NaBloPoMo Day 4: Binary Speed Settings

I woke up this morning early. I took my blood pressure just after 6:00 am; the alarm goes off at 9:00. I didn’t wake up with a headache, or a backache, or heartburn, the usual three culprits that will keep me out of bed when I’ve had essentially a half-night’s worth of sleep. I woke up with a vengeance.

By the time my wife had gotten out of bed at around 8:45 thanks to the Wednesday Morning Lawn Crew I had already done my reading for the day, done my learning for the day, and watched an episode of Supernatural. Here’s where I depart from the original point of the post to give a little background.

I have a bad, bad, bad tendency to hyperfocus on computer games. By this, I mean in the absence of anything else active to do, I’ll spend hours upon hours gaming, all day, every day. I have realized that it’s a problem, so I’m trying to make steps to pull myself out of the mindset that my laptop is a gaming device first and a social media device second and a whatever-else-I-use-a-computer-for device third. I’m not sure that turning it into a device to bingewatch TV is necessarily a good idea either, but it’s a step in the right direction. So far I’ve decided to limit my viewing to one episode a day, but might ramp that up a bit given Netflix’s tendency to trade out its selections every month, and I’d prefer that they not decide to drop Supernatural before I can get through its first ten seasons. Had that happen with the Battlestar Galactica reboot a while back. I got halfway through season one before I got distracted and by the time I heard they were going to drop it from rotation I would have had to literally do nothing but watch the show in order to get it all in by the time it left the service. Being the completist that I am, I would rather not miss part of a show. (On an aside, if anyone reading this is in Austin and has the last season of True Blood on DVD, I’d sure love to borrow it.) Anyway, to use the industry parlance, back to our regularly scheduled blog post, already in progress.

The point I was making paragraph before last is that I woke up being productive straight out of the gate, and that tends to be a problem for me. If I START productive, I don’t feel like it’s permissible for me to STOP being productive until something close to midnight. And honestly, there just aren’t that many things that need doing around the apartment. Which leads me to feel useless and worthless, which quickly progresses into full-on self-destructive talk in about five minutes.

I managed to keep that particular demon at bay until about 12:30, when I was suddenly overcome with fatigue, and I went to go lie down for a nap. I figured given my early start, it was absolutely okay. I got a short little nap in before it was time for my wife to head off to work, and she woke me up so I could send her off with a smooch. I went back to sleep just fine and then something – I still don’t know what was going on – started banging around outside, like the garbage truck was emptying the dumpster. So much for a nap.

The reason I say something was happening outside was that if it was the garbage truck emptying the dumpster, it spent a good 45 minutes doing it. There was no way I was going back to sleep after that.

Soon after I woke up, I realized there were THINGS to be done, and so I tidied up the kitchen a little bit and cycled our water supply. (We rotate through three gallon jugs of filtered water in the apartment, in addition to the large gallon-sized Brita dispenser. We both drink a lot of water, and go through a lot more water through the Keurig, which gets the filtered water from the fridge, so keeping that much on hand becomes necessary, especially on a weekend when we’re both home all day.) And that’s when I realized that, on the mornings I wake up wanting to accomplish things straightaway, I have two speeds – get stuff done, or dead.

This only happens when I start out my morning in a dead panic to get things done, like I did this morning. A typical morning is more like wake > vitals > coffee > Facebook > gaming > coffee > breakfast. Nice and leisurely, no mad dash to DO ALL THE THINGS. (Thanks again for that phrase, Allie.) I don’t know why I’m so set on staying productive if that’s the first thing I do with my day.

I think subconsciously I’ve been aware of this proclivity of mine, which is why I’ve done my best to organize my checklist in more or less chronological order. For example, it’s just past 4:00 pm as I write this sentence. Once I finish with this post and get it online, the next unchecked box I have is “dinner,” which is time dependent during the week. It means that until it’s time for me to start making dinner, once I’m done here, I can do whatever I want, and know that I’m not letting anything slip through the cracks. My brain can calm down out of “get stuff done” mode and relax into “goof off” mode. Starting the productivity cycle early in the morning throws off this established flow of how things should get done and sends me into a bit of a panic about the day being turned upside down.

I have two solutions to this urge to keep up the early morning productivity: one, actively curtail the urge to get stuff done and force myself into my usual morning routine; two, be prepared to have a point later in the day when I run out of things to do and combat the urge to start in on myself for it. I think in practice it’s going to be a combination of these two methods, depending on what my mindset is during the day. If I can get myself to relax and slow down first thing, fine, but if I can’t (or don’t want to) I’ll just have to deal with the eventuality of front-loading my day.

(As a closing note, today I really get why journaling can be good for one’s mental health. The sentence in bold print above was a last minute addition to this blog post. As I was processing what I wanted to write, that realization came to me, and I had to add it, then come back down here and make this point. While writing, I figured out the likely reason WHY today’s situation occurred, and arrived at the conclusion that, despite my two solutions above, the most honest and likely most effective answer will be to just remember to keep the checklist in charge, and don’t do things wildly out of order. The time for everything will come. Relax, and let it happen. That’s likely just good advice in general. Think I’ll remember to try and follow it next time I wake up in a tizzy over productivity.)

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