This week I may be looking at a lot more free time than I’ve had in weeks and I do not want to waste it. I want to write, or at least to complete those tasks that have been looming over me. This week I have to be mindful, willful, and fierce in my defence of my focus and my boundaries. I have to be hard on those who would distract me and harder on myself still. I am my own worse enemy and my most clever and insidious saboteur.
This week I will:
Read 200 pages of It by Stephen King. I’m nearly 400 pages into the tome and I’m desperately trying to reach the approximate 600 page midway point. I didn’t read as many days last week as I’d hoped to but the days I did pick it up I was able to read quickly and blast through over 50 pages in a sitting easily. If I did this every night and shot for just 30 or 40 pages I could hit the halfway point by Sunday and perhaps glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel. Bonus: Finish reading A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift.
Turn a few of those notes scribbled on scrap paper that I call “ideas” into post drafts and choose one to explore and write 1000 words on. The desk in my “creativity room” is overflowing with notes on post-its, scrap paper, napkins, envelopes, and notebooks most of which I’ve waited so long to revisit that I cannot recall the context or meaning but if even 1% of those ideas is viable, I would have a wealth of concepts to write about. It’s time I start digging into the heap and turn the fragments into fully realized pieces.
Start a distraction journal. A schedule and a plan mean nothing if when it comes time to sit down and do the work all you can think about is the 100 other small things you have to do (or could be doing instead). I’m one of those people that writes two sentences and then gets up to do the dishes or switches tabs to check my email or picks up my phone to send a text and never gets back to the work. I’d like to keep a journal, or at least a piece of scrap paper next me where I can unload these impulses and thoughts onto, and then when the work is finally done I can devote guilt free time to these little tasks.
Finish my taxes. I have no excuse why this isn’t done yet except that I just keep forgetting to do them. It’s a daunting task and there are so many things to get done that feel more urgent. My mind is a limited space and the immediate tends to outweigh the important. What I fail to realize is that “immediate” should not have a monopoly over “important” and I have to be more mindful and more willful about what needs to get done “now”.
Vote. Just like my taxes my mind pushes my ballot to the back burned with the excuse that there is much to do now and this is both simple, straightforward, and not immediate. I have plenty of time so why not put it off in favor of what has to get done now? The problem is there is always more to do now and often what is not immediate or urgent becomes so from too much stalling. Either that or it is forgotten entirely until it’s too late. Avoid the guilt and the regret. Do it now and be done with it.
Be mindful of how much of my time I give away. I love hanging out with my friends and coworkers but sometimes we get carried away and a short visit takes up two hours or more of the day and when that starts to become a daily habit I lose a lot of time I could devote elsewhere. Of course I still need to see them, to laugh, to vent, to feel a part of a group and community but there has to be balance.
Schedule weekly phone calls with my loved ones. I’ve been carrying so much guilt about how much time passes between talking with my family and friends. The guilt builds up and the longer I take the harder it is to make the call but I desperately want to be the one that keeps the ties of my family and relationships strong. I want to be a part of people’s lives. I want my loved ones to know I love them; I think of them, and it matters to me what is going on in their lives.
This week I will not allow the failures of the past to keep me from moving forward. It’s no secret I struggle with self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. It takes me longer than most to recover from even the smallest mistakes and missteps and in my despair I lose passion, drive, and focus. This week I will work hard to talk to myself and understand my mistakes as I would a close friend or loved one. I will not engage in the self depreciating talk I have in the past. I will not give up on myself.
P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 08.