly home, partly because I want to ensure that everyone else who got off is in front of me, and partly because I'm too exhausted to walk any quicker. Get home at about 5pm, exhausted from spending a day on not enough sleep and hardly any food, and further exhausted from having to endure the bus journey. Get more chocolate and crisps to eat, and flop down in front of the television. Parents get in at about 7pm, and we eat at 7:30. Finish at about 8, and go up to my bedroom to start homework. Randomly mess around with pointless things or listen to music for a while because I don't want to do any work. probablky start at either 9 or 10 or so, depending on how much work I had due in tomorrow. Do a half-arsed job of work due in tomorrow. Go to bed at midnight, but probably don't actually get to sleep until about 1am or later due to insomnia.

Needless to say, this was not terribly healthy, nor did it form any good habits for me to take into later life. The problem, of course, was that I didn't really have any incentive to act otherwise. There wasn't anything that I particularly wanted to do with my time that required good time management, and even my half-arsed efforts were more than enough to get me through school with exceptional grades. I'm sure I could have done better if I'd tried harder, but I didn't care then, and I still don't care now. I remember a GCSE geography project which we'd had months to do, but where I did something like 80% of it in a single weekend. Still got a high C in it. Could have done better, but didn't see the point. It isn't as if anyone has ever cared what my GCSE geogrpahy result was (B overall, for anyone who cares).

A-level (16-18) was much the same, with three main exceptions: 1) I'd realised I could make bus journeys far less unpleasant by sitting as far as possible away from the people intent on making my life a living hell. Yes, it was obvious, but it hadn't occurred to me before. 2) I was only doing the subjects that I was especially good at by then, so I actually had to do even less work than I had at GCSE. 3) I'd got on the Internet, so that mostly replaced the TV. Still very little incentive to learn to be productive with my time there though.

I then went off to Oxford. University, for me, was a lot like being taught to swim by being thrown in at the deep end. Of a pool with aligators in. With lead weights tied to my feet. I had no self discipline. I had no externally imposed discipline. I was painfully shy and would avoid people where possible. I missed lectures. I stayed in my room because I didn't want to have to deal with other people. Depression became a huge problem. All my Gender Crap first surfaced in a big way. And so on and so forth. To cut a long story short, I crashed and burned in a spectacular way.

Oxford was an odd time for me, actually. I have some really good memories from Oxford (shout out here to slovakia and to miss_corinne especally) but I also have some thoroughly lousy memories of times that I was feeling suicidal, at least one of which I get flashbacks to occasionally.

But anyway, after Oxford, it was Canterbury. Most of my days in Canterbury are documented in this here LiveJournal, but the long and the short of it is that I spent more or less the entirety of the three years I spent there in bed. This was not a time in which my brain was happy and healthy.

And then to Lancaster. And honestly, I think I've done reasonably well since I moved here. Compared to how I was for most of the time in Cantrbury, I've been remarkably functional here. I've also succesfully completed two years of a university course, which is not to be sniffed at. The problem here has been that just getting through that has taken up all of my mental resources. It's been very exhausting for me, which is hardly unexpected, but it's left me absolutely drained, to the point where I'm now having to take a year out to try to recuperate some mental energy.

So anyway, I'm thinking back through all of this, and I'm thinking that really I don't think I can blame myself for not learning effective time management. There has always been something or other that's been in my way, mostly bad mental health. What I could blame myself for, though, is if I had the chance and then didn't take it. One of the ideas between taking this year off from university was that it would allow me to focus on trying to get my life together somehwat, rahter than focusing on the grind of getting to classes and doing assignments.

I'm not in the best mental health I've ever been in right now, but equally, I'm far from the worst. The time is now. And so, my question. I want to be productive. I want to do things that are new and that are interesting. I want to be able to say "tomorrow do your worst, for I have lived today". I don't want to spend my life doing nothing but watching DVDs, playing video games and refreshing my friends page.

I just haven't the foggiest idea of where to start.


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One possibly useful thing is to give yourself credit for what you do--it's easy to think "I've wasted the day" rather than noticing that, maybe it's not world peace, but I've done some dishes, or cooked lunch, or written a letter. And knowing I've accomplished *something* with the day helps my mood, and may make it easier to accomplish something the following day.

Another is to break something down into smaller pieces--not "I have to clean the apartment" but "I'm going to take out the trash/vacuum my bedroom" level of stuff.

"Make a habit of it" isn't useful because you're asking how to do that, and I'm not sure. Repetition, but again, there's that bootstrap problem. Getting from n to n+1 isn't the hard part. Sorry, that's not a hint, that's a "yes, I know, this one is tricky."

As someone with much the same problem, perhaps in a slightly more regulated manner, my only experience-based advice is this: Find something you can care about, and do it with no consideration for sanity, physical health, hours in the day or the inevitable visible-to-everyone-but-you impending burnout.

This advice comes with no warranty, implied fitness-for-purpose, or particular level of Clue. You hair will fall out, your computer will explode, and half your friends list will say "I told you so". You certainly won't get any thanks for it. YMMV HTH HAND

See I had that problem for a couple of years. I did absolutley nothing (except get kicked out of college for none attendance a couple of times) except read and listen to music unless I was dragged out (pretty much kicking and screaming) by one or other of my friends (who must have a cared a hell of lot really). I had so little motivation that even when I knew I was going to be evicted if I didn't fill my Housing Benefit forms in (I had sick notes on mental health grounds obv) I coulldn't make myself do it. (hell, i had headlice for nearly two years because I didn;t have the motivation to get rid of them - i just cried a lot because I was scummy and worthless). I was eventually evicted and then I just moved in with my boyfriend and carried on in the sameway as before- only now I'd discovered drugs (nothing to do with said boyfriend as he was very anti drugs) which gave me a fake burst of energy, motivation and happiness. So I did nothing all day/week and then got wasted and partied all weekend. In fact the weeks were worse as I was coming down on top of my general apathy.
Then one day I was walikng (or more probably nervously scuttling) through town when I saw a sign in the window at my local whittards for a part time job - 10-15 hours a week. Suddenly convinced I could manage ten ours a week I applied and got it. AS you may know I love my job - I found the relaxed methods of learning about the products and the products themselves great and soon (after an initial struggle) going into work wasn't a problem anymore. I enjoyed it, it made me happy. So I went form part timer to full timer, cut the drugs out and made it to assistant manager and then next week i'm going to be a manager! Scary! But i ca do it coz I love it.
It didn't make everything better - it took me two years to get to a point where i brushed my hair everyday. I had days where I literally just sit here and do nothing - even if I turn my laptop on i don't necessarily post anything, I just read, i don;t eat unless it;s within arms reach and only go to the loo when I REALLY can't wait anymore. But those days are fewer and further between all the time a I have something I care about enough to push past the apathy. I'm not 100% there an I'll probably always have lapses but I'm much batter.

So (after my rather long and rambling story) I can only advise for you to find something you care about, And don;t push yourself into doing the first thing you see - do what feels right. One step at a time. (my hair's never been so shiny!!!)

Lists do help; though mine are in my head - i can never find paper and a pen at the same time.

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