It’s a bit like teetering on the edge of a cliff being me right now. That simile is flawed because at the moment, I am stable, and I am getting all the work I need to done, both in my actual job, and in my writing. And yet, I feel as if I am on the edge of a plummet.
I think this is due to how tight a few areas of my life have become. For example, I have been lured time and again into later nights because of my friends in Australia and Canada – which I might add is because I enjoy talking to them, not anybody’s fault.
There is also the example of the mornings on the opposite end, where I am at present experimenting with making 8 hours sleep the priority over a 7am start. For the most part, I stand by that model, as I function significantly better on eight hours than on seven; it’s no contest.
The issue however becomes when to write. By getting those eight hours, I forfeit my morning writing. I then arrive at work, where I am awful at taking my breaks away from my desk, and feel awkward writing at my desk on my break. I even feel awkward taking the five minutes to write these posts.
So that then feeds into the 5-7 time block. I used to be far more lax with this block, but now if I am going out I make sure I do so right on 5, or if I am at home I cook much earlier. If I am in no rush I can do my “write at my desk between five and six, but on days like today I miss out if I don’t rush to the shop.
So now we get into dicey territory. If I am at the shop, I might only start writing at close to ten in the evening. Even on those days I am at home, it is rare that I ever start before nine, because I use that time to zone out. I could claim that time back, but this is in truth the only time I take all day to do anything of the sort.
And here it becomes dire: I start at around ten, but if I start talking to people this drags far later. And as soon as we reach eleven the situation becomes critical. I lose an hour of sleep each night as it is from restlessness, so the data my Fitbit shows me paints a stark picture: if I am not in bed with lights out by this point, I can’t get my eight hours even if I do sleep in.
This tailspin happens a lot at the moment, and if I am to become my most efficient, I have to develop failsafes to prevent it. So lets rewind to the night before to look at some key points, and see if we can spot the do-or-die moments. Spoilers, there’s a handful that define a successful day from a bad one.
The first is that lights out. As alluded to, if I do not manage it before eleven, the next day is sent into turmoil. So getting to that point should be a priority. As I will get to at the end of this analysis, this is the bare minimum I should be aiming for, and in reality I need to be much more strict.
If I am well rested and chain enough good days, then achieving the 7am start can be followed by morning writing. I used to view morning writing as the dream, and achieving target as early as possible if not a requirement, then certainly a bonus. In hindsight I do not think I appraised its value well.
If morning writing is treated as a bonus rather than the goal, we end up with a much different picture. In this instance, the idea of me going into work with target already done is magical-Christmas-land. This is not apt on its face as that does happen, but in almost all instances target is hit when I get into work, not at home. I write the last 200 or so words before I blog.
So is this rush the right way to look at target, or the reason that I end up then resisting morning writing if I do not feel I can write all 1,000 words in that sitting. The original idea of 1K was never “write 1,000 words at once once a day”, not least because that is a terrible mantra. Seeing as it does not need to come from any one work, why should I be so hung up on it all happening at once?
We then reach work, where perhaps the biggest roadblock sits: I do not take my breaks. Sure, I stop and eat, for maybe 10 minutes if that. I am entitled under my contract to longer than that – which is a good thing today as this entry is taking awhile, though I am working as I write this.
How do I fix this? Well the answer lies in that same mentality that dominates morning writing or not: I don’t have to write it all at work. Chipping off bits as and when I can should be easy, and might help my overall concentration. I already doodle to do just this, so why wouldn’t I write?
We know the 5-6 timeslot works, but on days like today the trade off is much larger, so I do not feel making this mandatory is the right step for me, at least at this time. That said, if I have no plans, I should be doing this to hit target so I can enjoy my evening. There isn’t really an excuse.
From there on, this becomes a lot more straight forward: write as soon as possible. No matter what is going on, writing if below target becomes the top priority. It has to be, because when I said I should be lights out by eleven, I should have said I have to be lights out by eleven. I should be by ten, and ideally by nine. Eleven shaves two perfectly good hours off my day that I do not enjoy using anyway.
On shop days like today, eleven works fine. I have to be able to go out and enjoy evenings when I am doing something. But outside of that, there’s no reason to sabotage the next day like that. And on weekends, while yes I should sleep until I have my eight hours regardless, if I foster these habits that becomes 7am anyway.
So I am going to put WHT on my desk now, and chip away at it bit by bit over today. If it is not done by 5 I will leave and go to the shop right away anyway, but I will be writing as I travel on the bus, and while at the shop until target is hit. I have to. This process demands order. And to be honest, my values do too.