Well good evening and, er, happy Wednesday. I had pretty much given up on this episode of my weekly blog, but here I am, several days late. Having been away at the weekend (more of that in a minute), I didn’t meet my self-inflicted Sunday evening deadline, and for the last few days my mind has been mushy by the end of the working day and I’ve not had the ability to write actual words that might provide any kind of light entertainment. On my lunchtime walk (which was a particularly rainy one) this afternoon I told myself it was okay to miss a week, no-one minds. But here I am, it’s Wednesday evening, I’ve had a bowl of carbs for dinner, have munched my way through a packet of Dolly Mixtures and drunk a glass of milk, and for some reason words have decided now is a good time. Instead of working on any of the 40+ blogs-to-write in my To Do list, I’ve come back to my weekly blog. I just can’t bring myself to break the weekly streak!
I guess, then, that this is a 10-day weekly blog episode, but don’t worry, life is still far from normal here and so the next few paragraphs will still be focused on the randomness of the life I’m currently living…
Talking of To Do Lists
The only thing I like more than a list, is a way to make my lists easier to manage and less scary. I started using Microsoft To Do a couple of weeks back (I mentioned it in weekly blog episode 22), and I’m finding it allows me to keep track of things I need and want to do, without needing to rewrite my list regularly or use up all the post-it notes.
There are a couple of things I don’t like. The first is that you can’t plan your “My Day” list the night before; the app helpfully clears your My Day as the clock clicks from one day to the next. But the app does seem to learn what you might want in your My Day list and presents it to you in a list of suggestions including anything with reminders set, deadlines set, and things you had in your My Day list recently. I’ve seen that a lot of people have asked Microsoft to add this night-before planning option, and I hope they add it. The second thing I dislike is that you only seem to be able to snooze reminders for 5 minutes at a time on the iPhone version of the app, which doesn’t affect me too greatly as I hate phone notifications so I have those switched off (for pretty much everything, which is why you’ll never get a reply to a Facebook messenger post, I don’t know you’ve sent one…), but it’s the reason my other half has given up with the app completely.
What I do like, though, is the ability to have lots of lists on the go for all the different parts of my life, identified by my choice of emojis (which was fun to set up!), that all feed into one list I can work from each day. This means I only see the tasks I’ve decided I want to work on today, not the 100s of things in all the separate lists, and so as long as I am sensible with the number of tasks I add to My Day, I find the overwhelm I can feel from seeing ALL the tasks on a page is much less strong. I also like that I can automatically repeat tasks so they go back into one of my lists in the background to remind me again the next time I should be repopulating Buffer or scheduling Outdoor Bloggers Facebook posts.
To Do hasn’t replaced my notebooks, but rather means my notebooks are free to be used for actual notes and doodles and whatever else notebooks are good for, rather than being full of the millions of things I’ve got to do (and therefore actually being hidden in a cupboard!).
Do you use an app or piece of software to keep you organised and productive? I’d (genuinely) love to hear about how you use technology to help with your day to day life – or maybe you find computers and phones a complete hindrance to your productivity?
A Highly Sensitive Person
Last week I discovered the work of Elaine Aron on the Highly Sensitive Person thanks to an Instagram post by cakevsscales (worth a follow if you’re not already), and I think I had a bit of an epiphany. Admitting this on my blog could leave me a bit vulnerable, but after nearly 40-years of life, it has felt good to find out something about myself that means the way I am makes so much more sense. I am a Highly Sensitive Person, I have no doubt. If you read any articles (such as this one from Psychology Today) or watch any YouTube videos on this idea of the Highly Sensitive Person, you will find they describe me down to a tee. In short, I feel everything. Deeply.
If true, it explains why I don’t like loud noises, why I have a keen imagination and dream realistic dreams, why I feel like running away when I’m in a large crowd or noisy room, why I feel physical symptoms when I see something unpleasant or remember an upsetting memory, why I jump so easily, why I can’t switch off my brain at night (or in the day, or anytime!), why I analyse every conversation and everything I see in great detail, why I can speak in public but will hide in the corner at a party, why I seek validation, and why I’m so easily overwhelmed. It might even explain why I can feel my skin all the time, why I think in colour, and why I can feel the weather inside my head. Obviously all that stuff could also be down to a whole load of other things, but it’s somehow good to read the suggestion that these things that make me who I am aren’t oddities or negative traits, but they’re all down to the way my mind works. I’m not (just) an awkward introvert with huge worry pants after all!
I’ve said before how psychology has always fascinated me, and this has definitely rekindled that curiosity. It definitely needs more exploration, so I’ve downloaded The Handbook for Highly Sensitive People by Mel Collins to listen to (after I’ve finished Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America 1927, which I’m really enjoying on my lunchtime walks) to learn more. I’d love to know if you’ve heard of this term, if you identify with it, or even if you think it’s a load of codswallop… tell me in the comments!
Returning to Lincolnshire
Now I’ve psychologically analysed my own existence, I should start to talk about my week, the highlight of which has to be returning to Lincolnshire to visit family after nearly four months. On Saturday (4 July), some of our restrictions here in the UK were relaxed to allow us to stay outside our own homes overnight for the first time since 23 March. We decided, therefore, to use the opportunity to travel to Lincolnshire to visit my parents, my sister and her family, and my mother-in-law, who all live within a mile of each other. The six-hour round-trip just hasn’t been sensibly possible without that stop-over, and while we were worried we might get caught in the worst bank holiday type traffic of our lives, we decided it would be worth it.
We had a proper catch-up, put the world to rights in a way that doesn’t work on the phone or facetime, played shops with our niece and nephew, ate barbecue food (and doughnuts) and home-made cottage pie, bought and set up a new telly, inspected the garden and compared raspberry bushes, and had the loveliest of times. Okay, so there was no hugging, that’s still not allowed, and we were only over there for one night, but it was so good. There is no substitute for seeing family in person. And thankfully we didn’t get caught in traffic, it was absolutely fine, I think everyone else was in the pub or the hairdressers!
Just one name to offer up in my regular That’s Entertainment feature this week, and that is Alexander Hamilton. Friday last week (3 July) was a bit of a derby day over on Disney+, with both Hamilton and Frozen II coming to the platform. I’d love to know which one won the most-watched battle… was it the cult musical or the princess sequel?! I haven’t watched the second Frozen (yet), but I did jump straight on Hamilton.
Filmed live over several performances on Broadway (plus an extra empty-room performance to get close-ups) a good few years ago, the recording includes the original Broadway cast including Lin-Manuel Miranda himself. The release date was due to be October 2021, but in light of the pandemic closing theatres all over the world, Disney brought it forward by over a year, and I’m so glad they did.
The musical tells the story of the life and career of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an orphaned immigrant, from his arrival in New York City in 1776, his work as an aide-de-camp to General George Washington during the American Revolution, how he met and married Eliza Schuyler, his post-war work as the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, and his death in a duel with friend and rival Aaron Burr. It’s utterly brilliant, using hip hop, super-fast lyrics, comedy and subtle visual cues to tell the story. I admit I learnt a lot about the Founding Fathers I just didn’t know before!
My favourite moments? Well that has to be King George singing You’ll Be Back, hilarious, and the line about America being run best by immigrants… If you’ve not seen Hamilton yet, this is a great opportunity to do so while the theatres are (sadly) still closed.
A New Theme?
I’ve got next week off work (can I get a “woohoo”?!), and one of the things I’ve put on my list to do is to potentially update my WordPress theme here on Splodz Blogz. The theme you’re currently used to, assuming you’re reading this before I change it, was installed a good couple of years ago, and was always going to be temporary, as it doesn’t quite do everything I would like. Changing themes can be a bit of a pain in the proverbial, so I have been putting it off, but I feel like now is the time. I’ve got a couple in mind, but I know that as soon as I start looking to actually change things there will be at least twenty other options to choose from. Who knows if I’ll actually get it done, or if I’ll get fed up of the choice or interface, but take this as your prior warning that I want to spruce things up and you might notice a change or two.
That’s it. A few days late but sometimes that’s just the way things work out, I guess. Thank you for coming over to Splodz Blogz to read this episode, I hope it gave you a little bit of light relief from your day.
If you enjoyed reading this episode, if you think my weekly blog series is a fun thing to read regularly, and especially if you got to the end of this episode, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Please note that some links on this page are affiliate links (Amazon ones particularly). And I mustn’t forget the vloggers’ catchphrase, seeing as I stole the “weekly” premise of this post from them – please like and subscribe for more posts like this in the future! Come on by next Sunday evening for the next in the series.