Daily 8: Falling behind

November 28, 2016

I’m a bit of a nut for systems thinking, in case you haven’t noticed. I love finding better ways to do everything. I’m the kind of guy who will do five hours of work to figure out how to do a task in one hour, when I could have used another method to finish it in four hours. I put a great deal of effort into making the routine work of each day as effortless as possible. My goal: work now will mean I can be lazy later, and that’s so, so sweet.

The downside is that when the wheels come off the train, it isn’t pretty. This is something I feel like I’m more vulnerable to than others. Thanks to my to-do notecards, calendars, and all my tricks and tactics, I know how much I should be able to get done in a day, even with a sizable allowance for the unexpected (I’m not so dumb as to not realize that no plan survives contact with the enemy) . . . and if I fall behind even that, I know exactly how much I’m failing. That’s when the wheels come off.

That was today. I didn’t get as much sleep as I wanted—six hours instead of nine, because even I don’t listen to my own damn advice sometimes; that’s a downside of going out to bars—-so I started off sleepy and behind. Then I had a meeting, which stretched a little too long. Then I had to hurry to catch up on my emails and calls, which I tried to do . . . until I glanced at my bed for the hundredth time, which looked so warm, and I laid down for a quick nap . . .

An hour and a half later I finally got up. I should add another sleep trick: pointing a space heater at your feet is like being hit by a tranquilizer dart. I wasn’t even that tired, but nothing was getting me out of that bed.

From that point, panic! Rushing! Self-loathing! Flailing! It’s not that I didn’t get most of my brewery work done, more or less, but I definitely wasn’t on point, and I didn’t enjoy it like I often do. I also didn’t get to do extra, which is a reeeeally good idea on a Monday; it’s usually our biggest sales day of the week.

Once I get behind, I’m kind of screwed. It’s usually best to jettison some of my plans for the day and focus on the rest. That doesn’t feel good, but that kind of triage is far better than trying to finish a full day’s worth of work in half a day, which quickly leads to a breakdown or me running out the clock until the end of the day. That’s one of my favorite self-sabotaging tactics.

The good news is that there’s a flipside: if I get ahead of my plans, I positively zoom through the day. It feels suuuuuper good to get up early (and rested), do my morning routine without hurry, and then get ahead of the day. Once that happens, my pace accelerates, because I’m getting further and further ahead—and by the time I stop, I usually stop ahead of where I had planned, or get extra time to relax. It’s glorious.

This would be a useful trait if I were a morning person, but since I’m a night owl by nature (a nature I’m trying to change . . . ), it’s not so good. Days like today are far more common than the other ones, and they tend to build on each other.

All of which is to say, today was kind of a shit show, work-wise. But tomorrow is another day, and I shall try again then! For tonight, I’ll just make sure to get to sleep early, so I don’t start off already behind. Again.

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By Stephen W. Gee

Author of Wage Slave Rebellion, Freelance Heroics, and about two good blog posts out of a hundred.

2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Steven

    All I can say is: we definitely have all this in common. Here’s hoping that you have better luck getting ahead on your schedule than I’m having with mine.

    1. Reply

      Stephen W. Gee

      Update from the future: today has been more successful, but I was still dragging somewhat. I think that was just a result of my sales job; sometimes, if the sales ain’t comin’, my mood takes a hit even if it’s no fault of my own. Which sucks, but them’s the wraps.

      Good luck with yer stuff!

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