I suppose I should show up and wish everybody a happy new year.  So, happy new year from the sulky iguana who is mainly going to be trying to Suck Less ™ for the next two months.

But here’s a piece of advice for dealing with sulks, procrastination, or trouble getting back to work after the holidays: just touch whatever it is.  Literally, handle it.  If you have a folder full of drafts or whatever, get it out, open it up, leave it on your desk.  If it’s writing thank you notes, get out the stationery and address an envelope.  Take the stack of papers to grade and sort them by topic, or by strength of first paragraph.  Anything, just so you have handled The Thing.

This shrinks it down into its proper perspective, no longer a looming Thing but an item that fits on your desk or into a finite amount of time.

After the initial touching, you are allowed to walk away.  Get coffee, eat chocolate, get the cats to chase the Laser Mouse, or whatever.  Come back in a little while and read the top paper, or write “Dear Aunt Maud,” or write down one thing you can do for the unfinished draft.

Rinse and repeat, if necessary (the cats may be well-exercised at the beginning of this process), but sooner or later, you’ll get some momentum going and all will be well.  Or at least, it will all Suck Less.

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13 thoughts on “Handling things

  1. As I do this morning writing, complaining to myself about my lack of motivation and sadness about how little I got done on the break and wallowing in it, I am strengthened by your resolve. Thanks for the push forward–dearly needed.

  2. I’ve been trying to take a minute each morning and say “I’m awake, I’m alive, and I have the chance to do something today.” Usually I beat myself up about how little I got done, but I want to refocus that to what I did do, even if it is just touching The Thing(s).

  3. Well y’all, I am glad I am not the only one who has had an unexpectedly awful break. It ain’t my fault, though, it’s my parents’. I do not think they know how to use their computer any more but they do know my blog address, so I have been crowdsourcing the issues to Facebook, getting people to help edit drafts of letters to medical types, advise on how much to intervene or not, and mostly whether I am over or underreacting or exerting too much or too little power.

    In response to a comment by DEH on my blog wanted to say some of this, then thought maybe I should not in case my parents found it. So I decided to say it in machine translated Middle English or even Anglo Saxon but could not find a machine easily. So I figured that since Middle English resembles West Frisian which resembles Danish, perhaps Danish could be comprehensible — a language I actually know. So here, for your linguistic delight, is my story.

    Min mor har psykiske lidelser og tre brækkede knogler, men nægter at være på hospitalet. Min far drikker. De har ingen hjælpe hjemme fordi de insisterer på at spare penge for vores arv. De bor i et smukt hus, som fungerer mere som en sjofel kro i den tidlige moderne tidsalder! Den situation, som de vælger i de alternativer, giver dem stadig uro og når de bliver hylet helt ud, som de gjorde for nylig, beslutter de at jeg er i fare, og de beretter min død til Louisianas myndigheder. Så havde jeg i julaften politiet ved døren.

    Heldigvis har min bror — som normalt ikke taler til mig fordi familien er simpelthen for traumatisk for ham — har ringet og sammen har vi insisteret i, at de fik noget hjælp. Jeg gik over deres hoveder, fandte ud af, hvem der var læge, og hospitalets socialrådgiver har fundet mit telefonnummer og ringede til mig. Nu går alt bedre men jeg har i hvert fald været virkelig irriteret over deres drama.

    1. Z, if I understood most of it correctly and Google translate correctly filled in the blanks I couldn’t, that is some serious drama and certainly not a restful break! I hope they get the help they need and you and your brother get some peace, too.

      1. Thank you, Trapped! Their friends and MD are convinced everything is fine, but have no idea. Social worker who has actually been to house is really concerned. My brother and I are so used to them, their friends, and their MDs saying everything is fine but then getting frightened and frightening phone calls, calls to work and work supervisors, visits from local police they have called, etc., that we also tend to underreact. I am mostly pissed off about them sending the police to my house on my birthday, which is Christmas eve, because I had not called them yet. Police had been told I was dead and were ready to break down the door. These parents manage to do something abusive Dec. 24-25 every year unless I am incommunicada and I am not going to be commmunicada again. End of rant.

      2. Z, ohmygosh, I am so sorry about that. It is easy to lose perspective on what’s normal when you get such weirdly different kinds of feedback. (how can their MD think everything is OK?) Wishing you much strength and patience – and as much distance as you need, if backing off is the way to go.

  4. If only these midwinter doldrums were matched by magical everything-gets-done months around the summer solstice… alas, those months are just eaten up by grading then so much better suited to reading/gardening/being OUT!

    1. How awful to have grading so late in the year. I actually can count on a surge of energy round about April that lasts through August, so long as it’s not eaten into by things like parental illness. It helps when I can go away and not have to deal with houseworky stuff. Usually it’s to UK libraries, which I love, but I am starting to wonder about California next summer.

  5. I’ve just gotten back in to work mode, after taking a real break from work and letting myself just veg out. It’s been baby steps all the way, but I do feel like I at least Suck Less than I did a month ago at the end of the semester or even at the beginning of the semester. But the Suck Less reminder is perfect timing for the new writing group that starts tomorrow on my blog at http://acaderanged.blogspot.com/ Sorry for the shameless plug!

  6. Thanks for this, Dame Eleanor. It made my first work day post-vacation hopeful rather than monumentally depressing. Too many things took up my time (good things, it turned out, but hard things/things that are not work). I did make forward progress by doing little tasks that get me closer to what I really need to be working on. Onward!

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