Quick introduction, this type of blog (Weekly) will hopefully be completed at the end of every week allowing me to discuss anything thoughts or events that have occured throughout the week. They will quite long and I don't expect anyone to read them in full but there will be a summary/conclusion at the end for anyone wanting just the answer.
So over the last week I had and got over a cold, so nothing major. The interesting thing I thought about was the impact even a small cold can have on schedules and work effort. In fact I would say that a small cold is probably worse mentally in this respect than a more serious illness. However, regardless of the severity of the illness the issue still occurs, at least for me.
The major issue is that if you have deadlines or projects which span weeks, or possible months, there is no way to accomodate unexpected illnesses (they are unexpected). This means that when an illness does strike you either power through the tasks you set until you reach a break point and try and rapidly recover. Of course, if the illness is severe enough you completely scrap the schedule and deal with the repercusion effectively. But, in this last week I went with the former method: attending school, clubs and work shifts. So over this weekend I have been going throught the rapid recovery stage, though I have been slowly improving over the week.
The issue now is that though I have completed a lot of work I am not productive. This may sound odd, how can I be unproductive if I have completed work? The issue is not how much I have completed but more how I have gone about it and how I have used my relaxation time. In my case most of the work has been done out of necessity without much focus or learning, basically ticking a done box, the part I was annoyed with until yesterday was that my relaxation time had been completed filled with youtube. Now I am all for youtube, just in moderation, so given that all my time had (in my view) been lost I was quite miffed.
And this is why I say a milder cold is worse. The issue is that with a mild cold you are able to complete work and activities, and more often than not your brain is still operating at the full capacity it's your body that is a bit lacking. This means that you (or maybe just I) feel that you are not working or doing as much as you could be doing. Or when you do decide to relax or take a break more frequently than you normally would (because you are tired) you feel you are wasting time. In essence, your brain hasn't given up on the previous schedule and work effort which your body just can't cope with. In the case of a severe illness your brain will either also be taken down or will realise the supidity in continuing as you did.
So how to deal with this (hopefull uncommon) issue? Importantly, it is not a major issue, or possibly not even an issue for most people, but personally it is. I think in general you need to understand the work load your body can take, and also what activities your body can regenerate with (eg. reading, playing music, crocheting, etc.). For example, I know that I can have bursts of high intensity, focused work intermixed between low intensity working, however if I complete quite a few burst over a fortnight I will need a day of relaxation. I also know watching media, reading, playing music and crocheting do not take any toll on me.
Using this information I can then set up a rough schedule, more of a mental note: Every 2 weeks do not do any work on Saturday (This is something I should but do not really follow). But also that instead of watching hours of youtube or netflix I can play some music or crochet in between working sessions. The importance of reading, playing music, crocheting, or any activity you actually have to do, is that you are aware that you are doing something, you realise you are turning the 50th page, playing the piece for the 10th time or reaching the 18 round, so you have a constant check to say get back to work. It's also the same thing over and over, no new videos designed to draw you in. Overall you feel more productive and get more work done (This is why my friends at school wonder how I make things and still get work done). This productivity is what I lost during my illness.
So back to the illness problem. These small tasks become strenuous to an ill body so they are no longer relaxing. So I revert to youtube watching, something unproductive which I can get sucked into. So they key is to find something almost mindless which I can't get sucked into. What I have thought of is just watching the world go by (I live on a fairly busy street so I can watch people go about their day) whilst also listening to music which I do whilst I work anyway. This gives my body and mind rest time without being dragged into any addictive software. You could also get a tea or a coffee or something to eat. Just enjoy the moment, something we should all do more and possibly a topic for a different blog thread.
Importantly, you need to cut yourself some slack when dealing with a cold. Where possible try and take a premptive day off, stitch in time saves nine and all that, because my cold definitely got worse on Wednesday when I should have stayed home. I possible could be cold free by Friday, but I still have the reminants now, anyway.
- Deliberately plan into your schedule, or as mental notes, rest days as frequently as you personally need them. During these days it is important to completely forget about work and only focus on things you want to do in the moment don't plan anything (maybe meet ups with friends or movies, lazy activities basically). This means if a cold strikes you have these buffers to help out, but try and take a break as soon as possible to prevent further problems you can then shift your scheduled breaks to get back into the flow.
- Find productive activities which you can do without much (if any) effort, to complete between working sessions. Something that you actually have to physically do so that you have the constant reminder to get back to work. It should be fairly repetitive or samey so that your impulsive part of the brain gets bored after a while and wants to try something new, use this to get back into work
- Finally cut yourself slack during and after a cold, find really mindless activities to really relax with, and understand that your body was preoccupied with trying to keep you alive and not with some arbitrary mathemathics homework.