Lose no time

I suspect some people need to cultivate a sense of urgency to motivate them. I need less motivation. I need less urgency.

I managed to create a life where my perception is that every waking moment I’m either on-task or off. Every waking moment is either doing something that moves me towards my goals, or a moment of relaxation and unwinding—self-care practices so to speak. (Of course, there’s another third of my life when I’m asleep.)

It’s perfectly obvious that there is no such thing as work versus life balance. There’s just life. Some moments I’m doing this thing. Some moments that thing. Some moments resting my eyes. Some moments eating. Some moments interacting with this person. Some moments with that person. Many moments I’m alive.

The only way it would make sense to talk about work versus life… I don’t mean work, defined as when money is changing hands. I mean work as in efforts spent progressing towards a goal. The only way it would make sense to talk about work versus life balance would be if I were two—or more—different people; the work me and the life me. I can readily see how that could be a thing. I can see people who do that, or at least they try to do that. It’s completely obvious when people try to be one person in work contexts and another for themselves. I’m not sure I ever tried to do that. I’m sure that I don’t want to do that.

There’s just me. There’s just life. I need to catch myself making a distinction between work and life. That would be a moment, earlier than where I’m currently trying to solve my problems, where I might have more purchase.

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Decisions decisions decisions

Over and over, throughout the day, we make the Hundred Little Decisions: to work on this, to check email, to go to this website, to respond to messages, to grab a bite to eat, to meditate or exercise or do yoga or have tea or watch a video or push into deep purpose.

~ Leo Babauta, from http://zenhabits.net/decisions/

As usual, Leo has this boiled down to its essence. I certainly make plenty of bad, in-the-moment decisions. These generally relate to food or entertainment, as escapes from stress and workload—both are entirely self-imposed and positively feedback into each other. I’m convinced that no amount of good intentions, nor mantras, nor little sticky notes, etc. can save me.

My mistakes are made much farther back in time. The mistake is not what I do when I feel frustrated; the mistake was starting the 42nd task during which I became frustrated. The mistake was putting 47 things on my todo list—not literally on paper, but in my set of expectations of myself. When I get to item 41, there’s absolutely not way I’m not going to start on number 42 when I have my eyes on the goal of 47.

I am completely on board with the idea that what one can accomplish in a lifetime is astounding, and that I can get there by simply doing a little bit, (of whatever it is,) each day. I understand that idea, but it appears in action too rarely in my life. I have a nice, sparse, morning routine and each day—more than two hours after I’ve awakened—I get to the point where I “surface.” Where I open up all the communication tools, project management system, notes, everything… and I plan my day.

This is where I fail; around 7:30am. Every day I grab life by the short hair and set out to tackle All The Things allocated for today. Every self-cursed day, I get to the 42nd item and get frustrated, tired, hungry, discouraged or whatever.

This problem is not solved with sticky notes at the spots where decisions are made in real time. This problem is solved in my first two hours in the morning… where I should be thinking:

What would a good day look like today?

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P.S.: I’m adamantly opposed to planning “tomorrow” before going to sleep. The last thing I want to do, at the end of my day, is wade into what tomorrow holds, in the end-of-day, wound down, ready for restorative rest, mode. That’s crazy. It’s also presumptuous about there being a tomorrow into which I will awaken—the last thing I ever want to do is have someone find me dead, and see the stupid crap I was planning to do the next day. The only sane course of action is to wake up, begin the day with a fresh start and see what it holds in store.

My future self

People who succeed look to give their future selves an edge. They seek to put themselves in a more advantaged position down the road. They make small sacrifices today to alleviate stress and enjoy more fulfillment tomorrow.

~ Steve Pavlina, from https://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2016/08/patterns-of-success/

There’s an old adage about how we consistently over-estimate what can be accomplished in a day, while under-estimating what can be accomplished in a lifetime.

At some point I started loosely planning each day; There are times when I completely pause this daily activity, but in general, early in the morning I create a plan for the day. I disagree with the often repeated recommendation to plan the night before. In the evening, as I’m winding down, planning my day would place me in front of my computer which is something I avoid at all costs.

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