The first thing I need to do is get some control over what’s going on. I think that’s a human reaction to massive change and uncertainty, even if I may sometimes be a bit control-freaky. I just like things in a certain order, and now the order I had is all gone. And that feeling of disorder is part of what I’m fighting against.
So my first task, which I did on Sunday was to start getting things organized. That meant applying for unemployment, getting set up with food stamps, and going through all my automated payments, and trying to make decisions. I cancelled my kickstarters, except for one which is totally awesome. I cancelled some of the tools I use that have monthly payments: todo.ly for instance — it’s only $3, but I don’t need it anymore. The same is probably true of DropBox, since I only have the home network to share with anymore. I doubt I need all that space. I’ll probably clear it out today and shut down the service there. [And, frankly, I’ll probably go to Google Drive if I need the space again, it’s cheaper/GB.]
I set down a schedule for the work I need to do, giving myself four major projects: getting a job, finishing and publishing a video game, finishing and publishing my writing (on Amzaon), and getting the house in shape (particularly my office). That’s a lot of work, and maybe more than I had going before since I was just idling away at these tasks, and now I’m ramping them up. I do better with too much work than too little — one of the problems I was having (exacerbated by the budget crisis there) was that I just didn’t have enough work to do to keep me busy and engaged. I won’t have that problem as my boss, in fact it’s just the opposite.
I’ve decided to use Any.do for tasks, as it looks great on my Nexus 7. I’m using Joe’s Goals as well, as it serves a different function. Basically, Any.do is a task list, with folders/projects that have specific tasks and goals in them. (The trick is making these the right size, so they’re all about the same energy cost.) Joe’s Goals is more like a checklist — you list things you want to do every day or on a schedule, and when you do them, you give yourself a check mark. Some of my goals are “Do a Get Hired Task” or “Write 300 words”. I can look at the total number of checkmarks for a day, and I can know whether I had a good day or not. And that’s how I can give myself permission to relax and enjoy myself.
Because we can work our butts off trying to accomplish something — and feel like failures until we do accomplish it. Or we can set reasonable goals, and take care of our needs. Needs which include time with family, time relaxing and recuperating from the stress of work. Just like programmers shouldn’t be working 10 hour days 7 days a week, you can’t either. But the thing about being unemployed is that it never, ever leaves your mind. No matter what you are doing, what you aren’t doing is earning any money. And you know that, and it hurts.
So you want to play cards with your daughter? You can’t do it, or you can’t do it and not feel guilty. Or, you can set reasonable goals, and know you did enough that day, and give yourself permission to enjoy life. You’ll need that recharge to keep things going in the long run. And you have to plan for the long run — if things work out in a week or two, no big deal; but you can’t count on that. Doing this and having things work out early is awesome. Not doing this and having it not work out: totally not awesome.