Daily Life, Fairy-Tale Style

First, a funny meme:

ADHD cleaning

Point-to-point distraction is a huge problem when I start life chores, but guess what?

I KNOW THE SUPER-SEKRIT WINNING STRATEGY to overcoming it, thanks to my unprofessional, unscientific, non-analytic studies on the subject. And because I’m so generous, Imma share it with you today.

Here it is: life is a series of fetch quests.

Once you know that, you know the third task past the first is a trap, and you can avoid it.

How can I say this with such confident certainty? Well. Thank my parents for giving me so many fairy tales wherein the protagonist had to quest for item after item, then wind back through a long line of exchanges to the beginning to get their prize.

There is always a turning point several quests into the journey. ALWAYS.

If you want to reach your day’s happy ending, turn back at the fourth victory and begin tracking back to the original quest. Otherwise you are DOOMED.

I’m not saying that’s easy. Simple things rarely are.

(I know it isn’t always the fourth quest in the classics — but three-plus-one is a powerful number, and I did mention this being unscientific, right? Right. So. Back to the POINT.)

The fetch-quest model works (for me) because it puts adrenaline-craving and competitiveness into harness together. When aimed at a shared goal, they’re strong enough to haul my interest-motivated ass away from all the shiny things and drag me down the road to home. YMMV, but never underestimate the power of WINNING.

Once I complete the work that earns me a gem from the Goblin King, I know to decline the promise of riches for the easy follow-up task they offer. That quest will surely lead to my destruction, and I ALREADY HAVE AN IN-GAME TROPHY TO COLLECT!

So I refuse the Goblin King’s tempting reward, turn back and retrace my steps to the dragon’s lair, give him the gem in trade for the scale I will use to pay the wizard for the spell that releases the cursed bird from its cage so she can sing the song that releases my love from their enchanted sleep…

…or toss the freaking pens, take the list to the store for detergent, REFUSE TO BE SIDETRACKED INTO FIFTEEN OTHER ERRANDS, and come home to start the damned laundry.

Whichever. Point is, never ever take that fifth fetch quest. Eyes on the shiny, shiny prize.

The struggle is real.

That’s it in random observations for now. Until later!

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We’re off on another quest!
Image by Elias Sch. from Pixabay

Reaching me: A Primer

This is a followup to my “Imma stop feeling guilty about dodging the gotta-be-visible-gotta-react-gotta-be-involved 24/7 noisefest that is modern life” post.

I keep channel preferences for my regular contacts. Some only do phone calls. Others prefer in-app contact only for privacy reasons. This is my guide to me.

Read on if you’re bored or interested in “How To Reach KM 101.”  Listed in no particular order. I’m not quite two velociraptors in a raincoat, but I am complicated.

Email

If  you send an email, I will get it. If you ask a question in email, I will answer. If you do not specify a need-by date, it might take a week or two for me to work through my sweaty-hands aversion to dealing with communications, but it will get answered. Gmail is very good about gently reminding me when I’ve failed to respond to people.

Also, I don’t lose emails the way I do texts. And they’re searchable. Which is nice. Important/ permanent/ information-dense conversations are best sent through email.  Need my email? You can contact me through the HANDY CONTACT PAGE right here on the site. kmherkes at dawnrigger.com will work too. 

Texts

I love texts. They are like email but less cluttered and more readily accessible, they lend themselves to quick exchanges, and they support low-sensory notifications on all my devices. I can ignore or dismiss the alerts easily unless I want to check them.

But. BUT!

I may or may NOT answer, depending on whether the text hitting my eyeballs successfully bridges my attention gap and reaches my brain.

If I haven’t responded in a day, I am not ignoring you, I LOST THE TEXT OR FORGOT IT EXISTED. Seriously. This happens a lot, because texts are so easy to glance at, and when I see a badge, I MUST-CLICK-NOW-BRIGHT-SHINY it even if it’s a bad time.

And yes, I can forget super-important things. I failed a college class because I forgot when the class started and missed my final presentation after a 16-week long research project. Yeah. Showed up an hour late.

A text I saw while doing something else? 50-50 chance of registering it. Less, prolly.

There’s a popular analogy about swans gliding along but paddling furiously under the water where no one sees it. That’s where my “collection of dinosaurs inside a person suit” description comes in. I am bloody confusion wrapped inside a fragile disguise.

ANYway. I digress, as one does.

Lack of response is stressful and feels like rejection, I know this, I stress when it happens to me. If I could be different about this, I would be. But I’m not. As I am wrestling with accepting it, so will the rest of the world.

Texts are also a good way to start a conversation that will be honestly faster to hash through by voice, like “pls call when convenient, I want to talk about <insert topic>

(but note that failing to add a topic addendum is a surefire anxiety-inducer. FYI.)

Phone call (if I’m not expecting to hear from you)

You must be a relative or someone I’ve established a calling relationship with, because my phone only rings for a dozen or so people. Nothing ruins my ability to think straight like an unexpected call. Even if I let it go to voice mail (a massive victory of willpower) my concentration is shot for at least an hour. No. Joke.

Avoiding those disruptions is the reason my phone is often buried somewhere when I’m at home or work. Talking on the phone (including video calls) is The Worst. Always has been, always will be.

To be fair, “OMG, I’m late, I’m stuck in traffic can’t text,” is a good call to receive. And I will get a message if you leave one. Eventually. Unless I call you back before I listen because I’m worried about you. Which is 100% likely.

But if it isn’t an emergency, I’m unlikely to call back unless explicitly requested.  More likely I’ll text.

Social Media messaging

I’m not going to say, “Don’t do it.” I will point out that I do not have social media apps installed on my mobile thingies, which means no alerts for Twitter DM’s or FB Messenger unless I am sitting at one specific computer. So…if you use these, it’s possible I won’t see your message until days later. Or that I’ll click the notification badge because it bugs me but didn’t process the message itself, because MUST-CLICK-NOW-BRIGHT-SHINY is a completely different brain activity than reading.

Like texting, lack of response means I didn’t see it in any meaningful way.  Obliviousness. I can haz it.

And social media itself

I will remain on Facebook & Twitter, or via Instagram (as I like to call it, “photo-friendly Facebook”) wall-flowering on the sidelines. Posts will happen. Living on display is comfortable for me. Recording my doings makes me happy. That’s why I’ve had a blog forever. And I can read posts without getting sucked into infinite scrolling–it’s the processing & responding that sucks me in, not the information itself.

Please know I will still see you. All of you. I care. I feel for your sorrows and losses. I am cheering for your victories.

I just…can’t even, with clicking one more thumbs up or heart or sad-face, and I am done apologizing for being unable to do so without draining my own self to the dregs.

So then. All this is being mentioned as due diligence.  Since I am not producing a high reaction to post ratio or clocking much in-app time, I expect to be invisible on Facebook and lost in the hubbub on Twitter. And I’m okay with that.

At some point I will dig deeper into the WHY of all this. Because I do love talking about whys & wherefores.

Until later, all.

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Reach out and wait for someone (me)

This post is about communication. Synchronous versus asynchronous.

Asynchronous is a lovely word. (I may be alone in thinking this.)  It fills the mouth when I say it. Sounds a wee little bit naughty. Ay-SIN-crow-nuss. It’s a  word that looks like it wants to be turned over and have its meaning thoroughly investigated, but also one that might claw me up if you try to rub its belly.

BUT I DIGRESS.

Here’s the thing. I loathe synchronous communication with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns. It spikes my heart rate, clutters my forebrain, agitates the muddy bottom of my brain, and generally renders me useless for quiet thought for a long time afterwards.

And unfortunately for me, modern life is one, big, perpetual synchronous party.

Want some definitions? At its simplest, asynchronous communication is reaching out to someone else with zero expectation of immediate response. Some examples:

  • Snail mail aka the old-fashioned postal letter
  • Voicemail on a landline phone answering machine
  • Email (in theory, anyway.)

And now, some channels commonly used for synchronous communicating (listed in order of increasing stress for me…)

  • Text messages to a mobile phone
  • Twitter & Twitter DMs
  • Slack
  • Discord
  • Voicemail to a mobile phone
  • Voice calls
  • Facebook & FB Messenger

All these channels can be used to communicate asynchronously, and some–texts and voicemail, in particular–are specifically designed to be asynchronous. But in practice, they encourage and reward immediate response in not-so-ignorable ways.

And that critically damages my calm.

Partly it’s my crow-like personality.

App badges, little dots next to names, screen banners, counters, blinking lights…I cannot ignore their existence. THEY SHINY MUST CLICK. Peckpeckpeckpeckpeck. Gotta have ’em all.

Every notification system I can turn off, is turned off. My mobile phone runs in silent mode 24/7, so I get no calls except from a select few unless I am expecting a critical, time-dependent call.  I turn off every social media alert the platforms allow.

Several factors continue to work against me.

First, possibilities distract me as much as the reality.

If there might be a message or comment or reaction out there, the possibility pulls me away from doing other things  to check for a response over and over and over…and then I end up media surfing for hours for the serotonin kick of watching new content scroll past and seeing new notifications appear.

Some people can set aside communications for a certain number of hours per day or minutes per hour, or to certain times of day. For me, that’s pointless. Yes, social media platforms are designed to take advantage of my look-shiny-must-click impulse, but blocking it simply creates a different distraction. The infinite maybe is equally exhausting. (Twitter is the least problematic forum for me, possibly because it also allows/encourages/supports asymmetric relationships.)

Second, knowing I COULD respond jumps up and down on my guilt and shame buttons and becomes SHOULD.  And it makes me expect the same immediacy from everyone else in the world, which truly isn’t fair and increases everyone’s stress.

Yes, up at the floaty rational top of my brain, I know most people tagging, posting, commenting, texting, or even calling do NOT expect an immediate or timely response. And I know everyone misses things, just like I do. No one cares that much about my input. Everyone else has busy lives and problems too.

Seriously. I do know these things.

Yet my conscience still tells me I am horrible if I ignore texts or emails or posts in my timeline. When I fail to reply to a comment, text or message, deep down, I feel mean and selfish. And that leads to feeling lost and sad when no one responds to things I post or send. And since new material is always coming in, the emotional maintenance cost on this guilt load gets huge. Talk about a distraction.

So here’s the meaty part: I’m officially adopting an asynchronous lifestyle.

Professionally this is a dicey move, but my outsize need for Quiet Mindful Time simply does not play well with the idea of 24/7 immediate access and interaction. It’s clear that as long as I accept the modern idea that availability is necessity, I am SUNK. So I plan to get comfortable with having a reputation as “quiet and hard to reach.”

In practice I’ve been half-assing this strategy for a long time, but it’s only worked in fits & spurts because it was grounded in avoiding temptation, rather than actively rejecting the availability premise.

This isn’t about limiting my online presence as such.  It’s about managing expectations. I am building a blanket fort and sitting down in it. So to speak. 

Anyway.

Please don’t get angry about future  delays in replies and lack of online participation. Recall that once upon a time, not so very long ago, it was NORMAL to wait hours or days between episodes of interaction.

Maybe no one will mind at all. Probably no one will care. I’m probably worried about nothing. The hard part is convincing myself it’s okay.

Imma go work on that now. Next post will have some practical details and particulars.

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Random cute cat

Image by sipa from Pixabay