Ya, but does it work?

Screen shot of the forest app timer counting down

I was asked on instagram is my forest growing and pomodoros really helped me get things done and I believe that they do, so I want to tell you an anecdote from this morning.

Following a meeting, I picked up my phone to tweet something. I then scrolled through my twitter timeline. I looked at the clock and gave myself five minutes to play around on twitter.

10 minutes later, I told myself I needed to stop.

10 minutes after that I was still playing around. So, I took a deep breath and I started the forest app. Now, that only kept me off my phone–but I have standing blocks on social media on my laptop for most of the day, so blocking things on my phone immediately cuts down on my field of distractions.

Sometimes, I am okay at sitting down and working and it isn’t a problem. But, if I’m having a slow-start day or a stare-off-into-space day or I have fallen down a rabbit hole or if I really, really just don’t want to do the work that needs doing, it is nice to be able to cut the noise and narrow down my field of options. Self-control, decision making and concentration are finite resources, and I really don’t want to waste them on keeping myself on task.

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I like planning but I also like the washi tape

The first step and also the last step in keeping track of how I spend my time is a physical planner from ink+volt. I sit down on Sundays and write out my goals for the week.

a blank weekly page

There is nothing like a fresh spread, just waiting for whatever for your appointments and goals

I check on my progress from last week. If its the end of the month, I set goals for the next month, after checking on my progress towards my yearly goals. I try to keep the big goals for the week to three or four, and then for each day I break those goals down into sub-tasks. For example, this week I am looking into some explanations for something I came across in my data while I was working on my dissertation. The first step is gather all of my notes and to put them into a coherent format that has some structure, so I know exactly what it is that I am doing. From there, I can set up next steps for the rest of the week that are going to include going back to the primary data files and examining them further. By the end of the week, I will hopefully have an answer to my question. But, maybe I won’t.

Goals of the week page just waiting for my 3-4 big tasks

That’s just one of my goals.

I have some personal goals for the week, too. I am changing storage unit companies this month, and that is going to require some further planning, too. So, that’s the big goal. The little goals are going to involve pricing things out and so I can make informed decisions.

I also have tasks related to side projects that were put on hold while I finished my dissertation.

Finally, I do a little decorating. Adding a little color to my planner is something I enjoy. I really don’t do anything creative or fancy. I like to use washi tape and this is a perfect excuse for it. It also provides a way to see how well I am keeping up with the system (and, also, probably with my work) at a glance. You can see the white section where there isn’t any evidence of decorating. That’s because I didn’t decorate those weeks. I just tried to push through with my goals and minimal planning. I’m not sure that really served my needs very well.

You can tell when I didn’t decorate. There’s an entire strip of white down the middle of all the taped up pages.

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At the intersection of OH GOD and I CAN’T.

I am in a hell of my own making.

And, I’m being dramatic.

But, while I’m being dramatic, it isn’t untrue. I could have been a healthy, put-together, reasonable person who filed paperwork on time (any time in my life before quite recently, you know, in another timeline. Obviously, not in this one). I am trying to submit some paperwork today. This will be for the fourth time (maybe the fifth?) and it is paperwork that I should have done years ago (and tried to do a year ago). It just hasn’t gotten done because it is at the intersection of two things that make me incredibly anxious, one of them being my own research being recognized and seen out in the world and the other being university paperwork. And, because it is at the intersection of two things that make me anxious, I ignored it. For a long time. I shouldn’t have. This isn’t a excuse but an explanation: I ignored this paperwork and a lot of things that made me anxious while doing a bad job of taking care of myself in general. But, I’m working on letting my research be out in the world without an undue amount of anxiety and panic and I’m working on being a reasonable person when it comes to paperwork. You’d have no way of knowing this, looking at the paperwork I’m submitting today, but I’m actually getting better at paperwork. The last time I had to submit anything, it was on time.

Still, though, I have this backlog of things that I ignored that I now want to reconcile and be responsible about and it feels very much like hell.

So I am, head hung in shame, going back to do things that seemed too big and scary to do before and I totally ignored.

I’ve spent the last hour trying to maintain an internet connection so that I can send these pieces of paper off. So they can hopefully be done. So, I can be caught up, like an actual grown person.


Why does this have to be so hard?

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Cold Brew

I am a huge fan of cold brewing coffee. Before cold brewing, I had heard people talking about notes in the coffee, different flavors and smells they found, but I really didn’t get it. Maybe that was because I was buying cheap coffee or maybe it was the brewing technique, I do not know. But, I started cold brewing last year, and it changed coffee for me. I can definitely taste the difference between coffees from different regions now. (I’ve also started buying higher quality coffee. Not a coincidence, these things are related.)

I thought I had a system all worked out. I was already using a melitta pour over coffee filter, so I thought perfect. I’ll just make it in a mason jar and the get the grounds out using my regular pour over set up.

Somehow, I always managed to make a mess. The coffee grounds would either create a seal that splashed or that you had to break yourself, getting grounds all over everything. Or, I wouldn’t be paying close enough attention and I’d overfill the filter and end up with grounds in my coffee concentrate. Ridiculous. But, then it occurred to me that other people have probably already identified and solved this problem. And, they have. You can get a coffee sock, which is a reusable filter made out of cotton fabric and it should last about a year. So, now I don’t have to work out how to get the grounds out.

Now that the grounds are all in one convenient place, I am thinking its time to figure out how to use them as fertilizer. We’ll see how that experiment goes.

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In the middle of last summer I moved closer to my parents. This was an excellent choice, but it was in the middle of the summer, right after my summer teaching duties ended, and was quite quick. I like doing a little gardening and my Mom doesn’t mind it, but it was too late in the season last year to really get anything done. Thankfully, the early summer had been so hectic that I hadn’t managed to get anything into the ground that I then abandoned when I moved. This year we decided we were going to get some things in the ground.

An idea popped into my head after the daffodils and tulips started to fade. My Mom was brainstorming taller flowers that we could put where the spring flowers had been. She thought she wanted to do some annuals for some color. I suggested we try something a little different and do some greens. I don’t think she was sold on the idea at first. I suggested we put in some colorful red curly kale and some swiss chard. And, if we’re going to do that, we might as well do a few things in containers on the back porch, too.

The library got the ball rolling by providing me with two free-to-a-good-home tomato plants and one pepper plant. To this, we’ve added a cucumber plant, two more additional varieties of pepper, one additional variety or tomato, spaghetti squash, ichiban eggplant, basil and broccoli. I couldn’t be more excited about our plants. They look so lovely in their new homes.

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I Did a Thing

These are all the hours I’ve logged with forest since I started using it in February

I submitted my dissertation manuscript yesterday to my committee. If you are unfamiliar with the process of receiving a doctorate, in linguistics it works like this: you research and write up what is more or less a book length, multi-chapter piece. You do this in consultation with your advisor (or in my case advisors) and your committee, who are also researchers with an overlap in interests with you (hopefully…sometimes the overlap is a little bit of a stretch. Although, not in my case.) When you’ve completed this book-length piece of writing, you officially submit it to your committee, the department and school and a defense date is set. Then, you defend you work and hopefully pass with only minor revisions and then that’s it. You’re a doctor.

So, this is a pretty significant milestone. I am nearing the end of this process. I did it. There is stuff we know now that we didn’t know before because my fool-ass decided to go out into the world and figure it out. I was just looking at the pdf of it and feeling overwhelmed. I did that. I made that thing. That exists because of me.

And, of course, not just because of me. I am a language researcher, so dozens of people volunteered to take part in my research. I had advisors and committee members who were constantly poking and prodding me to make it better, make it clearer. And, friends and family who have looked after me and cheered me on and distracted me when I needed it (and forced me to sit down and work when I needed that.) Ginger Kitty has been a near-constant companion through this last push in the process. As I was finishing things yesterday, he sat by my side the entire time, sometimes purring and sometimes snoring. I did a thing! But, I didn’t do it alone. And, that might be the coolest part of this whole thing.

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Now that’s a scrub

In April’s ipsy glam bag, I got a deluxe sample of a body scrub. I’m the kind of person who typically makes her own body scrub (its super easy, sugar and olive oil and some essential oils for the scent/potential benefits.), but I’m always happy to get a sample of something to try.

coconut oil and coffee sugar scrub

PÅ«rlisse coconut oil + coffee sugar scrub. Photo from ipsy.com

The coffee smell of this product is amazing. It hits you right away. And, the coconut oil was so moisturizing. I felt so smooth and hydrated after I used it that I didn’t need to moisturize after my shower. The MSRP is $36 for the scrub. That is, honestly, more than I am willing to pay for a scrub. But, if I were looking to splurge, this would definitely be on my list.

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But I wish to be an order muppet

Last week, my friend Cristin ended up accidentally being my chaperone for the day. We had a work date that was split into two parts a doctor’s appointment. Our work date ended in time to head home in rush hour traffic.

The end of our day was poorly timed because I was in charge of the time. I should never be in charge of time.

While we were moving from our doctor’s appointment interlude to the second half of our work date, we talked about the chaos muppet vs. order muppet theory of humanity. I’ve thought about it a lot and if I were a muppet, I would be Grover. My interest in semantics makes any instance involving scalar adjectives a potential nightmare for anyone who wants me to make some kind of decision. If I had a secret identity, it would be semi-secret (a la Super Grover) and I would talk to the narrator (or, I’d break the fourth wall, like Deadpool, who is undoubtedly also a chaos muppet). Grover is a chaos muppet and I am also a chaos muppet.

Grover serves up burgers and laughs at Charlie's Restaurant

But, I wish I were an order muppet. All of my attempts at organizing and keeping myself on the straight and narrow in order to get shit done are my attempts at being an order muppet. This is what makes me a good person for testing out various methods of organization and productivity. They aren’t things I’m inherently good at it, so when something works for me, that’s a pretty good indication that it is, at the very least, an easy system to implement and follow.

Like Grover, I am also cute. Plus, I have trouble sticking the landing.

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Spring Shawls

It’s going to be in the 90s this weekend, so we’ve skipped the spring and gone straight to the summer. But, even the summer sometimes has chilly nights and I am inspired to continue knitting by my newly finished mitts.

When I thought about what to start next, I decided that I wanted the project to use yarn I already had, a pattern I already had, and to be something light and fun for the season. I settled on a shawl. Back in 2016 (or 2015?) I joined the Badass Women’s Yarn Club and I was sure I knew where the yarn was in my stash. There were two shawls designed as part of the collection, and one of the yarns was a nice light linen yarn. That seemed like a good call for summer. I found it right away, but I also found a skein of yarn from a different yarn club that needed to be wound before it turned into a huge knotty mess.

I had a yarn club phase, but that is a story for another time.

So, I wound it. It’s a lovely variegated yarn of greens and browns. I decided that I would use it and some do some other stash busting. So, I picked a pattern that had a easy lace repeat. Nymphalidea is inspired by butterflies, and named after one of the largest butterfly families. It has the feel of a soft wing. What else could say Spring?

The first sections of Nymphalidea

I started it last weekend while on a little road trip. Knitting lace can be very relaxing, once you get the repeat down. The lace colors are leftovers from the hat and shawl and that I finished last year. We’ll see if they will stretch to the length the shawl calls for, or if it will end up a shawlette.

A few more repeats of Nymphalidea

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But I do that

Ulta Beauty posted this to their facebook page a couple of weeks ago and I got a good laugh out of it. I showed it to a few of my friends and they could relate. I really do this. Sometimes, you just aren’t up for the full routine, so you find short cuts. My go-to short cut is to use Yes to Blueberries brightening wipes to clean my face. I cut two or three steps out of my routine. I try not to do it too often, because as nice as the wipes are, they do not have the cleaning power of double-cleansing with a facial brush, but they do a good job. And, I love the smell. The blueberry products from the yes to line are brightening and they have other products if you have other issues you are targeting (if you need something gentle, try to the yes to cotton!)

When you skincare is part of your self-care, it can feel indulgent and unnecessary. But, your skin is your biggest organ and it needs some looking after and TLC. It’s nice to have a backup plan, then, for when you’re feeling tired so that you still take care of yourself.

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