Noisy Deadlines

noisymusings

There are things that impact my well-being directly. They are habits that grouped together can become rituals. If I stop doing one of those things, I start to feel off. My anxiety creeps in, I start to feel overwhelmed, I worry too much, my body hurts, I can’t have a good night’s sleep. Some of them are part of my daily habits, others are weekly or monthly habits. I get the best results when I do them regularly.

These are 10 important things I can’t leave without:

  1. Reading books + Book Club: I once wrote about the reasons I’m a reader. I enjoy it because it helps me deal with my busy mind. I’m always having ideas, questions, worries and plans. Reading works like a break: I get away from it all and dive into a different world, so it feels calming to me. It’s also a good concentration exercise. And combining reading with a Book Club makes it even more fun. I get a chance to discuss ideas with other people in a more structured/themed way. I read daily.

  2. Sleeping 7-8 hours a day: I need my sleep. Period. I aim for going to bed at 9:45pm and waking up at 5:15am. It can vary +/– 15 minutes. But I try to keep my sleep routine within this range. I never go to be after 10pm, and if I do I know I’ll be tired and cranky the next day.

  3. Exercise Daily / Yoga: I’ve had a history of debilitating back pain throughout my adult life. It was only after I started exercising regularly, for years, that I became pain free. I’ve learned my lesson: I need to move! So I have a mandatory daily routine: I stretch in the morning. I have a series of stretches I do everyday, no matter what. Then I try to combine it with a yoga session or a series of core strengthening exercises. I usually spend 20 minutes in the morning with this routine everyday. Whenever I can, I add walking, running, cycling, a longer yoga session in the evenings and weekends.

  4. Meditating every morning: I do a minimum of 10 minutes and combine it with my morning exercise, so it has become a ritual. Sometimes if I’m feeling overwhelmed later in the day I will add in another meditation session in the evening/before bed.

  5. Eating healthy and with care due to my gut problems: I have acid reflux and gastritis. It started after I joined the work force, so I think work stress had something to do with it. Anyway, I keep a restricted diet: no coffee, no carbonated drinks of any kind, no alcohol, no acidic foods, no spicy foods, low carbs, restrict lactose and eating in regular intervals. I know that when I indulge in one of those restrictions, my acid reflux flares up, so I home cook my own meals as much as I can and avoid eating out.

  6. Writing: I have a private journal and this blog. Writing gives me time for reflection and gratitude. It helps me clear my thoughts, calm my mind and understand my feelings. I’ve been trying to write daily (either on my private journal or my blog) and this habit seems to be the hardest to keep every day. I love it after I’m done but lately just getting started has been a struggle. I’m working on it.

  7. Having alone time: I’m an introvert so I need alone time once in a while. Reading a book qualifies as alone time to me, but also does listening to music or just sitting down with a cup of tea looking out a window. I need alone time more than ever after a work day with too many meetings, for example. Or even after a Book Club meeting, as much as I enjoy it, I need to recharge for the next couple days. So I try to space out social events.

  8. Listening to music: I remember a time when I would lay down in my bed and listen to a full album, non-stop, and would just look at the ceiling or close my eyes enjoying the music. Sometimes the album told a story, sometimes it made me cry or smile. This was before music streaming and AI generated playlists. I still listen to music, mostly while I’m cooking, exercising, working on something that requires concentration or cleaning the house. It’s usually rock, heavy metal and, lately, folk metal. I have a couple playlists I created myself. It’s rare for me to listen to a full album as I used to. That’s something I’ll start doing more.

  9. Going for walks: I think I underestimated the benefits of a long walk before the COVID-19 pandemic. With the COVID lockdowns, I started to regularly go out for a walk outdoors, since it was the only activity outside I could do safely. My partner joined me, so walking has become our “together-alone” time. It can either be around our neighborhood, in a park, a trail, by the river, doesn’t matter. But walking regularly is a great way to exercise and calm the mind. I prefer not to listen to music or podcasts or anything while walking.

  10. Touch base with family/friends: I’m an immigrant living in a country 10,000 km away from my homeland. It’s easy to feel alone and loose touch with loved ones because of the distance. Since I left Facebook/Instagram, I don’t get any updates or news from people over seas. I keep in touch with friends with messenger groups and I have regular scheduled video calls sessions with my family. Even though the pandemic made it harder to visit them in person, touching base with them regularly makes all the difference, even if it is virtual.

I didn’t know these things were important to me. It took me years and a lot of trial and error to understand the things that keep me a happy human being. Have you ever thought about it?

My favorite place in the morning: where my day starts

#noisymusings #health #habits

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


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

This month I’ve been reading the book “How to Break Up with your Phone” by Catherine Price. It’s a very practical book with exercises to assess how we use our phones, identify if there’s something we want to change, and change it.

This weekend I did the 24 hours phone separation exercise. For about a month the author proposes some activities to help us prepare for this “trial separation”.

Preparation

The preparation activities included:

  • An assessment of my current relationship with my phone: what do I love about it? What I don’t love about it? What changes do I notice in myself when I pick it up and spend time with it? What would I like my new relationship with my phone to look like?
  • Pay attention and notice the situations in which I use my phone. Does my body posture change? What is my emotional state before and after I use it? How do I feel when I realize I don’t have my phone? How do I feel while I’m using it?
  • Track data: I used the iOS Screen Time feature to analyze how many times I picked up my phone and how I used it throughout 1 week.
    • I picked up my phone 27 times per day
    • I spent 2h 40 min on a daily average
  • Delete all social media apps: I’ve done that a couple of years ago.
  • Build a “speed bump” before I pick up my phone. Ask myself the WWW questions:
    • What For: What am I picking my phone to do?
    • Why Now: Why am I picking up my phone now instead of later?
    • What Else: What else could I do right now besides checking my phone?
  • Get in touch with offline activities I enjoy doing (and do them without my phone)
  • Turn off notifications: I’ve done that a couple of years ago. I leave only notifications from “real people” (phone calls, text messages)
  • Delete unused apps, leave only apps that are “tools”. Delete all other “junk food/slot machine” apps.
  • Reorganize the phone Home Screen. Remove all temptations.
  • Stop, breathe, meditate. Practice mindfulness.
Read more...

… to pick up a hold and I’m greeted with this Groundhog. 🤓 Yay, more days of reading!

#noisymusings #journal #reading

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


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

About a year ago I deleted my social media accounts. I thought I had done it long ago. But, no, it’s been a year!

So, what have I learned?

  • The only thing that worked for me to stay away from social media was: total disconnection. Delete them. For real. After I deleted my accounts I thought many times about re-creating them but I also remembered how annoying it was. And how distracted I used to get. So, it was important in the first week to remember WHY I deleted them in the first place.
  • I didn’t need to do this all by myself, relying on my willpower alone (I tried, never worked). I used technology to fight technology. For the first few months, I used the app Freedom on all my devices to create a barrier. And it worked. The secret for me was being able to stay away from social media long enough to get my brain back to a “baseline” with no constant dopamine-induced activities. I started to feel my brain working differently 1-2 months in.
  • I started going out for long walks. Looking back now, it was not an easy time: the COVID-19 pandemic, dead of winter in my region, short days, and freezing temperatures. But it was the only thing I could do to fill in the void. I had to be outside. I learned that snow pants are awesome and that it’s okay to walk around with a headlamp (there are no lights on the pathway by the river, where I used to walk).
  • After deleting social media I still had the urge to scroll something. Anything. I would scroll through my email inbox. But it was finite so sometimes I would open a news portal and just scroll. I was not interested in anything that was there, but I needed to SCROLL. This behavior lasted for some weeks. Then I realized how pointless it was.
  • Sometimes I feel like I want to scroll something, even today. I still use RSS feeds so that became my “scrolling” thing. I paired down my feeds with only a small number of blogs I regularly read. So it’s a manageable list now, I scroll but it’s not an endless pit of junk anymore
  • I now feel repulsed by any website that is too “social-media-like”. Or that has too many ads. I avoid them all.
  • If I have a question about something I’ll go to Wikipedia first to find the answer. I feel like I’m 13 years old again going to the library and opening up an Encyclopedia to search for an answer.
  • I read better. I can read a book non-stop for an hour now. But that happened only recently. It took me months to be able to just sit down and read for more than half an hour without fidgeting or grabbing my phone.
  • I learned that it is important to embrace boredom. The best way to train it for me is to go out for walks, with nothing in my ears. No music. No podcasts. Just my breathing and surrounding sounds.
  • I decreased my podcast consumption. A lot!
  • I learned that I don’t enjoy audiobooks that much. I hear that one of the advantages of audiobooks is that you can read while doing something else. I tend to prefer to do one thing at a time. I can occasionally listen to podcasts while doing the dishes or cleaning the house, for example, but not books, especially if I’m enjoying it. When I’m reading something I need to pay attention and focus and reflect. Audiobooks don’t go at my mind’s speed, I guess.

Some people do a regular “digital detox” for a short or long period of time and then get back to whatever they were avoiding without letting it turn into a compulsive behavior again. Trying to use social media in moderation never worked for me. This technology evolves every day with new ways to hook us up and maybe I don’t have the energy to fight it all the time.

I’m happier now 😎. I love the Internet, but only some (quieter) corners of it.

#socialmedia #attentionresistance #internet #noisymusings

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


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

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

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


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

Tomorrow I’ll be back to working at the office full time. I’ve been working from home since April 5th, 2021 now. And before that, it was 30 days at home in January/February. So it was a total of 86 days working from home in 2021 or almost 60% of the total days.

I don’t hate working from home, on the contrary, I think it’s refreshing. Maybe if I lived someplace bigger with a dedicated office to work on, I would say I could never go back to a corporate office environment again. But the industry I work in doesn’t really appreciate remote work. On the contrary, my company believes that remote work can’t and will never build “the corporate culture”. They’ve given the employees the means to work from home during the worst of the pandemic when we were in lockdown. But deep down, most managers deeply hated it.

After the first lockdown period, where everybody was working from home, the senior managers of my company decided that they can’t do it, so they came back to the office. So for a long time they were the “skeleton crew” at the office while the rest of the team was at home, trying to deal with all the challenges that this new arrangement brought. I mention this because, for some period of time when schools and daycares were closed, it was painful to watch my co-workers trying to be in a meeting with their kids wanting their attention. Everybody was stressed, nobody could keep the same productivity levels, and still, the senior managers were demanding the same level of compromise. For them, the world was normal. They were quietly working in their individual offices, not having to face the working-from-home challenge.

And now I’m getting back to the office. I got the first dose of the COVID vaccine already, and the company is keeping all the restrictions to avoid the spread of the virus (rapid testing 3x/week, mandatory use of masks, virtual meetings). That’s not the issue. I just wasn’t expecting it to happen tomorrow, and I felt extremely anxious about it. It’s like I’m being forced out of my cocoon. Maybe I thought this process would be more gradual, like working a few days at home then a few days at the office, until all came back to “normal”.

There is something about this situation that bothers me: the fact that there will be no openness to “occasional” remote work after we get back to working “normally” at the office. I think in some industries there have been discussions over having flexible working arrangements from now on. And I think that is a cool option to have. I don’t think that is going to happen within my company.

I’ve developed some habits that help me cope with stress, like meditating early in the afternoon or whenever I feel something triggered me, taking 15 minutes breaks to read a book, or just stopping and breathing some fresh air on my balcony.

I’m wondering how am I going to keep these habits at the office. It seems harder over there. Meditating? Pfff… I’ll probably have to use the lady’s room. We’ll see!

#noisymusings #work #anxiety

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, 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

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, 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

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, 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

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, 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

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


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