📚Noisy Deadlines

journal

Overconsumption. I veered off the path of excess consumption of material goods a few years ago. Minimalism was my tool for that. I like the definition given by The Minimalists:

Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

Noticing objects and material stuff around us is easy. It’s visible. We can plan decluttering sessions and visibly see space getting created. Now, what about intangible stuff? Information? Thoughts? Memories? Worry?

I don’t have excess material possessions anymore. Everything I have is enough and fills my needs. That doesn’t mean I live with less than 100 items, it just means I have what I consider is enough for myself and my lifestyle. It’s not about restrictions, it’s about eliminating the superfluous.

But I’ve been consuming and accumulating a lot of digital stuff over the years: hundreds of clipped articles on Evernote, guides and manuals I never read, RSS feeds from dozens of sites, articles to read saved on Instapaper or Pocket, dozens of newsletters cluttering my inbox, social media feeds.

It took a while, but I opted out of many of those digital things and now I think I have only what is meaningful to me:

  • I subscribe to 5 newsletters now, having unsubscribed from dozens in the past months. This amount is not overwhelming to me right now. It feels manageable.
  • I cancelled my Instapaper subscription. I had this idea that I would build a digital library with my notes and all the articles I read over time. I realized it was not important to me. I had more articles than I had time to read them. And the list of unread articles made me feel anxious. So I decided not to collect articles anymore. I much rather read a book.
  • I unsubscribed from dozens (if not hundreds) of RSS feeds. I kept 5 blogs and 1 comic strip (Dilbert) that I still enjoy reading once in a while.
  • I don’t use Evernote anymore. It was too easy to just collect stuff. If I want to take notes I use Standard Notes. Creating > collecting.
  • I stopped listening to a few podcasts. From a list of 15+ podcasts I was subscribed to, I decided to stick with 5 of them. And I don’t feel obliged to listen to all of them. I look at the feed and decide if it is an episode that interests me, otherwise, I just delete it.
  • I stopped using social media.
  • I cut down the time I spent watching YouTube. I still enjoy some science-related channels, but since I stopped using social media, I don’t feel the pull to go to YouTube anymore.
  • I still read books. That’s one type of information that energizes me. And opting out of all the other forms of digital consumption gave me more time to enjoy reading.

I've simplified many aspects of my life already. Little things like creating a uniform for myself (black pants and a shirt) to go to work make it super easy to get dressed up. I don't waste energy in the morning choosing this or that fashion trend. It’s liberating. Same thing with my breakfast: I eat the same meal every day. It's automatic: I prepare my omelet in the morning and that's it.

I feel like I have more headspace now. It’s a subtle change, but it’s there. Things are slowing down in my mind. I don't crave newsfeeds anymore. On the contrary, I cringe when I see any type of random automated endless newsfeed now. I feel calmer. I feel like I can make decisions. Even the smallest ones were hard for me at times: What should I choose from the sandwich menu? Which phone call should I make first? Which book should I read? What do I want for dinner? It’s all clearer now.

I've regained my love of reading. And my ability to read for long hours. There is space now!

#noisymusings #journal #minimalism


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

And then anxiety… physical manifestations include light dizziness, butterflies in my belly, light-headed, sweating and even light nausea.

I started this CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and every week I find out more about my thoughts. I never judge or analyze my thoughts. I like talking with myself. So I never realized some of those talks were feeding my anxiety. I just thought I was super organized and liked to have my life under control. And I do. My partner sometimes calls me a “control freak”, in a good way. I’m the organizer and planner of the house. But something happened this past year (maybe it starts with PAN…) that destabilized my planning tendencies.

I’m feeling constantly overwhelmed these days. Especially at work. I can’t close my email tab for fear of missing out on important information and task requests from my manager. I feel like I have to be online and available all the time. If my manager calls me on my mobile and I don’t answer in 3 rings, I think he thinks I’m slacking off at home. I've been having thoughts and thoughts, ruminating on my last phone call conversation, and worrying about all the tasks I still have to finish. I fear my to-do list. It’s scary. I’m having trouble taking notes and deciding what to do next. It seems my work responsibilities are screaming at me all the time and it’s “go, go, go!”.

But I don’t want to go. I want to reflect. I want to breathe…. and then a deadline is coming in 24 hours so I fear it, I don’t stop to take a breath… and boom… anxiety.

On my CBT session today I was doing that exercise about Core Beliefs. The one you try to identify a core belief by completing the phrases: “I am…”, “Others are…”, “The world is…”, “The future is…”. When I got to think about what the world is, my answer was: “The world is cruel and merciless”. My feeling is that the world keeps throwing tasks at me without caring if I can handle them. The world doesn’t care about my feelings. Does it? Anyhow, the point I want to make is that this thought “the world is cruel” seemed so extreme! I was surprised by it. And the consequence is “The future is exhausting”. At least inside my head. What an anxiety-inducing place to be! 😶

So, I will be challenging these beliefs. And I will write about it. I am convinced my thoughts are helping with the overwhelmedness (is that a word?). I’ve never done any type of therapy before and I’m learning a lot.

Less overwhelmed days are coming…

#journal #noisymusings #anxiety


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

For the past month, I've been having overloaded days at work. It has disrupted my routine, my downtime and my sleep. Handling many projects at a time with deadlines within a couple of weeks is not easy! And although I have a productivity system in place, I organize my day, I have routines and I take notes... things started to fall through the cracks. And I caught myself having to work after-hours to finish things. And sometimes I do work a little bit more, let's say once a month before an important deadline. But what happened last week was insane. I was working extra 4-5 hours for 3 days in a row! And that took a toll on my health. By Friday I was lightheaded, sleepy, anxious, brain fogged, exhausted and with a headache... My right shoulder started hurting again (it usually happens if I spend too much time doing intensive mouse work on the computer). I thought I got rid of this pain... but it's back.

I couldn't prioritize anything, I couldn't organize my notes, I couldn't even take a break. Whenever I stopped to try and breathe I started worrying about the things I was not doing. That's anxiety, right?

Anyway, I've been focusing on some habits to get back on track. It takes time, I can't recover in a couple of days. It takes time for me to get back to my baseline. My self-care focus is:

  1. Sleep. Get as much sleep as possible. But still keeping the same wake-up time. I noticed that when I sleep in I wake up feeling like crap and then all my morning routine is easily put aside.
  2. Meditation. 10 minutes in the morning doesn't look like much but it makes a difference. I feel better when I meditate for 15 or 20 minutes. On the days I worked too much, meditating before bed for 10 minutes helped me have a better sleep.
  3. Stretching/Yoga/Moving. I need to move in the morning. It doesn't have to be anything intense, but I need something. I got into a trap: I woke up tired, I barely stretched in the morning, and that made me feel worse throughout the day, and then I didn't sleep well and the whole cycle repeated itself. So, I NEED at least 20 minutes of exercise in the morning. It's vital to manage my chronic pain.
  4. Waking up early even on weekends. This one I've been neglecting for a while. But every time I sleep in, I regret it. Especially when I skip my meditation/exercise routine first thing in the morning.
  5. Journaling/Writing things down. I've been feeling too tired to write at all. I want to get back to writing for longer periods of time. To reflect, focus on feelings, scrutinize thoughts, let them go and wander.
  6. Reading. I've been too foggy-minded and tired to get any amount of quality reading done. This weekend I finally could get back to my normal reading habit.

For my work routines, I will focus on the following:

  1. Check e-mail less frequently I check email too often. In fact, I leave the email tab open at ALL TIMES! I recognized that it is extremely anxiety-inducing. It's one of those old habits that are hard to get rid of. So, this will be a mini-goal for next week: Check e-mail in the morning, at noon and by 3 pm.
  2. Protect my time. I want to be less reactive to other people's demands. I believe avoiding checking my Inbox might help with this. Unless it's something high priority my manager is asking, I'll take my time to get back to people.
  3. Time block my Calendar. I'll plan my day in the morning, blocking off deep work sessions to focus. No cheking email, social media, news, messages, whatever during deep work.
  4. Stop working at 5 pm. As recommended by Cal Newport, I will start a shutdown routine at 4:45 pm so that I'm off at 5 pm. It might help to do a brain dump session at the end of the day to externalize all my worries and transition to my evening rest.

Phew, I feel better writing this down.

#journal #noisymusings #work #anxiety


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I love observing the change of seasons. Today my walk looked slightly different. The snow is melting and the downside is that there is still lots of slippery ice on some patches. But the sun is up until 7pm now so no need for the headlight anymore. And the geese and singing birds are back! Signs of Spring!

End of winter feelings

#journal #noisymusings #winter


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I like to have routines. Or, more precisely, I NEED routines to keep myself sane. It is a coping mechanism to tone down my anxiety.

And I love mornings! It's when I have more energy so I figured out a few years ago that taking advantage of my mornings was beneficial to my health. After some experimentation I settled with the following morning routine:

  1. Wake-up at 5:30am: jump out of bed (I leave my alarm across the bedroom so that I have to get up to turn if off).
  2. Bathroom stop: Splash some water on my face, empty my bladder.
  3. Drink a cup of water with my stomach medication.
  4. Grab my headphones and phone, unroll my yoga mat on the living room floor.
  5. Do a 10 or 15 minutes meditation (I've been using the Calm app.
  6. Stretch/exercise: I alternate between a basic 15 min bodyweight routine or 15-30min of Yoga, depending on the day. Some days I need a slow Hatha yoga session focusing on stretching, some days it's a Vinyasa Flow or body weight exercises (focus on the core). I've been using the app DownDog for yoga and I love it.
  7. Put my yoga mat away and start preparing breakfast. I keep my breakfast lowcarb, usually an omelet with tea.
  8. Eat breakfast, clean dishes, pack my snacks for the day.
  9. Take a bath/brush my teeth/dress/get-ready-to-leave.

I'm usually out the door by 7:40am. It's enough for me to get to work at 8am. I live close to my workplace.

The above list is for the ideal day. Some days are not perfect, and I end up meditating for 10 minutes and doing some quick stretches for 5 minutes. Some days I spend more time chatting with my partner (and skipping a Yoga session) before I leave.

The most important thing to make a routine like this work is: go to bed early the day before! I have to be in bed by 9:45pm otherwise I'll loose sleep time and then I'll be exhausted during the day. When it's 9pm I'm getting into my “slow down” routine, turn off all screens, make sure I packed my lunch for the next day, get into my pajamas and read until I am ready to sleep.

I'm happy with my routine right now. I'm learning not to be too harsh on myself. There are good days and bad days. I have struggled with back pain for many years and I must keep some kind of stretching/warming up exercise in the morning. I need to move a little in the morning. And meditation helps me calm down my “monkey mind”.

Last year, in the midst of the pandemic, my morning routine was disrupted, I started having terrible back pain again, I couldn't sleep well because of the pain and therefore I didn't have energy for my morning routine. I felt sleepy and sluggish all day. I started a Chiropractic treatment for my back pain and by the end of last year I felt I could get back to Yoga and my sleep was not being interrupted with discomfort (aka pain). Better sleep meant better rest, more energy, no pain during the day (or night) and overall well being. This Spring, I want to get back to running!

#noisymusings #journal #routine


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

There is something calming about the act of reading for me. I think it has to do with my introvert temperament. It's the perfect quiet time activity. Hiking or swimming might be close second. You know when there's too much going on around you: work tasks, phone calls, appointments, meetings? After all this excitement I end up with a hangover. An introvert hangover. And the cure is almost always to dive deep into a book. Let the ideas of another mind mingle with mine. Imagine impossible worlds, crazy science, share emotions. Or understand an interesting theory. Know different points of view. Agree to disagree. This brings me peace. Inner peace. And I probably took 30+ years to understand this about myself.

But there is another more extrinsic reason. I'm not a native English speaker. Growing up in Brazil and being lucky enough to have a dad who was into computers put me in contact with the English language early on. I wanted to learn how to communicate with computers, what are those DOS commands? what do they mean? So my mom decided to put me in an English school for 6+ years old children to learn English. So that I could stop annoying her (and my dad) about English vocabulary all the time. (I must have been pretty annoying!)

After years studying English, taking all the courses I could up until the last “Advanced Conversation Module X” or whatever I wanted to keep learning. I did not have the resources to leave Brazil and truly immerse myself in an English speaking community. So I became the Brazilian who only listened to English speaking music (mainly rock & heavy metal), watched American or British movies and shows and only read books in English. That's how I kept my English practice on my own, with what I had available.

Reading was a huge part of this journey. By reading I was building up my vocabulary and having fun at the same time. I was consolidating grammatical rules and memorizing irregular verbs in my head. It was (still is) extremely beneficial to a non-native speaker.

The Internet was also useful. I remember playing MUDs and having the first contact with real English speaking people that were hundreds of kilometres away from me. Note: a MUD is a multi-user dungeon text-base real-time RPG. My favourite one was Realms of Despair (which surprisingly still has a website (!!).

Music and movies were important too, of course.

But books were always the best. So I keep reading.

Today I live in an English speaking place that I love. It was a dream come true, really. And sometimes I remember my first English lessons and how they shaped me. How it all started with me wanting to talk to computers.

#journal #noisymusings #reading


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

One more lockdown started today. There were a bunch of restrictions since Christmas but now it’s a “stay at home order” for at least 28 days. So I worked from home today and I always feel like I get more things done at home because there are less chances of people dropping into my office asking for things or just asking questions. It’s more relaxed at home and I am more in control of my time. But still there were a couple last minute requests that I had to handle so that quickly depleted my energy. Context switching is exhausting! Add 2 Zoom meetings on top of that and I’m done!

I stopped working almost an hour later than I’m used to when I go to the office. Gotta fix that!

#Journal #lockdown #work


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

As an introvert, I'm enjoying this “work from home” policy.

It's an opportunity to use introspection and slow down a bit. Look around. Reflect on where we want to be next as inhabitants of this planet. Focus on taking care of ourselves and our loved. Remembering that we are all in this together.

Stay safe!

My home office setup today (2020) My home office setup today

#noisymusings #journal


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.