Around a year back I bought a Fitbit for my wife which unfortunately was not as appealing to her as it was to me. It got left behind in the cupboard more often than I would like to. So, one fine day, I decided to use it for myself. I had been contemplating on going out for daily walks for quite sometime, but hadn’t started it yet. Using the Fitbit as motivation, I decided to get my lazy ass off the bed everyday morning. But, walks to me were a way of connecting to nature than mere physical exercise. So, my eyes fell on the ‘police line’, rife with greenery, right beside my apartment.
It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.
I’ve noticed, there are two kinds of people – those who take notes and those who don’t. I love taking notes. I love capturing every thought that flutters up in my brain. But, it is tough to find good notebooks that specifically suit your needs. What were my needs, you ask? That it had to be with me all the time, easy to jot down, easy to refer & easy to store. Once the needs were nailed down, it was the quality of the tools that needed to be looked into: Do you want something to get the work done with, something cheap, something that can withstand any abuse or do you want your tool to mean something, stand for something, made of premium material, bring you joy while using it? Over time, my needs have varied from one end of the spectrum to another. Over the last few months, I have deliberately tried moving away from using digital tools. Not just for the heck of it, but to simplify and have more clarity. I would put information into various apps and never bother to look back at them again. And, then forget where was what. Not to mention that you have to remember what you want to search for, or else, it is not easy to find them. I just wanted one solution that I could write-in, and easily refer back. This lead me not to another app, but to notebooks.
Just before the start of a new school year, my father used to pull out all the class work and home work notebooks I used in the previous year and tear out all the left over pages from them. He would then cut all the pages to the same measurement and take them down to a binder to get it sewn and bound. This book would have on an average 300 pages, some of which were single rule, some broad rule, some double rule and some plain. This book then would be my ‘rough book’ for the new school year. A book in which I could do all math calculations, doodle, or write notes (when I forgot the main notebooks). It used to be the book I could fall back on.
But, of course this was in school.
I read the GTD book almost 11 years back and been implementing it for more than 5 years now. This has been the only time management system that made practical sense to me. But, to be honest, though I organized all the information into projects & contexts, I rarely checked off work as I was supposed to. Most of the time I worked only on urgent stuff making all the organisation (projects, contexts, & perspectives) pointless.
When I wake up in the morning, still groggy, my mind would be relaxed; not thinking anything. But, the moment consciousness returns, thoughts rush in as if air is rushing-in to fill a vacuum. Worry starts, either of something that I did in the past or happened to me in the past or fear of something that might happen in the future. Dread fills the body, breathes become shallow and rapid. The mind starts conjecturing so many ‘what-ifs’ that I spend most of my waking time trying to find appropriate responses to survive all those instances that are being flinged at me. All in the name of ‘preparation’. But, after a time it gets exhausting. So much of what ‘might’ happen is not in my control that it gets really scary. There is so much that can happen that will undermine my efforts. So much can go wrong. So many can stand against me. With seemingly insurmountable odds, self-doubt creeps in. What if I don’t make it? What if I’m found wanting? What if I fail all those who depend on me? Anxiety & depression set in.
I don’t believe in new year resolutions. But, I do believe in reflecting. I opened my diary, to see how the year went by. 2016 was a challenging year. If I could use two words to describe this year they would be – stress & anxiety. There was a lot I wished didn’t happen. But, I’ve learnt a lot too. We already ‘know’ a lot on how to deal with life. But, we don’t understand them until we are actually ready. And, nothing readies us like a few knocks (or blows) to the head. Lessons that I take with me into the new year: