I’m always busy. I spend every day busy.
Sometimes you spend your time and your life in a blur of activity. I run from one thing to the next, going through all the different things I’m trying to learn- programming, reading Japanese kanji characters, reading the next novel I’m on after reading another chapter in a self improvement nonfiction book, catching up on the next classic I haven’t actually read yet (right now I’ve finally started reading “Ivanhoe”, and it was not quite what I expected from the precursor of the tale of “Robin Hood”) and fitting in a half hour to practice riding a bike (it’s far too embarrassing to be a genuine adult person and not be able to ride so it’s something I’ve been working on fixing instead of going through the rest of my life being ashamed of it) and of course I supposedly took up running so I have to actually go out and do it- especially since I’ve found the run itself isn’t too painful which is surprising as I consider myself as fit as Jabba the Hut (I’ve been following the method outlined in “Tai Chi Running” and it’s been pretty painless actually which was a little shocking at first) and the only stress is actually the after burn that tightens my muscles and keeps me up in my bed at night for the rest of the week. Maybe switching from bath oil to epsom salts in my tub will fix that problem?
Being busy somehow makes me more effective.
I feel like every time I add another to-do to my list, though, I end up being a more effective and more focused worker. It’s easy to call yourself a full time writer and then just spend you time staring out windows or watching tv or reading every book ever made and only get around to actually writing or revising something once a month. It’s much harder to actually bang out some lines on the keyboard every single day and not get distracted from life. It shouldn’t be a surprise- I wasn’t ever the best student at finishing my homework so according to every quiz ever made choosing to be self employed is the dumbest idea I’ve ever had with my low ability to self motivate and keep myself on track- but somehow having breaks where I’m accomplishing a hobby or other goal outside of my self made job to-do list actually makes me a more focused and effective worker.
I didn’t come up with the idea of spending large chunks of my working schedule goofing off and doing other things all by myself though. Many popular productivity guides, like “The 4 Hour Work Week“, recommend adding breaks to your day so that time spent working is at the peak of your focus so you get better quality work done more quickly. For myself I don’t want to limit my work week that much, especially because I have about a monthly publishing schedule (I have not written six books this year but I have written one book of my own, and published five other pieces so when I was making my monthly schedule for the year since starting this work in June I decided what I’ve done does count) but I do like to follow the Pomodoro method. Written by Francesco Cirillo in his publication aptly names “Pomodoro“, and since adapted into a billion similar timer apps, the crux of the concept is to have focused work for a short period of time and then have a short break, followed by progressively longer breaks the longer you are working. I’ve found that works well for me, though not everyone is so keen on the concept.
Sleep works best of all.
And then there’s the one key productivity tip that everyone is waxing on and on about nowadays- the magical qualities of a good night’s sleep and how they improve the speed and quality of your work. I skimmed through “Sleep” by Ariana Huffington, (yes, not everyone considers Huffington Post particularly reputable- but this book does have research that seemed solid to me to back it up so I think it’s still worth a read), but I already knew not sleeping very well makes me a zombie. I did find that making the ultimate sleep mask that blocks all light, is comfy and won’t bunch on my head or pull at my ears, and won’t end up unusable in three months because the elastic wore out that quickly like my last three face masks.