The solution for a problem that doesn’t exist

This week flew by. I can’t believe it’s Wednesday already! There’s a good reason why perception of time is a bit different for me this week. It went by almost in a continuous blur. I lost quite some sleep this week, as a result of having a to-do list that is longer than I like it to be.

Over the next two weeks, I will work remotely, so I won’t be able to do any practical work on-site. Instead I will have a schedule filled with meetings, teaching, and rounding up unfinished manuscripts, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s just that before I leave, I usually force myself to leave everything behind proper. That means semester students instructed on their projects, and ensuring that all the team could need from me personally during my absence has been arranged.

To be clear, these are self-imposed ‘tasks’. I could probably have left without anyone noticing, and would come back to find a smoothly running machine in two weeks. I’m not sure if it’s needed or even wanted. It’s not that I’m a control freak… It’s just that I am also still learning the ropes when it comes to leading a team. I simply do it like this because at the moment I don’t know any other way. I guess a balance between trust in the team, but still being as involved as I can be because I like the grind, is what I aim for. Whether the current work flow is optimal I don’t know yet.

Anyway, this blog is not about my management skills. It’s about the way my brain handles to-do lists, and my brain is absolutely broken. A little bit insane, even.

Every time I have, say, ten or more impactful tasks on the list for the week, my brain starts playing games with me. Of course, these games have to be played at night.

Mind racing.

Fucking horrible. Usually completely and utterly useless. It also affects me in my sleep tremendously. I absolutely hate it, and only wish I knew how to turn the rambling brain thing off sometimes. Or, like, every day between 8pm and 8am.

This week has been particularly bad, likely for the reasons I described above. Now, if the mind racing would involve problem solving for existing problems, I could somehow live with it. That’s not the case though. It’s creating new, nonexistent problems, and keeps racing to find solutions, nonexistent solutions you might say. All of this happens in that special shitty zone between fast asleep and wide awake. I hate this zone. It messes me up. I regularly wake up feeling more drained than energized.

I’m looking forward to experiencing three nights of an uninterrupted six to eight hours’ worth of sleep. I can’t remember the last time. (This could also be because of sleep deprivation.)

Do you recognize the shitty sleep zone? How do you handle an overwhelmed brain in need of better sleep?

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

4 thoughts on “The solution for a problem that doesn’t exist

  1. Luckily I’m sufficiently medicated that it shuts my mind off at bedtime. Drugs are a wonderful thing. Daytime overwhelm is definitely an issue, though. If I had 10 or more impactful things on the to-do list for the week, my brain would be sloshing around like whisked eggs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know what I’m talking about. My brain is eggs of the scrambled variety, as it’s overheating all the time. Yet, I’m always impressed by the many things you manage to get done. The research on/for your blog alone is mega impressive.

      Liked by 1 person

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