Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Personal Insanity

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
I only heard this saying recently, but it has struck a chord, and I find myself very often realizing that, according to this saying, I am in fact insane.
I have become increasingly busy lately, due to a number of factors. Primarily, I’ve been busy marketing my book, and doing everything I can to make sure it sells. I have done such a good job of this that I have already sold out of my first run and reordered. Obviously I am ecstatic about this, but it means that I am now putting most of the profits of the first run into printing the second run. Therefore, I still work as a substitute teacher to make ends meet, and I work for the local ski area, a job I thoroughly enjoy and that is starting to ramp up for the pending ski season. So basically, I have three jobs, one of which is my own brain child but makes me little money thus far, and two others that I enjoy but not as much as the brain child.
I am busy, and I am tired. However, this does not exactly make me insane: carving out your own niche is hard, and I am perfectly aware of that and grateful that I can have other part-time jobs that allow me to pursue my dream as well and help support me until I become financially solvent.
What does make me insane, however, is how much I try to do in one day. For as long as I can remember, I have been capable of packing a lot into a single day of work, and that has never been more apparent than now. While it is certainly helpful, there are many commitments that I make and many things that I do today that really honestly could wait until tomorrow. No one but me would notice the difference between today and tomorrow, and no one but me would notice that that difference would mean that I got more sleep, or more time for a run, or a healthy meal, or an hour to read my book. No one but me would notice that I was not popping Vitamin C like candy to make sure that my busy life wasn’t making me sick. No one but me would notice that I was successfully or unsuccessfully fighting off insanity.
On the days that I am running 100 different directions and juggling 100 different responsibilities and trying to efficiently handle 100 tasks, my heart rate is permanently elevated. My mind is racing back and forth as quickly as I’m driving from here to there, and when I go to bed after those days I have restless nights full of dreams of all the tasks I did or didn’t complete. Ultimately, these days don’t help me, and I usually don’t even get the satisfaction of feeling like I accomplished something because I’m too exhausted.
I recently listened to an interview on CBC with Timothy Ferriss, the author of The Four-Hour Work Week. Timothy’s premise is that you can whittle down your time at work by being more efficient, and that it is possible to get more done in a shorter amount of time by changing a few ways that you deal with your responsibilities. There were two that he mentioned in the interview that stuck with me: 1) don’t put things on your list simply so you can cross them out (guilty as charged) and more importantly, 2) pick one thing that MUST get done today, that will make you feel like you accomplished something if you complete it, and DO THAT.
Perhaps completing one single task a day will not quite work for me at this point, but I could certainly learn a lot from Timothy. I could learn, for example, that perhaps I shouldn’t substitute teach on days that I already have multiple prior commitments, and that even though I don’t see the money today for my efforts, it doesn’t mean that it won’t eventually pay off. To reach that pay off, I don’t need insane schedules and multi-tasking up the ying yang. For that, I need patience.