Triangles and Lines / by AB Mann

Last week I renewed efforts to write more consistently. I've tried, in various ways, to write something every or most days for the last few years now with only moderate success.

Latest Attempt

My latest attempt married my desire to get up early with my desire to write. I slowly moved my alarm back over the course of a few weeks to get me up at 5am. My routine would be come, when I had that down, the following:

    5:00am - Get up.
    5:10 - Feed Cats.
    5:15 - Make Coffee.
    5:20 - Plan my day.

    • this included logging into work, triaging email to just important things to schedule, and running through some reports
      5:45 - Write for an hour.
      6:45 - Get ready for work.

It was moderately successful at first but started generating distractions.

Distractions

Minuet LOVES when I'm in the den. The den is where my side hustle is which generally means things to chase everywhere. Thus, me in den = play time. This rapidly became 5:30am - play time. When I wouldn't play, I ended up with this:

Shoulder Cat Lady Distractington
Shoulder Cat the Second

Not terribly helpful.

Further, and this seems terribly obvious in retrospect, logging into work fractured my attention and was inconsistently timed.

How do you fix broken attention?

Last week being both an Industry focus week and the week after a nice, long weekend, I chucked the new routine and reassessed two things: Placement of Me and Placement of Work.

Placement of Me

I clearly had to not be in the house if I wanted unbroken attention. Getting up that early sort of limits my options though; so where could I go? No coffee shops open that early in the area.

What Has Worked

I have been my most successful in seeking out little moments of productivity by moving between spaces as little as possible. I'm not the sort of person who can walk and reply to email well so use the transition time between spaces to let my brain breathe. But I have a lot of meetings. In the off chance they end early, going back to my office is rarely the faster option if I just have to leave again in a few minutes.

I've started, then, just going directly to my next meeting spot and working from my laptop. It saves a few minutes doing straight lines rather than triangle paths between things but it gives me enough brain space while getting me a little bit more time each day do something useful.

So.... what about going straight to work in the morning?

Placement of Work

Well wait, if logging in was a distraction, how is going to work helpful?

Also, WHAT ABOUT COFFEE‽

Well, my routine prior to all of this was

Get up> Go to work so I could maximize my time at work before other people show up - typically 7am. So maybe going to my place of work could help with focus similarly to how straight paths between meetings can help me eek out more time.

Autopilot can be a helpful thing. Plus going to work != starting to work. I work in an amazing campus with many options for workspace that aren't my office. I just can go to one of those rather than my office where I would be tempted to do Work work.

Initial Results

Crazy positive. Barring a few days where I had a migraine (and stayed home) or had a weird-ass bout of insomnia and didn't sleep until 3am. The days I did this, I wrote 1000+ words in an hour at work and still arrived in my office to start Work work by 7:30 each day.

In fact, my worst day was Monday where I still wrote 300-ish words and finished a session of the Focus Summit.

The Point

Build off existung habits so you don't break the path. Just bend it. We want a straight shot from Where I Am to Where I Want To Go, no angles or pit stops or, worse, ditches.

Bend a line rather than create a triangle.

And also avoiding running headlong into a dang cute cat.

Coffee??

Work has a general store with some really tasty cold brew coffee. And entirely acceptable free coffee in the break rooms. Work not, I'm covered.