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afraid to start afraid of being interrupted

afraid to start afraid of being interrupted2014-01-22T20:27:58+00:00

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    Post count: 20

    I had a successful career as an elementary teacher –  had no problems getting essential paperwork in on time – thrived on the energy of the kids in the class

    but since retiring everything is falling apart

    the worst thing is i am afraid to start anything – tidying up -decluttering – painting (art and walls ) because everytime i get into anything it seems to get interrupted

    i’ve tried the “just do it for 15 minutes” approach – that works for dusting but not for anything major – i crave 1-2 hour blocks of uninterrupted time to accomplish anything(like in a classroom) – but the interruptions are constant – phone calls from family that do need to be answered – and once off task i find it hard to get back on

    so i just don’t start in the first place

    i know i should but i just cant   i am so afraid of just getting focused and then getting interrupted






    Post count: 906

    Hi @malaika

    I know what you mean. When I get interrupted I either never get back to what I was doing or forget that I was doing it. And it feel like I am constantly interrupted, even though I actually have lots of time to do things.


    The 15 minute trick can work for larger jobs too. I have found it very helpful. What I do is break the job down into smaller steps, as small as possible, things that can be done in ten minutes, and I write it down. So instead of “Clean Living Room”, which seems like a daunting task that I just don’t know how to even start, I have something like this:

    1) Declutter: Pick up all papers and put in recycling, remove anything that doesn’t belong in the living room. (10 mins)

    2) Vacuum (5 mins)

    3) Dust: TV, chairs, walls, ceiling fan, china cabinet (10 mins)

    And so on. And I only spend 10 minutes on each job and then move on, whether I am finished or not. I can come back later and finish if necessary. But I have discovered that I almost always can finish each job within the set time.

    Now, that won’t work for something like painting the walls. But what I would suggest there is decide on a day that it is going to be done and then make sure there is nothing else to be done that day. Let the phone go to voicemail, don’t turn on the TV or the computer or anything else that might distract you.  Then make sure you are prepared before you start so that everything will go smoothly. Have all your supplies laid out ready to go, the furniture covered/moved etc. Then get started on it first thing, as soon as you are awake and feeling energetic enough. Don’t do anything else.

    I also sort of get myself psyched up when I have something big to do. For example, thinking about how the walls are going to look so nice with a beautiful fresh coat of paint on them, how it’s going to look so much better with the new colour, how good I’m going to feel when the job is done, etc.

    As for art, I’m open to suggestions. I rarely manage to get started on a project and never finish when I do.

    Also, take it easy on yourself. Do what you can and don’t worry about the rest. The more you worry the harder it will be to get started. If you are dreading it then you will automatically start to distract yourself and keep putting it off. You have to jump in and get started. There will be plenty of time to worry later. 🙂


    Post count: 158

    @malaika: How did you get through summers when you were still teaching? (I dread retirement because of what you describe.) School is so highly structured — yes, we have to plan to provide a lot of that structure, but a lot of it is external as well. Take away the structure….and it’s a free-floating muddle of unaccomplished stuff. That’s how my summers go anyway.

    What about adding external structure to at least some of your days? Like joining an artist group for open studio time or an art class. Then you have a deadline of sorts in your day. So for example, get the housework out of the way so you can get to your class on time. You will also thrive more with the social contact, even though they won’t have the same energy as a classroom full of 8 year olds 🙂

    And — phone calls can be managed…it’s okay to carve time out for yourself by turning off the ringer for 2 hours a day. They somehow managed when you were in the classroom all day;)

    I would love to hear how you find balance (and you will). Mainly for selfish reasons – I will retire eventually, and I shall have to be a little less terrified of it by the time I get there!


    Post count: 20

    dithl – thanks for the suggestions.

    Summers were basically one month to recover from the past year,  one month to get ready for the next, plus shuttling kids to camps, jobs, malls, and toss in a family vacation or two so summers did have routines

    year one of retirement was ok- i think i was still following the school time table so kind of had a routine, took breaks at “recess” time without even thinking about it

    i have taken art classes  and will take more- but at this point really need to practice on my own in order to progress

    (and get the house in order)

    and get focused enough to do that!







    Post count: 1

    I too struggle with this on a daily basis. I am a stay at home mom of a 4yr old and 3 mo old. It was a huge adjustment to go from working and knowing what was expected of me, to staying at home and having to be self sufficient. It took me nearly 3 years to figure out how to maintain a basic household routine. Now, with the new baby I feel like I am starting all over again due to her continuously changing schedule. It is hard not to get defeated when your “big new plans” seem to always fail.  I have a horrible habit of way overthinking things to the point I don’t accomplish anything because I’m too busy making detailed plans to do it all.  Like yourself, I seem to completely reset with every interruption and find it very difficult to get started back up again. It feels like I have to stop and get all my thoughts in a row again every single time.  One thing that has helped however is writing down everything that needs accomplished and prioritizing it. That way when I get interrupted I have something I can look at to get me back on track quicker. I also get bored easy with the every day chores and things so I usually pick the 2 highest priorities on my list and switch back and forth between the 2 every 15 min until one or both are accomplished. Then continue down the list. It keeps me from over focusing on one thing and actually makes me move a little quicker trying to get as much done as I can in the 15 min period.  Keep trying until you find what works for you and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t figure it out the first 100 tries because you are definitely not alone 😉


    Post count: 906


    Having a new born to care for is enough to throw anybody off track. But hopefully the joy outweighs the frustration. 🙂

    I am also not working at the moment. I decided to take some time off and get things done around the house. And after nearly 6 months I haven’t gotten any of those things done.

    Making a list, prioritizing it, and setting timers all work for me too. But only to a point. I haven’t been able to do it at all lately. I make the lists but then forget them entirely or end up shifting my focus to something else. Which is probably mostly because I have too many things that I really just do not want to do right now. They have to be done but I really wish someone else would do them.

    I over think everything. And I spend so much time making elaborate plans to do something that I never actually get it done. Especially around holidays and with bigger projects like redecorating the house. I will have a vision in my head of how perfect everything will be and then get so frustrated that it doesn’t turn out that way, usually because I sat around thinking about doing it until it was too late to actually do it. And the more I think, the bigger and more elaborate the plan gets. 

    And now I am beginning to understand why I do this. I am trying not to be too hard on myself, to give myself the time to adjust to my new discoveries about my ADHD and to get my medication adjusted and find what works for me. But beating myself up is an old habit and a hard one to break.

    Thank you for the reminder. We all need to be reminded from time to time that it’s okay to get it wrong the first 100 times. The 101st time’s the charm. 😉


    Post count: 4

    Hi Cassatt

    I have a friend who has ADHD and she told me when I was diagnosed that having a daily routine and making priorities really helps because it’s simplifying which makes her day more manageable .

    I too have a lot of things I like to do and I can get so caught in worry
    because their are so many hours in a day , that’s why I have started the habit of starting a daily routine for the whole week because it does allow me
    to consider what are my priorities vs my wants .

    Of course it’s not one size shoe fits all . This may approach
    may not work for you , but keep on exploring amd I am convinced
    that you will find something that is right for you .

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