Something Must Change

Today is the first day of September. As is customary, summer seems to have ended in a rainstorm last week. It’s hard to believe that just two weeks ago late afternoon temperatures were in the upper 30s Celsius (over 95º F). Most kids here will be starting back to school on Monday.

August was vacation month here in Europe. I took just one week and then went straight back to work. Ironically, I didn’t have more free time during vacation than I normally do, but I did make some decisions.

My life isn’t structured right now to give me time to do some of the things I feel compelled to do, such as reading and writing. Most of the time, the only moments I have without distractions are when I’m on the bus or during lunch break–when I have a lunch break, that is. The week after vacation I was able to do a few posts by getting up an hour early, but that requires me to get to sleep on time, and being efficient means planning what I want to accomplish the night before: an hour is not a long time, and I’m a slow writer.

Actually that’s only partially true. Most of my post drafts are written in about ten or fifteen minutes. The rest of the time (can be hours per post) is cleaning up, checking facts and proofreading. That takes some patience and determination on the bus, too. Sometimes, I have the impression none of that shows, but I’m trying and that’s what counts.

On the other hand, I have more to accomplish than just posts on my blog. Certainly I try to do too many things. That’s the down-side of being interested in so many things. Keeping focus is one of the biggest challenges.

Something else I’ve noticed is that I keep spending time on the wrong things. Even though my schedule is not conducive to deep reflection, I still end up doing a lot of thinking, and this leads to ideas that I think are worth getting down properly before I tackle the topics that require more time. Then I get carried away in the excitement of the idea, and it takes much longer than I expected. The rule of thumb that things always take at least twice as long as you think they will applies here too. Of course the main problem with all this is that new ideas keep cropping up all the time so I never get around to the important ones, the ones that take longer, the ones I really want to do.

It’s delusional to think I’ll somehow have more free time someday soon.

Something must change, and I am the only one who can make it happen.

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2 Responses to Something Must Change

  1. ric day says:

    Laura,

    This post really strikes a chord.

    I have been fighting the same fight for decades. The “firehose” of news, information, opinions, and random distractions has become exponentially larger and more forceful in recent years. It is all too easy to go off on some random tangent, pursuing a fleeting interest in the moment.

    It is also true that, as one gets older, time seems to compress. As a kid on the 50s and early 60s I lived in various places which had no TV and the only radio was crackly shortwave. I listened to a lot of music (my mother had a great classical collection on 78rpm vinyl), but mostly I spent a great deal of time reading and thinking. I had the time to select a topic and read everything the local library had (or could borrow) on the topic. Parents and their friends had the time to provide sounding boards for thought and ideas. It was in retrospect a wonderful, intellectually liberating time.

    These days, there is too much of everything. I have begun to withdraw, in order to focus on my priorities. Blogging has largely fallen by the wayside because it takes time to formulate a good post, because there are usually others saying much the same thing, and because I was never trying to “build a platform.” I do more following than posting on Twitter for similar reasons, plus Twitter provides a quick way to keep up on topics I want to stay abreast of. I don’t watch much TV because it is largely a wasteland. I set aside some time every day for reading, and some for study. I make and work hard at keeping to “to do” lists of projects I want to complete.

    Despite all the effort, “free time” remains a mirage, like the ship I once saw shimmering out of focus above the desert heat near Aqaba: out there, but not quite real and certainly unreachable.

  2. Corinne says:

    this is weird – I could have written exactly the same post! except for one of the last sentences: as I’ve analyzed similar problems, e.g. lack of focus, I also realized that I do not know what I really want to do. Lucky you, at least you know what direction to take now!

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