How to Gain More Executive Function?

Yesterday, I wrote a really nice blog post detailing what I could learn about writing from my experiences with my 3D printer. Not a writing advice post, where I talk about verbs and adjectives and different ways of telling a story. Yesterday was more about the mental health of the writer, where after some trauma, things may not be in balance and writing simply won’t work until some maintenance has been performed.

That was about all I managed to do yesterday. I’m a little bit behind on a project at work, and I had every intention of making some progress on the code. There’s not that much left to do. Instead, I sat in the garage, staring at code, unable to make myself program. I spent around 6 hours in that state, trying to trick myself into moving the ball forward. It just wouldn’t happen. In the evening, I gave up and let myself watch videos and play a few games. Nothing too serious or intense, because the same lack of energy that kept me from programming kept me from doing anything else too involved.

Last night, I had trouble sleeping. I kept waking up with my limbs numb and tingling. Flexing my fingers, I could feel every tendon and ligament, and all my joints felt stiff, like they were locking into different positions. This happens to me from time to time, and I usually just wiggle my fingers a bunch until my circulation is flowing again. Last night, it wasn’t working. I struggled all night.

When I finally got up to the alarm, I knew I couldn’t work today. It was going to be worse than yesterday. I had no energy, and I knew it would be a bad idea if I tried to deal with anyone today. I called in sick, then went back to bed for another hour. I wound up out in the garage anyway, with the code open in front of me. Again, I could not bring myself to program.

This evening, I’m going to try again. Maybe I’ll be able to snag a tiny success, which can lead to some more productivity and I might be able to push things forward just a little bit more.

I know I’m not the only one that struggles like this. I’ve seen people describe it as a shortage of executive function. Some days, I can do anything. Saturday felt pretty good, as I focused on several intense tasks throughout the day. Sunday and today, I couldn’t do anything. Tomorrow must be better, because I have work to do.

What do people do to gain more executive function? There are some tricks I’ve used in the past, but it doesn’t seem to come without cost. I can distract myself music. I can force myself through sheer will. I can make lists or notes on a whiteboard. I can do small, easy things first, which sometimes give me enough of a positive kick that I can ride it into doing larger, more complicated things.

Yesterday and today, I didn’t have the energy to even try this tricks. Everything was just… hard.

I’m writing this tonight. Obligation is pushing me forward, and I’m hoping that when I’m done and I hit “publish” that it will be one of those small victories that will propel me on to the next task. I don’t know, though.

I need to seek help. The problem is that takes a lot of effort, and when I’m having trouble accomplishing anything already, there’s no room in the budget to take that kind of action.

Tomorrow will be better. It has to be.