Ch- ch- ch- ch- change me…

NaBloPoMo Day 6:
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Today’s question is an easy one to answer. I’d like to have thicker hair, fewer wrinkles and a ultra-fit body, of course, but those aren’t the things I’d ask for if I had one self-altering wish from a genie in a bottle. What I’d wish for would be worth all of those things put together.

I’d like to have really strong executive function skills.

What is this executive function, you ask? In a long-ago post, I gave a brief rundown of executive functions. Since then, I’ve found a table of executive functions by Leslie E. Packer, PhD, that I think sums it up beautifully. She breaks executive function down into a set of subfunctions. I’ll score myself for each of her subfunctions on a scale of 0 to 2, zero being no problem at all and two being something that’s often a problem:

  • Goal Setting – Not an issue for me! I’ve got a million goals. (0)
  • Planning – I’m good at list-making, but not so good at leaving enough time to get done (or having the things I need at hand). (1-2)
  • Sequencing – I think I am pretty good at doing tasks in order, and I’m a good storyteller. (0)
  • Prioritizing – I struggle with doing the most important things first. (2)
  • Organizing – Ahem. My worldly goods are often in a state of chaos. I am “cyclically neat,” meaning I have the skills to organize, but when I am stressed, I have trouble implementing them. (1-2)
  • Task Initiating – Depends on the task! High-interest tasks are really easy to start; low-interest tasks, not so much. (1)
  • Inhibition – I can be very easily distracted. (2)
  • Pacing – I don’t always judge time well. I think I can cram in one more thing… but I really shouldn’t try. (2)
  • Shifting – I actually make transitions well. (0)
  • Self-Monitoring – I am pretty conscious of what I need to do, but I don’t always monitor the time remaining accurately. (1)
  • Emotional Control – I’m not too much of an overreactor… I don’t think. Okay, I am a worrier, and may indulge in a bit of catastrophic thinking, but I don’t fly off the handle. (1)
  • Task Completion – Definitely a tricky one for me. (2)

This is one of those things I worry about putting on the internet, because it might not exactly reassure a future employer. But I’m pretty realistic about my self-assessment on the job. I know I’m a valuable employee. I’m smart, articulate, and diplomatic. I’ve got excellent interpersonal skills. I’m a quick learner, and I can think out of the box and McGyver things as needed. I’m not lazy or unmotivated; in fact, I’d say that I am driven to learn how to improve myself in any way possible.

The thing is, when I am given structure, as in a work situation, I do really well. But when I am the one responsible for creating the structure, it is much harder. At home, for instance, I have so many undone tasks, so much disorganization, that it makes me crazy. I have worked on improving in this area for – literally – years, and things have definitely improved, but there is still so far to go – and I am nearer 50 than 40! Sometimes I despair of ever getting there.

If I could get the Instant Genie Upgrade on executive function skills, I’d have the drive and motivation to eat well, work out, get my house in shape, finish all those craft projects, read all those books, and be an overall better person. I still wouldn’t have thick hair, but I think that would be worth the trade-off.

Runaway brain

Photo by jenny-bee

Apologies in advance to Soul Asylum, but this is exactly how I feel right now:

Runaway brain, never going back
Wrong way on a one-way track
Seems like I should be getting somewhere
Somehow I’m neither here nor there

I am sitting at my desk at work at 9:45 pm — my workday ends at 4:30 — trying desperately to finish up my month-end bookkeeping and go home.

I say “desperately” because I am feeling desperate now that I have taken a “dinner break” which has lasted… well… let’s just say a bit too long, seeing as how it most recently involved roaming hither and thither around the internet in a frenzy of — I kid you not — looking at articles on how to organize your time.  Using Google Calendar.  And Remember The Milk.  And Week Date.  I believe there were also a few articles in there about large metal chickens and profane hand towels, and perhaps there might have been some looking around at hard-to-find light bulbs and how to upgrade laptop RAM with new memory sticks.  I also might have seen the new Miche bag shells, learned about Wookiee the Chew, and visited BowerPower repeatedly to see if Katie B had posted.  (She just did, btw, in case you need your fix, too.)

Whew.  Do you feel as dazed right now as I do?  Well, be glad it didn’t waste hours of your life.  My brain needs to get off the internet track, get back on the work track, and get out of here.  I am bound and determined to close the month while it is still September.  Wish me luck.

  • {Clutter} released:  All kinds of papers I’d been saving at work — catalogs, menus, order forms — that I really don’t need.  My “To File” tray is looking good.
  • {Stress} released:  Hmmm…  Once I get done here, I’ll have a weekend without Month End hanging over my head.  So I got that goin’ for me.  Which is nice.

Mind the gap

Mind the Gap
Photo by Larry Johnson

gap (noun)
1. a break or opening, as in a fence, wall, or military line; breach

I believe this is the kind of gap they are speaking of at Paddington Station.  I am referring to some other definitions of the word.

2.  an empty space or interval; interruption in continuity; hiatus

Let me illustrate with a little picture of my morning today.

We arrived at the camp kitchen only to find a fork and knife clearly left by my troop the night before.  I gave the girls a short lecture on keeping track of their possessions, though no one stepped up to claim the utensils.  They were, of course, mine.  I followed the girls to the breakfast table to be informed by them that my sit-upon (the name of a traditional Girl Scout handmade thing-to-sit-on) was up at the front of the dining area.  I had left it at campfire the night before.  After breakfast, I checked a lost-and-found area for anything left by my troop.  There was only one thing that belonged to “us:” the sunscreen I had brought to the boat dock the previous afternoon.

3.  a wide divergence or difference; disparity

There is a great disparity between what I believe I can do and my actual behavior.  I do not feel that I am blithely skipping through life leaving belongings in my wake (although my dad used to say that I could never be a criminal because I could be too easily traced).  I see myself as responsible with my things, and as someone who tries to practice what she preaches to the Girl Scouts!  But — apparently — this is not the case.

4.  a difference or disparity in attitudes, perceptions, character, or development, or a lack of confidence or understanding, perceived as creating a problem.

Throughout my life, there has seemed to be a difference between how others perceive my attitude and perceptions about my organization and time management issues compared to how I perceive them.  I feel strongly that the gaps in my day-to-day functioning are real and that they impact my life in a negative manner.  Others seem to trivialize my difficulties without realizing how very serious they are.  I definitely lack confidence in myself when it comes to organization and time management; perhaps people act like it is no big deal as a way of supporting and encouraging me, but somehow it seems like the opposite.

In any case, I need to work on fixing the gaps in my mind, because I do mind them.

  • {Stress} released: I had a calm and relaxed weekend, and gradually went from feeling terrible (Friday night) to feeling pretty well (tonight).  Off to bed!