My Most Irritating Quality

I am a work-at-home mom. My work day starts when my husband and my mother leave for work, and my oldest goes to school. I have an “office” in the downstairs portion of the house, but we have no heat in the bottom part of the house so the office is pretty much useless for 6 months out of the year. As a result, I usually work in the dining room, where I can set up my laptop and my various planners on the big dining room table. Sometimes, I set myself up and go to work and unless I am working on something very specific I wind up staring at the blank screen for hours. 

Be it a “writer’s block” or a “designer’s block”, I just can’t seem to produce anything worthwhile. So I usually wind up looking for inspiration, and then everything I do as a result of the inspiration seems like a cheap knock off. I scrape it, and start from scratch. And the process repeats itself, and usually the day is wasted. When my house chores pop up I tend to push all work thoughts aside and focus on helping with homework, cooking, and doing my daily 30 minute clean up.

When the day winds down, I am finally able to do my evening routine to get ready for the next day. This includes doing a final email check to catch any strays that I have missed (and because I hate waking up to a cluttered inbox), reviewing my to do list for the next day and a half hour in the bathroom all to myself. Bedtime rolls around. And THAT’s when it happens.

I lay in bed, trying to go to sleep, and my mind takes a life of its own. It starts wandering off in all sorts of directions and a multitude of ideas start popping into my head. Suddenly, I have 5 ideas for blog posts, 3 great looking designs that I could use in my printables, or a website template or Facebook cover images. Somehow amazingly, I have not one, not two but 4 great ideas that could grow into a book that I am going to publish one day. I have the urge to get up and get to work but the heat is off by that time, so is the internet and I am pretty sure my mother wouldn’t understand that my muse likes to show up right when everyone else goes to bed.

If I don’t write all these ideas down to review them next morning chances are I will forget all about them, no matter how much I rack my brain in futile efforts to remember. It’s like my mind the next day becomes a Borg and chants: “Remembrance is futile. We are The Borg.”

My (not the happiest) solution is to try and jot the ideas down in Springpad/Evernote. However, my husband swears up and down that I am attached to my phone at the hip. Turning on the light and writing them down in a notepad is not really an option as we sleep in the living room. (Living arrangements for the moment ><) and I don’t have a place to put the said notepad and pen.

Why does my mind torture me so? Why can’t I have all those great ideas when I am working, not when I am trying to go to sleep? Anyone else suffering from this? Or am I alone? Am I handling it the wrong way?

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10 thoughts on “My Most Irritating Quality

  1. Could it be that you’re just more relaxed thus more open to new ideas before you go to sleep than in the morning when you decide you “have to work” ? Maybe you’re sitting, staring at the blank screen and actually criticizing yourself for not being able to be creative, or thinking about the chores you’re supposed to do later on or how this is a waste of time because nothing’s happening? All that thinking is making your brain busy with not that creative stuff (although figuring out what to make for lunch every day can be creative, too). We can plan and organize some things, but I find that some things happen and are just totally random.
    Become a creative Night Owl, get out of your bed and write down your ideas in your bathroom at 1 a.m. 😉 Aren’t all creative people a bit weird? 😉 🙂
    Just kidding, but seriously though: don’t let that annoy you, accept it, embrace it and just go with the flow 😉

    J.

    • LOL, I can totally see me wandering around the house in 1 a.m. and my mother getting up to see what the frack I am up to at that hour of the night! So far, the way I’m dealing with it is to just make a quick note on my phone. It’s kinda working but I swear, if we were living on our own I would get up when the urge strikes me and go to work.

      • I totally understand – whatever works for now – stick to it! When your housing situation changes, it probably won’t be a problem anymore 😉
        Keep up the good work! 🙂

  2. I wish I could find the study again to show you.
    About a month ago I was reading about how the brain when it hits a ‘block’ can’t “go backwards” meaning if you’ve already come to a null conclusion your brain will keep thinking that’s the answer even though it’s obviously not. This produces that “tip of the tongue feeling” because you have the cognitive dissonance knowing that you actually know the answer, while you seem unable to produce it.
    Apparently you have to stop thinking about the issue at hand (be it a fact check, or an attempt at idea making) for a few minutes, mediation, or doing a physical activity you have muscle memory for (for some people knitting, for me drawing or washing the dishes, for others a workout routine they’ve done for years, or a nap might also work honestly) just any way to relax and let your brain reset.
    If you don’t manage to think spontaneously of what you need, then your brain may not have prioritized it (which it would have done in the situation you’re talking about where you thought about it all day) so then you have to come back and think hard about what you want your brain to work on, rinse and repeat the reset again.

    This might not work for you, I can’t say for sure, but it is what the science suggests *might* help. So I pass it on to you for scrutiny and testing.

    Oh interestingly this isn’t the only time your brain works like this.
    This is similar to the other phenomena of thinking about a puzzle or problem all day, and when you sleep your brain attempts to solve it while you sleep, so you may wake up with the answer.
    Of course having an overtired brain means that it might not have enough glucose at the end of the day for this, but that’s another story.
    If you genuinely can’t think of an answer because you don’t have the tools to solve it, your brain might even try thinking up tools to use to solve it. Lots of famous people have thought of revolutionary ideas either waking up in the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning. This is the reason for that.

    I have this problem myself, and I’m only hoping that now that I know this, I’ll be able to put it into practice. XP
    Good luck?

  3. Oh Ana Lynn, you are so like me, and like my daughters! Why is it our mind runs at nighttime? Notice that I am typing this at 5:45 am, having been up all night, I am now going to bed after a productive writing night! I have gotten old enough to do as I please–but my parents have died, my children have grown,and myhusband is very independent! I have also learned to make a space for myself–get a space heater–deep pile rugs–afghans and shawls! We also went through several years of young kids and a live in in-law–and we also slept on a sofa bed in the den! Treasure this partof your life, it passes quickly. wishing you peace, helen

    • Funny part? I treasure and value my sleep, and I don’t have the luxury of sleeping during the day since I have chores to do otherwise my mother would go through the roof if dinner wasn’t done by the time she comes home from work, or beds made or floors swept… It’s a miracle I get any work done as is.

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