Sorting Out My Life

Today I will sort out my life. During my last years at school this was a sentence that you would often hear from me. And though I resist voicing it these days (it’s become a bit of a joke, saying it out loud just makes me realise how ridiculous it sounds when said repeatedly), it is still very much a daily thought (except on the ‘dark’ days, of which yesterday was one).

And yes, it may be Sisyphean labour (you know it’s good when it refers to Greek mythology…) but having things sorted, or at least having a feeling of having things sorted, seems to be essential to my happiness. This is nothing new: I’ve already described to you in minute detail how much I value overview. Today, however, I’ll spill the guts about one of the ways that help me to obtain this reassuring but quite possibly imaginary feeling of control.

My not so secret tools are what I call (spot o’ Miranda!) ‘projects’. Whenever I think there is a problem, or anything I want to achieve that seems confusing and a bit overwhelming, I declare it a ‘project’. Somehow, just naming it that makes it easier to tackle. An ‘issue’ or a ‘problem’ is messy and pressing and very not nice. If you have a ‘project’, however, you have time. You have the responsibility to approach the question from several points of view before you start thinking of ways to achieve results. And even when you start implementing these actions, there is little pressure, you simply observe how it goes. A ‘problem’, on the other hand, has to be ‘resolved’, immediately if possible. So now shut up everyone who says semantics don’t matter.

At the moment, I have four major projects on the go (and when I say major, then they are really minor, but they matter to me a great deal)

Project #1: Write A Novel In A Month. This does need some planning – when best to do it? what do I need? how many words a day? In this case, declaring it a ‘project’ also helps me doing it. Otherwise it would be one of those things that make me think “I could do that. I should do that!” and then I never do it.

Project #2: Organise A Summer Gathering. Sadly, or luckily, I have my closest friends spread across several countries. This can be fun, but it also means that we don’t see each other as much. The distance, as well, and the different lives we lead, make it more difficult to organise get-togethers. I have also always been the oraganiser when it comes to those things, partly because I’m quite good at things like this and mostly because noone else would do it and I really want things to happen, so I just do them myself. I actually like it, though. Group work is not really my style, way too messy. It means however, if I want something to happen this summer, I have to nag everyone on a regular basis about everything from telling me when they’re free to booking flights to actually packing their bags. And nagging is not really on the top of my list of fun things to do. I’ll do it though, now that it is a project.

Project #3: Sleep. This one might be the biggest project so far, and you’ll be likely to hear tons about it in the near future. Basically, I don’t have problems sleeping, but I do have problems going to bed and getting out of bed, for some reason. I do my best work at night, so it’s hard for me to waste quality working and creative time by just going to sleep. This, however, has completely disrupted my sleeping pattern and the general rhythm of my life. Gotta get that sorted, and I will.

Project #4: Read A Lot. This is where calling it a project really helps me be happier instantly. For years ‘read a lot’ was a resolution that I loosely remembered, but never fulfilled to my satisfaction. This is partly because reading widens your horizon and the more you read the more you think you should read, but also because I don’t think of reading as important as it is because I enjoy it so much. So now that I’ve made it an official project, I’ll keep track of what I read, I’ll make lists of what to read next, and just like that, reading a book feels a lot more like accomplishing something than like wasting time.

Also, (as you might have noticed) I have realised today how fun it is linking back to past posts! I’ll promise not to overdo it though.

B x

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Overview, Or: My Secret To Happiness

To maintain an overview over all the little things going on at the same time in my life has always been one of my greatest struggles. So great, in fact, that it became a source of alarmingly scary panic attacks at some point.

But the more I think about it, the more the feeling of overview (others use the term ‘control’, but in my opinion ‘overview’ is a more fitting description) seems like an illusion. Now knowing that I crave this very comforting deception, I might have to learn to create it myself.

The reason all of this is currently on my mind is that I have returned to uni only yesterday and already feel like I have lost my grip. Writing helps, so here I go.

There are a few things going on at the same time. First, there is uni. Although I only have three seminars at the point, I am barely keeping up and I have trouble motivating myself to do the work that needs to be done (although it is actually enjoyable work). Then there is my happiness project. The point of it was to help me master everyday life and rid it of frustration and guilt. At this point though, my resolutions chart only seems to be yet another source of a bad conscience.

Here we go, writing is already helping. All I need to do is put on some music, have some tea and maybe a shower and voila, I have a new, more positive perspective and can focus on what I need to focus on.

So if you’d ask me know what I do to help me create the illusion of control I can honestly tell you that it is the little things: write a blog or a diary to help you get back on track, drink a cup of tea, clean yourself or your flat, make lists. Oh, and the easiest and quickest measure is good lightning. I’m telling you, I have a daylight lamp that is like pure magic (I might actually write a post in its honour soon): It’s like switching on energy and motivation, especially if you live in the north of Germany where there is very little sunlight during winter.

You must excuse me now, I need to go shower and make a list!

B x

Birthday Wishes – The Key To Happiness?!

We’re back to me mirroring Gretchen Rubin’s resolutions during her first happiness project. Today’s resolution is surprisingly simple and straight-forward. Like Ms. Rubin, I’d like to remember birthdays. I’d like to send those I love and care about a card or a message to let them know that I care and also to stay in contact.

During the past few years I have done this sporadically, whenever I knew for some reason that it was someone’s birthday and when I had the time to write a card. Messages were’t really necessary because those people I’d write a birthday message, say on Facebook or WhatsApp, I usually saw on their birthday. School had that kind of convenience.

But, this time I have approached the topic systematically: I have printed a birthday calendar (very basic, but so useful, here), found out birthdays of friends and family –  Facebook and my dad’s phone proved invaluable for this task, I have some cards on my desk and all the addresses on a nice document, so that birthdays can now come. I might also set some kind of tracker on Outlook or something so that I actually remember them, but the groundwork is laid. Success!

I know it is a tiny tiny thing to do, but I also know it will make my friends and family, but especially me insanely happy. Such fun!

B x