Michelle says RELAX

Do you relax? And by that I mean, do nothing and just chill, while awake in the day? I think I have somehow lost the ability or the gene to be able to sit and do nothing, because even when feeling ill, I still find it difficult to simply BE.

Doingness has taken over. I must be doing something all the time, otherwise I am wasting time. And because time is precious and finite, wasting it is the ultimate sin.

Which means I find myself chatting to a friend online, while watching Netflix, while eating dinner. Because doing any of those tasks on their own would waste time. And I write a blog, while also editing a book, while checking my email and drinking my tea. Or I sew while watching a movie while talking to my partner.

When did multi-tasking become the only way to be? What happened with just sitting and having a cuppa? What happened to eating a meal, and noticing the tastes and enjoying each bite? Why do I feel the need to cram as much as I can into every waking moment of every single day?

In case you were hoping for solutions, I better warn you now, I have none! Other than – if you feel the same way, then becoming aware of your addiction to doing is the first step in changing it. If you want to change it, of course.

I know that part of my issue is that there is just so much I want to do. So many creative projects, so many work projects, so many things I enjoy… at times when I find myself with some spare time, I get overwhelmed at all the possible things I could fill it with. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed, that all I can do is something domestic and mundane. Relaxing is never really an option. Not when the car needs washing and clothes need folding and the firewood needs collecting and the kitchen needs cleaning.

Being addicted to doing has never really been a problem for me. You could say I’ve thrived on it. But by the end of last year, even though I hadn’t achieved all I’d planned to, I hit something of a massive slump. I felt depleted and exhausted, and in early December I had no energy to do anything at all.

I saw my kinesiologist and got back on track, but it took a long time for my mojo to return. Then in the new year, I got a virus. Now, having got over that and getting myself back on track, I find that I don’t have nearly as much oomph to get things done as I once did, and I wonder if I ever will again.

It’s tricky when the mind and the body are not in sync. When my mind is trying to beat me up and make me feel bad for not getting everything on my to do list done, and my body is saying – I need more sleep, just sit for a while, and it’s okay, you can do things tomorrow – it leaves me feeling more exhausted.

So I plan to use my trusted friend – EFT – to do some reprogramming. Because if my body needs rest, then I need to feel okay with resting, and relaxing. Because feeling guilty about it certainly isn’t going to help my body either. I’m also exploring this whole topic in my new novel, which will hopefully help me to work out a way forward too.

How do you relax? Do you multitask too much? Do you feel guilty for chilling? Would love to hear from you.

No time to relax? Stare at this photo for a full minute and imagine the sound of the waves on the pebbles…

 

We Are One

We are one

Doing the man-brain box experiment last week really did bring up some interesting things, and bring me to some huge revelations about the differences between men and women, and why relationships are the way they are. I’ve spoken to a few friends about the box-brain concept, and they all agree, that this is the way it works. (of course I’m not saying that every single man on earth has boxes in his brain, it is a generalisation, but one that makes sense to me)

I read somewhere (I apologise for not always linking to the source of my information, I read so many articles online during the course of the day, that I often then don’t remember where I read what!) that we live in a patriarchal society that is heavily into separation, dominance and exclusion. It’s the ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality, and the idea of being better than others, or having things that others do not have, that are more male qualities, and those qualities have shaped our current world.

Whereas a very long time ago, society was run by the matriarchs, and was one of inclusion, nurturing, supporting ones another, and understanding that we were all one, we were all equal. I think that though there have been major leaps forward in the last 100 years in terms of rights for women etc., the idea of equality has become skewed. In this male – dominated world, the idea of women and men being equal, is for women to be the same as men. For them to be able to be the breadwinner, to earn as much money, do the same jobs, and do all of these things in a male way. To think in terms of separation, and compartmentalise everything into boxes.

Now, having done this little experiment, I’ve come to realise, that I will never be the same as a man in my thinking. And that there are certain jobs that I just wouldn’t be suited to. And do you know what? That’s okay! Men and women’s brains work differently for good reasons. Mainly, that we weren’t created to do the same things. We weren’t created to think in the same ways. We were designed to fulfill roles that suited our physique, our innate talents and our thinking. Women are able to think of many things all at once, and to multi-task efficiently, so of course it makes sense for them to care for their children, because looking after children requires an awful lot of multi-tasking! There are so many instances where men and women are designed perfectly to fulfill their roles, I don’t think I need to go into any more in detail.

I don’t believe we need to be equal in a patriarchal way. I believe we need to become equal in a matriarchal way. In that all life is precious. No one is above or below anyone else. That there is enough for everyone. And that we appreciate and respect the roles that men and women fulfill – with an equal amount of love and appreciation.

So, as a tool, the boxes are quite useful, even for men (because the current technologies are forcing them to become multi-taskers too) because it helps you to focus, and get more done. But I wouldn’t want to think in this way all of the time, because I like to be able to make cards while watching TV, and I like to listen to music while writing my books, and I like to think of the little things, like writing notes to go under my partner’s pillow, or sending a card to a friend to say hi, or actually getting cards and presents to people on their birthdays, rather than after (though sometimes that doesn’t happen!). And all of those things are very female. My partner has commented more than once how he doesn’t understand how I manage to do so many of these small, thoughtful things. Because he is focused on the larger matters at hand. But I know what a difference those small things make to other people. I know that my readers appreciate it when I take the time to e-mail them back, I know that my friends enjoy the small packages that arrive (sometimes by owl 😉 ) and I know that my partner loves to find little notes and gifts under his pillow for no reason other than because I felt like it.

So I think the lessons I have learnt from this experiment are (for now):

#1. Using the male way of organising boosts productivity (Focusing on one thing at a time gets more things completed), and that while multi-tasking is useful for getting lots of smaller things done, it’s not so useful for larger projects.

#2. Men and women don’t need to be equal in ability, but they need to be appreciated equally for their abilities to do different things.

#3. That women need to cut guys a little slack, and understand that they may forget to get a card or present before the actual day of celebration, because they’re focused on the big things like keeping a roof over their heads and fuel in the car and getting work projects done. And it’s not because they don’t love them, or because they don’t care, but because they just don’t think in the same way.

#4. That I like being a woman, and I wouldn’t want my brain to be full of little boxes, because I like being able to do the little things that usually end up in a box that rarely gets opened in a man’s brain.

#5. That men and women need to learn to love and appreciate themselves, and work to their strengths.

and finally

#6. We are one. What you do for yourself, you do for another. What you do to another, you do to yourself. There is no separation, no one is better than anyone else. We are all connected, but in our individuations, we are unique, and we need to love and appreciate that about ourselves and each other.

Thank you for reading my post today, if you feel you learnt something too, then please feel free to comment below 🙂

The Man-Brain Box Experiment Results

Well what an interesting week this has been! On Monday, I posted that I was going to conduct an experiment. The Man-Brain Box Experiment, which came about from watching a video online about how men and women’s brains function differently.

It’s been an eye-opening experiment, I will say that! In order to do it, I created my own boxes, and only allowed myself to have one box open at a time, and only focus on doing one of the things inside the box at a time.

Man-Brain Boxes

Goodness, was it difficult! Single-tasking really is not something that comes naturally to me… anymore. I do remember when I was a child that I could focus on one thing for hours and hours, whether it was reading or playing with my toys, I could focus with no problems at all. But now? Now I am the uber multi-tasker, with at least ten tabs open on my online browser at any on time (not to mention other software and applications being open at the same time) I juggle talking to several people on Facebook at a time, while talking on the phone and answering e-mails. In any one moment I could be doing three or four things at once.

So to focus on one thing until it was finished? Very, very difficult for me. But do you know what? It was so much more productive! Every day this week I have been able to cross things of my list. Things that I had actually completed and were not half-done as usual. And I even had time to occasionally open the Nothing Box! I found that when I was cooking dinner, I would just be cooking dinner, not trying to chat to people on Facebook and do three other things at the same time (definitely burnt less food this week). And overall, I have noticed that the amount of time I spend on Facebook has dramatically decreased, which is something I had been trying to do for some time, but couldn’t seem to stop myself going on there! A few weeks back, I read an article about how there was so little time to get everything done, the only way forward was to multi-task like crazy. (I cannot find the article now, and indeed, if you Google ‘multi-tasking’ all you will find is articles on why it is bad for you!) But do you know what I discovered? Multi-tasking makes time go past very quickly. And all of a sudden, it’s the end of the day, and though I’ve been busy all day, I havn’t actually achieved anything. Whereas single-tasking has the opposite effect. It slows time down. Especially when I’m focusing purely on a work project. It feels as though hours have passed, but when I look at the clock, it’s only been ten minutes. Therefore, by the end of a single-tasking, man-brain day, I can easily tick off a few things of the list.

Over all, the boxes that were opened most often, (in order, most often opened to least often opened) were –

Work Box

Social Media Box

Personal Box

Relationship Box

Nothing Box

Mission Box

Personal Box

Creativity Box

Domestic Box

So would I do it again? To be honest, I’m thinking of keeping the boxes going for another week, because even just dividing all of the things I need to do into boxes was a calming exercise. Because I didn’t have to keep all of these things in my brain all at the same time, and I certainly didn’t have to worry about what was in the Social Media Box while I had my Work Box open. Also, this system had the added benefit that I would ignore the washing up if the Domestic Box wasn’t open, and as a result, my partner has done a lot more washing up this week than normal. Result!

Another revelation this week (that was confirmed by my partner to be true) that the reason why men aren’t very good with getting cards or presents for birthdays, anniversaries or holidays, and are usually found buying things the day before or on the day itself, is because the box for that particular celebration IS NOT OPEN UNTIL THE ACTUAL DAY! What a realisation this was! I never understood why men just seemed incapable of remembering to send birthday cards or buy presents. It’s something of a relief to know that it’s not because they simply don’t care enough to plan something in advance – it’s just that their brain does not work in a way that allows them to. Also, once you have celebrated something (whether it was on the actual date or not) in the man’s brain, it’s now done. Therefore when I had my birthday party on the 18th, in my partner’s eyes, I had celebrated my birthday, it was over. So when I wanted to go out for the day on my actual birthday, the 20th, it made no sense to my partner. Which would explain why it took him a little while to get into the spirit of it.

What are your thoughts? I know that this week has allowed me to understand men a little better, and to also cut them a little slack, because the way they are is not based on selfishness or being unkind or uncaring, it is just their nature, the way their brains work. It’s also taught me not to ask my partner to do something if it’s completely unrelated to the task his is doing in that moment, because chances are, he won’t remember to do it, because he’s in a different box!

I will write another update next week, let’s see how productive I can be in the next seven days!

The Man-Brain Box Experiment

My boyfriend sent me this video on Facebook yesterday, and it made me laugh a lot. Mainly because it was SO TRUE. It’s not that we are from different planets – it’s that men and women’s brain are simply structured in completely different ways. So go watch the video, then come back (it’s 10 mins long, but so worth it, I promise).

So this morning, I’m helping my boyfriend with his latest mad creation (to be revealed soon) and we start talking about male and female brains, and he tells me all about his boxes, and how he really doesn’t get to spend enough time in his Nothing Box. The box that most women, (including myself) don’t even realise exists.

This is my interpretation of the brain structure from watching the above video:

male and female brains

Then several realisations hit me. This is why men can’t multi-task, because that would mean opening several boxes at once, and this is why women can’t help but multi-task – because everything is connected. This is why focusing on one thing at a time seems impossible to a woman, but essential to a man. If you’re a female reading this, you will know what I mean when I say that I will be in full creative flow, then I need a drink of water, so I go downstairs, and on the way I pick up the washing basket. Then I put on a load of washing, and hang up the wet washing in the kitchen by the fire. Then there’s no clean glasses, so I do the washing up, because if I’m washing one glass, I may as well wash the rest, then I clean down all the counters, and finally, I get the glass of water, and head back upstairs to my office. By now, anything from 30 to 40 minutes (sometimes more) has passed. And perhaps the creative juices have ceased flowing, perhaps it’s now time to start making dinner, or to call a relative, or a friend pops up on Facebook. Whereas when a man is in the middle of something and he needs a drink, it will take him two minutes to go to the kitchen and get one. Or, he’ll get someone else to get it for him, so he doesn’t have to stop. Or, even more likely, he will just forget to drink anything altogether because he is so focused on his task.

So what does all of this mean? I did say yesterday that I would post if I found a method of motivation that worked for me. So I have decided to do an experiment, for this week to start with, I may extend it if it works!

This is my Man-Brain Box Experiment. Now, because my own brain is a jumbled mass of wire, an internet browser with 30 tabs open, I need an external, visual representation of the boxes. So, I have created these:

Man-Brain Boxes

Notice how they’re not touching?

These tiny Really Useful Boxes are labeled with the different categories that take up my attention during my waking hours. Each box is filled with bits of paper (because according to my boyfriend, each box is divided into different sections) and on each bit of paper is an activity that comes under that category. The idea is, for the next week, I will only have one box open at a time, and I have to focus all of my attention on whichever activity I have picked out of that box. I will not have several boxes open at once.

For example, the box that is currently open is this one:

Social Media Box

So instead of trying to enforce a schedule where I have to do things at certain times, I will just limit myself to focusing on one activity at a time. Now, if another activity comes up while I am doing something else, I will just write it on a piece of paper and put it in the appropriate box, to be completed when that other box is open. It sounds like a bit of a mad experiment, but from past experience, I know that when I have focused my attention and effort on one task at a time, not only do I complete things, but time slows down and overall I achieve more. Whereas at the moment, my attention is scattered across many different activities, and I spend a lot of time feeling overwhelmed by it all. I find that when I get to the end of the day, there is very little I can cross off my to-do list because I have done a bit of everything, and not completed any one thing.

It’s not that I want to be a man, I’m quite happy being female, but I think that this experiment could possibly have two benefits – the first is that I might understand men a little better by the end of it. And the second is that I might become more productive, less stressed out, and less overwhelmed on a daily basis. I’m hoping it will also slow time down a little, as it seems to be rushing by way too quickly.

So I will post my progress, I would love to hear what you think of the experiment, and whether you would be up for trying it too. I will also try to keep note of which boxes I open the most, and I will let you know if I ever manage to get into my Nothing Box!