You will be fine

I just had another bucket poured out over me. (I wrote elsewhere about things happening in bulk. Now I like to think about them happening in buckets.)

A bucket of feeling low, having no motivation and being terribly unproductive. I was supposed to do certain things but I couldn’t get enough motivation to do them, so I basically wasted a good amount of days doing nothing.

I hated myself for that.

Which didn’t really make things much better. On the contrary. When you hate yourself, it’s even harder to get yourself motivated again to do something. And as the days slipped by, as the to-do lists got longer and as the procrastination got worse, I sank deeper into the hole I was in, and my feeling of guilt grew.

Until I remembered two things.

One: The best way out is always through. Robert Frost.

So I waited. I sat it out. I meandered through the low days, knowing that this was the best way to overcome them and get my motivation back.

I knew that at some point I would become bored of my own boredom and be inspired by something again. I had to force myself through it to get out of it.

It’s like walking in a tunnel and you don’t see the end yet, but you know there is no diversion, you must walk on until you see the light at the end.

Two: You will be fine.

Or as Leo Babauta writes: You’ll Be OK. Feeling low, unmotivated, uninspired is a phase that shall end and afterwards I will have even learned something.

This post is the best proof for it. It’s about the lessons I learned in a really low phase.

We all get stuck in painful situations, definitely much more painful than just being uninspired.

A break-up. The death of someone close. An accident. Financial problems. An argument with someone. These are all terrible things that nobody wants to be in, including myself.

But if stuck in such a situation, be sure that there is something that can sooth our sore souls, heal our wounds and give us enough strength and inspiration to keep walking through it.

In a self-discovery course I realised that avoiding pain is human, but going back to some pain from the past and exploring it – carefully, lovingly and only with the best intentions – can teach us some tremendous lessons about ourselves.

In retrospective, things look a bit smaller than at that time when we are stuck inside the mess. If we keep that in mind, as hard and old-fashioned it may sound, then the mess we are in right now is a bit easier to endure.

Even if later you will not laugh about it, you may be able to learn, so wait, sit through it, take care of yourself, gather the pieces afterwards and put them together in a new order.

What did you learn from a moment you were really low? And what helped you through? Let me know in the comments.

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How to get work done

when you happen to be in the tropical rainy season

Whether you are around the equator or somewhere else, there are times when being productive is harder than usual due to certain circumstances.

June and July are the coldest months here in Kenya. In Nairobi, that means drizzling grey days and muddy streets. That not only drains the energy, but also has some side effects that call for adjustment in my working day.

But there is cure and it doesn’t matter where you are or how the weather is there – I am sure some of these hints can also help you get back into a productive working routine.

Calculate blackouts

Always have alternatives of what to do when the power goes as this might occur more regular in the rainy season. For me this includes working on my handwritten novel, knowing which veggies need to be cut or which beans need to be sorted for dinner or lunch. Also, letters are perfect to be written during blackout. I make sure to have my laptop fully charged all the time. In that way, I can still work for two more hours into the blackout.

It’s also crucial to back up your work regularly. Consider a smartphone. I am having one for a month now and if there is an emergency that needs internet I might be able to fix it via smartphone that has internet bundles.

Work in sprints

If it is not raining, I consider going out and getting the groceries for the day or some credit or at least some fresh air. I can also hang clothes or do bank stuff. There may be long periods in which I cannot leave the house without getting showered. As I work during these, I am trying to use the slightly dryer breaks to catch some air and get away from the laptop.

Stay positive

Grey skies and muddy paths are not the greatest happiness enforcers and accordingly, my work energy quickly is in danger to drown. So I make sure that I have enough cocoa at hand (the only addiction I allow myself), and maybe some cookies, some comfy clothes to not freeze (thanks Mum for the wrist warmers) and some good music. Photos or other visual stimulation also help, and candles if you like, to create a general positive working environment.

Don’t do it alone

I have invited friends to my place (because mine has wifi) and we will work alongside or on projects together. They keep me company, definitely help the whole stay-positive issue and if they are working, I can’t go on straying through the internet, but better also do some serious work. It’s encouraging to have others around.

This is how I work during rainy season. Where are you working from? And how do you make it happen there? Tell me in the comments below!

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Lessons learned in November

of which one is how to overcome laziness and tiredness

November saw my attempt to go out more, to connect more with real people, to see more of the town. I called it the Outgoing November Challenge. I am happy and proud to have inspired some readers, and I am amazed by the outcome it had for myself.

Here is what I have learned:

  1. Going out is very hard.

I seem to have no problem with approaching people, which is easy to be content with when I am in my safe comfort zone. Yet leaving my appartment is always a big effort. I usually wonder whether it will be really worth it. I stress about what to carry and when to leave, I become anxious about wether I will be able to find the place…

Whenever I leave the house, it’s like climbing a high wall that I have put up myself in front of the door. I wouldn’t say I am an introvert or afraid of the town. It just takes me a lot of effort to leave my comfort zone.

  1. Going out is totally worth it.

But once I am out, things usually go smoothly and often become amazing. In November, I met old and new friends, I had fruitful conversations, I saw inspiring places and beautiful performances. I had a lot of ideas and started to put some into action.

I will absolutely continue going out and pushing me out of my own comfort zone, because it is so enriching, no matter what the financial and emotional effort.

  1. I cannot manage time, but I can optimise my energy.

The Outgoing November Challenge surely took a lot of time from me. Going to town usually takes an hour or more. And Nairobi stresses me out. Big time! When I am back from town, all I want to do is sleep. I had so much exposure and experience that I am totally overwhelmed. Partly, but not only in a good way.

To get the energy then to still blog about what I experienced or even think of opening my email inbox is very hard. Yet, in November, I managed to continue the blog and the facebook page, did some online courses and even wrote a novel!

It depends on whether I let my feelings overwhelm me and knock me down, or whether I ignore that it is already ten pm and I am tired, and instead optimise my energy. I realised if that blog post needs to go online the next morning, tiredness or headache simply don’t count as an excuse.

How do you overcome lazyness and tiredness? Let me know in the comments below.

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