Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I.S.S. from those inexplicable zombie-like mornings

Do you ever feel like you have I.S.S.? I.S.S. is an acronym for a term I coined "Insatiable Somnolence Syndrome." Somnolence is defined as the state of being sleepy or drowsy. So it could more simply be called Insatiable Sleep Syndrome. A classic I.S.S. episode is best epitomized by those mornings where you hear the alarm go off, hit that snooze button, and cry out in a whiny, petulant, child-like voice, "I don't wanna get up!"

That was me this morning. That was me this morning 21 times as I hit the snooze button for one hour and fifty-five minutes!!!! Lord, help me. The thing is, I went to bed relatively early in preparation for my 4am waking time. So when the alarm went off at 4am, why did I feel like a truck had just hit me?! Why did the fact that I needed to get up make me feel like pounding my fists and kicking my feet on my bed like a 2-year-old having a temper tantrum at the grocery store? Why did I wish that it wouldn't be completely lame and irresponsible of me to just call in sick so I could stay in bed and sleep til noon?

This kind of thing happens inexplicably sometimes (and sometimes you just stayed up way too late watching Arrow on Netflix--which was NOT me.....not last night, anyway.) And these mornings can really throw a wrench in your day. I got out of bed only 20 minutes before I had to leave for work! Thankfully, I had picked out my outfit for the day the night before. Thankfully, I had a bunch of breakfast, lunch, and snack options packaged up in the fridge ready to haphazardly throw into my lunch cooler for work. Thankfully, my purse was packed and ready for the day by the front door. Thankfully, I had cleaned up my bedroom and the kitchen the night before, so I wasn't all distracted by clutter as the whirlwind that was me was getting ready to head out.  And amazingly I got to work on time.

Work. Now I have to work after getting what feels like no sleep?! I sat down at my desk, and before doing any actual work, I opened up this notepad that I'd been utilizing as my To-Do notebook for the past few days and wrote out my task list for the day (I even drew little boxes to check the items off as I completed them). I only wrote down tasks that didn't require too much complicated thought, setting those aside for another day, because I knew that, as tired as I was, I wouldn't be able to complete them adequately. And surprisingly, I got a ton of work done. I was sleepy, which really makes it hard for me to stay focused, so I planned the day to be a day full of lots of tasks, but tasks that don't take too much time to complete...and I ended up being really productive.

So, in preparation for those inexplicable mornings when you wake up feeling like a zombie, or it's that one week during the month when you're expecting to wake up feeling like a zombie, or if you just stayed up too late watching Scandal on Netflix (huh? what?)--if you just do a few preparatory things the night before and take a second to thoughtfully plan your day, it might not end up a complete disaster. Those small, preparatory measures you took, which really only take a few minutes in the evening, could really save your butt and your day.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Time Poverty

First, I knew my posts would be irregular, but I didn't think it would take me over a month to get to posting the next one!  I want to make a habit of doing a little writing in the mornings, so maybe that will help make regular posting a reality.  Please enjoy this next post.

As a single person living alone with no children, people assume that I have so much more time than people living with partners or couples with children.  And there is a little truth to that--I don't have another person's emotions to be sensitive to; I don't have anyone else I have to feed (other than my 112-pound lapdog); I don't have anyone else's schedule to have to keep track of; I don't have anyone else to clean up after, although looking at my house you'd think I did (ha, ha).  But, the difference is, a person living with a partner has a partner to help.  A couple can share the responsibilities of grocery shopping, running errands, cooking, washing the dishes, doing the laundry, taking the dog to the vet, taking the car to the auto shop, waiting for a technician to come to the house for a repair, and one of the times I cried out "I wish I was married!" was after the snowpocalypse that recently blew through Virginia requiring me to spend two and a half hours shoveling snow with a bad back.  As a single person, I have to do all of that myself.  This leads to time poverty.

"Time poverty" is a term I learned when taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University course.  I had never heard the term before and it is such a great one.  Do you know how many days I had to take off work last year for emergency vet appointments, being at the house for multiple plumbing backup issues, being at the house when the plumbing company finally jackhammered my basement to replace the sewer pipe under my house (after digging up my yard the previous year to replace a different section of sewer pipe), and then that same week taking more time off for the heating & air guy to come and replace my HVAC unit?  (Yes, I cried that week.)  In addition to all that, I have to work full-time, work overtime if I can, attend meetings of the leadership team for the worship band at my church, actually sing at church, spend some time with friends and my hobbies, clean the house, shop for myself, cook for myself, cook for my food-sensitive dog who eats almost a pound of chicken thighs a day, run all the errands, sit at the auto shop for 3 hours when I go in to check on the grinding I hear while running those errands, try to keep my house clean, etc, etc.  There just never seems to be enough time to do all this and not feel stressed out about it.  Scraping for "time pennies" just left me feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.  In addition to all of the responsibilities I listed above, there are things in my life that I want to work and improve upon, such as getting to a healthy weight, changing to a clean-eating lifestyle, getting to a point where I'm consistently paying down debt, and a new goal was to declutter and switch to a more simple, minimalist-like lifestyle (which would ultimately help with the financial fitness goal)

I began to notice that financial stress & time poverty were starting to bog me down.  I felt like I needed to start working as much overtime as I could to help with the finances and that I needed to spend time developing better time management  habits in order to reduce some of my stress.  This was starting to show whenever I was at my worship team meetings.  I was spending a lot of time each week on my duties for the team, as well, and whenever I did, I was very preoccupied and I didn't find the same joy in it that I used to.  After a few months of feeling like this, I made the tough decision to step back and take a few months off of the leadership team.  My worship pastor had actually noticed my preoccupation and broached the subject with me and understood that I needed this, which was amazing.  Now I have more free time to work overtime as I can and to work on developing some healthy routines to simplify my life.

Another thing I decided to do was reduce the amount of time I spend in my biggest hobby, which is boardgaming.  There was a period of time where I was gaming with friends four times a week!!  I have no right to complain that I have no time for responsibilities when I spend hours upon hours doing something purely recreational!!  I reduced it to about two times a week, but I think I may also stop going to Monday Night game nights because I always get home so late and hate life the next day when I get up at 4am.  And not getting enough sleep brings along a host of problems on its own.

Those are the big changes I made.  To help better utilize my time, I've also been trying to be diligent about writing out meal menus, grocery lists, to-do lists, and sending myself reminders on my phone to look at my to-do list so that I actually do the things on the list!  I'm still very much a work in progress, but I'm aware of my time poverty and making a concerted effort to get to a point where I don't feel overwhelmed by everything.  And it's slowly working.

So, for those of you who feel like you're suffering from time poverty, I suggest really looking at evaluating your priorities and cutting things that don't bring you joy or are not fitting well with your lifestyle at the moment.  It can be hard sometimes, but it can help reduce stress, which is soooo good for your overall mental and physical health; and you may find some time to really focus on the things that are really important to you.  As hard as it can be to change things up sometimes, there's a feeling of freedom you can experience when you work towards reducing your time poverty.  So, go!  Turn those time pennies into time dollars!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Inaugural Grownupping Is Hard Blog Post

"Sometimes I just hate being a grown-up," she said, once again.

"She" would be me, Jessica.  When I was a teen and in my early twenties, I thought that there would be a moment in my life when a switch would flip and I would immediately turn into that yuppie, sitting at the coffee table in the morning, sipping her coffee and reading the paper in her suit before going to work.  Well, not really the suit, as I've always despised anything less comfortable than a t-shirt and a pair of baggy sweatpants, but you know what I mean:  I thought I would "feel" it when I became an actual, bonafide adult.  While in college, I just felt like I was away at summer camp; no parents around, but they still took care of me.  Then when I got my first solo apartment, it was a tiny studio, so even though I worked full-time and lived there on my own for two years, it still felt like a college dorm room.  When I moved all the way across the country from California to Virginia, I did live in a college dorm room during my two years of graduate school, so I still felt like I was at camp, even though I was paying my own way.  Even now, I'm paying a mortgage on my first home and I still don't feel like I know WHAT THE HECK I'M DOING AND HOW I MADE IT THIS FAR!!!!

Being a grown-up involves so many different things and can include:
  • Employment
  • Paying bills on time
  • Paying down debt
  • Maintaining your living space
  • Maintaining and caring for pets
  • Maintaining and caring for yourself which may include:
    • Eating a healthy diet
    • Getting enough sleep
    • Exercise (for general good health and/or to get to or maintain a healthy weight)
    • Personal hygiene practices
    • Spiritual growth
    • Finding time to relax
  • Maintaining and/or growing relationships with friends and family
  • Engaging in your favorite hobbies
Notice I didn't say anything about raising kids.  That's because I'm only listing the things I personally have to deal with as I'm unmarried without children.  I can barely stay on top of all of that stuff listed above, I can't imagine adding living with and caring for a spouse AND raising children to the list!!!  I honestly am absolutely amazed and in awe of people who are also parents amidst all the other things being a grown-up can entail.

A few years ago I went through a pretty serious and emotional time in my life where I was the most unhappy I'd ever been; I was in utter despair at my situation.  I felt like I couldn't talk to anybody about it because I'd never known anyone else who'd gone through something similar, which made me feel even more utterly alone.  Then I found some support groups with people who were going through the same thing, or even worse!  I couldn't believe how amazing it felt to know I wasn't the only one going through it!  And it was amazing to be able to talk about it.  That's one reason I started this blog. I am finding grownupping to be hard.  Sometimes I get so stressed out because some of the responsibilites I listed above are neglected because I can't keep up with everything.  And then sometimes I feel slightly like a failure as an adult because "everyone else seems to have all their stuff together.  Why don't I?"  But I know I'm not the only one who feels this way and is struggling to keep up.  So I'm hoping that others will feel a little bit better knowing that others are going through the same things they are.  I'm also hoping that any strategies or new good habits I (hopefully) develop will be of some use to others.  And I'm also hoping that others can give me any good tips for managing this thing we call Grown-Up Life. 

Additionally, I have so many goals (some HUGE) that I want to reach and I know that writing them down and keeping them at the forefront of my mind will help me to achieve those goals.  All of the items listed above are what make up most of my life, but, in addition to just generally getting a better handle on managing my time with all of that, my huge goals are to:
  • Get to a healthy weight, ultimately losing about 70 pounds.
  • Pay off debt, starting with the non-mortgage debt. (It's a Mount Everest amount of debt.  If I ever get the courage, I may list that amount on this site one day, but for now, just know it's a huge amount: tens and tens and tens of thousands.)
As I have--multiple times already--mentioned how hard grownupping can be, I'm thinking my initial posts won't be so regular, but I'm hoping that as I work towards getting a handle on managing my life, I'll start posting on a regular basis.  As it's Christmastime and I am in a leadership position with the worship band at my church, amongst everything else in my life (Ahhhhhh!!!), it is a very busy time right now, but I hope to post a new entry soon.  Until next time, take care of yourselves.

Jessica :)