How to get out of the "I can't get anything done" phase

I was stuck in that phase for a while, and here’s how I am solving it. I assumed the problem was due to lack of any money whatsoever, lack of people who cared about the things I cared about, lack of human beings to “bounce things off of,” complete physical exhaustion, and inability to sleep at night. I suppose inability to clean house due to exhaustion contributed to it all, and I couldn’t see anything anyway. So I felt like anything I tried was falling flat. I often wrote things down on paper but lost the papers fairly quickly in the rubble called “my desk” since what I had for a desk got packed up and moved so many times, or simply thrown out. Sometimes, I’d find all my things in a huge, out-of-control pile and say, “My god, has it come to this?” I remembered my mother’s life got like this, too.

I remember just how that happened for her. She mistakenly thought that she had to print out every single email she had received. You guessed it, she printed out all the ads, all the spam, every single junk mail, and then, she believed she had to respond to all of it and then, keep these papers. I went over there and explained that it was okay to toss them, and please not print them, that email is meant to be electronic only. Poor Mom!

So I try to eliminate my own piles. I don’t have a lot, but I have some. I don’t want my life to get like that. I don’t want some well-meaning do-gooder to come in here and call me “mentally incompetent” based on a few sloppy-looking piles. The very thought of it scares the shit out of me, and actually, it scared the shit out of so many elderly people I knew that they kept their homes impeccable even though on the inside, they were a bundle of nerves, scared to death that their own families would “put them away.” My Grandma Dottie often felt that way, I knew this, not from my dad, but there was this unspoken friction between her and my mom. It was there all my life. Much had to do with economics, which embarrassed the heck out of us kids.

I do have “piles.” Do you? Do your embarrassing “piles” hold you back? Mine did, and I never realized it. Even when these weren’t quite apparent nor visible, my figurative piles held me back. I wanted to do everything for everyone, get involved with all sorts of causes. I wanted to save the whole world, but I wanted to do this in ten million different ways.

I have news for you. You can’t do that. Pick one way, or two, no more. You can’t do ten projects, or I couldn’t. This, to me, is why people who work, or people who go to school, appear more productive.  They are working on one or two projects and nothing else. So while in school, you drop all other projects and you are working on “thesis” or “degree.” If you are enjoying your studies and getting a quality education the feeling is truly awesome. If you are working on a writing project or art project, then you are engaged in that, and others need to respect this, too, just the same as they’d respect anyone else who is “at work.”

It took getting truly scared about losing my life a bit ago to dehydration from that Oven to realize I needed to pare down. Yes, I would have died there, me and Puzzle, and that, my friends, not only scared the poop out of me, but also helped me straighten out my act and I am grateful for that. What are YOU waiting for? Why wait another minute to LIVE? Why next year? Why not now?

I asked myself how much longer did I have to live…and figured I needed to get certain things done, and no more. How much longer does anyone have? Whether you are 20, or 30, or 50, or 80, it doesn’t even matter. Live. If you continue to put off your life till “someday,” or, “when I get the money,” you will not get anywhere. I had to learn that. I don’t want to die waiting for the money to come in, do you?

1. Set more realistic goals. “I want to save $1,000” sounds like too much to me. I can’t, can you? I can save a ten peso coin now and then and put that in a jar. Have you ever put pennies in jars? That’s a far cry from $1,000 USD. Get real.

2. Have goals you will take action on NOW, not someday. “I will have a great job someday” sounds nice, but unless you go apply or look for that job, or write up a nice-looking resume, you aren’t going to get close to getting that great job.

3. If there’s a challenge in your life, take action, don’t waste time “talking about it.” I cannot believe the proliferation of “support groups” and the listings of “therapists” for people with various real life problems. Many of these problems can be solved easily, but folks keep talking for years, and not taking action. Therapists are pocketing bundles of money off of your procrastination, and in fact, doing you more harm than good.

While it’s true, sometimes you do indeed need “someone to talk to,” more often, you need to stop talking and start acting, and you are using talking as just one more excuse to not live your life. How many more years are you going to spend doing that?

Another is the “work rehab” situation or “clubhouse.” For godsakes, just go get a job, don’t even waste your time in those mental health ghettos allowing the bad habits of other patients rub off on you. You don’t need “sheltered.”  I found the whole concept of “sheltered” so insulting I ran away as fast as I could. I never wanted “supported education” and found the idea insulting.

Stop beating around the bush and just go for it directly. Apply for something you can realistically obtain, not something too lofty or expensive, leaving off the unnecessary bits that will only harm you by labeling you further, such as “sheltered” and “special needs.” You’ll be glad you did.

4. Use ADA accommodations and any Welfare services as LITTLE as possible. They’ll tell you to get maximum benefits. I say, no. Take the least and leave the rest for those that need it. Think about how beautiful the concept is. Sharing, right? Those accommodations are for truly sick people, such as your grandmother who can’t climb stairs anymore, or someone who can’t see, or a child who has 12 seizures a day and cannot ride the school bus. Leave accommodations for those that truly need them. Same for benefits. I’m shocked at the number of people who used the paratransit in Boston who did not need it, or who only needed it for a few months and then, renewed it illegally and milked it for years. To me, that’s stealing from those that truly need that service, and it’s disrespectful as well. I knew folks who milked the food stamp system, too. Why steal from others? Why fake a disability for the benefits? Use as few as possible.

I had to learn how to re-story the whole Welfare idea many times in my life. A huge theme for me for decades was the struggle between my parents and the State. Who would win? If my parents were to pay my way, this meant they got picky over every penny. I got sick of that fast, plus it embarrassed me once I got much past 21 or so. Because psychiatry insisted I was “incapable,” what was I to do for money? The struggle between “ward of my parents” and “ward of the State” was a constant battle for me. Is it a battle for you, too? For me, leaving the country sure blew that one out of the water. Not only that, I showed everyone I sure didn’t need psychiatry nor therapy in my life.

5) Okay, this is the last one. Number 5. Now that you have pared it down to immediate and workable goals, and only one or two you are to do RIGHT NOW (and I expect you to hop to it immediately), if the goal will take more than a day, decide how much can be done REALISTICALLY just today. Now, write down what you will do. Go for it, okay? Afterward, tell me about it and congratulate yourself. Tomorrow, do it again, but let’s worry about that tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “How to get out of the "I can't get anything done" phase”

  1. You had that struggle too? I often feel like I’m being pulled to pieces by my parents and the mental “health” system. Maybe I should leave the country. I feel like I don’t need benefits except for one small problem…I haven’t been gainfully employed for 20 years and no one will give me a chance now. I could become an entrepreneur, but don’t have the guts to promote myself shamelessly, or any expertise or know-how in particular to sell people.

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