Throwing Yourself a Softball

I got a present today and it’s not even my birthday or Christmas. That present came from myself, and it came in the form of a half written blog post and the title for another one (this post here, in fact).

Since implementing the no computer after 11 rule (which, I’ll admit, I’m not totally strict about since adopting the thousand word a day mandate), I’ve noticed that I leave myself these sorts of presents a lot more often than I used to.

The gift I’m talking about is a productivity softball. Normally when I sit down for my daily thousand, the first fifteen minutes is spent battling the impulse to go see what’s new on hackernews, and, once that impulse is controlled, staring off into space trying to decide what to write about today.

But this evening things are different. I started writing immediately because I’d actually left off in the middle of a paragraph yesterday. That’s easy to pick up. By the time I finished that post I was all warmed up, and I saw the title for this post written. And now I’m rocking and rolling, cranking out sentence after sentence, instead of browsing hackernews.

The funny part about all this is that it’s so counterintuitive. How many times have we said and heard, “Let me find a good stopping point?”. The truth is that the best stopping point is what we’d normally consider to be the worst stopping point – right in the middle of something exciting.

Back when I was programming, I’d program to the point of exhaustion, which usually hit some time around six in the morning, when the sun was just starting to peek out again. When my eyes could no longer focus I’d close the laptop, put it next to my pillow, and fall asleep.

Every morning I wake up a few times. The first is after only six hours of sleep or so, when I get to indulge in the snow-day-effect and go back to sleep, fully grateful that I can sleep in whenever I want. Then I wake up again after eight hours and get cracking. But back when I was programming I’d wake up for the first time and nearly jump out of bed with excitement, because I knew that I’d left off in the middle of something exciting.

So next time you’re stopping work on a project that you aren’t going to complete in one sitting, try stopping when you least want to. You might appreciate that soft ball the next day.

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The last post generated tons of comments. I intended on replying to them, or at least addressing the big recurring themes. But I was on an intense drive from San Francisco to Texas, and didn’t have time to reply. Now there are so many that I don’t think it’s worth tackling. If someone brings up the same things in the forums, though, I’ll reply.

A couple people have asked my opinion of the Four Hour Body. I’ve only read parts of it (again… driving all the time), but I like it so far and promise to test some of it with full discipline and effort and report back in full.

I have TONS of photos from Japan that I haven’t uploaded yet. I’ve been extremely busy since then, but I’ll get to it soon! Photo at the top is my half-finished homemade haircut. I didn’t leave any of it for the next morning.

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