As I’ve been struggling with the bummer of hypothyroidism over the past year or so, I’ve become acutely aware of how much time I’m spending doing certain tasks, and what kind of attention span I’m able to maintain in a given period of time. Because my symptoms are all in the fatigue/brain-fog department of things, and fluctuate with seasons and stress levels, I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated with what I can plan to accomplish in a day, week or month.
This has all led to some self-reflection on productivity and what it means for me. When I used to work as an employee in an office environment, I remember spending a good deal of my day futzing and thinking (let’s hope the friends I used to work for understand this). It was pre-Twitter and Facebook, so most of my futzy time was spent on IM with friends or simply surfing online. I convinced myself that I deserved this time because I was pretty productive, in the sense that I produce stellar work when it was time to get down to brass tacks. (With the exception of the end of my tenure at my last regular job, where my general malaise about working full time was what ate away at the quality of my work.)
I’ve been a freelancer/consultant for about six years now, and I doubt I could ever go back to a full-time job. Just about everything involved with this lifestyle suits my personality quirks nicely, and I feel more solid about producing work that makes the world, locally/globally, a better place. But my awareness of productivity, combined with my good Protestant German work ethic, is reaching a point of culture clash, at least internally.
To boot, I’m also a recovering overachiever (I was the kid who was selecting colleges to look at when I was 12), and while I’ve let go of some of the bigger-picture issues associated with that, I’ve still got the mental drive of that 12-year-old… but not always the energy to follow through. I feel increasingly guilty with the amount of futzing that I do, even though I know intellectually that daydreaming and futzing lead to bursts of creativity. I’m blessed with clients that don’t hound me and let me work in the solitary way that I prefer, so it’s not that I feel outside pressure to get to work. It just seems like the further along that I get in this stage, the harder I feel I need to work to keep up, pay bills, achieve status/recognition, etc. Combine that with bouts of fatigue that are still difficult for me to assess— is this stress? did I just not sleep well? is my thyroid mucking up the works again? — as well as a compulsive nature to Solve Everything, and I’m spinning my wheels a bit.
I know the platitudes that will fix my problems: take a deep breath, do some yoga, slow down, eat better, give yourself a break. I’m wondering what it will take for me to get past the intellectual knowing of these things, and the actual integration of them into my psyche and practice.
In honor of American Junk Food Weekend (aka, Superbowl Sunday), I present you with a childhood favorite of mine.
5 hot dogs, diced 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese 1 cup crushed potato chips (I preferred wavy/ridged) 2 tbsp vegetable oil 3 tbsp ketchup 2 tbsp sweet relish 1 tbsp mustard
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix everything together in a medium-sized bowl, and fill 8 hot dog rolls with mixture. Bake for 15 minutes or until nice and toasty-brown on top. Let cool (mixture is hot inside) for a few minutes and enjoy.
Alternatively, you can just initially bake as many as you want in that sitting, and refrigerate the mixture to use over the next couple days.