Getting back into the flow when nothing is flowing, re-visited

About a month ago I noted that I was struggling to get back into the flow after working through the busiest period of the year for my new role at Western Sydney University. Since then I’ve continued to struggle to think up ideas for new projects, and the projects that I do have crawl along at a snail’s pace while I try to work out what the next step should be, procrastinate with games of Solitaire, or stare at a screen onto which I’m supposed to be writing something.

At the same time, however, my weeknights and weekends have been filled by interesting and engaging work including a read-through of one of my major writing projects, cooking and brewing, and chores around the house. I find myself willing away the hours of the day so that I can get to the evening and get to do what seems the most interesting thing to be doing right now. Yet it’s not that I don’t have anything to do during the day; I have several work and non-work projects on my list. I’m just not finding said projects very inspiring and I don’t feel like my efforts are having much impact on them.

I suspect that a lot of it has to do with being at home all day every day during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ordinarily I like to alternate between days at home and days at the office, and allow a weekday out of every fortnight or so to go shopping, make an appointment, or take a day trip. But I’ve spent two months now looking at the same sights every day and pushing myself through projects that aren’t going to plan.

Maybe this is what critics of a non-working future fear: our lives dissolving into a monotony of being in the same place doing the same thing every day, forever trying to think up ways of using our time, without working towards anything. But of course a work-free future need not involve being stuck in an apartment for all eternity: we could travel, see friends, work on projects outside the home, and so on, as I was doing before the COVID-19 pandemic. And plenty of other critics could say things about office life and monotony.

Sometimes I wonder if I ought to just do my evening projects during the day. But I suspect that these would then themselves become monotonous for the same reasons that my current day-time projects are. Not to mention that most of the day-time projects really do need to be done at some time or another.

I’d probably benefit most from having that holiday that I haven’t been able to have since the pandemic began. That’s at least a couple of weeks away. For the moment, the main thing that gets me through those uninspiring days is the knowledge that I’ve gotten through slow periods before. I just hope that that doesn’t turn into complacency in which I sit around waiting for a great new project to come.

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