It’s just after nine in the morning. The routine has finally run to its completion for me—kids are clothed and fed, wife has started the day and been able to shower, dress, etc., and the others have gone in the Volvo for “driving nap time” during which the one-year-old will have a nap and the two-year-old will make trouble for mom.
At 12:00 it will be “big” naptime (both of them) and I’ll be involved in childcare again. At 6:00 it will be bedtime, which these days, with toddler hijinks and daily toy+mess tidying, runs to about 9:30 with both parents full engaged.
The operative question as I sit here in silence is: Now what?
This moment during the day every day is one of the key exemplars of what’s amiss in my life right now, a hint or reflection of the larger reason, which I can’t quite articulate, that things aren’t getting done in the way or at the rate I’d like.
I have eight free hours to work with, plus maybe two hours after bedtime, if I stay up until nearly midnight. But what do I do first? Right now?
Do I focus on personal care basics like a human being to start my day?
– Eat junk? It will still eat half an hour.
– Eat well? My diet has been horrible, but cooking takes time!
– Shower? Personal hygeine seems basic.
– Tidy my space/files? Work areas, real and virtual, are neglected.
Or do I blow past these (as I often decide to do) and simply get to work? If so, what do I work on?
– My dissertation? It’s well behind schedule.
– Gig one? I’m not delivering at the level I’d like.
– Gig two? This one has slid over the last few months.
– Teaching prep? This tends to slip through the cracks.
In general, I can squeeze at most two of these, and usually just one of these, into a day in a productive way. And if I do any of the personal care things I outlined, then I can definitely only squeeze one of them into the day in a substantive, got-a-good-amount-of-actual-work-done way.
I can sometimes get myself an extra two hours at night if I work until 11:30 after the kids are finally in bed and the house reclaimed by 9:30, but then I’m sleep-deprived and my mornings don’t go as well.
— § —
I’ve now read a pile of productivity, life practices, personal organization, and other similar self-help books in the wee hours while laying in bed over the last few years.
But I still lack an operative principle to make these kinds of decisions in a satisfying way, or to make everything work.
Probably the best are Babauta’s The Power of Less and Goldsmith’s Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It, but in practice I’m still in the woods despite all the reading since 2010.
— § —
Obviously, the decision this morning was to write something and post it, which scores points toward another goal of mine that matters to me, but again, at the expense of everything else.
— § —
Too many important things.
Not nearly enough time or energy.
No acceptable way to prioritize.
Fighting against reality like Don Quixote, basically.