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Has Something Ever Taken Longer than You Thought it Would?

Last updated on November 17, 2020

Lockdown?

A project?

Anything at all?

I’m cackling to myself that I had thought that I’d have finished two book proposals I’ve been working on for ages AND have taken my drivers theory test so I can start taking actual lessons by now.

Both book proposals were almost ready to go in February but, well, 2020…

When the jury service I rearranged three weeks around was cancelled due to Lockdown 2, I decided to attempt to make the most of the space I’d created by allocating three hours a day to writing these book proposals.

I have no problem meeting deadlines ( a freelance journalist since 2004, I’ve always filed features and columns ahead of deadline) but these bigger projects were too easily lost amidst more urgent things.

And, of course, 2020!

It’s all very well thinking don’t just survive but thrive but many days, my focus has been very elusive.

If you’re interested, you can read more about my thoughts around self care and Black Lives Matter, Brexit and a self confessed sexual predator having been in the White House for nearly 4 years. Not to mention the climate emergency

Excuses, excuses, excuses. They’re some of mine. What about you?

What are you not focusing on because everyday life is getting in the way?

Everyday life is demanding!

Surviving is MORE than enough.

You’re doing amazingly.

AND, if you want to do more, what might be your equivalent of a lockdown writing retreat?

Delusions v reality

I’d planned to spend 3 hours a day and, in Week 1, to finish, polish and submit the first book proposal.

By Week 2, I’d be distracting myself for not necessarily (highly unlikely) having heard back from the agent I’m hoping to work with by focusing on the second book proposal.

And then, Week 3 would have been studying for and passing my theory test so I could apply for a provisional driving licence and start taking lessons when lockdown restrictions ease enough.

Oh. Also, I was going to make enormous inroads into the website issues I’ve been meaning to sort for MONTHS.

And instead of being disappointed in myself that I’m still very much working on the first book proposal, I’m pretty delighted by the progress I’ve made.

Even when I wrote my book, 365 Ways to Feel Better I did it in small chunks of time fitted around my private practice, other deadlines and life.

This is the first time I’ve consistently focused on something that wasn’t deadline driven, for 3 hours at a time, since… being an undergrad at Bangor University where much as I hated getting my exam results, I loved the actual exams.

That companiable silence.

Beautiful room.

Silence.

3 hours to write. Uninterrupted.

I no longer care that I consistently underestimate how long things will take me

Years ago, I interviewed the ever fantabulous Barbara Winter and she said something about things we’ve never done always taking longer than we expect because we’ve never done them so can’t know how long they’ll actually take.

Climbing the Reek is just ONE example in my own life.

If I’d known that would take close to 6 hours, I might not have done it.

If I’d known HOW long it would take me to move to Ireland, I might have talked myself out of that.

If I’d known how much work I had to do (and still have to do) on one let alone both book proposals, well…

Focus

But now I know how it feels to put my phones in another room for a 3 hour block each day, to actually feel that focus, I like it!

I no longer have three hour chunks to devote to non commissioned writing each day but I can do it for an hour and make progress that way.

What about YOU?

If you suddenly had an equivalent of jury duty cancelled, what might float up from your unconscious mind as something you had been meaning to do for ages and might finally find some time and energy for?

List everything.

Your ‘jury duty’ might be childcare, suddenly having access to some time where adorable (and often challenging) baby humans aren’t dependent on YOU for their survival for even an hour or two.

What would you DO? (Assuming that in this magical imaginary universe, you’ve caught up on sleep).

Maybe it’s another kind of commitment.

Whatever’s stopping you, allow yourself to imagine the possibilities if you won – like I felt I’d won – the time lottery.

You don’t need to suddenly upend your life to prioritise it but you can start making tweaks to your schedule to give yourself more of a taste of what you’d love to be focusing on.

With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

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