Bedtime procrastination

Iphone 3GS

I have not been sleeping well for months now.

I could say I don’t know why, but I do: I’ve been staying on my phone until the wee hours. It’s become a bad habit that’s hard to quit.

It started innocently enough. When I first put the CPAP mask on, it’s hard for me to breathe in rhythm with the machine. I feel panicky and claustrophobic. Distracting myself helps; taking my mind off my breath lets it fall into the prescribed pattern more quickly. It’s easy to grab my phone to read something as a distraction, and I don’t need to turn a light on and disturb David.

Unfortunately, one article becomes two, one game of Ticket to Ride becomes fifteen, one peek at Twitter becomes an hour of mindless scrolling… and before I know it, I have been up for half the night.

I have been distracted from the CPAP, though, so I guess it has served some purpose.

(Of course, the energetic feeling that getting-enough-oxygen is supposed to give me gets canceled right out by getting-only-a-few-hours-of-sleep.)

Apparently, I am not the only one with this problem. Researchers have realized that “bedtime procrastination” – something that I used to associate with Quinland’s endless excuses for not going to bed at night – is a brand-new sleep disorder that has serious ramifications for physical and mental health. Lack of sleep can cause difficulty concentrating, poor decision-making, and impaired reaction times, as well as lowered immunity, weight gain, and heart disease. Hmmm… I may have every one of those but the heart disease. Yet.

So I’ve decided to give my electronic devices a rest at night. I will put on the CPAP mask before 11 pm and then play ONE game of Ticket to Ride (which takes exactly six minutes – plenty of time to get settled in). I’ll then turn my phone off and get to sleep. I’ve done it successfully for two nights already! Let’s see if I can keep it up.

I’ve got 10 minutes to get to bed. Good night, y’all.

Iphone 3GS” by Aitor Aguirregabiria / CC BY

Fail to plan… plan to fail

Planner p 1

I missed an important commitment recently because I double-booked and then completely forgot to get someone to cover for me. That’s not cool. I was so embarrassed; I had to work up the courage just to apologize.

In an effort to get on top of my issues with time management, I recently took a class called Seeing Your Time. One of the principles we learned was to visually plan out your week, your month, and your day. To plan backwards, knowing where you want to be and walking through the steps it would take to get there.

Although I had suspected as much, this class really emphasized that I am a paper-and-pencil planner. Google calendar works really well for me as a database of appointments and events, but even though it sends me little reminders, that format still doesn’t seem to register the reality of my time. Unfortunately, I’ve tried various Day Planners over the years – of every single shape and size – and though they work well for a short time, I stop using them. This, obviously, defeats the whole purpose.

What now? Well, I have been working to construct a physical planner that suits my needs exactly. I figure that if I am the designer, I can make it as pretty as I like, give it the exact sections that I like, and – when something doesn’t work out, as is always the case – make the changes that I like.

My launching point was the Daily Progress Report designed by the author of a book called The 7-Minute Life (which I highly recommend). I found that I used certain sections and did not use others (which I admit is contrary to her whole philosophy, but I’m looking for what works for me). There were also a couple of additional things that I wished I could track with it.

I busted out my Microsoft Word skills and mocked up something that I have been working on (and working with) for the last week:

Daily Planner pdf

It’s pretty! It’s colorful! It has cool sections! It reminds me of tasks and appointments, but also of non-urgent things I want to be doing on a daily basis. I’ll break it down in another post, because there is just too much to explain, but click on the link above and take a closer look.

Planner p 2

I’ve broken out my Arc System punch and notebooks to set up this new planner.  I like these because they hold papers like a spiral notebook, but allow you to move pages and change them around.  (I need that flexibility or I just give up on a system as soon as the growing pains begin.) The one I am using is 8.5″ x 11″, because I need all the room I can get. A smaller one is easier to carry, but if it’s too cramped for me, I won’t use it, so I’m sticking with full-sized for now.

What about you? Do you use a paper planner? Have you ever tried to make your own? Are you electronic all the way? What works best for you?

Poor April 2014…

I just realized that in the 45 months I have been blogging, there was only one month that I did not post at all: April 2014.

I started wondering why that might be, but then I remembered: April 2014 was the culmination of over a year of madness at work, when I was doing two jobs. I was so fatigued and so stressed that all I did was come home each night and collapse. I had no energy for anything.

Luckily, that was also the month that my boss (after an ultimatum from me that I was physically incapable of doing two jobs and would probably need to quit) finally hired a new person, who started on April 28th, and gave me the opportunity to work three days a week. I was thrilled. There was a light at the end of the tunnel, though it took me a while to get the energy to blog again. I posted once in May, two or three times a month through September, and I’ve probably averaged once a week since.

Before our trip to Europe three years ago, I blogged daily. I realized last night that most of those posts were written on the desktop computer in our office (aka “David’s computer,” since it sits on his desk). But we got a little ultralight laptop for the trip , which became “mine,” and since then I do almost all computing on it. Last night, though, I wrote the Walk MS post on David’s computer, and I was amazed at how easily it seemed to flow… and here I am, writing another post the very next day. Again, I started wondering why.

Perhaps I am more productive sitting at a desk as opposed to sitting in bed. Or maybe there is something less distracting about being at David’s desk, where I am not surrounded by things that call for my attention, as there always seem to be when I use the laptop on one of the tables downstairs (or even at my own desk).

I’ll have to investigate this further in the near future. I’d like to write more, so if this is the way to go, I’m going to figure out how to make it work. We may have to implement some kind of schedule, for the boy has gotten really used to using “his” computer at his own desk. (He was, in fact, hovering a bit a couple of minutes ago, though he is currently playing with cats.) We’ll see. Stay tuned for more Random Blogging Experiments. Same blog time, same blog channel!