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That time I feared free time rather than relishing it

Today proved to be a productive one. After an early morning yoga class I met my friend Keith for coffee and had an enjoyable about how he might find focus in what he is working on and find some free time to maintain his energy and sanity. After we wrapped up, I headed over to Cortex, first transcribing notes I had taken from Deep Work, which helped me reflect on ways to incorporate more of the principles into my life and work. Two jumped out and I’m working on at the moment

  1. Creating a “shutdown ritual” that I use every work day to make notes of where I am, where I am going and then wind down my brain to disconnect for the day

  2. Creating deep work experiments by taking projects from my to-do list, evaluating how much time I believe something like this typically takes, and then drastically reducing the time allotment I give myself, making attempts at trialing my deep work abilities

After working on that, I addressed a few administrative tasks and chatted for a while with my good friend Max. By early afternoon I left to go enjoy the weather and read Rising Strong and edit something I had written earlier. After giving a reasonable amount of time to both, I took a walk in the park and when I got back to my car discovered, “It’s only 2:30! What am I going to do with the rest of my day?!” While it wasn’t a heightened panic, it would be fair to describe my emotions as more fear-based than one of excitement. Would I squander the day or miss out on productivity?

After a minute or two I was able to take a step back and realize the narrative around busyness that was driving my concern. What would I do with the day? I had a couple job prospects in motion, I had read, written, reflected on previous readings, had two great conversations with friends and taken time for my health earlier that morning? How much more did I have to fit into the day to consider it a win? It was even ironic that my notes were from Deep Work, which speaks about working hard and then letting go. The book’s author even cites Tim Kreider’s manifesto on laziness (video) which says, “I am the laziest ambitious person I know… I also feel like 4 or 5 hours is enough to earn my stay on the planet for one more day.”

Here is to getting stuff done and then stepping away from it.

Go Forth Boldly

"Time and quiet should not be luxury items”,

Tim Kreider

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