Commute vomit! I haven’t done one of these in a while. I find myself feeling like I don’t have enough time. Time is the most precious resource and I still constantly feel like it’s slipping through my fingers. This needs to change. I know there were several vomits earlier where I wrote about this. I always hope that I won’t have to write more about time management, but this problem isn’t going to go away by itself.
It isn’t rocket science, it’s really quite straightforward. There are only so many hours in a day. Only so many things I can accomplish. I spend too much time being scatterbrained, and then rushing to get things done in a frenzied panic as deadlines and obligations loom. This is no way to live. I do not want to live this way in my 30s. I was hoping I would have solved this by 25. I’ll be turning 27 in 3 months. I’m already overdue. This is a sign for concern.
Let’s work through these things a day at a time, an hour at a time. It’s now 515pm. I’m on the train on the way home. I will reach home around 615 to 630pm. I often spend my commutes on social media, which I think is a suboptimal use of my time. Rarely do I encounter anything truly useful or compelling. It’s just a mindless habit that’s easy and distracting. I would much rather put in a little effort and get some writing done. Which is what I’m doing now, and it feels good.
So what am I going to do when I get home? My wife is going to be working late tonight so I have time to myself. I should get dinner and then I should get down to work.
I know I should spend some time processing my todo list. There’s a lot on it, much of it unprocessed, and when that happens I tend to avoid it, and the feeling of avoidance builds this unsettling sensation in me. “Browsing imgur stressfully”, as someone once put it.
I don’t want to do that any more. My external reality might be relatively “fixed” (and it’s actually very changeable!), but I can definitely change the way I interpret it, make sense of it, navigate it. The first thing is to make my workspace more legible. I have notebooks and a whiteboard and multiple apps. It’s always tempting to “let’s do everything this time”, but really I should start with what’s urgent and due, stuff that I owe other people, that’s pending. And I should quickly decompose that into digestible next steps. Break it, break it down. And then start tracking how much I accomplish each day. There is some wisdom in the whole “how much did you do today” logic, despite its flaws. My eternal fantasy is to be able to be completely free, but I know that professionals who are good at improvising get good by being very deliberate about how they practice. So I need to make deliberate practice a part of my life. There’s always that silly paradox there- if you’re not good at being deliberate to begin with, how do you institute a new habit? Maybe you just have to give it all you got. That’s only one part of the equation though, obviously. You don’t want to be pushing a pull door. So you need to commit to small things. I keep delaying my workouts because I keep wanting everything to be aligned. But things rarely align the way you want them. You have to do them anyway. Waiting for the right mood is a trap.
60% done with the vomit and I’m halfway through my commute. See, this can work. So why haven’t I been writing a vomit on my commute everyday? Because I vaguely recall writing half-written vomits that don’t get finished, and then being frustrated with having to navigate all these half-formed thoughts.
I just caught myself wanting to switch tabs to something more stimulating. And then I stopped myself. This urge to switch tasks when things get a little uncomfortable or boring – it has its uses, but I also really need to be able to master it. I need to be able to finish what I start, even if the finished product isn’t all that great. I need to be more comfortable sharing shitty drafts of things with people and separate my judgement from them.
It always starts really small. That’s something I keep missing. I know I’ve written vomits about taking baby steps, I just need to follow my own advice. My own instructions. I’ve definitely accumulated more than enough advice. So I can no longer use the excuse of “there’s no advice tailored for me” – that excuse was never really valid to begin with, obviously, but now it’s been completely eliminated. Or so I’d like to think. Do remember that the saboteur is endlessly creative. You cannot defeat him with a single blow – that’s what he wants you to believe. You have to struggle, and you have to renew the struggle every day. The idea of this only sounds overwhelming and exhausting because you don’t have much practice, and your imagination is limited. You haven’t learned to expand your imagination to include possibilities that you haven’t considered yet.
You can grow, get bigger, get stronger, dominate your circumstances – not with sheer force, but with an elegant artfulness. You can become a symbol of something better, something to aspire towards, something o be proud of. And honestly, fuck what other people think. All you really want is to live well and die happy. And that means earning your own respect, sleeping well at night after a good day’s work. That stuff seemed easier when you were doing manual labor – “writers block” is often a problem of associating your self-worth with your work. A part of that is useful because it makes you want to be better. But it’s also damaging if you aren’t careful, because nothing is ever good enough. You have to integrate that understanding into your work. To be imperfect, to strive towards perfection, yet to acknowledge and accept your limitations. There will be shortfalls. It can’t be helped. You just have to keep moving. And if you use a good filing system, if you make your stuff easily searchable and navigable, then it can build on itself.
Just get it done. Deal with the imperfections later. Better than being empty-handed. You know this.