Archives for Information Overload
I used to be in love. I used to be in love with my At-A-Glance brand planner, the one that lists two days on a single sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper. Our affair began two years ago. I was captivated by its simplicity, its wide-open page spaces, and its daily "HOT" notations that sung out to me, siren-like: you, absent-minded gal that you are, can prioritize! You can! But now, everything has gone sour. It was a fatal attraction from the start: what had once attracted me had ultimately ended up repelling me. And now, I am letting you go, At-A-Glance. Perhaps there's someone else out there who will love you, but I'm moving on. UNEASE IN DISORGANIZATION Yeah, I have an anxiety problem. We know this by now, right? My official diagnosis is panic disorder, but that doesn't stop me from feeling generally anxious, GAD style, about a lot of things. Especially organizing my time and my space. I'm not alone on this one, right?
I'm so jealous of my husband's fancy-free ability to select a task and follow it through to completion. When he decides to do any kind of work around the house, he goes from start to finish. He'll clean an entire room from top to bottom -- clear the clutter, dust, vacuum, scrub, polish. And I'm lucky if the clutter-clearing doesn't take me, through a series of Wikipedia-style mental clicks, up into the attic to organize Christmas ornaments. I'm not joking. That seriously happened today.
I am chronically disorganized. Now, I like when things are all neat and tidy. It's calming. But you'll rarely see my workspace in such an idyllic state. (See the photographic evidence? That's my desk on a good day.) For the ultra-curious, no, I'm not writing this blog post at my desk because then, I'd have to clean off my desk. I'm at the [not-quite-so-cluttered] dining room table. I think a lot of household tasks are like that -- in order to accomplish one goal (use the laptop on the desk), you need to complete a few pre-requisite tasks first. I mean, you can't just swipe off your desk with your forearm. Stuff has to be put away.
Every spring, I start refilling the bird feeder on my back deck with seeds. As the birds (and, ugh, squirrels) flit around during their meal, they accidentally scatter seeds everywhere. They fall down onto the grass, onto my deck, and occasionally, into some of my potted plants. Birds are messy. (I should know; I own a parrot who enjoys whipping food – from seeds to fresh veggies – right out of his cage and onto my living room carpet.) Thanks, birds. BIRDSEED WEEDS But this post isn’t about birds. It’s about what happens to the outdoor bird seed when it lands into the fertile soil that surrounds my potted plants. And, in fact, this post isn’t even about that. But humor me for a moment: the seeds fall. They land in the soil. And, frankly, I don’t know enough about cheap outdoor bird food to visually distinguish between the types of seeds. But I do know this: when they fall into dirt, they grow into something green that resembles crab grass. A short, green, stocky stem emerges from the soil surrounding my marigolds or my tomato plants. And I pluck them. To me, they’re weeds. Birdseed weeds. Here’s the thing about pulling out these weeds: above the soil, they’re small. They look delicate and easily pluck-able. But when I grab one and yank at it? I unearth a complex and gnarly root system about five times as large as the weed itself. And now, to the real topic of this post: anxiety and its hidden depth.
Those of us with anxiety disorders know the feeling well -- we lay in bed, but sleep does not come. Our mind is too busy racing its way from here to there, rehashing the day's activities, and constructing lists of would have could have should have. Did I turn off the oven? I should have called Janice back. Where did I leave my car keys? I could have finished that project at work, but I got sidetracked and I hope the boss isn't upset with me. Did I remember to set the alarm clock? It is exhausting. Yet somehow, it is not the type of exhaustion that brings sleep. I often wish that my own mind came equipped with an off/on switch. Or, well, a dimmer switch. That would be better. I mean, I doubt that I'd ever want to cease all thoughts -- especially an important thought like, "Okay, I want to turn the switch back on now!" Yeah, a dimmer switch would be nice. I would crank it up during daylight hours & slowly dial it down as the evening sets in. Alas, there's no such thing as a Mind Dimmer Switch. But can we trick our mind and brain into slowing down for the evening?
Email used to be fun. It was fun back when I got my very first screen name on AOL in 7th grade. It was fun in college when my only emails were invitations to campus activities or surprise announcements that class would be canceled because the professor is feeling ill. But now, here in this post-college "real world," I hate email. It is no longer fun. It is no longer a novelty. Maybe my view comes as a result of having worked in an office at an advertising company for the past three years. There, email is the primary form of communication. Virtually all of my work assignments would arrive via email. And perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if I were only responsible for a firstname.lastname@example.org inbox...but at my peak, I was working a total of six additional inboxes. Yes. SIX ADDITIONAL INBOXES. Two inboxes for inquiries about my advertising company's "daily deals" product, two for questions about our video product, one for problems with our website product, and one for "escalations." ("Escalations," in customer service lingo, generally means "really angry customer with a very complex problem.") So, that's a total of seven inboxes. Many of those inboxes received at least 100 new emails per day. I wanted to pull my hair out.