Saturday, April 21, 2018

Calendar Anorexia


DEBORAH CROMBIE: The last six weeks or so my life have been overly full of STUFF. Mostly necessary, unavoidable stuff, starting with the fact that the first weekend in March, I had a really stupid, freak fall. Chasing a bolting dog (not one of ours!) in the middle of the night, I caught my foot on our flagstone walk and slammed headfirst into this:


our very pretty to look at but not exactly resilient antique wrought-iron gate, resulting in a very banged up knee and an even more banged up head.

And that resulted in lots of appointments, etc., etc., etc. Not to worry, I'm lots better now on all fronts, but that and other family things and household things have made it very hard to keep a regular schedule, and if I don't have a regular schedule, I don't cope, I don't WRITE, and I get very overwhelmed and frustrated.

Fast forward to the other night. At dinner we were watching a YouTube video by Casey Neistat, an incredibly popular film maker and vlogger we follow .


Casey is very quirky, very talented, very funny, and often he gets life-related things bang on. In this video, he describes himself as having a condition: CALENDAR ANOREXIA. He defines that as an inability to put anything on his calendar that takes away from his creative time or his family time.

Sometimes I need a big reminder to


and this was it. I visualized every day of my calendar filled with big red Xs. I cleared everything but a dentist appointment and a haircut for the next few weeks, and I thought about all the things I really want to be doing with every minute of my time. Because it's precious.

WRITING
Reading
Writing in my journal
Enjoying my spring garden
and, um, maybe catching up on about six weeks worth of laundry, although that's more a must than a want. We'll see if I can stick to it.

What about you, REDS and readers? How do keep your days free of clutter so that you can concentrate on things that really matter?






41 comments:

  1. I hope you’re feeling better, Debs . . . those freak falls can certainly be treacherous.

    I try to prioritize, with family coming first, and I make a concerted effort not to have too many things scheduled in one week [or more than a couple of things on a particular day]. I’m not always good at keeping the calendar clutter-free, but having a priority list sometimes makes it easier to say “No” . . . .

    At the moment, my calendar is jam-packed because our three-year-old grandson is staying with us for the next three weeks. [Of course, having your calendar filled with grandbaby time is a very good thing.]

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  2. I agree, Debs, and am glad you're healing up. Falls are no fun!

    "Just say no" is such an important skill. I've gotten a lot better at saying it, although my introverted partner might disagree. ;^) And right now, since my morning is short, I'm off to say Yes to my revisions...

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  3. Mini deadlines are the best way for me. These days, it's got to be 1000 words a day, and I know perfectly well that morning is my best shot. Like Edith, I'm off to write!

    Good luck Debs, getting back in the groove (even if it's painful) will help so much too!

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  4. Deborah, so sorry about your fall, glad to know that you are mending, and thanks to those big red Xs, tending to you first. For me, doing laundry gives tremendous satisfaction of “chore done” while there is time to read or enjoy the garden during the 30 to 40 minute wash and hour or so to dry. Take care.

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  5. I'm glad you are doing better Debs. I tend to keep my calendar clutter free, although next week not so much. I do mostly chores and whatevers in the morning so that the afternoon and evenings are mine to do with as I please.

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  6. Banged up is better than 'broken up'! So glad to hear you are on the mend now, Deborah. This topic is so timely--I have been struggling with this issue for months now. What I need to do is make a list--mental or otherwise--of what matters most to me in my life--and arrange my time so I can do what makes me sing. Work occupies so much of my time--I feel overwhelmed by the rest of the stuff that needs doing--like laundry--so the stuff I need to do for my sanity ends up falling by the wayside.

    Here's hoping you continue to feel better and like Lucy said, find your groove again!

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  7. I have a full-time day job that often lapses over into my nights and weekends, plus I'm an introvert, so I really value my personal time. A while back I began to realize that I was spending all my personal time on errands and cleaning and stuff that wasn't fun or restorative to my soul. I began to understand that "exhaustion" was more than just a euphemism for rock stars who needed to go into rehab. And I finally, finally started putting a priority on things like comp time off, naps, reading, deep conversations with close friends, and sitting on the tailgate of my truck with the dogs. It's much easier for me to say "no" now, because I know that saying "yes" can impact my health and well-being. Now, if only I could find a good deal on one of those t-shirts that says, "Sorry I'm late. I didn't want to be here in the first place."

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  8. Other than walking the dogs or going to the gym, I keep my calendar as empty as possible. A week with nothing scheduled is a blissful week.

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    1. Margaret, I never have an unscheduled week, but even a completely unscheduled day is a glory!

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  9. Debs, this is the dilemma of my life! Yesterday, I was feeling so overscheduled, it was almost…Well, it was so distressing, I was very unhappy about it. It’s all a result of good things, I know, and I would rather be overscheduled that have no one inviting me places at all.:-) so even though it all comes from good , We do have to decide what’s important, and figure out how to say no to the rest of it. And remember, what we are doing means that is what we have chosen as our priority. And as a result, sometimes it is easy to say whoa, wait a minute, something else is more important than this.

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    1. Hank, what started my whole little melt down was me trying to decide whether or not to accept and nice invitation to speak to a group. You know, "Well, I should. It was nice that they asked me. It won't be that inconvenient, etc. etc." Except that when the time comes, it will be, and I will lose writing time.

      I've always been terrible at setting boundaries, and sometimes I just need a kick in the pants.

      Here's the little clip from Casey's video where he talks about the calendar. It gave me resolve!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxrgNuVPqxY

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    2. And, Hank, I don't know how you do what you do!!!

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    3. I find that invitations appeal at the time of the invite (say six months before the event), but when the event rolls around, I think, why did I agree to do this? I've learned to ask not do I want to do this, but do I want to do this in October, two weeks after some other commitment. Putting the commitment in context is at least more realistic!

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    4. Yes! Because when things are far away, they'll never really come, right? ahhhhhh .

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  10. Debs, sorry to hear about the fall and I'm glad you're feeling better.

    It's all about priority. I have to get the words/writing done. Right now, getting The Girl ready for graduation and college prep is taking first priority. Deadlines help immensely and Very Important Things go on the calendar. If it doesn't rate the calendar, it's not Very Important.

    But I also can't forget to schedule a little "me" time (like my haircut last week) or else I get...well, let's say "fidgety" and leave it at that.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. I've been taking little reading breaks during the day. That makes me feel so much better.

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    2. I have a manicure scheduled for Monday (it's for Malice, no really) and I'm so looking forward to it!

      Mary/Liz

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  11. I'm going to run out to the farmer's market--one of my very favorite things that does get a place on my calendar--before it starts raining. Back in a bit.

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  12. Ouch, ooch, eech. I've had that kind of fall, and it's no darn fun. Glad you're on the mend, Debs.

    This is a constant struggle for me, and always has been. Believe it or not, it's worse now that I'm "retired". Too much unscheduled time. I need parameters to bump against, I think.

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  13. Big sympathies on that fall. (Been there, done that) Hope you are are feeling better.

    Time? Yes, yes, yes! I am struggling with these issues this very week. And month. It's not so much saying no to things I don't want to do; it's the many things I do want to do. I live in NY. Between MWA, Sisters in Crime, my 2 writing groups and friends book events- i could be out every night. (In fact I recently bailed on 2 I wanted to do) All fun and writing career-useful. BUT. I live in NY.I could be at 4 Edgar events this coming week! ( I am ony going to one) And then Malice. All fun and useful. BUT. I live in NY. It takes a long time to get to things like dr. appts ( I have many) and a big chunk of day is lost.Necessary. BUT. I live in NY. People turn up for meetings or on the way to JFK. And I do want to see them all. BUT. Plus, how easy is it to spend a whole day just catching up on blogs and so on? Plus, grandkids nearby. We adore them of course, and their overloaded parents really need our help. BUT. (And anybody notice what is missing from this list? Begins with W. I try for early AM) Thanks for allowing me to have my little rant. And reminding me that I need to give some serious thought to reprioritizing my time. I'll do that soon. When I have time to think :-)

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  14. Oh Deb, so sorry about that fall and all the other stuff that has been complicating your life. It's my impression that the whole human race is overscheduled, and I long for the good old days, which probably weren't all that good now that I think about it.

    When I was working, often ten hours a day and then on call for the other 14, I managed everything on a tight schedule, could find time in the day for the dentist if I'd skip lunch, etc. Now that I'm retired, I have to be very careful to schedule no more than one thing on a given day. Lately it's been the dentist and a bit of bridge building. If I have an afternoon appointment, I spend the morning getting ready for it and the evening getting over it! What a waste of time. Yet everyone I talk to who is retired says the same thing. I suppose work does expand to fill the time avalable!

    It seem to me that the issue with being a writer is that it's unlikely any of you will ever retire. What's the answer to that?

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  15. You might need to go through your calendar and literally put big Xs on random days. I keep a paper calendar (one of those big desk surface ones from Office Depot) on the outside of my pantry door. I started when the kids were in the house and there is enough room to write lots of details, but I have continued with our empty nest. On your iPhone calendar, mark the random days as “Busy”, and “all day”. You’ll know you have the time if you need to schedule a doctor appointment, but otherwise, they are pajamas in the recliner a few times a month! Hot tea, the tv remote, the Amazon fire stick remote, the iPad jigsaw puzzle, and some snacks nearby. Doing this today!

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    1. That's a brilliant idea, KC. When my kids were young, I told them they could each have X number of "mental health days" - a day off from school, no pretending to be sick necessary, no feeling guilty for sneaking. Interestingly, knowing they had the option meant none of them over-used it. I never thought about using the idea for myself, but I love your randomly-assigned days off. I may try that.

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  16. Ouch and Yow! Physical pain makes everything more of an effort. My suggestion (aside from putting "No is a complete sentence" into practice), is to actually X-out time on your calendar with those big red X's for the days or half-days when you already don't want to do anything outside the house/homestead while you return to full power. Then mark in the pleasurable stuff (farmer's market, gardening, grandkids) and the necessary stuff (writing, grocery shopping, etc.) The 'unmarked' time then becomes the only time for the random invitations, the responding to asks, the outside intrusions. Just for a month. May is almost here -- grab that calendar and give it a try for just a month. Oh ... almost forgot. Ask your house helper if she can do the laundry for the month; the small expenditure pays off big in freedom from drudgery.

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  17. first time I heard of calendar anorexia. Keeping my days free of clutter is quite a challenge! I write important events in my calendar. I have a routine that I do every day, especially in the mornings, and that helps keep my days free of clutter.

    Diana

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  18. Glad you have recovered from your fall. The gate is very pretty with the flagstone path leading to it. I make a "to-do" list so I don't forget to do things. I put everything on it. Things I must do and things I want to do. And I keep a calendar on which I write important must do stuff. If I don't make a list then I worry that I will forget to do things that need doing! Seems like I am doing laundry all the time, so it is not really on the list.

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  19. Oh Debs, I'm so sorry for your pain and all that followed your fall. As I sit here typing with one hand and one finger, I can relate. Stupid broken hand and stupid reason for it. I'm glad you're on the down side of the healing process.

    Managing time. The conflict foe me lies in how I spend time and how my husband spends time. He's in this weekend and will be moving back home the middle of June when he partially retires. Since a lot of my time is spent reading, reviewing, blogging and other book related activities online, I'm often in a stationary position, not scurrying about. My husband scurries, finding it hard to sit down and relax. So, while I need to move more, he needs to move less. I'll let you know who lives.

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  20. Deb ~~ that beautiful fence has lots of pointy stuff. so sorry you were hurt by it. grateful you weren't impaled by it, and happy you are on the mend.

    Hidden deep within my introverted shell is an extrovert peeping out. One that has learned to do an activity before the task/job/fun thing is SCREAMING at me. Like many of you I do most chores in the morning when my energy is better. I also try to do the thing I really don't want to do first. This frees the rest of the day for better stuff. Truth. I would rather read than do most anything else. except breathe. //one of my life mottos "Procrastination before Performance" thus cluttering is; all books remain unwritten.

    Ann has a point. When do writers retire?





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  21. Glad you are feeling better Deborah! Since I have been retired you would think I have tons of time to do nothing at all but it just isn't true. Not enough hours in the day for all that I want to do. Mostly what I want to do is lounge around and read!

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  22. I put a priority on seeing my friends and rearrange my schedule for that often. I've always included reading and watching TV in my schedule. That's a given. I probably don't clean enough but I try to keep at it. So happy I got out to garden today FINALLY!

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  23. I don't know how to clear the decks to get stuff done that I WANT to do rather than have to do.

    I mean, I HAVE to go to work 5 days a week and then there are the household chores that HAVE to get done (laundry, vacuuming, bill paying).

    And then comes dinner with friends, reading, writing, catching up on TV etc.

    And that doesn't even count. I've learned that in order to get a lot of reading done, I have to read during commercial breaks, at lunch when I'm working or like today, I read a book while I was having lunch (alone) at my favorite restaurant as I sat at the bar eating.

    On weekends, I have found I still need to get up early so that I can get my various writing projects (CD/Concert Reviews, Cassette Chronicles articles and book reviews) done before the crush of the day starts.

    Stuff never ends so I just roll with it and get to each separate thing as I can.

    Oh and I might be adding another writing project to the list as I'm considering doing an interview with a musician that I've admired for about 30 years. So another thing to fit into the very busy schedule.

    Yep, I have too much to do and not enough time to do it all so I don't get to unplug nearly as often as I might like so that I can just float around like a leaf on the wind doing whatever I feel like.

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    1. Jay, yay on the interview. And I love your description of "floating around like a leaf on the wind!"

      It's very dark and rainy here today, and after rushing to get Saturday morning errands done before the first storm, then house chores, I pretty much read for the rest of the afternoon. I don't know when I've taken a reading half day, but I think I'll feel rejuvenated for it.

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    2. Deborah, thanks.

      And to give credit where its due, I stole the leaf line from the Firefly movie Serenity.

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    3. I should have known. Love Serenity!

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  24. Debs - that gate looks deadly, beautiful, but deadly. I am so glad you're on the mend with no permanent damage.
    As for calendar anorexia, I really like this term. I'm pretty good about keeping my engagements to a minimum. Writing is such a living, breathing thing that it requires it's own sustainable life space and I work that around my family which is really my only other want to with friends coming a close second. In fact, with a book due May 1st, I am planning to take an Internet detox until it's done. Then, hopefully, I can breathe again!

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    1. Thanks, Jenn. You are the best at staying focused and on task. We should all take lessons from you.

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    2. Jenn, you are such an inspiration.

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  25. Because I have lupus, which limits my stamina, I have adopted a personal guideline: Do What Matters Most. I try to apply it to every situation involving a choice, a scheduling decision, a conflict. The best part is that I, alone, am the arbiter of what matters most. Loved ones (dogs included), time alone, a good book, sitting in the sunshine, pulling weeds--all of these things have been judged to matter most, many, many times. When they conflict (partner v. time alone), it's situational. DWWM is my own WWJD.

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  26. A gardener like you, Debs, I often forget to enjoy the flowers and smell the roses! I need to put "FLOWERS" on every day of my calendar! Thanks for the reminder:-)

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