I haven’t written any fiction since April 6th.
I know I’m not alone in having my routines shaken up by a certain world-wide event, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
For those of you who have been following a while, you might know that I try to keep to 6 life projects or fewer in order to both make enough progress to make it worth doing and not overwhelm my poor brain with too many directions.
It’s okay to take time off from projects.
In case you hadn’t been told that before. It’s okay. Seriously.
And that’s just in general, being a human being.
With the current state of things, we are also dealing with the pressure of the outside world needing more time, energy and thought than normal. And for most of us, there’s more fear than we used to experience just from leaving our house. If you’re interested in the official terminology, look up “allostatic load” but my simplified understanding is that this is the mental running to-do list we all work from.
And that is stressful, normally.
With the pandemic, my priorities had to change.
And that meant that writing was no longer in those top project slots.
Dayjob takes one slot, especially since I’m a keyworker so my work has only increased since March, with no time off.
Secondly, I have found it more tricky to manage my health and wellbeing, so that’s another mental space taken up.
Thirdly, the house needs to remain vaguely hygienic, the cats need care and my car still needed its tires filling with air. This is a ‘smaller’ slot, but the mental to-do list is ongoing from taking the bins out each week (is this the recycling one or normal waste?)
Fourth, I try to still write helpful articles, especially about managing stress and identity issues during the pandemic.
Fifth, I’m still offering support through my mentorship for reinventors which I’ve slowed down my sessions on, but still offering.
And the sixth space? Right now, that’s taken up with the news, fears about Brexit, concerns about coronavirus, trying to keep in touch with loved ones, and here-and-there do some art, some scrapbooking, declutter my clothes and whatever else needs to fill the space.
This framing exercise can be really helpful when we feel exhausted or overwhelmed, especially when you’re not quite sure why things feel so hard.
What counts as a project?
This depends how you work, but for me, I actually count “category” instead of actual “goals” or specific writing projects, for example. “Writing fiction” for me is one category, as I tend to switch between a couple of projects and I find my brain can just switch between them, rather than having multiple novels going on in my head at once.
Looking at hobbies, your projects might include the following types of activity: read, write fiction, watch TV, play video games, draw, study, work out, cook or bake, feed the cats, shower, declutter my house, write a non-fiction book, run a part-time business, meditation and journaling practises.
Since lockdown I’ve made a real effort to socialise online once a week which meant something had to move slots. Even when I became unwell, I switched out a project for “naps” because my body needed them. That took up a whole slot. And that’s okay.
How do you track your life projects?