I failed to publish a word vomit yesterday. I’ve been trying to keep a streak going. I had a 9 day streak when I first decided to sit down and pay attention to my daily output– and then I fell sick. I didn’t write for a few days. Then I had a 10 day streak, which I broke yesterday. And I found myself dangerously close to not writing one today, either. I had one going in bits and pieces, but it wasn’t really going anywhere so I deleted it. Lesson learned– don’t multi-task when doing word vomits. Sit down, focus, and get it all out in one go. Otherwise it’s just awkward and disjointed.
I’m bad at installing new habits. I’ve been trying to do it for a long time, but I suppose I’ve been doing it badly, wrongly. In a disjointed way. I don’t focus long enough, I don’t keep myself accountable in a consistent way for long enough. I flit from tool to tool, from using an app to a notebook to something else. If I want to make a breakthrough, I’m going to have to break this down carefully, reflect on what’s worked so far, and pay attention to how my habit installations fail when they do fail.
So, what’s changed so far? What have I successfully done? While I haven’t managed to keep a strong daily word vomit streak going– I’ve never gone a full month of publishing everyday, which is my goal now that I’m starting a new streak. I’d like to publish everyday for the rest of the month, and for all of the month of August.
I’ve committed to doing a daily work review at the end of each day of work. I’ve been doing it consistently for four weeks now. The main difference between this and everything else is that I’ve got some skin in the game– I told a peer I’d give him $50 if I missed an update, and $250 if I fail to meet my weekly work target. The money just makes it feel more real. Perhaps I should peg $ to other things, too. Perhaps I should tell somebody that I’d give them $50 if I go a day without publishing a word vomit, barring exceptional circumstances.
What else has changed? Well, I didn’t have a smartphone until 2 years ago, and now it’s become a very integral part of my life. I taught myself to smoke and I became a smoker. Social media– I don’t post as much any more, but I still check on it a lot. I suppose it’s really easy, and it’s very accessible. Writing a word vomit is harder. The hard part is getting started and getting a momentum going.
Why didn’t I write a vomit yesterday? I had slept and woken late, and then I ate out. Went home, felt lazy, bummed around all day. I felt like I should’ve taken a nap, but I didn’t. I guess I should’ve. I felt like I should’ve meditated, but I didn’t. I guess I should’ve. That pattern is very common. Oh, and I was working pretty late because I was procrastinating earlier in the day and didn’t do enough of what I wanted to do. Why was I procrastinating? I guess I was sleepy. Why was I sleepy? Because I slept late. Why did I sleep late? I’ve been trying to sleep and wake earlier, I know this is a cornerstone habit that I need to fulfill. My wife and I tried to do this early waking thing regularly, at 6am everyday– and then I fell sick. Being sick for a few days tends to topple any fledgling habits I might be trying to build. I should develop a routine for dealing with that– for making sure that I keep doing everything I want to do after I recover. I managed to keep my work updates going because they were really important and consequential in a direct, immediate way, but everything else just slides away.
So I think the lesson with waking early is… suddenly waking up at 6am everyday is a bit too much of a shock. What I should do instead is aim to wake up 15 to 30 minutes earlier every day or every couple of days. That way I won’t feel incredibly lethargic throughout the day, and I wouldn’t have to rely on caffeine to get through the day. (I was drinking 3 cups a day when I was waking up at 6– usually I drink one after lunch, or in the evening, sometimes two.) So that’s going to be my next waking early plan.
This is my experience with fitness, too– I tend to “overdose”. I get frustrated with how long I go without working out, and I work out too intensively– at the same intensity I was working out at when I was working out regularly. I effectively overdose (instead of using the minimum effective dose! I used to geek out on that concept) and then I suffer for it– which puts me out of commission one way or another. I’m too sore to work out again for a long time, or I’m too drowsy to have a good day and end up sleeping late again or just generally feeling unpleasant.
So there. I need to be more calibrated in the way I ease into things after having stopped for a long time. That’s how I need to optimize for sleep and for exercise, and those two things will give me more clarity to do my daily updates. I do have some highly visible signs that show me whether I’ve been writing or not– I have a calendar AND a total count on my fridge, and now I’ve got an app on my phone called Rewire that allows me to keep track of my dailies. Previously I had a problem where I wasn’t opening the app every day (despite having one of the dailes be “Use rewire daily”), but now I’ve got a widget installed so that I can see the numbers on my phone screen– which I look at and scroll through all the time. So that makes sure that it’s in my vision.
Going to bed now. I have to work out in the morning. If I’m sleepy afterwards, I’ll take a nap. I haven’t fixed this problem yet, I’ve just talked about it. I’ll have to re-evaluate everything again tomorrow. I intend to solve this.