0340 – decide in advance + do it immediately

It’s 948am and I’m leaving the house in a few minutes. Thought I’d get started on this vomit while waiting for my wife to be done showering. I slept pretty late last night– I was in bed at 11-something pm, but I was chatting with the wife until really late. One of those good conversations that just keeps going, which I don’t regret. I had decided in advance that I wanted to run this morning though (since I hadn’t run yesterday night), and I decided that even if I was going to feel sleepy, my job this morning was to wake up (upon hearing the alarm or otherwise), put on my socks and shoes and run. Which is what I did. It wasn’t the best of runs– my calves and shins are still aching from the last couple of runs, and I probably could’ve used more sleep. But I think I’m proud of myself for having run.

Here’s a thought that helped me along the way. I’ve written over the past few days about how annoying it has been to wake up when the alarm goes off, but then think “Ah man… I’m still tired… I need more sleep,” and then linger for another hour or so.

I’m not sure exactly why this time was different– it could be as simple as the fact that I’ve been thinking and writing about this for several vomits now– it seemed like for 4-5 days in a row I was going to bed relatively early and waking up when the alarm went off, but then sinking back into bed.

So… why does that happen? Why was that happening?

I realise it’s because I allowed myself to think about what to do. I allow a tired, sleepy person to make a decision about what to do. It’s like going grocery shopping when you’re hungry, right? I’m not going to make the globally optimal decision when I’m making it from the local perspective of a tired sleepy bugger.

So what I did differently this time– I kinda prepped for it in advance– I kept thinking to myself the night before, “The moment the alarm goes off, you get up and put on your socks and shoes and run. You will be tired and want to go back to bed, but seriously, we’ll be happier having run than having gone back to bed. We’ve beenthrough this.” And when the alarm went off, I did wake up, and I did think “ughhh I wanna sleep more”, but I ALSO thought “socks and shoes”. I lingered a little bit (like 10 minutes?), which I’d like to cut down on, but the “socks and shoes” thought held on and kept me from falling back asleep. And so I got out of bed, mindlessly clicked around on my phone for a while, but then got my ass out for the run.

The run itself was kinda shitty, but having run is better than not having run. I’ll just run more and more. I think within a month or so things should be less unpleasant. It’s pleasant to have completed a run, to have my heart beating and my body radiating head. The shower afterwards feels rewarding, and my head does feel clearer (even though I didn’t get as much sleep as I’d like).

I’m also quite proud of this– earlier, before leaving home, my wife pointed out that my fingernails were getting long. I told her I’d cut them later. [1] I then sat down on the sofa to be still for a few minutes, and I noticed that my nails WERE getting long– and I thought “do it now”. And I did it– I cut my nails. My nails have been cut. I lost my ATM card on Monday, and when I got home, I thought “do it now”, and called the bank and got the card cancelled and replaced. Do it now! Do it now! Do it now! I’m trying to rewire my brain to do this.

My commute ended and I’m in my office now, and I’ve decided to spend a few minutes finishing up this vomit and publishing it before I get started proper with my work. Again, the fundamental principle is– if it’s almost done, finish it, if it’s something you’re working on that’s completable, complete it. I proofread a document for a colleague before this, because that took just a couple of minutes to do. I think I’m developing a bit of a pattern/habit/structure here, but again I don’t want to jinx it.

The important thing is for me is to keep getting things done– that sounds way more vague and general than what I want to say. I mean, the important thing has always been to get things done, right? I guess the thing is more of– quickly scanning through the tasks before me, figuring out what needs doing ASAP, and which of those things is doable + significant. So there’s an urgent/important filter, and there’s a ease-of-doing filter, and there’s a need to add next steps. I’ve been doing pomodoros again, which I find helps me chunk up my time better and I can regroup in the breaks between. So… I should probably take some time to stress-test and fail-proof this, because it does feel like I’ve tried many variants of this sort of thing before, and there’s no particular thing about what I’m doing that I can point at and say “This is why I will not fail.” Or, to reverse-psychology it a bit, “this is where I’ll probably fail.” [2]

Oh, just want to summarize what I’ve been trying to say… it feels like I make too many “decisions”. I give myself too many opportunities to decide what to do, thinking it makes me improvisational and flexible and stuff– but I end up then just doing shallow work, making shallow choices. To do deep work and to do hard things requires more commitment, more buildup, more followthrough– and wrt commitment, it means making a decision that I cannot un-make. [3]

Well… there’s some nuance there. We might get to it later. Work now.


[1] When I say later, I do tend to think that I’ll get to it later, but in reality what happens is… the task gets postponed indefinitely, I kinda forget about it, and I feel guilty and terrible when it gets brought up again later because “I had been meaning to do it”… this thought probably deserves an entire vomit to itself. And to get a little meta, my habit would be to say “I’ll write that later”– so I’ll just start the vomit now and write it before I go to sleep tonight.

[2] & [3] – there’s some nuance to be explored in these bits

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