End of the year. GeneaBloggers stir ourselves once again from the turkey coma. Forthcoming are affirmations of mission statements, re-orientation of goals, new lists, all that stuff. You know, what I accomplished this year and/or what I intend to do in 2011. The earnestness is tangible and sometimes self-admonishing. Wo. Woe. Whoa. It’s not like I for one am going to check up on you mid-June and castigate you for your lapses. Really.
Don’t get me wrong. Personal stock-taking, genealogy-wise or otherwise, is not a bad idea, especially for aging family historians (making it public is another matter). TIME is the biggest element we wrestle with. Time management (Better Time Management) and concentration become paramount. Therefore, fellow aging boomers, I recommend striking everything unproductive out of your daytimer. Everything distracting and interruptive. Forget the movies you wanted to see, forget the friendly lunches, don’t answer the telephone, ignore your kids, hide the tax return forms, and stay off Facebook. See if that helps.
There’s a perverse fly in the ointment, of course. If anyone under say 50 is reading this, you need to know that Getting Old is a full-time job in itself. Your head overflows with life’s accumulation of information and sometimes wisdom. Your mental filing cabinet efficiently retrieves useless trivia and not the information you want right now. Senior people, your very own friends (if you have any left), get struck by impairments without warning. So you’ve unwittingly shouldered an unwelcome parallel goal—to retain command of brain and limbs—while continuing to research and write the family history projects.
And so the ideally blank daytimer starts to fill again. Annoyingly. With self-protective measures. Be judicious about making medical appointments because at this stage of your life it’s clear your (younger) doctor has less than a 50% grasp of Getting Old. He will refer you to the optometrist, the hearing aid people, the physiotherapist, the neurologist, the chiropodist, the gastroenterologist, the hematologist, the dermatologist, or perhaps yoga classes. Naturally, this is well aside from your dentist who these days is apparently only good for repairing old fillings. The dental industry burgeons with specialists: the surgeon for extractions, the root canal guy, the periodontist, the orthodontist (hopefully we’re past that point), the bridgework technicians, and so on. Breathtaking.
Being judicious means recognizing what’s important and what’s not. When to call for external help or not. A sympathetic computer consultant (the 24-hour kind) should be the only person on your speed dial. Cut back on time-wasting items at every opportunity. Stop sleeping is one suggestion. Catching the flu or a cold should not prevent logging on every day. You aren’t going to get prescription medication for it so why waste time with the doctor. Corns on your feet, stiff joints, cataracts, bursitis, sciatica: we have to suck it up, as they say. It takes too long to commute to the gym but you can exercise at home along with a TV celebrity.
Eating meals—if you still do that—at your computer saves time. Popcorn has some nutritional value; to avoid grease on your keyboard, just dip your whole face in the bowl. I learned that from my children. Double expressos in the morning are a lifesaver if you were working all night. Pamper the hand that controls your mouse and the arm that controls the hand. They too enjoy small flexibility exercises every so often.
As for your brain, the occasional reality check is useful. You want to ensure your cognitive skills are more or less intact beyond the realm of intense genealogical proof arguments. Some of us like to indulge in crosswords or sudoku but why not just save more time by answering a pre-printed self-compiled quiz like:
Where are the car keys?
What is my social security number?
Name ten items in my fridge.
What day and time did I last water the plants?
Who was the person who told me that obsessive-compulsive disorder is being struck from the DSM-V?
What is my password for PayPal?
Can I raise both arms? No, wait. That was the Have You Had A Stroke quiz.
(Then congratulate yourself on keeping up with the wellness business).
I have done my altruistic part, temporarily (... oh yes, there could be more) to sustain and stave. By now you understand being in such fine shape I have not Made A List. My resolution is simply Get On With It. Happy New Year!