I created a todo list task for myself titled “value my own time”. It stemmed from a conversation I had with an older colleague who pointed out that it didn’t seem like I valued my own time. He was completely right, and I suspect I’ve always known this but it’s a little jarring to hear it from somebody else.
How do you evaluate how well you’re valuing your own time? It has to be about whether or not you’re achieving your own goals? Maybe. But let’s pause and switch questions, because that seems a little too navel-gazy. What does it mean to value somebody else’s time? Let’s take the boss. I value his time, so I don’t send him stupid shit. I reach out to him only when I have something useful for him. But if I truly, truly valued his time then I would also be much more prepared for our 1-1’s. So maybe I don’t value his time as much as I’d like to think I do.
It’s troubling to realize that I still live in a very reactive rather than proactive state. My proactiveness kicks in in short little bursts, when really it ought to be systematic.
I read a tweet earlier today that said “not many people realize that the point of GTD is to defer decision-making”. You do a lot of work upfront by putting everything down on paper, but the point of that is to get it out of your head. To think of less things in a given point in time. To decide in advance to think about some things later, so that you can focus on thinking about some things now. I thought that was a very interesting and clever point of view, because every lazy person likes the idea of putting things off. And it’s definitely satisfying to see a map of what’s going to happen next, so long as you do go on to take action and make things happen – otherwise it just sits there mocking you as a reminder of your incompetence. (That’s the point of the weekly reviews and trimming. I’m on to doing my second one this week. How tragic is it that I’ve been doing word vomits for years, writing hundreds of thousands of words, and yet never really stuck to a habit of weekly reviews for my todo lists and other obligations and such? I suppose that stuff just scares me. It reminds me of going to meet a teacher or a parent who’s going to tell me what a fuckup I am, and how I need to be a better person than I am, and things like that. It’s interesting how the subconscious tries to actively avoid these things. Well, I’m going to try and do a weekly review every week. If I can cook, after being afraid of the kitchen, being afraid of fire and so on, then I’m going to be able to do weekly reviews. And then I’m going to teach myself to swim. And then I’m going to run like a boss. And squat 100kg. I’M ALLOWED TO DO IT. I CAN DO WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT TO DO. I DON’T HAVE TO BE AFRAID. I DON’T HAVE TO COWER. I DON’T HAVE TO AVOID THINGS. I CAN FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY.
So how do I measure my own progress, then? How do I know that I’ve begun to value my own time? How do you know when you value anything? You take care of it, pay attention to it, handle it with loving care. How do I do that with my time? I carve out time for things that I care about and I make it sacred. This was a thing that I talked about with the boss at my last 1-1 too – not particularly in terms of valuing my own time, but in terms of going after my personal goals by getting to intermediate states as quickly as possible.
For most of the past 4 years I’ve been living in this weird lumpy state where I’ve always got some work on, but I’m never exactly working on it with fury. I’m sawing slowly rather than slicing with acceleration, which makes progress dullingly, frustatingly slow. If anything, it’s dulling the knife (which is my mind, in this metaphor, or just me). I think I may have made some bits of progress in bits and pieces, but overall I don’t think I’ve made a 0 to 1 shift. More like 0 to 0.2, 0.6, 0.3, 0.2, 0.1, etc. I want to break the barrier. What’s the barrier? The barrier is one that I set for myself. When I can leave my work at work, and come home and focus hard on my writing, and on spending time with my wife, and once a week I can spend time entirely on my own, doing nothing work related. That means I need to get a lot more work done at work. One of my problems is that I’m willing to allow work to be on my mind 24/7. I should not do that. That’s not a noble thing. It’s not even an efficient thing or an effective thing. The bottleneck here is my own limiting belief. I know from past vacations that taking those breaks means that I get to come back to work with renewed vigor and attack my problems head on. So if I want to do better I’m going to have to focus. Where do I start?
I think I have to start with my goals. I think I’m going to make finishing this word-vomit project my #1 priority for the remainder of 2016. Behind this will come my work and fitness goals. I need at least an hour a day to write 4 word vomits. That’s not a lot of time. I might be underestimating something somewhere… I can write more when there’s stuff in the back of my mind to write. Well I’ve done a bunch of aggregation and created a bunch of lists of starting points. So let’s just blaze through it and make it happen and see where we end up.