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Entries in happiness (2)

Thursday
May232013

Picking up the pieces

The problem when I've had a very busy period is that I find they need a recovery period afterwards. I need to find all the things I ditched as being not immediately useful or relevant, and try and get them back under some sort of control. 

In some ways it's interesting looking at what got dropped, and what order they got dropped in! As best I can work out, anyway. It seems like the very first thing to go was my university blog. I was happily bumbling along giving weekly updates, and then suddenly I wasn't. That's fine, I was mostly doing them to give myself a sense of progress. Clearly I didn't need it any more. The question is whether I start doing them again or not? I'm not sure yet. 

Next on the list was this blog. Now part of that was that I didn't want to think on the weekends. The other part was that I wanted to blog our Berlin trip first, and somehow didn't feel up to it, and then everything else got put on hold behind it. Silly really, but it happens. Clearly I've blasted through that particular block now, so this is back on.

Cleaning hit the discard pile a few weeks back, sadly. I'd got into a nice routine where the kitchen and bathroom got deep cleaned on alternate weeks, and shallow cleaned on the other. Then they both just got a shallow clean. Then they got a wipe occasionally... Then Clarkie had to do them. On top of the cleaning she normally does. That's ok, for a really short while, and I take up the slack sometimes when she's got too much on. But not ok for the long term. So that is clearly back on my to do list.

I'd sort of got my email under control, then suddenly not so much. I went through it all yesterday, and was slightly startled by the number of read emails I had no memory of. If you think I owe you one, sorry, please try again now!

I had built up a nice little 10 minute mediation practise on a lunch time. That went, but fairly late - post-CHI. So the thing I was trying to turn into a habit to help in times of stress got ditched when times reached their most stressful. Go figure. I feel like I should try to get that going again, but it's taking more effort than the other stuff.

Sadly over the last couple of weeks running went too. Now that was more of a side effect of the cold I had; I couldn't run! I can't wait to get back at it, and hope to later today. Cycling also went, but that came back slightly earlier - as soon as I felt close to well enough. Granted it was very slow cycling, but that's better than nothing.

So what didn't change? Personal hygiene, you'll be glad to hear, remained right at the top of my priorities! A no-shower day is a very bad day indeed. Eating got a bit reduced (yes, I seem to have lost a little more weight - which is bad, actually) and main meals featured a lot of pasta, but at least 3 meals a day were consumed. And strangely, my lunchtime blog catch-up didn't go away. A little mental downtime seemed to help quite a lot, so that stayed. And my buy-nothing challenge was just fine! I still knitted, but switched to a more straight-forward project (plain stocking stitch) in the end, and did some other making-stuff sessions on the weekend (but very quick and simple ones). 

Hopefully I can get and keep things ticking again for a bit now. Bit worried I might swing back too hard the other way, but fingers crossed balance will be restored soon!

Thursday
Oct112012

Habit-forming

I can't remember if I mentioned it, but over the last year I've been doing quite a lot of reading on positive psychology and happiness. This is not because I'm unhappy. In fact, kind of the opposite. Life's really rather good right now, so I've been reading up more as an effort to appreciate that, and to try to be a calmer, happier person.

Hm. Sounds a bit serious when I put it like that. Anyway.

One of the things that kept coming up was how mess can make you unhappy by leaving you feeling out of control. But there was also a good point about sorting out all the mess being too large and difficult a project that somehow never got started. Quite a few of the books and blogs I've read talk about starting really small, like keeping a patch of desk tidy. 

Then somehow I started hitting blogs on minimalism. There's something appealing about keeping life simple, and certainly we could do with less stuff, but the full minimalist thing doesn't really appeal to me. However, there seems to be quite a lot that crosses over from the positive psychology stuff to the proponents of minimalism, one of which was habits and how tiny actions can build up into large changes. 

So, recognising that actually yes, things like the state of the kitchen and having my clothes everywhere were bugging me, and worse than that meant I was abdicating a lot of my responsibility for cooking, tidying etc to Clarkie was a first step. Especially because Clarkie's had a lot on her plate recently, so I really wanted to keep things simple and stress-free at home. Since then I've been trying to build up a small set of habits to stop my clothes piling up in the bedroom, or the kitchen getting to the stage where I'm overwhelmed by it and don't want to go in. 

(That makes it sound like the kitchen was really scummy. It was never all that bad, just things like the dishwasher needing stacking, hob needing a wipe etc. I have a low tolerance for kitchen stuff I think. The clothes piles were enormous though!)

So how's it going? Well, I think. Clarkie is a little confused by my sudden shift to tidying as I go, but I don't think she minds too much. The kitchen is mostly tidy, and the piles of clothes are... Well... Let's say much reduced. Last night I was so tired that I didn't do the post-dinner tidy-up I've been doing, but because it was just one meal it was simple enough to catch up this morning (although I have decided that a kitchen worktop that doesn't show the dirt is a really bad idea). I'm not sure they are proper habits yet - I think it would be extremely easy to slip back to doing nothing - but it's a start. We've even done a little decluttering, although at one point I had to say stop on that. I'm still finding some tasks a little overwhelming, so it's probably better to do little and often rather than risking me going all sulky-teenager on it.  

There are still plenty of things I'm not doing, and none of what I am doing seems to be taking up significant amounts of time. In fact, it's almost freeing up time, because I'm not spending ages doing the long, boring remedial tasks we used to have to do on occasion. Baby steps seem to be the way forwards!