“Clear intentions” may help you focus in lockdown, but treading water is also fine

It’s very easy to get sucked in by the words on those memes about writing a novel or finding a cure for cancer during this period of isolation, especially if you’re a perfectionist like me.

After all, who doesn’t want to defy the challenge posed by this pandemic and come out at the end of it with a Nobel Peace Prize?

Woman writing a list in a book.
Photo from Catherine Lavery on Unsplash.com

Personally, though, I prefer the memes that focus on simply getting through these trying times. Loser talk for some, I know, but it’s important to remember that not all of us are driven by competition or what “The Jones” are doing. For some of us, the best way to handle this type of crisis is by taking each breath carefully.

And that’s okay.

This week, I noticed several people on Twitter mention the need to grieve the loss of time caused by this pandemic, and in an article by Geoffrey Mak in The Guardian, he concurred that “Some days grief entails languishing in bed, because that is surviving.”

That’s essentially what I’m doing – I’m taking each day at a time as we wait for the finale of this virus’ terrifying journey.

Having Kurt back at home has helped distract me and forced me to set clear intentions each day as I’ve watched him discover the importance of setting them for himself. ADHD does not like being locked up in isolation or a lack of a routine.

His four goals the other day were to learn a new trick on his skateboard, to memorise a new song, have a bath, and edit a chapter of my manuscript that he’s sat on for at least six months, and by the end of the day he had ticked off three out of the four. And that’s okay.

Self-awareness from past disappointments has taught him the need to be realistic in his intentions.

Elaine Lipworth discusses the benefits of clear intentions to combat anxiety during crises such as this in her piece on Thrive Global here. She reiterates the importance of not “setting yourself up for failure and mentally beating up on yourself for not being able to achieve your goals,” (which is a quote from Khazan, author of Biofeedback and Mindfulness In Everyday Life).

I.e. The importance of setting up achievable goals.

Anyway, it turns out that I am very similar to my son in the respect of intentions. I am much happier with a routine and that’s why I’ve been setting my own clear intentions over the past week, along with some “ideal world” ones are are more like goals. You see, unless I keep myself busy, I find it impossible to escape the vortex of the media’s depressing post-mortems about every aspect of COVID-19, which exacerbates my anxiety.

These are my daily intentions at the moment:

  1. Daily exercise – Typically a walk or a short run.
  2. Pitching – Sending ideas for articles to editors
  3. Eating – Enjoying at least one special meal a day, or even trying out a new recipe
  4. Writing – Articles, my blog posts, and manuscripts
  5. Reading – As much as I can
  6. And clearing out my inbox daily

Things don’t always go to plan. Yesterday, for example, I had to forego my exercise due to a dodgy stomach that the old man insinuated was caused by too much Easter chocolate.

And that’s okay.

When it comes to those “ideal world” intentions – which again, I admit are closer to goals – I’m not putting any real pressure on myself to achieve them, but they include:

  1. Online learning – Completing a content marketing course and commencing an advanced web design course with TAFE – did you know that they are running some free, online short courses during lockdown? Check them out here.
  2. And I’m also teaching myself how to crochet – a skill I had hoped I’d have nailed by now and could share with the kids back at school, but I’m not certain that will happen this school year!
Crochet gone wrong.
My rows seem to be getting shorter!

Some of you will be thinking WTF! right now, while others among you – the would-be high-achievers – will be seriously questioning what I’m doing with my time. And that’s because we’re all different, and each one of us is handling the impact of this virus the best way we can, within the limited scope of what we understand about it.

And we’re not all in the same boat. Some of us will be balancing these intentions with work and homeschooling kids, while still others will be coping with the onset of mental health issues triggered by the virus and struggle to get out of bed each morning.

And that’s okay.

But if you ARE that person who is focused on simply “surviving” – i.e. whose best intentions are to watch Netflix, brush your hair daily, or make it downstairs, you can still try to be specific in those intentions. Don’t short-change yourself. Make them meaningful in some way is what Elaine suggests.

For example, you might try out some new healthier recipes when you cook, or try dying your hair. If you’re feeling strong enough to give a new “exercise” a go like Kurt, set yourself a specific goal linked to it. And if Netflix is what slows down those bad thoughts in your brain, try to prioritise some shows with educational benefits as well as entertaining ones.

On paper, this self-imposed isolation looked like “the dream” to some of us, but the truth is, that’s not always the case. Why? Because people need connection.

While there’s nothing to prove at the end of this period, clear intentions will help keep you focused on the end goal and a healthier outlook for what’s left of the year.

Who knows, you might even unleash some undiscovered creativity! Although I’m not sure mine will have anything to do with a crochet needle.

What your clear intentions at the moment? What’s working for you?

The Selective Memory Issue That Is Tearing My Marriage Apart

It was a struggle going back to work today and having to think with clarity without that glass of wine in one hand and an Easter egg in the other.

To Do List by Erin at www.flickr.com
To Do List by Erin at http://www.flickr.com

I farted around at my desk trying to achieve something for at least an hour before I decided that I had earned my first break.

 

Remembering anything, now that I’m middle-aged must stretch the ageing cerebellum in my brain to capacity.

 

These days my memory is becoming about as selective as those of my teenagers.

 

Which is why I might not have remembered to bank that super important cheque, or cancel that insurance, but luckily it did prompt me to remember to buy shit loads of Scarborough wine, especially because it was on special.

 

Needless to say, I’m back in the marital doghouse again.

 

I’ve always had to have a To Do list to remember anything – I blame the latent ADHD which runs in the family. Distraction is a permanent affliction these days and organization of, or focus on the stuff that bores the pants off is difficult.

 

Interestingly, I can remember to check in to Facebook and Twitter or take another boring snapshot for Instagram every hour or so, but I can easily forget to check my work inbox.

 

Which is why I have been forced to craft the SUPER LIST, which, because items on it seem to procreate so damned quickly, has now the exalted status of needing sub-division into columns.

 

This multi-tasking list consumes more hours of fancy-schmancy highlighting, than carrying out the actual tasks themselves.

 

I have a column for really boring general stuff, a column for writing, a column for the day job and a column for my ADHD Support Group. Once an item on the list is highlighted in yellow, then circled repeatedly in red, it usually means I’ve missed the deadline.

 

There’s always a lot of colour in my ‘general’ column, which is where ‘house and school stuff’ is shunted back and forth as I prioritize everything else. That column also includes whatever the old man has currently nagged asked me to do. The kind of stuff that is as awful as watching paint dry.

 

Needless to say, I still haven’t organised new wills, Kurt’s school has not yet received its annual fees or the past three excursion permission notes.

 

And every time I look at the mind boggling number of pages that make up the new passport application form I throw up a little inside my mouth.

 

How can I possibly get anything done when I am perpetually sidetracked by all this mundane shit?