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?

practicing vs. doing

Instead of practicing being a Catholic … we should be doing our Catholic Christianity at all times. Loving God with all our hearts. Loving others. Welcoming everyone, caring for those in need, forgiving those who offend us or do us wrong.

Father Michael spoke last Sunday about being a “practicing” Catholic. He began his homily by saying he hates the word practice. He doesn’t want a doctor who practices medicine, for example – he wants one who knows what they are doing! He went on to say that when people think of a “practicing” Catholic, they think of someone who goes to Mass, goes to confession, says their prayers, and fasts during Lent – in other words, someone who does Catholic things a couple of hours a week or at certain times of the year. Instead of practicing being a Catholic, he went on, we should be doing our Catholic Christianity at all times. Loving God with all our hearts. Loving others. Welcoming everyone, caring for those in need, forgiving those who offend us or do us wrong.

Don’t get me wrong – I definitely believe that the typical Catholic “practices” are worthwhile. Going to Mass lets us gather in community to praise God and share the Eucharist. Prayer lets us quiet our minds and listen for God’s guidance, as well as thanking God for all he gives us. Fasting lets us remove outside distractions from our lives so we can concentrate on what we are called to do. Going to confession lets us set down any burden of guilt for things we have done, and allows someone to remind us of the forgiveness God offers.

But, of course, we practice those things to strengthen ourselves for the real doing – becoming the eyes and ears and hands and hearts of Christ in the world. Before anyone points out the hypocrisy in my saying this, rest assured that I am painfully aware of how far I fall short in doing it myself. I seem to be in a season of my life that takes all my energy to keep my head above water, when I wish I could be doing more for (and with!) others. I’ll just keep praying that this time will pass quickly and that I’ll feel more like myself soon. That’s something productive I can do during all those hours I spend lying around!