This started with a note to self on leaving breadcrumbs, and ended with a stream of consciousness journey on how I reached this conclusion. So what I’m trying to say, in a slightly rambling manner, is that this is a slightly incoherent, rambling post.

A bookmark with the text on it, jocularly warning the reader, “The next page might be odd”

Courtesy, Delgrosso, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, on Flickr

I’m running my days now to slow, daily, consistent tiny amounts of progress.
And I am seeing results. When there are so many demands on my time, prioritising them and then doing them slowly yet consistently is yielding fruit.
While I certainly enjoy the deep dive, full of focus, lost in work sessions a lot more, I have too much life happening to allocate that kind of time and attention to everything.
The first thing I did, when I kinda-sorta revamped the way I went about my days1, was to drop as many hot potatoes as I could, and then d-d-d-ed all the small yet important things in my life.
And then came to the sobering realisation that the rest of life just had to be done and dealt with. Even things I don’t like.

A couple of pieces then had to fall into place, before I gained some semblance of sanity and progress.

  1. I can’t do it all. Some things, important things even, will fall through the cracks. Somethings that I really want to do, will get pushed to someday/maybe and some will just never get done. I have to make my peace with it.
  2. Knowing what I am giving up, the things that I am doing? They better be worth it.
  3. Making the time to think this through, and having mental muscle to do the thinking2 helped.
  4. Everything does not have to be good and perfect. Good enough, is good enough.
  5. Yes, stuff is hard and unpleasant, but then you have a blessed life. There are so many people with hard lives. Suck it up. And go do something about it. Deal with it. Leaving stuff unattended in the recesses of your mind, is a sure way to rust and ruin.3. At the same time, while you are hard and focussed on the work, be kind to yourself. Find that balance.
  6. Alright, mentally set. Now how do I go about the doing?
  7. By doing as much or as little as you can, depending on how you prioritise it.
  8. By doing it consistently. Set a schedule. Hit it.
  9. If you think you don’t want to do it, do 10m regardless.4 And then move on.5
  10. If interrupted, deal with the interruption. Come back. And continue.
  11. Dealing with interruptions does not mean giving in to it. It means figuring out just what it is, and figuring out what to do about it. Most stuff can be jotted down and scheduled for later. Make sure the significant folk in your life know what you are up to, so that they know when they can expect you to be present and when you are off doing your own thing.6
  12. Doing stuff this way is slow. And that’s ok. If your life permitted focussed deep work, you’d be doing it. But that’s not how it is. So find islands of focus. And do the best you can.
  13. Do the best you can, does not mean going all out. Slow, sure, steady. That is your drumbeat. Slow, sure, steady. Unflustered. Calm. Measured.

So what happens once you do this? And what hiccoughs did you run into? And what do you do about it?

  1. Stuff gets done! It doesn’t look like this ought to work, but it does.
  2. Leaving stuff undone, putting things down for the day, causes lots of mental turmoil.
  3. Also whenever you go back to stuff, there’s a lot of going back before your minds grasps where it was at, and only then does it go forth.
  4. And that brings me to the crux of why I began writing this dastardly note in the first place.
  5. Log. Summarise. Review!
    1. Log how long you take for your tasks. Don’t judge yourself. Just dispassionately do it.
    2. Every time you think you’re done with something for the time being and are putting it down? Spend the time to write down what you did and what future you needs to be doing. Create bookmarks. Give directions. Do this no matter how tired you are. No matter how shitty the note.
    3. Review. This is the most important bit. Review at regular intervals and at various depths.7 And only then make your plans accordingly. Daily time logging & summarising leads to daily review leads to a better sense of what is done, how far you’ve come, what to change, where to swerve, what to do next, and where to go. Review, gosh darn it. Review!

It’s been working well the past three months. It’s reduced a lot of friction, and quite a bit of time. It makes it easy to get into the swing of things.
I’ll come back in six months and write about how it went.

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  1. it was a slow, gradual process. ↩︎

  2. Thank you, meditation practice! ↩︎

  3. oft used phrase in the Cosmere ↩︎

  4. be as foul minded and potty mouthed and grumpy as you want. But do it. ↩︎

  5. unless you get into the groove. ↩︎

  6. if you are busy doing work all day, then that’s a sign. You need to get your life back into some semblance of balance. It’s ok doing this shit for a measure of time. This cannot be your whole life ↩︎

  7. I’m good at the nitty gritty and the big picture (daily / quarterly reviews). I struggle with the medium term (weekly) ↩︎