Boundaries, Imperfection, Self-Care, Shame

Sixty Percent Productivity

A friend the other day said she heard Gregg McKeown say something like: Expecting people to be productive every minute of the day is unrealistic. You can only assume 60% productivity. 

As a rule, humans are pretty bad at estimating how long project will take. A rule of thumb in construction, as I understand it, is to estimate the amount of time a project will take then multiply by two. That math lines up pretty well with the supposed Gregg McKeown quote.

Which is all to say if you think you’re working at 60% capacity, you may well be  close to working at 100%. But more, we often expect and demand far too much out of ourselves and others. It seems that It’s only when we get really honest with ourselves about what we can do consistently, and plan for that, that we begin to approach what appears to be a superhuman 110%.  

Getting really honest doesn’t mean getting draconian, overbearing, and unkind. It means observing what I do and reporting on it without judgment. Seeing what my strengths are. Seeing where I could probably get more done by not attempting to do anything. And finally, doing what seems to be a kryptonite for me—asking for help when I need it.  

Boundaries, Imperfection, Practice, Resistance, Self-Care

Intentionally start and intentionally stop

I was speaking today with creative friends about out work today.  

We’ve each rolled around to where the work is a drag. One friend is feeling dried up. Another is struggling with back pain; it’s literally painful for her to sit. Me? I’ve been feeling worn down, dried up, and a bit overwhelmed.  

How to deal with writers block and dry spells is an age old question. The three of us met in a Seth Godin workshop. He’s in the writers write, plumbers plumb school on the subject—you won’t hear about a plumber having plumber’s block, why should a writer get to have writer’s block.   

That said, one friend pointed out plumbers take vacations. Plumbers take personal days from time to time.  

I think many writers get superstitious about taking days off. I know I often believe that one day off leads to two (months).  

The same friend suggested this: intentionally start and intentionally stop. As I’m writing this, those words seem to have all the punch of a joke you had to be there for. But the procrastination that keeps me from my work feels at best semi-intentional, and really seems to happen in a kind ritualized somnambulance. Intention feels like a real answer.  I could simply start with intention—then stop.  

Imperfection, Inherent Self-Worth, Self-Care

Cleverness Complicates

I’m in the fourth week since I’ve begun planning my week out in advance. Last week I noticed, I spent much time erasing and rearranging my time each day. I began to suspect it would be worthwhile using two sheets instead of one. One to track my plans, the other to track my actions. It sounded clever and efficient. 

Over time with the two sheets I could hone my habits and make my plans better suit my temperament. I could compare and contrast, etc. Then my follow though collapsed.

From a good, impartial distance I’d identify a few reasons for this.  

There’s the election, and I’m a bit of a political news junky. I’ve been distracted.  

There’s the simple fact my planning this habit is about three weeks in.  

Its “shiny new thing” motivation has waned.   

AND, I’m really suspicious that two sheets is too many.  

One sheet is simpler. Sure one sheet requires daily erasure, but it’s still less work than juggling and tracking two. Cleverness complicates. I’ll aim for simple.  

Imperfection, Self-Care

I change best by feeling good.

The other day I wrote these words on my bathroom mirror.  “I change best by feeling good.” They words are BJ Fogg’s.  

I used to believe in yelling, demeaning, and cajoling myself. But it doesn’t really work, does it? Now I’m working with this idea: “I change best by feeling good.”

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Boundaries, Imperfection, Self-Care

Losing Five Minutes

My computer wouldn’t load properly when I hopped on the bus this morning, so I’ve spent the last five minutes staring at a grey screen and Apple’s swirling beach ball of death as the computer reloaded and came back on line. I am, in a word, frustrated.   

It goes without saying it’s hard to concentrate when I’m frustrated. Along with the frustration, feeding it even, is the sense I should start writing the moment I find a seat on the bus.  

Get to work! 

I do have a schedule I aim to hew to, but if I miss five minutes—even ten minutes—of this morning will so much have gone wrong? And if missing five minutes of my routine on a nominal, average, dull morning is such a problem, mightn’t something more be amiss?  

It certainly would be preferable if five minutes here or there weren’t going make or break my day. Sure, there are days when I have places to go, people to see, planes to catch, etc. But it wouldn’t be preferable if the loss of five minutes didn’t send me into a tizzy?