Mental Health Time Management

There’s a lot of logistics that goes into managing my time. There’s the general amount that has to do with filling the hours of my days, working on my goals, getting work done, and keeping up with the tasks required to manage my home. Then there’s a whole additional layer that is the work I have to do to prepare myself for stressful moments or making decisions when I’m out of spoons.

For instance, on the day of writing this, I spent about an hour casually considering my dinner options for after work, vascillating between various to-go food options, a few oven-ready food items, and the meals I had the ingredients to prepare. Not because I didn’t know what I wanted or because it was a particularly difficult decision, but because I know I’m going to have a difficult time doing anything when I get home if I don’t walk in the door with food in-hand or with a plan for what I’m going to make. It may well change as I get moving in the kitchen, but if I don’t do that work ahead of time, my already late dinner (10 hour days, I tell ya) will get even later.

It’s a similar sort of activity as the process of psyching myself up to call someone on the phone. I had to call my auto mechanic and spent about fifteen minute rehearsing what I’d say in my head, making sure I had access to all the information I could possibly need, and reminding myself that I went with this mechanic because of their courteousness, kindness, and ease of service. This is the easiest business I’ve ever called or been a customer to, and I still need to psych myself up. Which is important when I’m only going to be calling them when I’m high on forks and low on spoons (it’s not like I call a mechanic if my car DOESN’T have problems, you know?).

These things are easier on less exhausting/exhausted days, since sometimes deciding what to eat takes the 30 seconds I need to open all my cabinets and refridgerator to evaluate what I’ve got in the house. Sometimes a phone call is just a phone call. But that is not always the case and sometimes it takes an hour of idle thoughts while I’m working to decide that I should just bake some chicken quickly and simply. No frills. I’ve got veggies and chips I can eat as-is, so all I need to do is cook the chicken and that’s just time on the clock for the oven to preheat and then bake. Easy.

Or, if enough time passes between that paragraph and this one, and I accidentally read something that makes me super sad because it’s about childhood trauma, I can always default to the great little chinese take-out place down the street from my apartment. I literally drive past it on the way home and the lead-time on food is the exact amount of time my commute takes. I can put in the order while my car heats up, drive most of the way home, pick up the food, and then drive the rest of the way home. Easy.

There are a lot of articles on the internet (and I’ve written a couple of my own) about how to manage your time to make the best use of it. How to organize yourself so you don’t waste time by putting off organization tasks or so you properly value the simple act of writing things down to clear space in your mind. There aren’t a lot of them about being merciful with yourself if you’re going to need an hour to decide what socks to wear because you’re too tired and worn down to make a decision. Or how to try to use your idle thoughts to handle some of that idling ahead of time so you have what you need to take care of yourself when the time comes.

Maybe I’ll write a post that’s a little more perscriptive and tool/solution-focused than this descriptive one. But now you know you’re not the only one who does this stuff! So, that’s good if this applies to you. If it doesn’t, I suspect it’s just fine. Anyway, I was gonna say stuff about NaNoWriMo prep and time management, but I’ve written everything I’ve got in me for today, so that’ll happen tomorrow probably. Hope your day is going well and you’re not stuck behind a “simple” decision that weighs more than it ought to.

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