Tag Archives: productivity

Back

I’m back.

Back from Italy.

Back to work.

Back in the dating game.

But I also don’t quite feel back.

Maybe it’s jet lag. Maybe I’m still recovering from being sick for 2 weeks on vacation.

Whatever the reason, I feel a little floaty, disconnected, unsure where I am and where I’m going.

My inclination is to set some goals to help ground me, but every goal I can think of seems terribly inadequate or way too much.

Possible Goals

  1. Work hard at work. It’s crunch time. Get it!
  2. Catch up on all the episodes of The Voice. And Grey’s Anatomy. And Glee. And anything else I’m feeling drawn to. Watch ALL the TV!
  3. Get my dating life in order. What do I want? Who do I want to draw in with a revised profile? What do I like / not like about the folks I’m currently dating?
  4. Get off my butt and move to Oakland.
  5. Get serious about all the boring, everyday stuff that keeps me going – cleaning, cooking, meditation, exercise. Figure out what it takes to just do it and get it done and enjoy doing it.
  6. Read ALL the books. So many in my pile and I keep adding more!
  7. Plan a Ballots & Beyond fundraiser
  8. Get writing & editing on personal projects
  9. Call people! Hang out!

Too many goals! All feel important! Or compelling (The Voice is on in the background right now)! Can’t choose tonight … but trying to do all the things only leads to doing none of the things.

Happy August!

Hello August!

Hello to my brand new niece, born today!

Hello to a month where I will be in town the ENTIRE month. This might have happened in March? And perhaps the previous October? In other words, this is rare.

What do I hope for this fine month?

1. Relaxed Motivation toward Work

There’s a lot to do at work. I even want to do much of it, as we’ve just dreamed up a cool project that weaves together so much of what we’ve been dreaming about since I started a year ago.  I want to find both motivation and relaxation – not striving too hard, not lazing around too much. Remember the 7 Factors of Enlightenment as a tool for balancing relaxation and motivation!

2. Refrain from judging things as “good” or “bad” – especially when it comes to dating

Because I’m no longer clear what I want from online dating, it’s felt kind of confusing as some people I was excited about fall away and other people I found so-so seem more interesting. It’s hard to know whether some of these things are temporary or permanent, whether they are good or bad in the long term.

I’m reminded of this great story from Buddhism:

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

3. Get Everything Settled for Italy

I leave for Italy September 13! I need to brush up on my language skills, reserve a rental car for part of our trip, get a new suitcase, and probably a hundred other details I’m not even thinking about yet. It’s time to think about all the tiny details!

4. Have a BBQ

I’ve been slowly working on the back yard. It’s time to get some patio furniture finally, and pick a date to host a little party.

This makes me panic a little – what if I pick a date where no one can show up? Ahhhhh! Get a couple of people lined up, and the rest will fall into place. It will be fun even as a small party.

T-minus 10 Days

I am preparing to go on a meditation retreat. I leave in 10 days. A mini set of goals for the period from now until then.

1. Get butt on cushion.

Even if it’s just for 5 or 10 minutes. My body can really get overwhelmed by meditation, and I’m signed up for 16 straight days of it. I’d like to at least remember how to focus and settle my mind.

2. Get Italy travel plans in place.

I’m going to Italy this fall with my folks to celebrate their 60th birthdays! We leave in mid-September, which will be less that two months after I get back from retreat. My mom and I want to have all the lodging in place before I leave, because the good places are already starting to get booked up.

3. Get fundraising letter finished

I keep writing and rewriting this one. I have many things I want to say, many of which are not appropriate for a fundraising letter.

I also need to figure out the mailing process, and who/how the approval process will work while I am gone.

4. Schedule some posts from all the writing I’ve been doing

All that writing I’m doing does belong SOMEWHERE, even if not in a fundraising letter. I’d like to write up some of it for posts on my work blog.

I also have some posts to write for Treasure Island. There is writing and more writing to be doing.

5. Have some fun!

Online dating is still (mostly) fun, and I even met some new folks the old fashioned way – hanging out in dance clubs!

I’d like to hang out with several of those folks before I leave, if possible. I worry that if I don’t keep the fires stoked, I’ll lose any steam and folks won’t be interested in hanging out when I get back. Especially folks who have already played the waiting game through my other various trips the past month.

My travel & meditation schedule is putting a serious crimp in my dating life! I may have to curtail travel for the second half of the year (besides Italy of course) so I can actually hang out with people here for a change.

Diving Deep

New insights on what I’m up to right now!

I’m diving in deeper with the things that brought me to the Bay Area – Buddhism, activism, and hanging out with queer folks. I’m getting more precise about exactly what I do and don’t want to be doing, who I want and don’t want to be hanging out with, how I want and don’t want to be doing it.

(Precision isn’t exactly a new thing in my world. But I’m diving deeper into precision).

 

 

 

 

 

Fig. 1: My post-it note reminder to seek precision while I’m diving in to explore things!

What does this look like specifically with this month’s goals?

1. Practice the energy of destruction

Destruction is an important part of precision. I have to be willing to cut away what’s not right to focus on what is right.

I cancelled some plans with folks – things I thought I would enjoy doing, but am realizing are not precisely what I want. I decided I would rather spend the evening on my own, reading and journaling, then doing something with others that wasn’t precisely right.

My initial project – fixing my iTunes library that is an organized mess – had a major hiccup when I deleted most of my library accidentally. Thank goddess for back up!

Part of getting comfortable with destroyer energy is getting comfortable with that hiccup of, “OMG, I totally just screwed that up.” To stay calm and present and able to look at options for remedying the situation.

I’m glad to say the music is back (Ani DiFranco! Aimee Mann!), but I’m feeling cautious about jumping back in to deleting music. There’s a lot more confusion about multiple folders than I thought. It’s turning into a project that needs thought about, not just one I can do mindlessly.

I do think the next steps are to keep deleting the songs I know are duplicates. That feels like it will keep the energy for this moving.

2. Play with online dating

So, I found a couple of people I’m interested in messaging. But I haven’t finished my profile yet! How will they evaluate me if my profile is incomplete?

In the meantime, I’ve just left tabs open with their profiles. It feels like so many steps to message them!

  1. Finish my profile
  2. Worry over and edit my profile some more
  3. Re-read their profile 429 times
  4. Draft a message to them
  5. Send it to 3 friends, asking “Would you want to meet me if you only read this message?”
  6. Edit my profile some more
  7. Edit the message some more
  8. Get drunk and finally hit send

I have to remember that I will be more interesting than this d00d, who just wrote me, “hi im horny.”

Oy, welcome to online dating.

3. Do what I love at work

I am not sure that happened this week. I put some fun projects near the top of my list, but they got sideswiped by meetings and emails and a push for fundraising.

I did some interest writing on Tuesday. While at the beach, trying not to work. Part of my dilemma is that I want to do more than I’m actually getting paid for.

Part of this is resolved by my decision to dive deep, including into Buddhism & activism. I’ve decided not to count my work hours so closely, to not stress out so much about keeping things to 30 hours per week. To think of my pay as a stipend, and do what work I can and want to during the week. To track my work loosely, so I know how much I’m working and to make sure I’m at least working 30 hours. But to embrace the work as all part of what I love.

I think in that, there will also be precision about what I don’t love, and either ending or changing it.

4. Play with incorporating other activities

I noticed this week that I have the most ease in having a balanced life when I’m busy.  This week, I have been writing blog posts, getting to dance class, reading, getting outside a lot. Meditation has been part of the week too. And it’s felt rather easy instead of strained.

Bringing Back the Goals

Last month, there were no goals.

That worked well to give me some spaciousness, but it also left me feeling adrift. My suspicion is that I did nothing last month, but I’m pretty sure I actually took two vacations, wrote an article for an anthology, trained a new staff member, dealt with more transition at work, and let life catch up to me.

Overall the month was about remembering how to feel what I wanted, and act on that. It was about dropping other people’s agendas to make space for my own agenda.

This month, I have already set some light goals.

1. Practice the energy of destruction

I love to grow new projects and ideas. But when things get overgrown, it’s necessary to prune back. If pruning hasn’t been done for awhile, sometimes there’s a much bigger ripping out that is needed.

I have a hard time with pruning as I go, often waiting until I’m being choked off before I make a move. Then I’m flailing, destroying things in my path in an attempt to survive.

So I’m practicing destroyer energy this month, pruning things that have been neglected. Like my actual back yard. And my iTunes library that got corrupted at some point, and now has 6 copies of each song.

2. Play with online dating

I just set up a profile on OK Cupid. I want to meet some new, interesting people and go on dates as a way to explore new people and places.

I feel overwhelmed already – how do I decide who to message? Who do I respond to? How do I keep it fun and playful, rather than another task?

3. Do what I love at work

There are so many things I feel like I *must* do. What happens if I do the things I love first? And then tell people about those things as fundraising & communications strategies?

What happens if I minimize the administration even more? Anything I don’t love, anything that feels complicated – gets dropped. Invoke more destroyer energy!

4. Play with incorporating other activities

Fundraising for Catalyst, planning the trip to Italy, writing projects. Plus the ongoing meditation, walks, dance, connecting with friends.

For awhile, I liked setting weekly goals. Then I liked having randomized to do lists. Then I liked dropping all pressure and only doing what I wanted to do.

I would like to play with different ways of doing this. How do I keep motivated to do the projects in my life, particularly ones with timelines or parts that feel hard to complete?

No goals

I feel adrift this month.

I haven’t set any goals this month.

Coincidence?

I still feel resistant to setting goals this month.

What is the benefit of not setting goals?

I can relax.

I don’t have to feel bad about what I’m not doing.

I can just do what feels like the right thing to do next (like taking an impromptu weekend trip, or writing a complicated submission for survivors in solidarity with prison abolition, or catching up on The Voice).

Not having goals helps clarify the difference between what I *want* to do and what I think I *should* do.

What is the shadow side of not setting goals?

Even when I’m doing things, I feel like I’m not doing anything.

Some things that would feel helpful are not getting done.

Especially daily practices that are helpful, but easy to not do (walking, meditation).

No goals

This will be the month of no goals. I want to get a full month’s worth of feeling of freedom. We will see if goals return for May, or if I need more spaciousness around goals still.

It’s Good Not to Achieve the Goal

This month, wanted to get off Facebook.

Facebook is just one of many indicators that I am feeling lonely or overwhelmed or stuck. It’s an easy one to notice, and one that I don’t have a lot of guilt or shame around. While my progress on specific goals below has been spotty, I’ve made a lot of progress on noticing when I’m turning to Facebook and choosing to do something different instead.

As happens with practice, the more I notice my habit with Facebook, the more I start to notice my other, more complicated habits as well.

1. Nurture local friendships

When I checked in mid-month, I was sure I was doing poorly on this one. I’ve been sitting a lot with loneliness the month, so it seemed like a sure thing that I had not spent time with anyone. I was wrong.

Again, I feel like I have not been nurturing local friendships. There’s both a sense of loneliness, and a sense that I’ve spent a lot of time engaging with people who don’t live here.

But. I spent last weekend hanging out with three different sets of people I know locally. I also had dinner with a friend, and connected with several people at various gatherings.

I am coming to realize that the people I feel most at home with are the people I’m connecting with around engaged Buddhism. I am resisting this, since I want some amount of work/life balance and I work all day on engaged Buddhist issues.

I want to find some resolution to this, where I can both connect deeply with folks and feel balanced. So far, it seems like I need to establish that balance moment to moment, rather than switching to a new mode at 5pm.

2. Walk or meditate in the morning before getting online

The rain continued to make walking difficult. I often headed for a shower or breakfast as a way to start my morning without Facebook.

Meditation has not been as solid this month. Instead, I’ve been really focused on ease. I’d like to find a balance next month of easeful meditation. I’m not sure if that means shorter sits, more walking or guided meditation, or perhaps trying out a few sanghas.

Even though it’s been hard, I’ve still been sitting 2-5 times per week for 30 minutes. I continue to celebrate this as a success.

3. Writing 5 minutes every day

Tracking two daily goals (meditation & writing) seemed to make both of them hard. I didn’t work on tracking this at all, though I did some writing 21 of 31 days this month.

I wonder about:

  • Tracking these two together – 30 minutes of meditation + 10 minutes of writing happens at the same time. (Ahhh! It will take too much time!)
  • Focusing on only meditation for awhile, until it feels more solid

I totally forgot that I did some focused writing in response to a call for articles. It actually felt like the kind of writing I would like to be doing. Perhaps setting this goal created more movement than I realize?

Sometimes achieving the goal is less important than setting the intention. Especially when the goal is a baby step like “write for 5 minutes.” This really isn’t my long term intent. I wouldn’t be happy if I spent the rest of my life writing for 5 minutes every day.

What would it mean to set a writing goal I would be excited and energetic about? But would still have the spirit of doable within my current capacity?

4. Practicing restoration when I’m tired

This month has been all about rest and restoration. I feel fantastic that I have ended a busy, busy month at work still feeling excited about my job and not in a space of burnout. This is so important, as I didn’t want to bring a new co-worker in to a culture of burnout and exhaustion.

I want to track my need for rest this next month. Will I still need completely and total restoration in the same way? Can I recognize that need quickly, and get myself what I need? Do my needs change as my social energy at work changes? How does the weather affect my needs for rest?