>Summer is always a curve and a blessing for me. I LOVE that I actually have “free time” because I need it to recover from the frenetic pace of my school year. At the same time, I hate it because I am terrible with unstructured time. I have been doing better this summer, but I have struggled for the last two days. My problem is that I lack the self-discipline (or perhaps the energy) to create a modest schedule of tasks for the day. During the school year, I am forced to create some level of schedule because my work fills specific sections of my day. When summer truly arrives for me, though, I have such open swaths of time that I regularly fail to pre-plan what I will be doing on any given day.
I also get terribly gun shy of planning out specific days. I know that I overestimate my energy and abilities, meaning that if I plan out a series of days, I will likely be “behind” from the moment I set my schedule. At the same time, when I allow myself to “see where the day will take me,” I find myself accomplishing next to nothing. Because so many things are a “top priority,” I am often paralyzed by my own brain. Worse, my inaction causes me to begin berating myself, which makes my more tired, and I become even more inefficient.
As I said, I am getting better at managing these things. In reality, my learning style (concrete random) and my personality type (ENFP) do not lend themselves well to carefully planned out schedules. In fact, they are deadly for me because my “random” nature means that I will eventually fail, and the “concrete” aspect of my brain will condemn me for that failure. Thus, I need broad plans, and I must accept any step towards the completion of those plans as progress. For instance, our finances needed to get up to date. In the past I would have tried to get it completed in one day. Although I did manage to do that from time to time (by locking myself in our office for 8-10 hours), more often, I would get to a semi-acceptable point and then would leave the finances unfinished – possibly missing a bill. This time, I chipped away at the finances over a four day window. I not only got caught up, but I also managed to enter information for my wife, and I figured out some of the stranger issues in our investment numbers. I even got paperwork filed today.
Unfortunately, even successes like that do not completely sink in for me. I consciously know that I did a good job, but I don’t truly feel it. Instead, the hypercritical portion of my brain berates me for taking so long. It also reminds me that the office is still a disaster, and the investment numbers are still not fixed. And, pushing those thoughts away (or should I say hearing them and then dismissing them as irrational) takes tremendous amounts of energy, leaving even more run down. As a result, I then spend a few days, like today and yesterday, wallowing a bit and trying to get into some sort of groove with my daily routine.
The other two challenges of summer tie into that last issue. This time off often results in a different series of events every day. I have clearly learned that I am at my best when I can get into a pattern and am able to follow that every day. Sadly, I am convinced that it will be years until such a thing is possible during the summer for me. My wife’s job, my daughter’s activities, my doctor appointments, and my work issues mean that summer will remain a hodge podge of starts and stops in each and every day. Summer also means a great deal of isolation. While I do get to spend time with my daughter, many of my days involve long stretches of time when I am alone. Although I have come to appreciate some quiet time when I am isolated, the reality is that I am an extreme extrovert. Thus, being by myself drains me. Sometimes, that alone can totally wipe me out. On the other hand, I can be having the worst excessive daytime sleepiness, but come to life as soon as I step in front of a group of people.
As in so many other things, I must be patient as I move forward living with narcolepsy. This condition is insanely bizarre. I can feel almost normal one day and horribly tired the next. Worse, so much of my day (each day) depends on my sleep, yet I have NO control over that. Even when I have been in a great pattern of going to sleep and waking at the same time each day, one thousand and one tiny little things can positively and negatively influence my rest. Thus, I must take a deep breath, do the best I can, and not fret about the highs and lows. I just need to ground myself in the present and stay with each moment.