Hiatus

I’m back from my productivity hiatus.

So much in the world has changed recently, throwing personal productivity back into the spotlight. This pandemic is undoubtedly terrible for the economy and for the thousands of people suffering in regions with a stretched healthcare system. My heart goes out to them, and if you can please consider donating to local charities helping in the fight.

For those of us fortunate enough with the ability to self-isolate and work from home, this crisis presents an opportunity to rethink our habits and how we approach working in isolation. It is now more important than ever to establish a routine and make the most of this quarantine.

When reading through one of my favourite investing blogs, the writer mentioned his daily journalling habit.

“Since I’ve mentioned my daily journal, I have to tell you that that is the best thing I have done in 2020 (though the year is young) … Journaling makes me look back at my day and evaluate it. The main question I ask myself is, how much have I learned? When I look back and discover that I’ve spent too much time doing busy work like answering emails or vegetating in front of the TV, I realize that it was time I’ll never get back. But I can also be asking myself many other questions – Was I kind to others? Did I spend enough time with my kids? Did I eat well?

Writing a daily journal makes you look intentionally at your life every day; it makes you evaluate your life in short segments, and that helps you make course corrections sooner. We usually make course corrections once a year, on or about January 1. A daily journal gives you a lot more insight and control over your course corrections.”

Contrarian Edge, 2020

That makes a lot of logical sense to me. If our lives are a sum of our days, it makes sense to live those days intentionally, consciously, and reflecting often to correct our actions and mold them to fit our ideals. As I was researching more about daily writing though, I chanced upon an article about how writing daily is bad advice, by Cal Newport, a writer I admire and respect.

“Here’s what happens when you resolve to write every day: you soon slip up.

If you’re not a full-time writer, this is essentially unavoidable. An early meeting at work, a back-up on the subway, an afternoon meeting that runs long — any number of common events will render writing impractical on some days.

This slip-up, however, has big consequences.

It provides evidence to your brain that your plan to write every day will not succeed. As I’ve argued before, the human brain is driven, in large part, by its need to assess plans: providing motivation to act on good plans, and reducing motivation (which we experience as procrastination) to act on flawed plans …

When the specific plan fails, the resulting lack of motivation infects the general goal as well, and your writing project flounders.

Cal Newport, 2013

That makes so much logical sense to me too, and it has happened multiple times before. It seems easy now on a Sunday during a quarintine to find the time to write, but what happens when you’ve worked 12 hours and have commitments at night? Where is the time to write then? And when that daily writing plan fails, the entire project fails, like what I’ve experienced before. It’s also probably why I was on hiatus from this blog for so long.

What then? I think a middle-ground is the sensible conclusion. Writing as much as possible to reflect, to better my days and my life; yet at the same time not committing strictly to a daily writing ritual. It beings with planning your time, and scheduling in as much writing as reasonably possible.

I guess it’s time to write an article about scheduling my time.

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