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The trick to getting things done




It's back to (paid) work next week and I'm starting to chew wasps over it. I actually feel more tired at the end of this week than I do normally. I've high-powered my way through lots of jobs I had to delay for quite a while. I've been on full-steam-ahead mode, with a definite time-frame.

On Wednesday, I had half a day off and felt guilty. Then I felt annoyed with myself, as I'd worked right through from Sunday and it wasn't such a bad thing, relaxing for a change!

Now I just feel plain annoyed. I've achieved more this week than I have for weeks before and have managed without falling apart or losing my thread and having to start again. So why am I angry?

The simple answer is, I'm angry because every week isn't like this. I've relished being able to do what I want, what I'm interested in, instead of running around, chasing everything else. It's been a week of working through what I'm good at and can do. It was an interlude where I glimpsed what life could be if I didn't need to do other things.

Of course, we all have to do other things, don't we? Life is just like that. If there weren't 'other things' to be done, then we'd be like hermits, in a lonely cave, nothing to do but pick bugs out of our robes and think about the Meaning of Life.

I was also annoyed at the fact I needed to devote myself wholly to this work, rather than being able to manage it all as well as normal life. You hear of people getting up at 5am to write their books, then looking after the family before going out to full-time work. I admire them but do wonder what my writing would be like if I was there, as dawn broke, slumped over the keyboard.

I used to be able to fit it in like this. I remember sitting on the living room floor for twenty precious minutes every morning before school, then before work, rattling out my latest book as morning TV played in the background. Then at lunchtime I'd bring out my notebook and write some more and again when I got home. I couldn't keep it in back then.

Now, I have to feel more prepared. I need to ease up to it, while it isn't looking, or the feeling of pressure to 'perform' prevents me from writing anything worthwhile. If I know I have an hour spare, I feel it isn't enough, as I can't just sit down and launch into it. I have tried and it comes off reading like an ad for toe-warmers.

Teeny-tiny-toes are toasty
In our special glove
Feel the waves of warmy-weather
Sent from us with love
Tuck it in your hiking boot
Tuck it in your Welly
And when the winter turns so cold
Your toes are hot and smelly

It feels like it's part of putting things off, which is why I scold myself for doing it. I want to use that available hour and do something really good, to make all the hours doing what is necessary seem like they don't matter so much. I want to be able to sit down, get on with it and not always be looking at the clock.

Before this week, I felt a lot of guilt about not using my spare time more productively. I was very harsh in my self-judgement, knowing there are many hours I spend doing silly things when I could be writing the last two poems for my Echoes book, or re-writing the chapter of my horror story or any of the unfinished works that wait for me.

Then, when I finally had this week, a cloud was lifted. I realised how much I could get done when I had nothing else to do. I didn't waste time, I spent hours working, I came away only when I had finished. Only when I had finished, readers! No sneaking off to town, or the kettle or dancing round the garden: I stayed put and did what I had set out to do. No wonder I'm exhausted.

So, all those hours I felt were wasted before, because I let them slip by without filling them with writing, were not quite as they seemed. Yes, the younger me did type away and get things done in short bursts, but she didn't have the years of responsibility behind her and she didn't have as much aspie-ness maturing gently within her.

What I have come to accept now is that, like with so many other aspects of life, what worked before may not work now. Perhaps I might learn to write in short bursts again, but given how much I achieved by dedicating myself to it this week, I think this way is better.

I have to figure out how to feel as if I have lots of time, so that I can relax and write as if it's always a holiday week. I have to pretend, I think, trick myself a bit, Maybe even say to myself, I'm not going to work later, I'll call in sick, so there's no rush now.

Of course, I probably won't call in sick, I'll decide when the time comes that I've changed my mind - tricking myself twice in one day, you see? Like cajoling a grumpy five year old, I know that half the battle in getting an aspie on track is to convince them they are in charge and can quit at any moment.

In my own experience, having the belief that you can opt out or slink off makes what you're doing much easier, as you don't have the same pressure. It may be a leap of Let's Pretend to say you're not going into work - and feel like you mean it at the time - but if it gets the job done, why not?

Next week, when I have lots of things to do, including paid work, I'll try pretending and see if it helps. I'll settle down, plus cat or tea, take out the laptop and imagine I have the full afternoon stretching out in front of me.

If it works, even if it takes practice, then I've cracked quite a big problem there. And if it doesn't work? I think, readers, the time may have come to book myself a week off more often and get down to some proper work.

Amanda

My books and writing blog, with free stuff.
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