Off Schedule

My life as it is now does not require setting an alarm. I have no particular time I need to be awake. My wife works from home and does not set an alarm that wakes me up. I generally still wake up relatively early. I consider it sleeping in if I sleep until 7am. During the first stretch of this new normal, I woke up by 6am and sometimes earlier. I would have my coffee and read the paper. I would do my daily morning crossword and Spelltower puzzles. I would have a post written for the blog by 8am. I would be dressed and making an attempt at the long form writing way before 9am. With this schedule, I felt like by 2pm I was at a point that I was done for the day. It was a nice schedule. I didn’t feel stressed. I had some sort of routine.

Lately, though, I have been a bit off. Part of this is due to the dog sleeping downstairs a lot and not waking me up early. I’ve gone from waking up around 6am to waking up between 6:30and 7. By the time I’ve had coffee with the paper and my puzzles, it can be pushing 8. I would generally do my blog post then, but I also want to be done with my shower and getting dressed to be out of the way of my wife getting dressed since she has an actual schedule. So, now I’m not getting started on writing anything until 8:30 or so. Some days, I barely get something published by 9. I know that generally if I don’t post by 9 my views drop considerably. So, now I have the stress of trying to get something written in less time than the norm. I already write too fast and don’t edit enough when blogging, so this is not optimal. It is after 9 before I even think about any other writing. Yet, I still get to the point by 2 that I am done.

My therapist has recommended I try yoga. I thought it would be easy to fit it into my schedule. Now, with the new normal, it is harder to find that time. I know I will be more likely to do it in the morning, but I have trouble doing it now for a couple of reasons. One, I already feel behind schedule so adding something else in is hard. Two, if I wait too late my wife is awake and will eventually cone downstairs, likely with a meeting on speaker, to get breakfast and it is disruptive. I have failed at getting that into my routine.

I’m thinking I might need to start setting an alarm so I wake up at a time that will make me feel like I’m on schedule for the day.

Changing the Clock in My Head

I am now in week two of my new reality. I am still figuring out what this new reality looks like. One thing I have noticed is that my thought process when it comes to productivity is flawed in a few ways. One of those ways is how my brain sees time.

Most of my life I have lived and worked with a time clock, both literally and figuratively. I had an exact time I was supposed to be at work. I had an exact time I was done with work. I had specific times I would wake up every day. My kids had times they were supposed to be at the bus stop, or in later years, leave in their car to get to school on time. Even when I was working completely from home last spring, I had times I was supposed to clock in and out each day and I had specific times when that I considered work time.

Now that I am on sabbatical, semi-retired, unemployed, whatever you want to call it, I have discovered that my brain is still telling me if I have done enough based on the old clock. If I am done with everything I had planned for the day to early, I look at the clock and think “It’s still early. I haven’t done enough today” What my brain forgets is that my da didn’t start at my normal 9am time.

Take last Monday as an example. My dog woke me up at 5:30am. I decided not to try to go back to sleep. I made coffee and read the paper and then got started with my day, I wrote a blog post. I took a shower. I put in a load of laundry. I watched the ALA Youth Media Awards and then wrote another blog post about that. I then wrote 1000 words or so on my attempt at a jail memoir and then folded the laundry. I was done with all of that by noon. And then my brain was telling me I was lazy because it was noon and I was reading my book instead of “doing something productive: There are two problems with that 1. reading is productive and 2. I had already been busy for about 6 hours. 6 hours is a full day. It isn’t less productive because I started and ended early. If I start my day at 6 and end at 12 it is like starting at 9 and ending at 3. If I did that, I wouldn’t tell myself I was lazy because I stopped working at 3.

Today I will write some. I will read some. I will shovel snow. I will clean the oven after a sweet potato mishap last night. That is productive even if I’m done by early afternoon.

I need to change the clock in my head. I am fortunate to no longer be tied down to a 9-5 schedule. I need to stop judging myself on 9-5 terms.