My life has been busy for about the last decade or so. I realized during that time that no matter how busy your life is, it can always get busier. The people that make those memes about “Being Busy is a Choice” have not walked in my shoes and probably have never worked two or three jobs to make ends meet.
I usually break my life up into “stuff I want to do” and “stuff I have to do”. When I say I am busy, it means the “stuff I have to do” part of my life is taking a majority of my waking hours. And yes, sometimes I will steal an hour or two from sleep to get more “stuff I want to do” hours but it only works so far. Eventually, sleep becomes “stuff I want to do”.
I create these two categories to determine how I will handle things in each. I optimize “stuff I have to do”. I try do these things as efficiently as I can in one part of the day with as few breaks as I can. I would rather take all those breaks at the end to bulk up “the stuff I want to do” parts of the day. A lot of the “stuff I have to do” I do on autopilot. It becomes a rut, but a rut where my mind if free to think of other things.
“Stuff I want to do” is a nebulous category. If left to my own devices, I would watch too much TV. Stories are where I can escape. And I don’t see a problem with it unless it takes up all of my “stuff I want to do” time.
There is also “stuff I want to do” because of goals I have or changes I want to effect in my life. These aren’t necessarily easy things. Meditation, writing and exercise exist here. The lazy part of me has tried to convince me that I will just do these things as soon as I have time, for a few decades now. That is not the truth.
Sometimes I will. Two weeks will go by and I will spend 4 hours on a Saturday writing. And then a month will go by. A few times, a year went by.
So a few years ago, I called bullshit on myself. I decided I wouldn’t watch TV for the hour and a half before bed time. Instead, I would meditate 15 minutes, write 15 minutes and read for an hour.
And it kind of worked. I kept up with the pattern… on work days. The weekends were a free for all. I had more time on the weekends, but somehow never got to my weekday habits. The weekdays had a framework of “have to do” stuff that I could fit this “want to do” stuff in. I knew at 10:30 it was time to start winding down and getting ready for bed if I was doing to practice my habits. While on the weekends, always still “had time” until Sunday at 10:30 when the pattern kicked back in.
So a few weeks ago, I stumbled on to the “Miracle Mornings” series of books by Hal Elrod and I got the one on writing. It is about building a habit of meditation, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading and writing. Damn, I did almost the same thing on my own. The only difference was the “morning” part.
Now I have always considered myself a night person and definitely not a morning person. In fact, I would always try to stay away from people the first hour I was awake because that’s when I have a short fuse. My commute is almost that long every day, so that takes care of it. So I always just thought these “early bird gets the worm people” had a perspective but so did I and not everyone is the same.
But the willpower argument finally got me. It basically says that you start each day with a finite amount of willpower and each decision you have to make taps into that. So, by the end of the day, you have very little left and have a tendency to take the easy route to everything.
Now I don’t necessarily believe this 100%. You can boost your willpower. You can use psychological tricks on yourself to push yourself harder, because I have done it. But at the same time, as a day goes on, it diverges from your “perfect” day. Yes, you may be able to push yourself, but you never have control on how the world pushes back.
So it made sense to me that if I can get up an hour before the world started giving me stuff “I had to do”, I had control of my time and I could get this stuff done. And since “waking up” is something I do every day, it happens on the weekends too.
Well, it turns out, I was right. Today is day 26. I have spent decades fighting being a “morning person” but I can say I am one now.