Blapril and Staying Motivated

We are now into week five of Blapril and week seven of staying home in my part of the country.

The Blapril commeth

This week’s topic is about motivation and keeping it going.

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

And never was there a more on point topic to my mind.  Motivation is leaking out of me.  I feel tired all the time.  Were it not for some of the structure I have around my writing I might very well be blog fading.

And I feel a bit guilty about feeling like that.  Like a few other bloggers, I feel like I am one of the luckier ones in this season of pandemic.  I still have my job, I can do it from home fairly reliably, nobody in my family has caught the plague so far, and we have a sufficient supply of toilet paper and other essentials to carry on.

So what is the problem?

Even I, a pretty dedicated homebody, am starting to feel a bit of cabin fever.  This is not help by the fact that my wife’s job is essentially on hold, being on commission and all, and the school district is pretending to do “remote learning” which totals up to about 3 hours out of my daughter’s week, so the two of them… the outgoing pair in this house… are really feeling confined by this “stay at home” situation.  My daughter especially, being 18, a senior in high school, with a job, money, and a car at her disposal, she was really on her way to a fantastic senior year.

Now it is all shut down.  Stay at home, no prom, no grad night, no parties, no graduation, and it is feeling really unfair to her.  And that doesn’t even get to college starting.  She is dying to go away to school (and to get away from us, for which I cannot blame her) but, while the school is whistling a happy tune about everything being normal by the end of August, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to how this will really play out.  So she is on edge and doesn’t have enough meaningful or fun things to occupy her, which also goes for my wife, so they end up clashing.  Even the cats are on edge.  They know something is wrong.

Meanwhile, I am very busy.  My company is very much in demand right now and there is a push to move features along faster to support our customers.  Working from home isn’t new to me, but I spend most of my work time at the office where I have a nice desktop machine with a big monitor.  I generally plan my weeks around getting stuff done at the office and doing follow ups and admin work at home.  But now I am always home, have more work, and everything at home takes me about 20% longer to do because my work laptop is dinky and I am prone to interruptions.

And in the midst of this I keep hearing about all the stuff I should be doing with copious amounts of free time I should have now.  Shakespeare invented calculus and Newton wrote Hamlet during plagues and all that.  Even at work HR has been filling my inbox with all sorts of suggestions about to use all these extra hours I am alleged to have.  So I am starting to feel like I must be missing something as I feel like I have less free time, not more.

So I am at my desk at home from when I get up until the afternoon begins to wane.  It isn’t a lot more time than I would spend normally, if you count the hour round trip that was my commute, but the commute was kind of down time, a step away into my car to listen to an audio book as I rolled home.  And after spending that much time at my desk, the urge to then stay there and play video games or write a blog post is pretty weak.  I want to get up and go somewhere else.

There is a pool of time in my day that goes towards video games and blogging, and that pool has grown more shallow, and mostly at the cost of gaming.  The joy of ManicTime tracking my time is that I see I’ve spent about half of the time playing as I did last month, the March of forever.

That eventually starts to impact my writing.  As I wrote about five years back, the two are intertwined, to the extent that one might speculate as to whether I game to blog or blog to game.  If I game less then there is less to feed my blogging and then I spend more time sifting for topics and putting something together which reinforces the cycle.

Meanwhile time seems to be speeding up.  March seemed to last forever, and we were only stuck at home for half of it, while April seems to have zipped on by.  Or at least the free time I can find seems to be moving at top speed, weekends slipping past in a blink.

This is about the point where I have dug myself deep enough into a hole that I should start telling you about how I got out.  A pity I don’t have a pithy line or easy strategy to share.  In fact, all I’ve got is that I find I have to buckle down and force myself to have some fun to relax.

I can still find a bit of peace, some relaxation, so escape, if I press through and actually play a game for a while.  There is this real reluctance to even both, a barrier of sorts that I have to get around or I’ll just sit there at my computer and look at the launch icons for WoW or EVE Online or Steam and then start reading the news or Twitter or, god forbid, Facebook.

If I can find a reason to log in, a mission, a goal, an op to go on, or something else I can immerse myself in, I can still find that bit of escape, the refreshment of not worrying about the present.  It can be like a splash of cold water on a warm afternoon. But, like everything else these days, it seems to require more effort than it should.

I am not sure that will help motivate anybody, but at least I am able to say that it is possible to find distraction, though you might have to try harder than usual.

Maybe reading another blog will be motivating, so I should link out to the Blapril participant list again.

10 thoughts on “Blapril and Staying Motivated

  1. bhagpuss

    I have a post on motivation written. I’ll publish it tomorrow. Unfortunately it’s not very helpful because I find myself in the opposite situation to you and indeed most people I’m hearing. I had two weeks holiday immediately prior to our lockdown, holiday I spent almost entirely at home, so it’s now been seven weeks for me, too.

    The thing is, as Mrs Bhagpuss and I were saying on our daily walk today, this is really very similar to our normal lives. It’s scarcely an exaggeration to say that the only difference is not going to work. Prior to the crisis, for most of the winter our routine consisted of being in the house, playing games, writing and, in Mrs Bhagpuss’s case, crafting, plus taking one walk a say if the weather was good. Granted we could go to the shops whenever we needed something rather than strictly once a week but other than that it was a pretty similar routine.

    Other than the ever present fear of death and the cancellation of hospital visit for monitoring of my progress on the anniversary of my cancer op last year, things are fairly comfortable. We also had a very good dry run at this during my chemo last summer, which ended up being more than four months spent mostly indoors.

    We’re very fortunate not to have to deal with the two things that seem to be causing the most stress for people I hear about – problems with working at home and having to share space with relatives for longer than either party might wish. I can imagine all too vividly how things might have gone had we been in this situation ten or fifteen years ago regarding the latter and I already begrudge the time I spend at work under normal circumstances so to have to work while I was at home would be adding isnult to injury.

    Anyway, I’m attempting not to sound too comfortable because something bad could happen at any time and we haven’t actually retired, no matter how much it feels that way. It’s a real shame for your daughter and her immediate peer group. The end of school and the start of college are life events that only happen once. Also uncertainty is always difficult and right now i don’t think even those supposedly in charge know how things like education are going to be handled over the coming months.

    Much though I, personally, would willingly stay at home from now until there’s a vaccine, even if that takes a couple of years, I appreciate most people have just about had enough already. i know my mother has and she’s 88 so she’s quite possibly going to be told she can’t leave the house for a year unless she wants to risk her life for the privelige. I can’t but think there will be some relaxation of the strictest regulations fairly soon but I doubt many of us will be going back to anything that feels like normality for a good while after that.

    I hope it doesn’t put you off blogging for the longer term but as always, and as tomorrow’s post concludes, if you’re not feeling it right now it can wait until you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. flosch

    I’m exactly in your situation. I still have a job and am still paid. It’s pretty easy to do it from home. I enjoyed home office… still enjoy it for the most part. But I feel one thing I’m missing is the quick feedback you can get on new ideas. Everything related to quick idea spinning ends up taking longer, because we haven’t found a good way yet to mimick the informal chat rounds. And I work more than I used to before. In hours, to a certain degree, but mostly because I don’t have a commute any more, however short it was before, and because lunch is faster, and I end up reading stuff on the computer instead of chatting or looking out the window. I think I need to work on that part. I also just had gotten into a nice rotation of trips, and now all is cancelled, and whether I’ll ever see any of that money back, who knows.

    I can just tell you that your history posts are some of my favourite part of this site, so whenever one comes up, I enjoy it and read it at least twice! Those are always so much fun to compare to my own experiences as someone about 15 years younger.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Eli Olsen

    Yeah, the high schools around where I live aren’t even trying either. Last I heard, they just gave up and said ‘hey, if you like your current overall grade, you can just be done for the year’. Talk about throwing in the towel.


  4. Asmiroth

    Everyone has a different approach, there’s no magic bullet. My wife and one of my daughters are extremely sociable, and they are having a hell of a time.. lots of video chatting but that’s only getting them so far. My other daughter and I are less social, but tend to be more physically active. I have a home gym to help out, and she rides her bike. I miss my hockey. A lot.

    My social context also has an impact on this. I come from a relatively poor background, and I worked in an extremely poor community for 10 years. I recognize what I have, and where I am. I talk to myself in the morning / evening when I’m doing my daily habits., have for a long time. I think about what I want to get done that day, how I’m fortunate for what I have, and then close the day thinking about what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to tweak.

    Games are taking a front seat in a sense. Similar to you, games are goal based and not just to spend time. The feeling of having achieved SOMETHING has a great impact. Minecraft with the kids is about goals. Board games are about sitting down and completing a game. Even baking with the kids helps set time to complete a task (and enjoy the results). Having a daily blog post is motivation as well.

    At this point, the largest benefit for me is completing goals as a group. Now if I could figure out how to bake with my hockey team…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Redbeard

    I feel your pain. Really.

    Here, I’d say “go read my blog” for the lowdown, but the TL;DR is “Yeah, same. I feel ya, man.”

    At least I’ve reconnected with some of the 70s and 80s metal that I used to listen to, because if nothing else this pandemic has accelerated (or maybe exposed thoroughly) the proverbial mid-life crisis that makes people buy a Corvette, start chasing after eligible spouses 20 years their junior, etc. And my response to having a mid-life crisis? Buy used 80s hair metal CDs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Shintar

    It’s interesting to see how the lockdown affects everyone differently. Mr Commando and I are both introverts, so generally still pretty happy, as we wouldn’t normally go out much anyway. I’m just chuffed to not have to spend 12+ hours a week commuting, as this pretty much translates straight into more game time.

    Oddly, I find myself with much less enthusiasm for reading blogs though, and with many people’s increased output from Blapril on top of it, I’m just hopelessly behind with all my blog reading. I think it’s because it’s one of the things the commute is usually good for, as options for things to do on a crowded train are pretty limited.

    As for my own blogging, I think my overall output has stayed similar, but there’s been an interesting shift away from the more planned, long mulled-over posts (as mulling things over is another one of those things I usually do on the commute), but with the increased play time there are more opportunities for me to go “oh, that was interesting” and have a spontaneous idea for something quick to write.


  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    See, I am not the only one feeling this…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Coping with Chaos | Leo's Life

  9. stnylan

    I too must admit some exasperation, even irritation at times, of this idea that we have all this “free time” – which I certainly do not.


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