Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Schedule check-in

At the beginning of the year I committed to living according to a strict schedule, with all time accounted for and specific time committed to particular priorities. I hadn't written about it in a while, and people keep asking me how it's going, so I figured I'd check in.

Overall, it's going great. My morning routine is really solid: up and 5 am, write, exercise, shower & dress, breakfast with the family and get the kids out the door by 8 am. It hardly ever changes, and it makes life better for me. I find that writing first thing in the morning is vastly superior to writing during the day or late at night. I do it, I don't worry about it, and it's much easier and more enjoyable when the house is quiet, I'm rested, and focused. On the very few days that I haven't written first thing, I find it's much harder to find a good block of time to do it, and more difficult to stay focused on it to the end. Exercise has yielded tangible results: I shed about five pounds, my abs have the faintest ghost of six-pack-ness about them, and I feel pretty good.

Sleep . . . well, my sleep habits are much, much better than they used to be. I'm getting enough rest more days than not. I had a rough time through February and March when I was almost back to my old ways, pushing the limits of how little sleep I could function on. But I'm on the wagon again. What I've found is that between the ideal amount of sleep (when I ought to go to bed) and the point of exhaustion (when productivity becomes almost non-existant) is only maybe an hour or two, tops. I just can't get enough done in that time to justify feeling like hell the next day.

Work . . . that's the beast that refuses to die. I still don't have control of my work-time. The habits that led me to hit bottom on the scheduling front to begin with (over-committing, frantically working, falling short, leading to more over-committing, etc.) are still there. I've had to resort to more drastic means to support myself through the temptation to work more than I ought. I check in with my boss at the beginning of every day, to tell him the schedule and commit to sticking to it. I write up my billing notes every day, mostly as a means of confessing where the time actually went, and to get perspective on the schedule. I'm still working in the evenings, which I would eventually like to get away from entirely.

I have managed to give consistent time to the important-not-urgent things like the SKS and financial matters. I could, and should, have done a lot more with the SKS. Now that summer is here I will have to resist the temptation to ignore it entirely. At least I got the books entirely caught up with the taxes, and I'm starting to chip away at more long-term things: rolling over retirement accounts, reconciling investments, etc.

The Armenian mystic G.I. Gurdjieff said, of spiritual work: "In the beginning: roses, roses! Later on: thorns, thorns!" It was his way of saying that the fruits of spiritual work are pleasant in the beginning: you shed some psychological burdens, you get healthier, you get happier, things feel great. But, as you delve deeper into demands of spiritual life, you start to feel the pinch: rather than being ego-affirming, the spiritual life becomes ego-reducing, which is experienced at the time as stress and trauma. My scheduled life is following the same arc: I had some easy and wonderful gains in the beginning, but now I am facing up to the challenge of cutting away things that I'm tightly identified. My work life will not change until I stop identifying so much with my work.



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