Return to discipline

Again.

It’s hard as hell reading about what’s going on in this country today. We all know, and as I’ve said, I try to avoid politics here. But – and I don’t think I’d be alone in saying this, even for people whose political bents are 180 degrees opposite mine – I don’t think there has been a failure in the government of this country larger or more profound  than what we’re seen since January. It’s stressful and disheartening, and it is going to take us years to recover.

That’s one of the reasons I shut down my personal facebook page, creating another profile just to manage a page that I need to maintain. I got tired of the nonsense, and even more tired of realizing how much of the finite time I have left on this earth it was ticking away. The only reason I visit fb these days is to update that page, or to view some funny video someone thinks I’ll find amusing. I can safely say I have not missed it. I had turned more to twitter, thinking I could just scan through it, post a couple of things, and not have it wind up as a massive timesink or add anything bad – like stress – to my life.

Wrong.

I found myself going back to it, every day, wasting time going down rabbit holes in discussions, getting updates on the generally bad news, or news of the latest show of incompetence or cruelty from our government,  or joining in on discussions, and ending up spinning my wheels. Again.

I’ve been having some issues with focusing on things I need to be doing. It’s likely due to the almost continuous illnesses and the combination of meds that I have to take, and because, like water, we humans take the easiest path – it’s simpler to just ride the flow of tweets off and on all day long while working on business-related things versus getting seed orders in, or planning when to sow the flats under the lights in the barn, or getting back out for more weeding, or wondering if I should change the layout of the hives in the beeyard, or….yes, or to write.

I’ve been thinking – danger, Will Robinson! – as I continue to shake the fog of 2016/2017 off and as I continue to shake off this latest round of pneumonia (which has taken about six weeks now to GTFO), that this is simply a puzzle to solve, just like anything else in  my life.  So this week, I’ve been ramping up on the business side, knocking out things that have been on the todo list, to get them gone, and, in the background, letting my brain chew on the other things that swirl around my tiny piece of the world here at the ranch. It has been fairly successful, for one reason.

Focus.

Focus on one thing. Get that thing done or solved. Move to the next thing. Get that one done. Take a short break. Come back, focus again – on one thing. No trying to do five things at once, even if I think my todo list is huge. It will always be huge. But there was another consideration, too. A kind of meta todo that required even more focus than the tasks on my list: stay off twitter.

I decided that yesterday. When I said goodbye to facebook, I just left, deactivated my personal account entirely, and quit cold turkey. Twitter has been more insidious, like Pennywise peering up from the sewer, promising the visit could be quick – just a quick scan to get a feel for what’s going on, although there were no balloons from a creepy clown (and I suppose that’s a plus, not a minus). Didn’t work. That “quick scan” could easily run a couple of hours in between other “real” work. That isn’t what I wanted, but I found myself in the habit of doing it even when I said I wanted to cut back.

Focus.

That was one of my focus items today, the meta todo that floated on top of the other, more usual todo items. I immersed myself in some things on the business side that I wanted to clear to make it easier for me to get some writing done, because the little voice inside my head, beyond being a total asshole about the fiction or poetry I write, is just as much a total asshole about reminding me that my todo list is full.

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

My bargain with myself has been to deal with some larger issues so the weight of all of the Things is lessened by their absence. I’ve been doing that today, focusing on one item at a time. If I need a break from one task – like moving someone in from another service with bare bones controls and strange setups, for instance – I’ll get up from the desk and walk outside, or do a quick set of exercises with the cable system that hangs on the back of one of the bedroom doors, or have some doggie time. I can then return to my desk, see if there are any user-submitted issues that need to be addressed, do those, then return to the other Thing and focus on that.

Another part of my bargain was this: get some of these bigger items out of the way, and stop adding absolutely everything to the todo list without prioritizing anything. Basically, the bargain is to get back to the way my former, non-constantly sick, self managed things. And today, with the elimination of another yawning, time-sucking crevasse that brings nothing in particular of value to me that I can’t find elsewhere, I’m a step closer – no visits today to Twitter. I didn’t write today, but I will tomorrow, thanks to concentrating and pulling one thing toward me and not letting go:

Focus.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

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