Every so often I have a drive that starts with
Right, from now on I'm going to live my life this way!. They don't last very long, one or two days at best (sometimes an hour), and often the good habits I force myself into during the phases don't last much longer than the initial drive itself. The voice in my head that is ever self-critical (and yes, like everyone else, I'm sure, that voice is my mother's) is thusly cynical about the whole thing, and wants to dismiss the urge to sort myself out as
Just something Debi does then forgets about. Sometimes, however, a habit or two sticks longer, and the time in which I have the drive to improve feels good and is often productive. So I'm going to ignore that voice of cynicism and live the energy rush to its fullest for as long as it lasts and see what comes of it.
This time, the mindset was essentially prompted by yesterday's therapy session. When the conversation turned to ADD, we talked about why I wanta yes/no diagnosis - this is a complex issue and one I may return to in another post, maybe - and more importantly on top of that, we came to the conclusion that there's no reason to think I need a diagnosis to use appropriate coping strategies, if they help.
So after my session yesterday I spent some time browsing through some sites on the internet - most internet based ADD resources, sadly, are trying to sell coaching sessions and self-help books, but I picked out a few that I could take on and see if they worked, and transcribed them into my therapy/self improvement journal. I was also interested in the few strategies I developed a long time ago as simple survival mechanisms, like white noise and music while working, to-do lists, and other things I just can't function without.
I was reminded of strategies that did genuinely work for me in the past that I forgot or neglected to pick up again (carefully managed time blocks, positive reinforcement), and when I sat down today to figure out what I was doing and how I can actually do it, I realised that I just haven't been breaking my work down enough. I used to structure my revision into hour-long chunks, with time scheduled for lunch and dinner and rewards for the end of the day. I used to tell myself I couldn't keep that kind of discipline up for more than the four or five week long revision period that was the Easter holidays, and so it wasn't a strategy I could use in the big project that is my PhD.
The trouble is, I didn't then ever come up with an actually effective way of tackling the project, so I groped along and tried to push myself and went from focused periods to unfocused periods and picked up distractions and here I am, two years overdue and long fed up of it all. I could kick myself all my life for not implementing a better work plan before, but the thing is, I am on the home stretch now and can afford to sprint, at least until I get a stitch.
So I'm experimenting with a much more disciplined work day, and with trying to minimise distractions. I took friendspage checker off my Firefox, anyone seeing me on AIM will see the Do Not Disturb sign, and I'm taking regular breaks as I get through my to-do list. There might even be a cookie shaped reward at the end of the day, because I'm nice to myself like that.
No, I don't know how long this will last. And no, I don't know if it will actually be the break through point of this whole PhD malarkey. And no, I don't know if I can take the energy I'm using now to organise and translate it into actually writing, but I'm pretty certain it's better than nothing, and much much better than worrying myself into a panic attack.
I'm going to be alright.