Time Flies When You’re Getting Nothing Done

Nothing seems to be more magical than looking back at a few days and realizing you’ve gotten nothing done. Nothing. Not one thing that you really need to get done, got done. Not even the very important tasks you wrote down nicely in your bullet journal and productivity app.

Maybe you can blame it on being sick, which you are. Maybe you can blame it on unexpected life happenings popping up, which happened. Maybe you just wanted to not have to adult for a few days and ignored all the responsibilities with every intention of getting it all done by the deadlines. But the deadlines came, and went. And all you have to show for it is absolutely nothing cause you slacked off all week.

I struggle with this constantly. I want to be the put together adult who has it all under control and remembers everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries, sends out the holiday cards before the holiday starts, and is able to work two jobs with ease and finesse. You and I both know I’ll never be that person. But that doesn’t stop me from trying to be. I’m afraid if I stop trying to be the best I’ll just fade away into nothingness and end up like one of my Sims, lonely, disgusting, and surrounded by what might have been.

The only way I know how to combat this is to start fresh each day and try again.

I stop and take some breaths, then begin to reorganize my life again. Point by point, category by category, my to do list is filled out and noted and I try again. Doesn’t feel great but it does feel better than wallowing in self pity. And on the second pass I normally finish one more task than I did the week before.

Maybe one day, I’ll finish things the week I meant to. In the meantime, let’s fail and get back up again.

Procrastination And Gaming

I love gaming. Specifically, I love MMO’s and simulation games like World of Warcraft, The Sims, Minecraft, etc. It gives me a thrill whenever I hit a new achieve in these games or get a new piece of gear or pet or mount and I celebrate and then suddenly the day is gone and I have gotten nothing done in real life.

I’ve been trying to make a concerted effort to get shit done before playing for hours on end but it, also, got me thinking about why I enjoy doing mundane crap in games but not real life. I will fish, cook, craft, gather, and grind for hours, days, years (WoW I’m looking at you) but taking ten minutes to sweep the floor so the robot can vacuum it up? Too much effort. But it isn’t. It’s incredibly less effort than the energy I have put in to games over the past (nearly) four decades. And yet, it still feels like more effort. Why? Because my brain is a liar and other bad names.

The satisfying list of achievements in games is an instant reminder of all the hard work I put into it. There are no achieves you can pull up for real life and that’s where I get tripped up. When I finish a task in game I get a small reminder that I can look at, share, and feel proud of (for better or worse) for as long as that virtual realm exists. My brain is hard wired now to look for that feeling of accomplishment and seems to know that IRL there is no such thing and therefore puts less importance on doing chores, exercising, and eating right than catching the 500th fish in Final Fantasy. Let’s face it, humans love showing off. Games make that easy to do, life not so much.

What’s the solution? Here’s what no one wants to say out loud: There isn’t a solution. It all depends on an individuals determination and no one way of working is going to fix that. We need to find our own achieves in life and for some that means journal tracking, some may like using a white board, and others may use an app to track what they’ve accomplished in a day. What matters, is that you tell your brain to shut up and get stuff done regardless of whether or not your brain believes there is a reward involved.

I’m still struggling with this every day. Every day I wake up with the best of intentions and half way through I’m needing to remind myself of why I can’t just stop and why I need to continue to adult. For now, I’ve been rewarding myself with play time once I complete a chore or task and it’s working somewhat. I know how hard it is to have a full time job and then need to come home and have another full time job there, but that’s life. So until I win the lottery the daily grind will continue. And I need to accept that.

And with all that said, it is now time for me to get more chores done. On to adventure!

Why Meal Prep? Because I’m Lazy.

I love this quote because its true. And it is a mantra I’ve been using daily on my journey to a basic life. I’ve never had a good grasp on adulting at my best, let alone now. In that vein, I’ve been researching tips and tricks on how to technically be a better adult while still staying just as lazy as I’ve always been. Meal Prep is a huge part of that.

I always envied people who meal prepped. It blew my mind that there were humans who could plan and execute a full week’s worth of food. I barely get through breakfast most days. To me, it was an unattainable goal as I was lazy and poor and unmotivated. There was no way in hell I would ever be able to do it. Meal Prep is for people who have their shit together, not people like me who forget to wash their (one and only) bra for two weeks even though it’s been in the laundry hamper this entire time and I’ve washed everything else.

But it turns out, as is the norm, I was wrong.

Meal Prep is just efficiency, and efficiency is just intelligent laziness.

I began to see the light while lurking around the r/mealprepsunday sub Reddit and wishing one day that I would be able to do that. Finally, one day I actually read the comments and recipes and saw that far from being complicated, pricey, and involved, meal prep could be ridiculously easy. That is, its easy if you remember this golden rule: Food is Fuel.

I’ve never necessarily been picky about having to eat something different every day. I attribute that to being broke most of my life and sustaining myself off of white rice and Italian Dressing sandwiches. Don’t ask how I’m still alive, science can’t explain it. But that means that when it comes to meals, as long as it’s easy and affordable, I’ll eat the same damn thing every day. And I now do. Because, as long as it’s a balanced, healthy meal, you can eat the same thing every day. And frankly, this was a huge epiphany for me. Food is just fuel? It doesn’t have to be pretty? It doesn’t need to have variety? Well, of course not. It’s food. It is, literally, what fuels your body. And if you can figure out the best fuel, why change it? And so began my meal prep journey.

Breakfast is a toasted slice of whole wheat toast with organic (no sugar added) peanut butter and a hard boiled egg, with a cup of coffee (cream and sugar).

That’s it. No bells or whistles but it keeps me full and happy until lunch. And the best part is I only need to meal prep the eggs. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Lunch is a grain, with veggies, a protein, and a whole wheat pita sandwich with spinach and cheese.

What does that look like? I’m glad you asked.

I do vary the veggies from brussel sprouts, broccoli, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, mushrooms, cauliflower, beets, and whatever else might capture my fancy.

Grains are almost always quinoa because it is one of the few grains I can actually cook properly. Rice is my nemesis.

Protein is (once again) normally baked tofu but I will throw some beans (garbonzo, black, kidney) in there if they are on sale or I’m clearing out the pantry.

Cooking all this, also, is super easy because with the exception of the mushrooms, I roast EVERYTHING. All the veggies and tofu get baked in the oven, usually on the same sheet, and by turning the temperature up I’m done roasting in about twenty minutes. A little olive oil and garlic is all you need. While that’s happening, I make the pita sandwiches and check on the quinoa (which I make in a rice cooker).

The veggie lunches I let cool to room temp before sealing and refrigerating (this cuts down on the condensation in the containers) and voila! I am done and don’t have to worry about lunches for the week!

Dinner can vary slightly but otherwise the schedule is:

  • Saturday – Baked Fresh Salmon with veggies
  • Sunday – Crock pot meal of vegetarian chili, potato cheese soup, or enchiladas. (This makes enough to freeze portions for the next month! Cook once, eat four times!)
  • Tuesday – Pasta with veggies

My husband and I agreed on a cooking schedule, hence the specific days, and since he works from home, he cooks most weekday nights. It’s a good system and takes all the “What do you want to do for dinner?” out of the equation.

Quick note here, I am eating mostly vegetarian for health reasons at the moment so feel free to adjust any of these ideas to match your diet.

So there you have it, my tiny little life hack that saves me an incredible amount of time and energy throughout the week. The bonus of all of this? I look like an extremely productive and put together person. Let me know if you’ve tried meal prepping or are currently doing it and if it was right for your lifestyle. I love it and can’t recommend it enough.

See you next post!

Overthinking This Post

Amazing pattern by IvieStitches

We all do it. A simple task is transformed in to a monstrosity because we overthought how, what, why, where, and when. I’m not even sure how it gets to the point that it can and does but suddenly I’m not unloading the dishwasher because first I need to completely clean out all the cabinets, wipe them down, re-organize, ask if these things “Spark Joy,” and THEN I can unload the dishwasher.

Spoiler: The dishwasher does not get unloaded.

I’m always amazed by people who just get things done. Like how? I thought that I was just broken and would never be able to get things done. Only successful people get things done. And then I had a mini-breakthrough when I realized that people get things done…by doing them.

Its a crazy theory, I know, but stay with me. Instead of thinking about how they were going to complete a task, they just do it. They figure it out as they go along, problem solving if necessary, but never over thinking. Instead of thinking about how much nicer it would be to not unload the dishwasher and instead play your favorite game, they don’t think about how unloading the dishwasher for five whole minutes will cut in to their game time and just do it. They just do it.

And you know what’s weird? It works. You know what’s weirder? Our parents or guardians have been yelling at us our entire lives to stop thinking about stuff and just do it. Mostly chores. Ok, always about chores but they were right! Once you tell your brain to shut the fuck up and simply start to do whatever task needs to get done, it gets done with less effort and you feel better afterwards because, hey, look at how well you’re adulting. I never thought that I would be a productivity junkie, but I kinda am. The feeling of accomplishing all of my to-do’s along with the regular house hold chores, and my daily routine puts me in a better mood and keeps me determined to continue my winning streak.

It is hard to do in the beginning, as your brain is trained now to imagine an infinite number of universes where you do “The Thing” and then analyze each of those alternate dimensions to determine the “Best Way” and soon enough it’s time for bed and you haven’t done shit. I know it sounds strange, but you need to make a conscious decision to not think about how you’re going to do your stuff. Yes, I can hear you all now, “But Natalia, if you try to NOT think about something you end up ONLY thinking about it.” That’s true to a degree. You have to trick your brain. It’s like when you need to get your dog to drop whatever totally-not-a-toy they have so you wave something shinier in their face and totally forget about the forbidden toy and take that instead. Your brain is no smarter than that dog.

That sounded way harsher than I meant it.

What I mean to say, is your brain in that moment is no smarter than that dog. We tend to think of our brains not as just another organ but as us. As in, my brain is me and I am my brain. But it’s not that simple, thankfully, because our brains can be right bastards at times. And that’s because it is an organ, one like our heart, which we need to train and maintain everyday. If that sounds daunting, it’s because it is. No lie, everyday is a conscious decision to be better than the last and to not let your mind take control of you.

Which brings us to tricking your brain. My suggestion is blasting some fun music, or an episode or two of your favorite podcast, or an audio book. This is not new advice, in fact, I’ve been cleaning to music my entire life because it was the only way my mom could motivate my lazy butt to help out. But it works because instead of being able to overthink how you are going to get XYZ done, your brain is overloaded with a new, shinier alternative than talking you out of mopping the floors. In fact, it doesn’t care what you do because now it’s extremely focused on the sounds coming into your ear holes. Mop away! Meal prep! Wipe those counters! Our brains crave stimulation in the form of thought, but sometimes, just like a crabby toddler, it needs us to put on some entertainment for it and let it chill while we get stuff done.

Let me know in the comments what you use to trick your brains into quieting down.

Now, let’s get shit done.

Why Basic?

In the overflow of social and ad targeting media of today, it is far too easy to look at yourself and feel like you’re failing on every level. You see people working hard, making money, looking fantastic, and still have time to bullet journal. All of these perfect people make you think about yourself in a new, harsher light and then your brain goes down the rabbit hole of how to improve yourself so that you can be just like them.

The thing is, its easy to over think how you’re going to improve yourself and much harder to actually follow through. I am a PRO at thinking about and planning for how I’m going to be an amazing person one day. I suck at actually executing any of those plans. Most of this is due to my overthinking and unrealistic goals of being perfect. I talk myself out of the little things because I focus too hard on the big ones. Example: Drinking more water a day gets pushed to the side because I’m trying to science out how I can magically lose twenty pounds in two weeks in time for that party I said I would go to but actually I probably won’t because I love the idea of going out but then hate actually having to put on pants and a bra to go out let alone speaking to people.

I have no idea how I found someone to love and marry me. It defies all logic.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve been trying to formulate an actual plan based on actual facts and realistic expectations in order to feel better about myself. Nearly ten years ago, I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cysts and Endometriosis and need to have surgery. The result of that was mixed. I quit smoking (Yay!) but slowly began to gain weight, topping out at nearly forty pounds over my normal size. The ego blow and self esteem issue has been huge. I wish it hadn’t taken me ten years to figure out what was wrong, but it did. So what was my epiphany moment? Positivity doesn’t work on me. As soon as I realized that one of my main problems was trying to be like the positive, happy, healthy people on YouTube/Instagram/Twitter, my brain felt lighter. I began to read books like “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” by Mark Manson and “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking” by Oliver Burkeman and saw that I was not alone. What I learned (but deep down already knew) was that not being positive does not mean you aren’t happy. My brain isn’t wired that way. I’m a cynical, sarcastic, somewhat pessimistic bitch at times and that’s OK. Because that’s me.

Then I began to rethink (always with the thinking) how I think. Its, also, when I began to stop wanting a magical perfect life and lowered the bar a bit. A simple, basic life. One where my family was safe and taken care of. One where we had enough money to be comfortable while still having the means to splurge on luxuries every once in while. One where we are able to do what we want and love and if that means having a job that isn’t necessarily our dream and passion, then that’s OK. The purpose of a job is to make money so you can live. Hobbies are hobbies. They don’t have to make you boat loads of money to be useful or enjoyable.

I have always been in a love/hate relationship with writing. It is what I am and yet the expectations I have put on myself in order to be The Best Writer Who Ever Lived have kept me from truly pursuing it until now. What better way to document my journey, and maybe help others on theirs, then writing it out. This is the first step in my Basic Life Goal. Start this blog, create art, stop expecting magical things to happen.

Let’s begin.

In The Beginning…

there was a thirty something woman who realized that she needed to get her shit together. After watching far too many You Tube channels with perfect people doing things like organizing their perfect homes, modeling their perfect clothes, and being all around the perfect motivation for average people to want to be perfect, this woman decided she just wanted to be average.

Hi. I’m that woman. My name is Natalia and I’m addicted to motivation and allergic to follow through. Or at least that’s my excuse. In reality, I know that it’s time for me to get off my ass and do things that I need to do (adulting), and things that I love to do (writing and crafting and gaming), and not just the things that are easy to do. This blog is a way for me to pretend I have lots of internet friends who will help me hold myself accountable to achieve my mediocre life goals and a way to document my journey’s successes and failures. Mostly failures.

A basic life is what I want. A simple life where I’m able to do things I love while having a job that pays the bills. Thanks for coming along and hopefully we’ll all learn something along the way. Or not. Set the bar low, people.