Jun 8, 2010

Going to Sleep List-less

It's after 2am and I'm up. Again. Each day I wake up with a hopeful idea of what my day will bring me. As the day goes by, that original thought is amended to manage my expectations and the day's activities: what needs to be done before I leave work; what time I'll be home; whether I'll have real quality time with my daughter. As the day progresses to evening, I decide what wants I'll be able to accomplish: edits to my book; a new blog post; starting up my new blog; the laundry, etc., etc., etc. It's quite a list, I'm always adding to it and mostly, I get one thing on my list done one night during the week. It's a disappointing weekly average given the total number and I beat myself up about it which leads to anxiety and sleeplessness. As the week progresses, I say that I'll get everything done over the weekend. I review my list on Fridays and, feeling overwhelmed, end up doing one small thing over the next two days. Sunday night, I give myself a break from the guilt, praise myself for getting something accomplished and stay up into the wee hours of the morning coming up with a new gameplan for the week. It's an arduous process that leaves me frustrated and tired.

I'd like to get off this rollercoaster, like to move toward a healthier way of living. I'd like to and need to be sure my daughter sees and picks up healthier habits than this. I know this behavior has to do with my personal will, with my mental state (just how depressed am I?) and my need to do everything and be everything to all people. I know this, yet my list grows and I consider each task just as necessary as the one that preceded it. Hi, my name is Dyan and I'm addicted to To Do lists.

So what do I do since there are several big things on the list yet to be actioned? Well, make a new list, of course! Sounds crazy, but Sunday night I figured it out. I thought that if I have a daily short list that seems very doable, then I'll have the strength to get the tasks done. So, Monday, I woke up at 5:30am and tried a new cereal with my daughter. Check and check. Gave the school an updated copy of the temporary custody order, check. Made it to the train station to catch the train that will get me to the office by 9:05am, check. Work on my blog entry, check. Visualize my work to do list. Big fat check. Now my list for the morning is done. At around 11:30am, I planned to revisit my list for the afternoon and with a mental promise that I'll leave the office around 6pm, I feel good that I should be able to get a handful of things checked off my overall list that evening. I'm sitting now reflecting on ways to improve my performance and am feeling accomplished for the first time in a long time. Sweet!

So my lesson is not to not have any lists. It's to make them manageable so that the tasks are checked off at a pace that suits me. I also realize that because I'm an inpatient woman, I have set very high goals with expectations of producing on each big ticket item this year. And since I also don't deal with failure well, I cannot. Failure is not an option and is impossible.

It's the end of my Monday and I'm heading home close to 8pm, way past my deadline, but it was a good day with things accomplished nonetheless. I put my stamp on a huge initiative at work which will benefit me in my efforts toward being converted to a full-time employee. I experienced a slight hiccup with regard to my daughter's care in the afternoon that left me exhausted but clear about what I needed to do to avoid a repeat performance. Because of what happened, I've added another task to my list, but it is necessary and will assist me in progressing forward - it's a big ticket item.

With that said, my Monday evening schedule was amended. Playtime with the little one, phone calls to begin or continue the process of managing my stress level and writing. Writing during this very hectic time in my life is essential to my survival. It does me more harm than good not to write so I will keep that promise to myself. It's an easy one to keep since I also know that writing is giving me the life that I envision for myself. It reminds me that all this madness is a means to an end, a character builder that's been designed to make me woman enough to handle my future.

So as I end this entry, to all my list makers, be sure they're manageable so that each day you are accomplishing something. To all my insomniacs, remind yourself that the stress and anxiety you feel is part fear and all you so own it and take control of it. If you are going to be up, then use the time to be productive. Tick a box! And to all the rest of us that don't fall into either category or to both, keep it moving. Maintain to never be idle and it will be all good.

So I woke up Monday morning on a little over an hour's sleep but will fall asleep tonight list-less, all my day's tasks accomplished and my mind at rest. I wish the same to all of you.

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