I was thinking, yesterday, of preparation. It’s not something I have a really good grasp of outside of very formal or important situations, mainly because I seem to think that people, on the whole, don’t have to do much preparation to get smaller things done in their lives.
Like get dressed in the morning.
I know I stress less if I don’t have to make choices when my mind’s not up to speed, which is the majority of a morning. I can if the scope is limited (find error in text, fix error in text) but not if the scope is open (I literally have twelve different top combinations I can put on for work this morning OH GOD NO).
I’ve done that sort of thing before — prepping wardrobe at an hour where my brain’s warmed up and okay with picking things out — though I often fall out of the practice for any number of reasons. But yesterday I was thinking about preparation for tasks that are more complex than picking out clothes but far, far less complex than preparing for, say, a sword grading.
Like, for just about anything else that I do. I used to game my brain by approaching things i needed to do in a shallow spiral, so as not to kick up oppositional refusal. I might know I need to wash the dishes, but if I attempt a frontal approach, I get angry and overwhelmed (I know! Overwhelmed at dishes, what kind of bullshit is that) and won’t actually do it. But if I just go into the kitchen, and then, you know, wash a glass ’cause I need it, then, well, I’m aready there and I don’t have to do everything that’s in the sink and that’s when the dishes get done by me.
But for things that don’t trigger a resentment response, but instead an anxiety response — a feeling of inadequacy or errors yet to be committed — this prep angle sounds like it might just work.
For example, the primary source translating I do. I usually “sneak up” on it by opening up the appropriate PDF while working on a bunch of other things, and then let myself get drawn into the text. But that’s not ideal because I don’t have as much control over what part of the text snags me, and I usually end up working until I’m overtired and that has its own negative consequences.
Instead, I was thinking I could spend a little time specifically searching out a reasonable chunk of text — two, maybe three pages — of a passage that’s immediately relevant, and clip those pages into a separate file. My job is to translate those bits. If I want to do more, that’s fine, but I’m only responsible for this small number, which helps prevent the anxiety-overwhelm reaction that makes my brain static roar up and turns me useless for a while. I am pre-limiting the scope of things I want to do so I’m making fewer decisions and taxing the executive bits of my mind less.
I’m sure that for most of you this is blindingly obvious — there may be many of you thinking that someone who appears reasonably intelligent can’t possibly believe this is a new or novel concept that requires trying out. Well, let me welcome you to the land of impaired executive function. If it looks to you like it sucks, I assure you it sucks more than it looks.
At any rate, I’ll try this over the next few days and see if the benefits outweigh the effort required, thereby insuring I continue to do this sort of thing with low resentment. Resentment makes me quit doing a lot of things.