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Thread: Feeling overwhelmed by small tasks

  1. #1
    Hasta Siempre Madrigal's Avatar
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    Feeling overwhelmed by small tasks

    Going to the bank. Paying a bill. Getting the drippy faucet fixed. Making a phone call. Sending an invoice. Signing up for something. Unsubscribing from another. Any kind of paperwork. Little things that you need to do as a functional member of society.

    Why's it so hard? I once heard it described as a "problem connecting to the world." Isolation, avoidance, defensiveness. I heard it referred to as immaturity or even depression. I dunno what it is but the dread is in the thought of it - it's no big deal to actually do any of this. Yet it seems like doing one little thing will activate something huge and unknown. Being responsible? Is that just it? Should I give myself so little credit? I don't know why these things make me so uncomfortable.
    Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent. - Mao

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    Member MoneyJungle's Avatar
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    I felt that way for most of my life until the last few months. I wish I knew what changed*. I have a sort of dread that it's my native state to which I'll eventually return so I've been hyper vigilant about that stuff lately. I don't think I'm any less depressed but it's nice to have it swept under the rug, at the very least.

    The terrifying part about having all the ducks in a row is I'm left with the big problems I was ignoring in favor of focusing on how terrible a person I was for procrastinating with the car registration. I'm profoundly lonely and I worry that I'm too set in my ways to change that. I've worried about this in some ways over the last few years but I was really devoting more focus to quotidian loose ends that I don't leave hanging anymore.

    It could be also be possible that the big problem has gotten so overwhelming that it forces me to shred documents to drown out my internal monologue.

    *It probably makes me sound like a lunatic, but I read this book on tidying up your home, implemented the system verbatim and I have a profound sense of freedom because of it. Everyone to whom I bring this up is profoundly not interested but it works for me!

    Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?

  3. #3
    You have to pace yourself. I try to do one of those things a day. Sometimes I actually succeed. If not there's always tomorrow.

  4. #4
    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Yeah. I can definitely relate. It's absurd. I don't have any answers other than fighting myself to stop letting myself put things off till tomorrow what I have time to do immediately.

    But I definitely have issues that step in my way.


    @MoneyJungle: I'm going to give the book a shot. I don't imagine it will have much in the way of new information, but sometimes what you need isn't a new method but a different perspective. From looking at some reviews, it seems it falls in line with things I'm already working at.

    I recently went through all my clothes and got rid of everything that either smelled odd to me, or just reminded me of things I didn't want to dwell on. I even got rid of some things I kinda still liked, just because they don't fit.

    It's so much easier to catch up on laundry when you only put half of it away. The rest I bagged and donated to a clothing collection box.

    Note: the stuff that I think stinks, stinks because I find the smell of many polyester textiles gross. But they're cheap and at the time, I needed long sleeved clothing.
    Every master plan has one overarching contingency that will be required for success: desenrascanšo. In light of this, it is tempting to skip the planning phase and just make desenrascanšo your master plan. I don't recommend this, but it has worked out for me in the past to an alarming degree. The problem is it keeps you too focused on the short term to ever improve your situation in the long.
    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

  5. #5
    Senior Member Spartan26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by last_caress View Post
    You have to pace yourself. I try to do one of those things a day. Sometimes I actually succeed. If not there's always tomorrow.
    Same. I'll at least have my admin times or plan ahead to mentally prepare myself. Today I had some insurance stuff, some updating of websites, reach out to professional contacts. I both feel like I got stuff done and didn't since stuff I wanted to work on I didn't touch. If I can line up a few things in a row it works better for me. I wanted to get more done yesterday but my friend who works nearby and is very helpful talks A LOT! What I don't pay in money I pay in time. Not that he's not a laugh a minute but adhering to schedule, such that they are, is somewhat important when a clock of LA traffic looms overhead. 'Crap, it's 3:15. Well, I guess I can try to leave here at 8 PM to make it there by 9 PM closing."

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    Member MoneyJungle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    @MoneyJungle: I'm going to give the book a shot. I don't imagine it will have much in the way of new information, but sometimes what you need isn't a new method but a different perspective. From looking at some reviews, it seems it falls in line with things I'm already working at.
    Yes! I really liked the book just as a book in itself. The author is an unapologetic zealot and just getting a peek inside her brain is worth the price of admission. It took me about four days of solid work to entirely implement the system but I've been completely free of clutter ever since I did, which is quite a divergence from my old ways. The real test will be making it through winter but I'm going quite strong for now.

    Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?

  7. #7
    non-canonical Light Leak's Avatar
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    I feel the same way about small tasks - and they're never ending. The annoying thing is when I actually do some of them I don't feel any better. This past weekend I was actually pretty productive and did a bunch of stuff that I've been meaning to do around the house, but I didn't feel like I had really accomplished anything once it was all done because I still have so much other stuff to do.

  8. #8
    Minister of Love Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madrigal View Post
    I dunno what it is but the dread is in the thought of it - it's no big deal to actually do any of this. Yet it seems like doing one little thing will activate something huge and unknown.
    Eh, in my experience saying these sorts of things around doctors will get you diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

    I get that, too, in spades, although I also get a lot of episodes where I try to sit down and do something and it is a big deal, like part of my brain refuses to cooperate with what the other parts are telling it to do. I still technically owe the school in Honduras some paperwork. Nothing critical, and they're unlikely to hound me for it, but I promised to do it and still haven't gotten it done because I get dizzy spells even thinking about doing it.

    I'm in the midst of a nasty bout of depression, for the record. I finally got in to a doctor yesterday and started up on meds again. So you might hate me for saying this, but what you're describing is extremely familiar to me. It took me months to come to terms with it being a relapse of my depression symptoms, but I'm pretty sure that's what it is, in my case.

    I've also parsed out the fear a bit in the past--for me it seems to be a fear that once I start doing any small task, that and the list of other tasks I have to do will expand in terms of the time and energy they require until the act of doing tedious things just becomes my life and swallows up everything else. I worry that there won't be time left for things I want to do on the other side of the unwelcome task, so I end up with the opposite of a rational response to the realistic awareness that sometimes things take longer than you expect. Instead of getting an early start on them, I feel an urge to avoid them if they aren't immediately necessary, because I know I can have free time to spare now but I'm worried that it will completely disappear in the process of being deferred to the post-task future.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptah View Post
    No history, no exposition, no anecdote or argument changes the invariant: we are all human beings, and some humans are idiots.

  9. #9
    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    it sounds like anxiety and isolation and possibly depression. part of isolation is when nobody's helping you out with the "little things," it feels like nobody cares and you can't count on anybody, even though you feel you should be able to. it really sux.
    the clouds in the sky caress my mind so tenderly

  10. #10
    आत्मन् Sappho's Avatar
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    I think "depression" might be a little strong for what might simply be a profound physical fatigue @Madrigal, like many people with a tougher disposition, hasn't been paying enough attention to. I experience similar days during which I marvel at how the majority of people manage to get up early every day, wash, dress, have breakfast, tidy up, go to work etc., and this over and over for fifty or sixty years... since it seems such a gargantuan effort. Often I'm in bed with a cold by the end of the same day or the next, so by now I've taken such thoughts as an alarm call to shift down a gear or two.

    It sounds trivial, but I've often found it helpful to lie down for five or ten minutes without any distractions, and think of nothing in particular. Some pampering at night after a long day probably doesn't hurt either – having a nicely scented bath (or a hot shower), curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea listening to foreign radio (but not the news, preferably), spending some quality time with a pet etc. Anything you can focus on completely and calmly should help you unwind, and make you feel a lot better about life the next day.

    If it doesn't work, you might need a holiday during which to get away from it all – even if it's just for a day or two.

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