….they’re not enough on their own
It’s easy to rise early when you get to my age. The drive to visit the loo first thing is just one of the things that makes starting the day at 5am less of a chore than it was in my younger years.
I have learned, too, thanks to a combination of age and sobriety, that I need to keep busy once I’m awake. Busy in the sense of either knowing what tasks I have down to accomplish next or at least having books to hand that I am enjoying reading and want to return to. As my kids were growing up, whenever they said they were bored, I told them to read a book. “It’s impossible to be bored surrounded by books,” I would tell them. You may be surprised to know that my children — now adults — spend very little time reading books. Go figure.
But that’s enough about them; back to me. I have been an early riser for many years now. And I have used a bullet journal for the last few years to make sure I know what I am supposed to do next. In theory. Unfortunately, I have yet to master putting tasks in sequence in my bullet journal beyond the few tasks I repeat each morning and which form what can be called my morning ritual. By the time breakfast arrives, I have a list of tasks and I get to pick and choose what to do when. Which means, of course, that by the end of the day, many tasks are rescheduled for the following day (ad nauseum) as I scrabble to make at least a dent in the list of tasks outstanding. Ho hum.
But at least I’m not bored because I always have some books to turn to (even if they are not the ones I have tasked myself with reading at that time).
Here’s the thing. When I have a lie-in and get to my desk at 9am, say, instead of 5am, I feel that I have wasted four hours of the day. Any productive business person or prolific creator would feel the same, no? But what I produce at the end of a day in which I start at 9am is remarkably similar to what has been produced in a longer day. Not just similar: identical. Nothing.
My wife, after almost thirty years of marriage is, as you would expect, not only puzzled — and increasingly exasperated — by my need to ‘start work’ at 5am but also by the evidence of the great nothing that results from these long days of so-called labour.
I should add here, in case you think I’m some sort of man of leisure pottering about reading books and tending to my smoking jackets, that I do also have a ‘real job’ out there — or, more recently, at home — in the real world. But I do carve out a lot of time for myself.
Which brings me to 2021. I have the early start mastered. That’s a life-hack I don’t need any more help with. I even have the writing down tasks and some sort of morning ritual down pat. I’m a self-help superstar for at least the first thirty minutes of every day. Then it all dissipates.
What I want to do this year, therefore, is plug this early morning success into a better ritual for producing stuff. Any stuff. Stuff I can show my wife and say, look, here’s what I did today.
Have I tried this before? Possibly. OK, most of the past ten years at least. So? Can’t a man dream?
Do I have a plan? Yes. It’s more of a tweak than a radical overhaul. Assigning times to task is a big part of the plan. And making sure I deal in priorities. I can’t believe — given what I know about priorities and urgent tasks and the difference between urgent and important tasks and all that 7 Habits matrix stuff — that I don’t apply this to my own life.
One of the things I want to do is write a daily post. I have been reading Seth Godin for over a decade and he has banged on about writing posts daily for as long as I have read him. I have nodded at the wisdom of such a statement. I know that writing is the best way to discover what you think about something and I know that writing is also the best way to uncover the real me.
That is priority number one for this year, then: a daily post. Scary.