I have only two classes left to get my majors. It’s taken me a while, and part of me thinks that I should have tried completing them this semester, but it was good that I took time off. Still, I’ve come to realize that I am horrible in a structureless environment. No classes to attend and homework to be done. It’s just day to day stuff and Netflix is my enemy right now. Too many documentaries to watch. As such, I’m really looking forward to having classes again.
I’ve realized that the main issue for me is not that I’m unmotivated, since I do like to get things done. But I need things to be necessary for them to be worked on if I don’t particularly feel like it. If I was working, I’d be ready to go and getting all my work done without hesitation. That’s because there’s a structure that I can throw myself into. Without such a structure, I have nowhere to go. I just laze away my days and accomplish little. I barely get out of the house these days.
Part of it is my fault. I haven’t set up a structure of getting up at a specific time, taking a shower, getting prepared for the day, and then leaving the house to go do work for x number of hours. I know that if I were to do that, I’d be accomplishing a lot. My mind has resharpened while still taking klonopin. And I used to do that. I used to force myself to read in the library for several hours every day even if I didn’t feel like it. I would still do it. I need to set that up again. Instead, I’m just wallowing in “what do I feel like doing” land, which usually has high aspirations and low potential.
Yet, the other part of it is definitely the klonopin dragging me down. It’s a necessary element to keep me stable for a period of time until I settle down, but it’s become too much. It just saps my will power. Xanax does the same too. I can’t wait to go off of it and just have it as a standby drug.
Still, I need to start getting going. And part of that is getting a post done by 1pm every day. I’ve been horrible at maintaining this blog after my depression. So hopefully that’ll be my first step in getting things back on track. Secondly, I need to stop watching television. It’s too addicting and I feel lazier after watching than before. If I can get those two things down in the next week, hopefully I can get the rest to start falling back into place. And it should be in time for any up cycles coming my way in the summer time.
I’ve been on vacation for the past few days. I don’t mean that I haven’t had classes or anything, but any structure in my life has just gone out the window. Poof. In turn, I haven’t accomplished much. All I’ve done is become obsessed with playing Civilization IV. And this is not a road that I need to go down.
Granted, this has actually been good for me in some ways. I’ve needed a break from constantly stressing and fussing about papers and readings. My mind began to lose any sharpness to it and it just began to implode. It was highly evident in my papers that I lacked any original thought and that I was just going through the motions. In that respect, I think that the loss of structure and a free for all day where I didn’t have to feel guilty about indulging was a good thing for my mind and my health.
However, in the past I’ve noticed that I need to stop this lack of structure dead in its tracks before it becomes a way of life. If I carry on, I accomplish less and that develops a deeper depression. I don’t believe this is unique to being bipolar in any way. I think that a complete lack of structure creates a process where little is accomplished and feeds back into a mindset where one cannot accomplish much. Think of it this way, after completing a large project, you want to take a break, but there’s still some part of you that wants to keep going. That energy from accomplishment is crucial in my life to getting stuff done in general and staving off the depressive meltdowns.
So now that I’ve gotten my fix of do-nothing days. I’m headed back into a structured life. But how does one do this? One may think that it means planning out every minute of every day so as to optimize your time. But in past experience, the variance in my moods prevents any sort of imposed structure like that. I need flexibility in any structure that I have. The way that I do it is geographically and task oriented rather than time based.
I set up different areas to do different things. At home on my couch, I watch tv and blog. It’s my relaxation place and whenever I need a break, I go there. I do not try to get work done there because I’ve associated it with taking a break. This does double work for me, first it prevents my mind from relaxing when it should be on, the second of which is that it prevents any stressing from work from bleeding over into my relaxation zone. Then I have multiple zones that I can work at. For simple work and writing I have my desk with a nice sturdy chair. Not so comfortable that I hurt myself, but something that sits me up straight. There is also the library for heavy duty studying where I sit in what can only be described as a cage with no distractions around me. It’s really easy to put in 8 hours of hard work in such a location, so when I need something done, I go there.
Absent from this is any mention of planning out the exact times and tasks that I will work on. I let myself dictate what I do by what I feel like doing in those zones. I have multiple things to work on at any given time, so whatever I’m feeling slightly more energized about I’ll do. But in order to get things done on time, I need to start early. Starting early prevents procrastination because sooner or later I’ll run out of things to do and have to get to whatever I do not particularly like. This also diminishes my distractions of thinking “well I could do that instead” and putting it off even longer. Also, by removing time restrictions, I see tasks through to their end. This is huge for me because all too often in my life I begin things without finishing them. I’ve been told by multiple people that this is very common in people with bipolar, so I strive to do everything in my power to get around this fact.
By geographically scheduling my tasks, it allows me the flexibility to change my schedule when needed. Some days I only want to work for a few hours, but others I want to work the entire day. This becomes irrelevant as soon as I get to my location. If I really need to be some place, I can still make it, but for task oriented behaviors, I do away with time allotment. All I need to do to get things done is go to the place for however long I need to. It’s a a place that has no distractions from work so all I can do is work. And scheduling isn’t done by times, it’s done by locations. I make a list of places I need to be, and do them in the order that I feel like. My moods dictate the order, but the areas dictate the work.
I’ve also noticed that my moods can be altered by employing this method. By having designated areas to do things, when I get there my mind associates it with a particular kind of work and I feel more motivated to work there. It’s behavioral programming at its best.
And that’s my method of scheduling. It revolves around task completion rather than times, and it uses geographic coordinates to focus my mind. It lets me relax more and accomplish more. And by starting early by simply going to the places that I need to be, I avoid fewer crunch times. I get everything done ahead of schedule and generally feel better about myself.
As a question to all of you, what do you do to schedule/budget your time and tasks? I’d love to hear more about what works for you and any ideas that might be helpful.