It's been a crazy few years. I was going to say few weeks, then few months, and then I thought about it and realized that there's no reasonable starting point more recent than a few years ago. Since then I've been traveling non-stop and have had very little stability.
If you rarely travel, you might dream of getting away from it all and going on vacation. But when you travel constantly you fantasize about being in one place for an extended period of time. And while my life has mostly been a collection of quality time with friends over the past couple years, I've been yearning for some time in one place.
The problem is that I've been relatively unproductive over these past couple years. Major progress has come from isolated concentrations of time, usually on a cruise ship, where I've worked hard to complete projects. My median day is shockingly unproductive, especially in the past year.
Now I have around two months in one place, then a cruise, then no plans. That is by far the most sparse my travel schedule has been in years, and I'm excited about it.
Work can be divided into two categories. There are the things that are important to do but which don't actually push you forward. Those are things like paying bills, keeping a calendar and todo list, and answering emails. And then there are the big pieces of work that create actual progress, like long-form writing and programming.
I've found that unless I have the little stuff done, I can't work optimally on the big stuff. My mind keeps reminding me to do the little things, and I don't feel like I have a nice big clean slate of time.
So my first job now that I have all of this free time is to get back to "bare metal". I'm doing things like going through my inbox and making sure I have no more pending emails, making sure my calendars are synchronized properly, making calls I've been putting off, and adding things in my mind to my todo list.
The goal in doing these things is to create a mental state where I can think about nothing but my main project for days on end. I've found that I need that sort of focus to really make big leaps of progress.
It's tempting to jump right into my big projects now that I have this time, but I know that in the long run I'm better off working on the small stuff. Today I got my calendars synced up properly, caught up on a couple phone calls, and added a bunch of stuff to my todo list. Nothing groundbreaking, but hopefully it's the precursor to some groundbreaking work.
I've got another ten days or so in Japan, and my goal for that time is simply to get back to bare metal. I want to have nothing in my mind or todo list other than big important work.
If you're having trouble moving forward on something important, look beneath it to the supporting structure. Sometimes the most important thing you can do is seemingly unimportant work.
Photo is the wall next to Ong Tea in Bangkok. I bought some pretty solid Dong Ding Oolong there for around $12.50.
Really excited for these next couple months of solid work. I'll be going on a cruise in April and may write my next book then. I also have a fun little book I've written that I'll release in the next couple months.
How do you cut down on costs while in Japan? I have friends everywhere I go to stay with, but tend to go through mula on just transportation and food.
If you're ever in Ocean Beach, San Diego there's a place called mad monk tea, they have a nice little variety they hand pick and the guy that runs it would sit down and have a traditional Chinese tea ceremony with you too if you're interested. Otherwise I can mail you some. Will aka oneparkbench
Sounds like you need to implement Dave Allen's "Getting Things Done" system immediately. Having everything capturing in a trusted "external brain" so it's not constantly intruding into your thoughts and distracting your attention will give you unprecedented levels of focus and productivity. It's way more efficient and there's a great sense of calm that everything that needs to be taken care of will be reviewed by you at the appropriate time so nothing slips through the cracks. I'm sure you'll want to customize it to your preferences, but the "capture" step and next action lists are worth looking into as soon as you finish reading this sentence :)
Well, there goes another year. Every time a new year rolls around, my initial impression of the past year is that it was pretty uneventful compared to previous years. Then I go through my blog archives and think about what has happened, and I realize that it has been, again, a pretty monumental year.
First some highlights:
As expected, dating was a big theme this year. I started out with a new relationship and ended the year with a failed attempt at another. I definitely had a fantasy that I would fall in love with the first person I met and settle down with her, but that's not how it happened. Still, it feels good to be dating again and I do feel like I'm moving towards finding someone to settle down with.
My mind has been scrambled the last couple days. I don't know why, it came on very suddenly. I've made massive strides over the two weeks before - I accomplished about six months worth of work over two weeks. I felt on top of the world. I wasn't even very tired afterwards, I felt good, ready to go.
Then yesterday, just bzzt - nothing. Foggy, almost like confusion. Couldn't focus at all. Strange. I said, y'know what? I haven't had a day off in a while, I'm just going to take the day off. Went and sat at a cafe and listened to some audio for about four hours, walked around and saw the city, went and had a massage, and then sat and ate fruit. Spend like 10 hours in a row just thinking and relaxing, which is good, I don't take full days off very often. I had some good ideas when I was out at the cafe and took some extensive notes, so I got some production out of it too without even trying to.
Now, I wish I could say, "And then I was recharged, and today I was awesome!" But no, I woke up in a fog again. Damn this. I track my time and have some routines to keep me running well, but I was foggy despite it, unable to focus really. Suck, what is this?
I was working, but it was half-working. Now, half-working is a big problem in my opinion. Half-working tires you out as much or more than real full working, but you get about 5% as much stuff done. Yes, 5%. Good work requires something like focus. It doesn't necessarily require the highest levels of focus and flow (though that stuff is very good), but it requires working through the mentally difficult parts when they come up. The worst part about half-work is you cruise through the easy enough stuff, then stumble on a difficult part.
This is doubly bad, because when you come back to your work, you're staring the hardest part in the face. This sucks, you need to kind of regroup and double down to get re-started while staring a difficult or complex part of work in the face. But again, I was in that mental fog and so I start half-working on it, and then I wander off again. And I try to come back to the work, but then - bam, there's this hard problem staring me right in the face, that I already failed to conquer twice.