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No Good Deed…

…goes unpunished. That’s how the saying goes, right? Apparently it applies to “deeds done for myself” too, given the events of last week.

I carried out my plan to shift my schedules and get 6 hours of sleep every night. I moved my bedtime up half an hour, and decided to get up half an hour later on Tuesdays, and half an hour earlier Mon/Weds/Thurs/Fri, which means bedtime at midnight (sleep time – reading 20 min before), and up at 6am for six full hours of sleep every night.

Tuesday morning, I felt good after those six hours of sleep, and…the staff meeting was cancelled. It was still good I had the extra sleep though, because the workday was *brutal*. Six hours Tues/Weds night had me going through my routines like a pro, getting stuff accomplished that I’d been wanting to finish for weeks, and finding that balance I’d been so desperately looking for in the evenings between play and work. It was awesome. I was feeling really good about things.

And then Thursday night, I was hit with one of the most painful sore throats I’ve had in a very long time – like shards of glass every time I needed to swallow. It was so painful I couldn’t sleep Thursday night and finally got up around 3:30am to take some ibuprofen, leaving me with about 2.5 hours of sleep (and a gnarly sore throat) for Friday.

Needless to say, I was doing pretty well just making it through the day on Friday, couldn’t dictate anything at lunch due to my throat, and was too tired to even contemplate editing, much less staying up for “business hours” late Friday night. I did my budgeting, made some questionable purchases (but did talk myself out of the most expensive “want”, so there’s that), and went to bed (which was definitely the best decision just then).

My throat is healing, slower than I’d like, but it’s definitely getting better. More to the point, my schedule change was working really well until my throat gave out. And I’m writing this during one of my scheduled “work” times, after walking the dog and then putting my games down after “game curfew” at nine. Which is to say, the new schedule is still working so far, and I’m making better decisions, sticking to schedules, and not just being lazy and squandering my evening time on things that are fun, but ultimately don’t get me closer to my goal.

This is a good direction to be moving in. I like it.

I’ll like it even more once my throat is back to normal.


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Discipline, Habits and Sleep

I used to be in the habit of being disciplined, so to speak. I had my routines and followed them strictly, and got a lot done. Now it seems like I mostly just whine about how disciplined I used to be, while not actually taking the steps needed to…you know. Be disciplined again. Discipline is just prioritizing one thing over another throughout the day – it’s not rocket science.

So, no more whining about it. It’s time to just “do or do not” – but I’m determined to “do” this week. If I can be disciplined enough for long enough, then habits will form that don’t require as much discipline to maintain, and that is where I want to be.

Most of the habits I need to create are writing/publishing-related…but those have some dependencies on other habits like going to bed on time (willpower is often rest-dependent, I’ve found) and making sure the rest of my day stays on schedule so that my writing & editing times are “protected”. I can’t always do that (because, life), but I certainly can a majority of the time. It’s just little decisions here and there, like opening a game to play for “just a few minutes” at the wrong time, not having my laptop in the living room in the evening, or not starting my day with the right combination of things so that my head is in the right space for both work and taking advantage of commute times for dictation.

It’s really not nearly as difficult as I often make it. It’s more a matter of priorities and deciding what’s more important: a few minutes of escapism, or a few minutes of story. There’s time for both, of course, I just need to manage my time and routines more efficiently.

In light of that, I’ve made myself a new schedule, and set some boundaries, as well as some new goals and reminders. I feel good about this, mostly because I’ve set myself up to think about what I really want, both now and in the future. With my priorities straightened out, I think it will be easier to remember why I’m respecting those self-set boundaries, and why I’m reaching for those goals.

Interestingly enough, I think the majority of my success rests on the habit of going to bed on time. Getting enough sleep is vital to making good decisions and moving forward with my main priorities rather than just zoning out and telling myself, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” or “I’ll catch up later”. Being overly tired seems to be my kryptonite more than anything else, so that routine of going to bed on time and getting enough sleep is probably the most important one I need to establish.

Ironically, the reason I normally break it is because I get enough sleep, and then I feel good enough to press past the late-night fatigue to work longer the next day, and then I don’t get enough sleep, and I’m in that bad cycle of wanting/needing to catch up because I’m not working as fast or efficiently as I could be because I didn’t get enough sleep. It’s a ridiculous cycle to be caught in, all because I don’t respect the fact that my body needs 6 hours of sleep a night, even if I’m behind, or feel like I want to keep working to get ahead.

Of course the one day per week that throws me off the most is Tuesday, because I have to get up an hour earlier for work, which means I get less sleep than I need if I go to bed at my normal time, and I end up being overtired and making poor decisions. This is really the biggest issue I have for not getting enough rest, and I know what I need to do to “fix” it, I just…don’t want to. I need to go to bed earlier *every night* and get up earlier *every day*, so that my weekday sleep schedule is the same every day.

Of course that shifts my entire evening routine earlier, which makes it more difficult because I’m trying to get more done while the household is awake, rather than waiting until everyone is asleep to work. This hasn’t generally worked well for me in the past, but maybe it’s time to try again. Shifting everything up by half an hour in the evenings and getting up half an hour earlier Mon/Weds/Thurs/Fri, and half an hour later on Tuesdays would give me the “regular” schedule I need…as long as I can shorten my Tues morning routine to fit.

Life would be so much easier on us night owls if there weren’t so many morning people running things.

In any case, that’s the plan for this week. Shift some things around, respect boundaries and sleep requirements, and hopefully get more done since I’ll theoretically be awake/alert enough to follow my own schedule.

I think it’s gonna be a good week. Or enlightening, at the very least.


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Discipline & Re-calibration

Self-discipline is an odd thing. The amount of discipline I exercise is sometimes directly proportional to the resources available to me. Which makes me wonder if what I’m doing is actually practicing discipline, or just being forced to appear disciplined because there are no other options available. Sometimes, that’s true, but speaking in recent terms, I do still have the option to make less optimal choices, and I’ve been avoiding that for the most part. Which is a very good thing, though not always the easiest choice.

I’ve been making a lot of choices that directly impact my spending, and while I’m trying not to impact the dogs or hubby any more than necessary with that (it’s not their fault I wasn’t managing my money well last year), I have made some decisions that require change for them too. Not backwards changes, just different. Like making dog treats instead of buying jerky and commercial dog bones. And hubby having to suffer through a few weeks of burnt toast edges (I did far better this week, thankyouverymuch) while I relearn how best to make toast in the oven (my toaster oven died, and I won’t be replacing it for a while due to “budget cuts”).

I’ve also been very cognizant of the grocery budget and sticking to a tight, smaller budget while shopping, and the thing that strikes me the most is…just how much stuff I often buy that we really don’t need. I’ve always been kind of a food-hoarder, and I like a wide variety of foods. Since I don’t menu plan, I often just buy a bunch of things that sound good, and keep what I’ve always referred to as a “well-stocked” refrigerator, freezer and pantry. So you would think that with buying less, the stocks would be waning, right?

They’re not, generally speaking. I mean, the stuff we eat/use all the time does, of course, but I restock those even when watching the budget. But we still have a too-full fridge, a too-full freezer, and a too-full pantry because there are things in all three that just aren’t getting eaten. It’s become clear that I need to do a fridge/pantry/freezer clean-out spree one of these weekends, and start over. There’s every reason to have a good stock of staples in the house, but no reason whatsoever to have so much food we’ll never get around to eating.

I also have an “overstock” of vacation hours at work I need to use or lose before March 31st. Perhaps a day or two of that should be earmarked for kitchen cleaning/decluttering/reorganization.

I’ve been more disciplined about screen time lately as well, with good results – namely, my eyes aren’t bugging me as much or as badly. I’ve been working on my knitting block in the evenings after a certain point, and that is far easier on the eyes. I didn’t get any writing done last week, but this week, it’s back to the Alphasmart with its non-backlit screen for my writing time. Considering I was using that time for ordering stuff I’d forgotten to order (tea, supplements) online, and updating my to-do list before bed last week, going back to writing is a nice change for both the eyes and the brain.

Interestingly enough, forcing myself to be more disciplined in financial matters has had the unintended side-effect of being more disciplined in other ways as well. Which makes sense, really – the more I tell myself “no” or “you have to wait” or “you don’t need that”, the easier it is to just wait or pass things up. I learned that as a child, of course – my parents were not indulgent in the least (and couldn’t afford to be), but somewhere along the way I’ve morphed into more of an instant gratification mindset, and I don’t think that’s a good or healthy thing, mentally speaking.

So the financial recovery process is also a sort of “re-calibration” process, and I like where both are going. Cheesy as it sounds, I think it will help me to be a better person all around, and I’ve already noticed some good results in that I’m getting more things done on time, organizing and prioritizing my time better. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get those two “resolution” books finished and published this year. We’ll see…


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