So thanks to Phil Newton there’s now a simple way to integrate org-mode TODOs with beeminder, found here at https://github.com/Sodaware/beeminder.el. I’ve started using it a little bit but not that much since, over my spring break, I’ve been trying to just focus on writing and getting over the really nasty cold/flu/unholy-plague we had in this house. I’ve been keeping up with my wordcount and posting goals for the most part by writing lots of lecture notes, but I haven’t been as good about putting time into paper drafts because I’ve been feeling a bit stuck and unmotivated. At least, though, I’ve been working on something rather than getting completely paralyzed by anxiety into accomplishing nothing and feeling like I’m horrid-and-lazy as I’m often want to do. To this end, I’ve still been finding beeminder to be a useful tool for organizing and motivating myself. It’s still helping me grit my teeth and get things done when the paralysis or hopelessness makes me want to just do nothing.
Another, unintended, effect of me using beeminder for goals is that it’s helping me fill the spaces in my day better. If I have a few minutes where I’m not sure what I should be doing with myself, which happens when I have a bunch of choices of things I think I need to accomplish and feel overwhelmed, then I can at least check my goals to see what I’m closest to derailing on and do that. It’s a nice way to overcome that feeling of inertia and paralysis. Ultimately, I’d say the wordcount and blog posts goals have been really useful for me so far. Not to say that everything is perfect and amazing though. I’m still having some trouble prioritizing what things I write and post about. While writing my lectures notes for this class is ultimately a very good thing, I should also be getting research done. Given the choice of meeting my goals with work that’s really really scary, or work that feels natural and I have a lot of confidence in already, I’m going to avoid the really scary option a lot of times.
So far this avoidant behavior has been okay because I really do need to build a backlog of lecture notes for this class as it’s the more urgent thing. I start teaching tomorrow, after all. On the other hand, I can’t just focus on the “urgent” work forever while working only slowly on the things that are intimidating as hell but will help me leave here with a PhD. Since, sadly, I don’t think sharing my research with others is going to get any less terrifying to me in the near future and I won’t stop dragging my feet on it because “all my ideas are terrible and I’m arrogant for wanting to share them”, I think I’ll end up setting a second word count goal that will specifically be for research papers. This will, functionally, work as a subgoal that also feeds into the main word count goal. At the moment, there’s no way to actually do something like that directly in beeminder so I’ll have to manually update both totals. On the other hand, that’s not really that bad and it’s at least very easy to add data to goals with the “Quick Add” dropdown. I should probably make a request about this but “all my ideas are terrible and I’m arrogant for wanting to share them“.
All of that negative reflection about how I’m progressing with my work aside, let’s talk more about the good things: I’ve written over 20 posts for this blog now, even when I lost my momentum due to a few very stressful events. I’ve also written over 14k words in the past month for posts here, paper drafts, and an essay I’m writing for another site. That may not sound like a lot, but for me it’s a really big deal. I used to think it was a good day when I could make myself put down 100 words because the anxiety was so bad. Even writing the first few posts here was completely nerve wracking and stressed me out so badly, but now I’m feeling a lot more comfortable and it’s only slightly nerve wracking. I’m building up some much needed confidence. Confidence I wish I’d had a few years ago, but that’s kinda how these things work.
As for other random things, I’ve been starting to use Pocket for Android + TTS as described here. I retain things much, much better when I listen to them even though I learn “faster” by reading. It took me a long time to realize that the way I tended to drift in and out while in lectures is actually not a bad thing. As long as I’m not trying to read something else on my laptop or phone etc., then my “half-listening” is actually me processing what I’m hearing and making connections. There’s always stories of That Professor who looks like they’re asleep but asks really hard questions during colloquia, but it took me a long time to realize that that kinda is how I function. So, I’m trying to listen to more things I want to read. Obviously the big stumbling block with doing this for all my technical reading are code and equations, because none of the tools I’m aware of would actually help with that.