Something happens between the time I leave work and when I get home. While at work I feel waves of enthusiasm rise up about what I plan to do when I get home, whether that be working on my latest writing project or my latest music project, or watching some sport, or doing some exercise. However, most days as I exit work this enthusiasm for doing the things I love leaves my bones, seemingly disappearing into thin air. In the final minutes before I finish work for the day I can feel it beginning to happen. Why might this be the case?
I’ve talked before about the effective management of transitions being key to forward progress. When learning a song on the guitar a good starting point is to figure out each section and practice being able to play each well. Then learning how to move between each section is imperative to move closer to playing the entire song smoothly. If this isn’t done there will be unintended silence, gaps between the different sections of the song, which can reduce how pleasant it sounds to the ears of the listeners. To help ensure the gaps in between are as intended we must practice moving through them well to build good habits in our mind.
Back to the gaps between leaving work and arriving home. A good step I’ve made is acknowledging I don’t yet manage this time as well as I could. I have figured out I need to eat before I leave work to have the energy to get home and do more than collapse on the couch. I also know I need to eat something more substantial when I get home to give me the energy to keep going. Some days I power-walk home and get stuck into what I plan to. But there are still more days than I would like where I take a break, watching TV or YouTube, and continue to do that for far too long. Rest is important, allowing ourselves to recover the energy we need to do things that are mandatory for living. Eating, earning enough money to live, spending time with loved ones, making good decisions about sleeping and travelling, communicating well. But there is a difference between rest and laziness.
Other lengths of time I’m not managing so well are between starting and stopping writing projects or crafting my latest music. What hinders me is I have not yet solidified a routine where I write everyday and make music everyday. This is tough to organise around the hours of a full time job, playing sport, and maintaining healthy social relationships, but it is not impossible. What helps is acknowledging there is room for improvement and trying things that will help me achieve this. Maybe as soon as I’m home from work eat a snack and pick up a pen and paper at the same time? Maybe practice technical aspects of my guitar playing straight after work as this requires less mental energy after the intellectual exertion of the day? Maybe on weekends read my writing done during the week over a morning coffee, and continue where I left off without pressuring myself? These are all things I have tried and have worked, but I have only intermittently stuck to them. When I try consistently sticking to each one I will find out which are useful and which actual require more energy than the output they help me to produce.
There are many places where we can work on reducing the damage gaps can cause. Improving the speed and accuracy of chord changes when playing an instrument. Learning the things about a topic that we don’t yet know. Eating food at a time we know we need energy rather than waiting to be hungry, taking care to know how much we need to eat. Starting something we want to do before our mind has time to build the walls of resistance. Sometimes these walls don’t take long at all to show up so this is a big one for me to work on.
Are there times you leave long gaps between moving from one task to another? Is this necessary down time, or time you would like to be spending differently?
Be aware of the time you have as you only get to spend it once. Peace to you dear reader.