Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Finding your second wind

There are two questions that often come up when I talk to people about what I do:

How do you do so much?

Do I ever get tired?

Firstly, I think I can do more but in regards to question 1, I think the key to being really productive is to not pay attention to what I've done in a day, week, month or year and focus more on what I haven't done and beat myself over the fact that I haven't done it. If I took time to congratulate myself every step of the way I might be lulled into a false sense of security whereas if I look at the list of all of the things I want to do, I feel like a slacker and push to go harder. That's because it's easy to be lulled into a sense of accomplishment, which could lead to conformity, and I'd rather keep pushing for more. 

To me being idle is unacceptable because I know how hard it is to regain momentum once you've lost it and would rather switch channels than turning off the TV. I have an aggressive publishing schedule and if I've learned anything the last 3 and a half years is that the only person that can limit what you do is you. There shall always be things that can delay you but rather than bitch about it, realize that there are hundreds of other things you can be doing at any given moment and that waiting around really isn't necessary. 

Right now I have several projects on the go and I actually have two projects that are finished in terms of writing. One is a haiku collection the other is a collaboration. Since it's a haiku collection, I want to do something special in the hopes of presenting my work in a creative way. Will I design it myself? It seems that's the case because I shared the work with an artist I thought I could work with but they have a ton of projects going and didn't seem super keen to jump aboard. That's completely fine but rather than sit in a corner and whine about it, I'll be doing something about it, probably in the month of January.  Another project I have is a collaboration, and in this case I need the artist because the project was made with them in mind to do a true collaboration. I finished my texts early this year I think. It's quite a different write so I need a different approach to it, but the artist is a father of two, a great husband, and works nonstop so I have to allow his muse to dictate when he'll be able to tackle it. I could constantly badger him to finish, but apart from colleagues, this is a friend and I understand that life isn't exactly a piece of cake and finding time for anything is a challenge. He's a great guy and he has a ton of talent so I'm willing to wait for him for this project, but you can be sure I've been working on several things since then. I've finished the first draft of two poetry collections that are drastically different from each other and am working on various other projects because I take the kid approach with toys: I play until I get tired or bored and switch projects until I feel the need to get back to that one and when one project demands attention, I give it freely and generously. 

Another thing is that I do have a log of my ongoing projects and when I see I haven't worked on something for months, I get upset at myself and rectify it. That's part of why I'm doing #NaNoEstrada, to push several projects to completion. These blog posts this month is a part of my #NaNoProject because I feel I'd neglected the blog and don't like feeling that and as it stands, this is my 7th blog post of the month, which is almost half my month writing goal for the blog. 

The second question mentioned above is in regards to fatigue. Do I get tired? The answer is a resounding yes and trust me, sometimes pushing hard takes a toll on you, which is why I'll be taking a full week off from all online activities during the month of December when I visit my family. I have WAY too much to do to even kid around with the idea of not maximizing my time back home by doing anything online. That said, trust me, some days I'm exhausted, but if working out and walking and bodyboarding have taught me anything, it's that even when you're tired, sometimes there's a second wind right around the corner if you just stick with it. 

Too often have I scored an epic wave just for staying an extra half hour. And I also try to be very conscious of my energy levels to maximize how I use that energy. In the mornings I've got a good drive going and if I work out I often feel I have more energy and better focus to do what I love to do, so trust me, working out is as much for my mind and soul as it is for my body. Going back to the first question, I also try and identify periods of time where I can invest 5-10 minutes on anything and trust me, I make those 5-10 count. If we're honest, there are a lot of moments when we are not maximizing our time and although we all need that youtube/cat video/coffee break, letting that become a habit will lead to struggling with lack of time. 

In the case of parents, that's a WHOLE other challenge and honestly, parents who effectively manage time are a sort of wizard cult that I can't help but admire. Proper parenting takes time, energy, effort, focus, and attention. To do things beyond that, you need to focus on desire and I've seen PLENTY of people push for their dreams to show that it can be done. Everyone else who isn't a parent and constantly bickers that they don't have time might be better off seeing on what they invest their time and energy. I'm not saying people in general are lazy, but I will say that more often than not, you can find 10 minute pockets in your day that can yield countless treasures if you invest that time wisely. 

And yes, turning off your phone can do WONDERS for productivity but I think more than that, it's knowing to focus your attention full on for however long you do what you do. Taking out the phone to check your status robs you of time, but it'd be worse if it robs you of focus. If you can take your phone out, check, then go back to doing the thing, then cheers to you. But if a check turns into 10-15 minute finger swipe madness, then do you really lack time or is it that you're not putting that time to better use?

Going back to energy, a lot of people I know suffer from fatigue because they have trouble sleeping or maybe they're not eating right. Here's the thing, insomnia is awful and the less you rest, the less energy you have to do the things you want to do. What can you do to help yourself out? There are countless options but even so, some people have a hard time getting sleep. Going to a sleep clinic might help, yoga might help, changing the diet might help, exercising might help, but nothing is a guarantee. What is a certainty is that you should look for options to see how you can help yourself. I'm not going to give tips on curing insomnia because I don't know that anything 100% fool-proof does exist and I even know people who have extensively researched yet are still affected by it. In my case, I'm blessed with very deep sleep and I am very fortunate to be able to rest well and be up and ready to go with about 6 hrs of sleep. Do I wake up groggy? You bet your sleepy ass. But I also insist on going to the gym and although my breakfast cereal options are sometimes far from ideal, I do try and eat well because I've noticed that when my diet is balanced, I have more energy and better focus and when I insist on overindulging, my mind and body BOTH respond negatively.

Then there's using what you're dealt with to use that energy. In a former job, I really didn't like the job and it served as inspiration and motivation to push hard. I used that stress and anger as my fuel to push to create and do what I love. Now that I'm in a job that up to now I really enjoy, I have less stress although the desire to create is there. It's just a different kind of energy. Since I'm in a better headspace, I am free to find those pockets of time and maximize them while always ensuring I do all my work to the best of my ability. 

Here's another thing, I know how to identify my energy and my types of fatigue. When I'm tired, I know when to push through and when to disconnect. For those times, I watch films, tv shows, and read. I also interact with people and have enriching experiences because those refuel my batteries so much, which is why I do so many things in social media. Some people say social media is a waste of time and energy but in my case knowing that a random conversation helped motivate a teen to push for their dreams or for a retiree to explore words and poetry is fuel for my soul... and that is something I shall always strive to do because the energy I get from knowing I did something positive shall always help me push for more and more. 

So if you're ever feeling tired, look for what makes you happy, what refuels you. Also identify times where you can use that time for what you want. And finally, sometimes you have to push through the slump to get that second wind and conquer another mountain. This figures highly for NaNoWrimo because the mere idea of finishing an entire novel in a month is draining, imagine doing it and a lot of people fall short for several reasons. You have to be hyper conscious of how you are feeling and know how to switch gears and fuel sources. Sometimes you can focus on sheer drive, other times that caffeine jolt will do it for you, sometimes support will be there for you, and sometimes a cat video will make you laugh and charge you enough to push a bit further. We all know it is daunting, insane, crazy, draining, and a challenge... but guess what we also know? That it's all worth it, because this is for you. So here's to doing things for the right reasons and climbing that mountain. 

Peace, love, and maki rolls.

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