I had a bit of a meltdown two Fridays ago.
The month of April had been particularly trying as I once again over committed myself to various projects and ended up having to let some things slide when life happened. As I pushed myself harder and sacrificed sleep, I found myself operating on adrenaline fumes. Staying up writing every night, coupled with early mornings was not a great recipe. Various things started taking a back seat and my body began to protest as it started feeling the strain. My brain followed suit and I found myself unable to concentrate as the fatigue set in. I began to have headaches, backaches and my work suffered. I kept thinking to myself that “it’s only for this month” and “it will be over soon” but it took a phone call with my boss to shake me out of the “it’s okay” into the “it’s time to stop compromising and start prioritising” frame of mind.
After the phone call, my brain and body went into hibernation mode. I actually stopped the car, parked in the middle of nowhere and took a nap. An hour later, I woke up and started to feel depressed. A big part of this was the feeling of desperation that overwhelmed me. It’s that sense of thinking you have done your best and yet come up short. Fortunately for me, I have a rather effective way of rationalising these things in my mind and not letting it drag me down deeper into depression. I talked with Irene and then set about investigating the root of the problem. My boss wasn’t wrong in pointing out that I wasn’t operating at my optimal efficiency. In fact, him pointing it out made it easier for me to admit to myself that something was wrong and I needed to fix it.
I know I can do better, so the question is how?
I decided to take the long weekend to recharge and refocus. I’m glad to say that I managed to spend time to fix some of the issues and here’s a look back on the lessons I learnt.
3 lessons learnt in April
1) Slept debt is real
I have to admit that I found it a lot harder to dig myself out of the sleep debt this time. I’m not sure if it’s age catching up or simply my body getting used to having restful sleep since I started using the MiBand. Even sleeping an hour later than usual made me so tired the next day that I couldn’t concentrate. So I slept a lot over this weekend and now I’m back to trying to get in bed by midnight.
2) Stop reacting, start planning
I pride myself on having a fairly good system in place for keeping track of things. This system went haywire for the last few weeks as things kept cropping up that made me have to stop focusing on my todo list and just react to certain situations. Ditching my todo list was a bad idea and I had to spend some time relooking at everything on my list and clearing my inboxes this weekend. Now it’s all fixed and I feel better that I can look at my list at the beginning of each day and not feel like it will be impossible to get through it all.
3) There is a limit on what you can do in 24 hours
I knew I was being ambitious for trying to do so many things in April. 4 writing projects coupled with starting sign language classes and various other side projects. I’ve come to accept that while I multitask relatively well, there is a limit to what I can do in 24 hours. I know I managed a decent amount in April, but it couldn’t have happened without the support of Irene. She helped take some pressure off by spending more time with Zoey and allowing me time to write. I managed to write 30,000 words in 30 days, a new poem a day for 20 days for SingPoWriMo (I stopped after day 20 because I started researching and writing about IKEA), I did a bit of writing on my children’s book and managed to continue blogging 3 times a week. That said, I won’t be doing this again any time soon.
April was stressful and it taught me some valuable lessons. Now here is hoping May will be a better month.