Go to Bed, Young Man!

On Productivity

Someday, when I’m rich and famous and oh-so-successful, I imagine some interviewer is going to ask me a question along the lines of “What’s your secret to success?” or maybe it’ll be “Do you have any advice for those who want to be successful?” or something similar.

And I will of course reply, “Why, yes, I do have an answer to your question,” which will be followed by this golden nugget of wisdom:

“GO TO BED ON TIME!”

Seriously. So much of my day is determined by when I went to bed the night before. And it doesn’t even have much to do with the amount of sleep I get.

Consider: for the first few weeks of almost any break from school, I tend to maintain my “end-of-school-freaking-out-now” sleep schedule (which puts bedtime around 2 a.m. with a standard deviation of about one hour). But I cannot for the life of me keep up with whatever waking schedule I may have had during the school year. So I’ll worm my way out of bed around 10, 11, noon, whatever. Noon is usually the latest, but I’ve gotten up at 1 or 2 pm before, hasn’t everyone?

Anyway. This destroys my chances for getting anything done that day.

I mean, think about it, you get up and the sun has passed its zenith, most everyone around you is about to hit their afternoon slump, and whatever plans you made for the morning (if, indeed, you made any) feel unattainable because you budgeted a WHOLE day for whatever-it-is, not HALF.

And even though you went to bed last night at 2 am, and are thus running on 8+ hours of sleep (PLENTY of sleep, people, almost too much for a workday), you don’t think of your day in terms of “10 to 2” or whatever. NO. Nine to five. Just like the song says.

(Actually, come to think of it, nine o’clock is a generously late starting time. I don’t think I would ever get anything done if I was forced to wait until nine o’clock to get started. But whatever.)

So you tell yourself, “It’s fine. The day’s  wash. But I’ll do better tomorrow.” You promise yourself that you’ll go to sleep at midnight, or eleven, or whatever other reasonable time you think will give you enough fuel to get up at eight, or seven, or whatever other arbitrary time you set for your day to begin.

But, of course, it doesn’t happen. You find yourself trying to fit all the fun stuff you were hoping to do today into half a day (or maybe you just putter around on the internet for twelve hours [don’t lie, you know you’ve done it]) and then you finally look up at the clock and realize “omygosh, it’s already ten/eleven/etc. o’clock, and I haven’t even checked my email/Facebook/Twitter/blog/webcomics/etc. I’ll just do that quick before bed.”

Four hours later.

“Yeah. I guess I’ll just go to bed now.”

Rinse. Repeat. Regret.

Now, I know there are a lot of folks who HAVE to get up in the morning because they have kids/jobs/etc. that don’t give them any other option. That’s great for them. But for little old nonparent unemployed me? Not gonna cut it if I want to get stuff done.

Actually, the bulk of what I’m talking about here is directed at the entrepreneurial (being defined here as “anybody who has to their own stuff done, instead of someone else’s”). The more and more I sink into this culture/lifestyle, the more I grow convinced that success in it is driven primarily by your consistent effort, as opposed to inconsistent effort — i.e. a routine.

A couple weeks ago, I started a daily routine, filled with various writing, reading, education, workout, meditation, and etc. goals. I had specific tasks, and a system for determining how much time to devote to each, and alarms and alerts and timers and everything. Glorious!

For about two days, my life was bliss. Productive bliss.

Then I was up until 2 am cleaning house after a game night. (I love my game nights, don’t get me wrong, I just need to be more responsible about scheduling them.) As you can probably guess by now, I woke up late the following day.

And…I moped around doing pretty much nothing (though I told myself I was “cleaning,” and “cooking,” and all kinds of other homey things) until about 4 pm, at which point I “got around to” starting my daily routine.

Yeah, it didn’t go very well.

That’s when I realized how much sleep affected my productivity.

Yeah, yeah, news flash and all that. But again, I’m not talking about AMOUNT of sleep. I’m talking about WHEN you sleep.

I’ve always known that I should get eight hours (or seven, or nine, or 4-5 cycles of 1.5 hours each, or whatever the new fad is) of sleep each night. And I always tried…yeah, “try” is a really weak word. Sigh.

Back on track. Amount of sleep is a significant factor in physical and mental health. I recognize that. I’ve almost always recognized that. But this was perhaps the first time that I recognized the impact that the time I went to bed at night had on the following day’s productivity.

Since this revelation, while I haven’t been perfect at it, I’ve had an explosion of productivity. I won’t go into all the details, but I have to say that getting up in the morning, seeing the sun hanging low in the sky where it’s marking the start of a new day, almost giving you permission to make new opportunities for yourself, well, that’s exciting.

I’ve always considered myself a nightowl. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to develop and maintain a schedule where I worked through the night and slept during the day. But after seeing the affect the sun has had on my productivity, I really have no choice — if I want to be successful in my various endeavors — other than to become a morning person.

You want to know how to be successful? Try getting up in the morning. It might help. 😉

Advertisements

On Ray Bradbury, STUFF, and Upcoming Projects

On Ray Bradbury

It seems that, being caught up in the business of moving not only myself, but also my friends Vocal Bard and the recently published Alexandra Rowland, as well as helping The Fabulous l.e.yar make her way to NYC for her New York Stage and Film Internship, I missed the event that was Ray Bradbury‘s Death last week.

I don’t have much to say about that. I must sadly admit that I’ve never read a Ray Bradbury story. I’m about halfway through his Zen and The Art of Writing, a short collection of essays on his writing process, which I’ve found fascinating if only because of the way his mind seems to work. But other than that, I am woefully illiterate on all things Ray Bradbury.

(There’s also a humorous little music video about Bradbury I recall seeing last year, following WorldCon, but I’d prefer not to link to it here as it’s NSFW. If you’re still curious, you can easily find it by searching for “Ray Bradbury Music Video” in Google.)

So, that’s about it. I suppose I should start reading some Ray Bradbury stories now. But I’ve been saying that about a lot of books for years now, and I’m not much closer to getting those done either. Maybe I need a plan. Hmm….

On STUFF

As I mentioned above, most of my time these past few weeks has been dedicated to either moving or else preparing to move, in some capacity. As a result, a lot of what I’ve been thinking about has involved packaging things and organizing things and just what’s all involved in the transferring of things from one place to another.

In other words, I’ve been thinking about just how much STUFF I have.

Because it’s rather frustrating to have basically outgrown your parents’ house and have nowhere else to go with all your STUFF except your little sister’s basement (which is in a house she’s renting from aforementioned parents).

Also I have no furniture.

Mostly, it’s books, board games, clothes, and a variety of miscellaneous bits that fall between the cracks of definition between the above items. Plus writing equipment.

It’s all great STUFF (or else the not-great-stuff is all buried beneath the great stuff to the point that I can no longer see any of it and am thus deluded into thinking it’s all great STUFF), but it’s still a bit overwhelming at times. I look around my room and think “I can barely move from the bed to the door,” but as soon as I start trying to prioritize things to move OUT of the room and down to the basement, I start thinking “Wait, wait, I can’t move THAT, I need to have that close at hand,” because you never know when you might want to play Magic while reading Stephen King and cataloguing your notes on that fantasy epic you were working on three years ago with an episode of Fullmetal Alchemist playing in the background. Also weights. So you can get your exercise at the same time.

*deep breathes*

Lately, as a result of all this, I’ve been trying to figure out how I can pare down. I’ve had that scene from Up in the Air, where George Clooney basically throws away half of the things Anna Kendricks packed in her suitcase. (Either that one, or the bit in the beginning when he packs everything he needs into a single carryon suitcase. What can I say? Efficiency is sexy.)

Sometimes I think, “Why can’t I do something like that?”

Why can’t I throw away half of my STUFF? I don’t use even that much on a monthly basis.

Why can’t I give away half of my STUFF? I’m sure there are people who would appreciate it more than me.

Why can’t I sell half of my STUFF? I could certainly use the money.

But then I start thinking about how much I enjoy my obscure board games, or how long it took me to build my collection of Star Wars miniatures, or how I really am going to get around to reading the entire Wheel of Time here someday, as well as War and Peace.

I just need to clear a path through all the rest of the STUFF first.

On Current and Upcoming Projects

So I’m trying this new thing right now where I don’t tell people about what I’m working on until it’s finished. That way you won’t ever know if I failed to meet my deadlines. 🙂

That being said, I do want to mention a few things about my plans for the summer.

First, I realize that I’m way behind on my release schedule for “Paradise Remnants.” Between hardware complications, software complications, moving commitments, and the end of the school year, I simply haven’t made it as high a priority as it should be. I will catch up, but it’s likely going to be a little while before I’m back on schedule. I’m not going to make any promises about when I’ll have any of them ready, but look for the upcoming episodes to be released in clusters of two or three over the next few months.

Second, you may have noticed that A Craftsman’s Journey has been compromised by big, red, scary messages of “DO NOT GO HERE.” Those are accurate, so far as I know. Unfortunately, when Kris’s site was hacked about a month ago, the malware spread to my site as well. I don’t know how this happened, nor do I have the resources to fix it. As a result, I’m going to be closing down the Craftsman’s Journey blog once I’ve backed up all of its posts. Will I restart it? I don’t know. Likely not, at least not anytime soon. It was a great experiment, but I’ve found my focus shifting elsewhere, so the purpose of the blog is likely no longer necessary.

Third, this blog. I’ve got a lot that I want to do with this blog. I see a lot of potential projects that I can share through this platform, but that’s all going to take time. I want to do a redesign, and develop more focused, regular, and intentional content for the blog, as well as half a dozen other “behind the scenes” restructuring projects for the way I approach my career and my business as a whole. I’m not going to bore you with the details (or make any promises), but understand that I am developing a plan and that I am once again excited about writing, publishing, the whole thing.

However, what you need to understand more clearly than everything else above is this: my attitude toward my work has shifted considerably. And understandably so. For the past six months, I’ve been super-excited about everything on the business side of this lifestyle. So excited, in fact, that I forgot the first principle of a freelance career: Killer Content Comes First!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve not only been reminded of that fact, but I’ve had it driven home (sometimes painfully). As a result, I’m shifting my attention back toward the creative side of things. I’m focusing this summer (and for the foreseeable future) on raising the bar on the quality of the content I produce. Once I’m satisfied that my priorities are in the right place on the creative side of things, I’ll start rolling out new content again. Until then, though, don’t expect to hear much from me on the new and upcoming releases side of things.

Thank you for your time. I hope to see you all next week.

-j