How to Do
Not really sure what to write about, but I'm just gonna start typing and see where this takes me.
I'm making progress, and finding action to be a really great way to push back the heavy negative feelings I had just a week ago. My do one thing strategy in list making has helped me do things that a week ago I felt were too difficult to do.
The weight of inactivity was removed (to some extent) by action. Like weighted blankets. When you're all cozy and warm under one of those things and you wake up and the air on your face is freezing. You don't want to get out of bed, but when you pull the covers to the side and get up, you're up. You're no longer in bed, you're doing something, and doing anything is better than staying in bed, because you can't do anything if you don't get up.
Getting out from under the warmth and weight of the blanket in the middle of winter will cause pain, so you don't want to do it. But when you lay in bed too long it becomes uncomfortable. Being sedentary becomes painful. Your back starts to hurt, and no matter which way you toss in the bed you can't get comfortable.
It's a place we've all been. Uncomfortable, with some pain, but not enough pain to get you to act. Tony Robbins is big on this whole, pain evokes action idea. He says you only make radical life change when pain is so great that you are forced into action. Pain is the ultimate motivator. It's not fun, but it's effective.
So those lists I was making... I kept them all side by side on my whiteboard as the days progressed. I didn't intend on comparing them, I just didn't erase the previous ones, so they accumulated. Surprisingly, I didn't judge myself when looking at the lists as a whole, assessing if one day was better than the next. I had been so dysfunctional that doing 1 thing to me was a successful day. So each one of those days no matter the count of done things, were all successful days.
I noticed that the lists all side by side look kind of like the board I use to project manage the UX design company I co-founded. We use Asana, but have used Trello in the past, and these are both really great free tools you can use to get things done. I'm not sure why it took so long for me to make the connection, but I should apply Agile principles to my life.
In Scrum Agile software development you work in small teams to build products and improve them incrementally over time. The team works together to build one or more functioning pieces of software that can be released on the due date. This typically takes place in 1, 2, or 3 week "sprints". Sprints are never longer than 4 weeks to keep development fast and nimble.
First, a master list is created of all the features needed to be built, then it's prioritized. The development team selects 1, 2, or however many tasks they believe they can accomplish in a sprint. After the sprint is over, the team reviews what worked well, what didn't, and evaluates how they can improve in the next sprint. This isn't all you need to know about software development, and frankly, I haven't even participated on a Scrum team yet so I don't have any experience with it. But I do know the basics of the framework from taking a class that helped me become certified as a Scrum Master.
But who cares if I don't have experience with that right now. What matters is, that a time tested methodology which builds products, then improves those products week after week, could be used by people like you and me to increase the happiness and productivity of our lives week after week.
Living Agile can help you defeat depression.
I think shrinking a sprint down from 1 week to 1 day could help people get out depression and live more productive lives. So, let's say on Sunday, you create a giant list of things you want to do for the week. A brain dump. Then, you look at the list and choose 1-3 things that you believe you can accomplish on Monday. Write those things on Monday's to do list, and do them.
Each day, you pull items off the master list, and chip away at them throughout the week. At the end of the week, evaluate what you've done. Big or small, important or not, the lists of things crossed off makes me feel great, and motivates me to do more.
If you keep track of this data from week to week, you can assess your "velocity". It's basically a measurement of productivity. Overtime, you will increase your velocity because you will get more efficient and doing tasks.
This is an awesome idea. Do people do this already? I feel like someone has to be living this life. Brb, I'm gonna google it.
K. So, first page of google results of "how to apply agile to your life" gave a bunch of articles on how to use Agile principles for you to complete projects. A lot of the articles (I only skimmed) talked about the importance of planning.
I'm not quite there yet, and currently, my process doesn't include planning. Weird right? Normally I plan a lot. But lots of planning leads to a whole lot of not doing. At least for me when I'm in a depressed state.
Planning is a terrible strategy for getting out of a funk. I experienced this week that doing was far more effective for me than thinking about doing. Of course, the idea of planning is that you will do the things you plan, so eventually I think I'll do some of that planning stuff. But only when I'm ready.
Developing an effective strategy to fight depression then looks to me like it's gotta be in stages.
Let's say last week I was at level 0. I told my dad over the phone that I wanted to die. I wasn't suicidal, but the thought of getting hit by a bus, or dying from COVID-19 was preferable than living. I told him I wanted to go to bed and not wake up. It's a thought I've had many many many times. When I'm feeling depressed, I find more comfort in dying than becoming successful at living. I think it's more realistic. It's way more likely, so it seems like a tangible dream. You know, dying vs. becoming successful. Death is certain, success isn't.
So Level 0 is this feeling of hopelessness. Maybe Level -1 is being suicidal (been there too. Tried to kill myself in 2004 or 2005, but I failed and that's a whole 'nother story for a later date). In Level 0, I had no reason to get out of bed, no feelings of purpose or hope, with no relief in sight.
Since I started doing things, I'm at a Level 1. I feel hope again, I feel like I have purpose, and I want to do things. Level 2 is ideal. It's where I'm exuberant, and confident. I can take on big problems (like revolutionizing the seafood industry) and work toward creating solutions for them. Level 2 feels like success.
Level 0 sucks, and the do 1 thing strategy is a great way to level up. Level 1 you start doing, but you're not very efficient. Doesn't matter, because eventually, I'll get to the point where I'm comfortable doing many things a day and will want to start optimizing my time/effort.
In Level 2, every waking moment of my day is addressed in my calendar. In Level 0 there is nothing on my calendar (like absolutely empty). It's a balance of taking care of myself and getting work done. It's a clear plan of action based on goals. Big goals are broken down into more managable sizes, so they can be worked towards and accomplished. Not really sure what all Level 2 looks like yet, but I've had a taste of Level 2 in the past.
In a week I was able to go from Level 0 to Level 1. The leap from Level 1 to Level 2 will definitely take more time and effort, but I know if I can stay in Level 1, eventually I'll make it to Level 2.
Understanding my triggers, things that knock me back to Level 0 are still being identified. I have some idea of what those things are, but I need to be more diligent to understand them, so I can prevent or address them as they are happening.
This means in Level 0/1 write down a way to procrastinate then do it. Once you've done it, cross it off on your lists and treat it like a completed task. Feel accomplishment when you do it. Brain dump didn't happen in Level 0, but in Level 1, I have started to jot some stuff down that I didn't want to forget to do. I still haven't completely written everything down that I have to do, seems like it could overwhelm, plus it's work to actually create a list.
Knock off the small things on the "All the things" list as ways to "procrastinate" but knock them out really fast 'cause they're easier than other tasks. Make sure to take care in how you write tasks. Don't make them too big, or hard to cross off. For example, I wrote "blog post". When is that done? When I publish it? That's too big of a task. Instead I should write, "write for blog". That way I can cross it off today as something I did, whether it's a finished post or not.
The goal right now is just to do things. Anything that bogs you down or makes you feel like you're not completing things are things I want to avoid. That means nothing gets left on my daily list. They all need to be crossed off by the end of the day, which is why they need to go on one at a time. Write it, do it, cross it off. Then move on to the next one.
To help build momentum, write down and cross off things you've done throughout the day that aren't on your list. Ie: Shower, brush teeth, make bed, etc. These things don't and won't always be part of your lists, but when you are on day 1 of Level 0, shower should be the first thing on your list.
This builds the feelings of accomplishment. Feeling like you are accomplishing things feels good, and it motivates you to keep going, to do more.
This concept is a work in progress, and I'm not going to let this post stay a draft for another minute. I'm gonna continue working on creating this process for myself, and later, organize it in an easy way for people to use because if I think it can help people who struggle like me.