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The Art of Sitting to Get Things Done

February 9, 2010

Hi. I know. This is late. I’m sorry. I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed with everything lately, and for some reason I seem to be going through one of my ‘I-need-inordinate-amounts-of-sleep’ phases. They happen from time to time – as some of you know all too well!

As a result, I’ve spent most of the last week feeling a little brain-dead. You know the sort of thing, poor concentration, lack of motivation, more emotional than rational. I’ve been stressing a little about what to write here. I’m starting to feel the pressure a little, with all the plans I have, my hopes to grow my readership, the sneaky thoughts that keep popping into my head about maybe going into writing a bit more when I get back to the UK… I keep reading blogs that say if any of that is going to come good I need to ‘deliver killer content,’ ‘become an authority,’ that kind of thing. That’s quite scary really – although I suppose it’s slightly less scary written down out here than it is circling around in my head the way it has been for the last fortnight now.

One of the things that’s been adding to it all is the fact that I’ve spent a very long time thinking,
“I don’t write – I can’t write.”

It started in school: “Two sides of creative writing before the end of the lesson. Go!”

It used to take me more three-quarters of the lesson just to write half a side. It was a damn good half a side (even if my 16-year-old self does say so), but there wasn’t much of a plot.

So all these thoughts have been running around in my head, scaring me witless, and wordless, and lurking in the shadows whenever I’ve tried to turn my attention to what I’m going to be writing for the next few weeks. It’s not limited to the blog either. I’m writing more and
more in my day-to-day work – grown-up-official-writing in the planning documents, very-grown-up-slightly-theological items for the Bishop, what I hope is friendly-and-encouraging-but-not-patronising-or-scary copy, advertising our upcoming Alpha course, an accurate-and-interesting report on what I’ve done so far for those wonderful people who’ve sponsored me to be here… the list goes on…

That’s a lot of writing for someone who “can’t write.”

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=stop+sign&iid=202570″ src=”0198/77fff5a8-b87b-44f3-88a5-b26aeeaa00fe.jpg?adImageId=10069761&imageId=202570″ width=”337″ height=”506″ /]

Then at the end of last week, as I was trying to figure out what was wrong (so that I could fix it),
a very good friend of mine asked me if I’d taken any time “just to sit” recently.

Of course, my answer was no. I’m only here for a year, so I’ve been running around trying to make sure I’m experiencing things, trying to work out how I’m going find the time to write about the experiences, even better to analyse some of them for you guys, trying to sort out practicalities for visiting friends and relations, to sort out permission to even stay in the country!* Trying to pretend that I can function just as well in the middle of the day here as I could in the UK – when it’s actually really quite hot now.

So I took the advice. I sat.

I did little that I didn’t want to do and what I did, I did in my own time. I chilled out, watched the rugby and didn’t feel bad about not making arrangements to meet a friend. I acknowledged that I wasn’t just watching the rugby, I was allowing myself to rest, which I clearly needed to do or I wouldn’t be sleeping so much! I passed out for about three hours on Sunday afternoon, but refused to feel bad about it when I woke up. And I did the first bit of real scrap-booking since I arrived (digital just doesn’t quite do it for me I’m afraid). Just me time. No thoughts about ‘coulds’ or ‘oughts’ or ‘shoulds.’

And I do feel better. I feel like I’ve learnt something (or, more properly, revised it) about the importance of actively looking after me if I’m to stand a chance of getting done everything that I want to do. It’s a lesson I forget too often – although goodness knows I’ve had enough reminders in the past!

I’m still not quite right yet. Although I’m writing this post now, I’m not publishing it tonight – I’m going to bed and I’ll find and add the links tomorrow. I can’t promise I’ll get the McItaly inspired post about culture that’s sprouting in the back of my head out onto the page any time soon either… but I’ll try. Probably. After I’ve sat some more. Hope that’s ok with you.

*I’m allowed to stay until the beginning of May now – and I owe a colleague
a great deal of thanks for taking it off my plate of things to worry about.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. chris permalink
    February 9, 2010 4:37 pm

    I think we should have attempted to warn you about this – burnout is a very real possibility if you are trying to do too much:
    – “I could (probably) do that!”
    – “no-one else is going to do it”
    – “it *needs* to be done”

    those are very dangerous phrases – it ended up with me doing 18 hour days 6 days a week for nearly 2 years!

    You are only human, you have to prioritise.
    Overworking came rather too close to making me very seriously ill, and I don’t have any pre-exisiting medical issues…
    (I hope the healthcare system is better out there than where we were!)

    take it easy

    C & G xx

    • oneredsock permalink
      February 10, 2010 9:01 am

      “You’re only human” <– This fact irritates me from time to time, but you're quite right. I'm not doing as much as you were, and I don't think what I am doing can quite compare with looking after 200 small boys, but yeah, I take your point, and I'll be being more careful from now on. I have some holidays coming up too, so that will help.

      One of the things they drummed into us in training was the importance of sustainability for the work we do in our placements. It's all very well us running round starting this, that and the other – but we need to be thinking about how it will continue when we're gone. That's quiet a good way of making sure we don't take on too much – but prep work thinking about how to implement things so they can carry on takes time too.

      I am learning though – promise!

      As for heathcare – that's a big story, worthy of it's own post, which at some point it will get. At some point 😉

      Thanks Chris, for making me feel more normal!

  2. February 10, 2010 12:10 am

    Perhaps if the pressure of writing is too much, think of how else you can express yourself. Concentrate on the scrapbooking for a while, and come back when you’ve done some pages and tell us about them. Go take photos around Gaborone, tell us about them.

    You’re out there for the long-haul (or longer than most anyway), but at some point you’re going to come back and you’ll be asked “well, how was it?” – The answer shouldn’t be “Stressful / Tiring / Too hot” or even worse “too much work”.

    Take the time to enjoy the surroundings, don’t stress about letting people down, rest, breathe & take care 🙂

    And if we can have the next 1000 word update before Friday please 😉


    • oneredsock permalink
      February 10, 2010 9:19 am

      I was thinking about that – sharing some scrapping pages to tell the story instead… I probably will do – I’ve started a couple, but they weren’t quite right, so I didn’t want to put them up just yet…

      It’s life, basically, just somewhere else for a while. And life has these little peaks and dips, and that’s just the way it is. If anything, the fact that I’m able to have a little dip just makes it more real an experience for me – you don’t get dips on holidays (well – not so much). So it speaks of good things that I’m able to have it, if that makes sense?

      I am enjoying myself – don’t worry! The answer is far more likely to be “wonderful/busy/interesting/positive – with great weather!” than anything else!

      And I guarantee the next post will be ready – when it’s ready 😛

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