There’s No Such Thing as a Snow Day

Living in the temperate climate of the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve never had a snow day.  Sometimes it bums me out, but then I remember that not having snow days makes it that much easier to do the things I want to do when I want to do them.  Since I’ve never had one, it’s impossible for me to say what I’d do to stay entertained during a snow day.  But, we all have sick days.  You know, the days when you’re too sick to go to work/school but not sick enough to sleep all day?

You can tell just how sick I am by how much activity I do.  If I’m laying like a lump on the couch, drifting in and out of dreamland, then you know I’m really sick.  As I get better, even just a little bit better, I get antsy.  Sadly, I can only watch so much TV, read so many books and write so many blogs before I need to get up and move. Have you ever seen someone who is terribly sick try to do something useful?  It’s comically sad, really.

My mind’s capacity for concentration simply isn’t there when I’m sick.  I’ll be making a grocery list and halfway through I’ll get distracted by heating up soup for lunch.  I’ll watch a training program online and somewhere in there a link for something else will pop up and I’ll click that instead.  I’ll start paying bills and go off track when I see the links for mortgage information.  So then I end up with a lot of half finished projects which sometimes include a mess and be too tired to finish any of them.  Not such an ideal situation.

My coworkers say that they can tell how I’m feeling by how hard I have to think and how many words I “forget” when I’m answering a question.  It’s not a pretty sight.

So, in a nutshell, when I have a sick day I sleep a lot, watch TV, read books, goof off on the internet, breathe lots of steam and get myself into trouble.

Focus

How do you stay focused when you have to get something done?

I’d love to be one of those people who say that staying focused is almost never a problem for me.  Sadly, I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older I have more difficulty focusing on one task or project for very long.  And my level of focus is usually inversely related to how much I really want to do that particular task or project.

One of the most effective things I do to focus is to remove as many distractions as possible.  Even having music playing in the background can be a distraction if a song comes on that makes me want to move, or if the music is so soothing that I want to sleep.  The TV is turned off.  I try to avoid the internet.  I mute my phone.  Even with all of these things it’s still really easy to become distracted when doing a task sometimes.

The other thing I do is bargain with myself and give time limits.  I’ve been known to set a timer for 15 minutes (as recommended by FlyLady) and then reward myself with a break and/or treat.  Somehow knowing that I only need to do something for 15 minutes makes it easier to bear, especially if I know I have something special waiting for me when I’m done.

If it’s a big project I set goals and rewards.  That’s how I lost 43 pounds in 2008 and 2009.  For every 10 pounds lost, I got a prize.  It’s probably the way I’ll lose those 20 pounds that crept back on.  That’s how I convinced myself to finish my Bachelor’s and Master’s – a trip to Vegas in 2007 and to Disney World in 2010.

You might have also noticed that I break larger tasks up into smaller ones.  Lose a few pounds at a time to meet the goal.  Write a few paragraphs at a time to finish the paper/book.  I’ll also start making lists of the things to be done every week: Groceries, work schedule, date night, time with family, time with friends, reading, exercise, etc.  Making that list and checking it frequently during especially busy times helps keep me grounded and makes it easier to deny distractions from taking root.

All of these strategies are nothing new to a lot of people.  I use each one at different times and to achieve different results.  It ends up working out well… usually.  I’m only human, and I do tend to enjoy my distractions, don’t you?

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