I've been theorizing on this.
For most people, their emotions move in cycles. It's not always so predictable as the image, but there's going up and going down.
During normal life, you do normal life stuff.
But I think the lows and highs call for different approaches.
When things are great, get as much as you can out of it. This always seems like it'll last forever while it's happening, but it never does. Double down, triple down. If business is ridiculously good lately, pour the time in to max out the current opportunities before they (likely) fade away. Bank cash, etc.
The same goes for creativity. When you're having a highly creative day, run it out as much as you can. Resist the temptation to say, "Well, that's enough" and just go chill out or whatever. Max inspired time is rare. Milk that cow when you're max inspired.
During bad times, re-double on fundamentals and try to avoid doing anything stupid. Fundamentals keeps you from hitting the vicious downward spiral. Super basic stuff. Decent sleep schedule, eat well, drink enough water, time in nature, time socializing with people you like. If things start getting hairy, really knuckle down on the most very basic stuff. That helps fight off the downward spiral.
And then try not to do anything stupid. Don't spend a lot of money or make irreversible decisions if your judgment is faulty. Just keep gearing down on fundamentals.
When you're low creatively, this is a great time to do tedious consolidation. Clean the kitchen, clean all your gear up, clean up the files on your computer, get taxes and licenses or whatever filed and renewed, deal with bureaucracy and nonsense - this will free up your time to milk the cow more when you're max creative.
Okay, this is my new plan. Normal life during normal times. Milk the cow as much as possible when things are unusually great. Fundamentals and trying to avoid being stupid when things are bad.
Getting a handle on this is exactly what got me interested in time/life tracking.
Once I have a couple of years of records and can do some meaningful data mining, I am very interested in looking for patterns in the up/down cycles, or correlations with long-period cycles in other areas (sleep, working hours, diet, etc).
I try to live this way - although I'm not particularly good at it (yet).
One thing to add: "When things are great, get as much as you can out of it." - I do find (at least in terms of writing) it helps to wrap things up before you've completely milked it for all it's worth. Gives you something to come back to the next day.
Agreed. I tend not to push the good enough, and get self-destructive in the bad, which is anti-winning.
Useful insights and tips, it's good you added the visual - helps get self-aware and relate to this. I totally agree on the life maintenance / sleep, food, etc. bit - when creative, we don't always need loads of the fundamentals - we can get through with less or none for a few days and focus on working and delivering and being 'alive' etc. But in a lower energy state, these fundamentals can make all the difference - between 'maintaining the state good enough' and the 'feeling worse today because I didn't allow myself to sleep / eat / relax yesterday' cycle.
Question from a reader -
I have fallen in love with your blog and will be visiting regularly! Thanks for the incredible content. I just finished your blog titled “the evolution of my time/life/habit tracking” and it is awesome!
I consider myself one hell of a problem solver and I am very driven at times but I often find myself being held back by a number of things including financial stress, fear, and alcohol. None of the things I just listed have such a tight grip that I am losing my mind or anything but they do have enough of an impact on my life that I am well aware of how much they are holding me back from my potential. I probably spend 3 to 5 days a week on top of the world, kicking ass tacking names and getting shit done and 3 to 5 days a week being unproductive, stressed out and procrastinating.
I am well aware of the changes that I need to make and I am making them slowly but surely. Don’t get me wrong I am making progress, lots of it, but I am also impatient and that impatience makes it harder for me to accept the fact that getting to where I want to be is going to take a little longer than I would like.
Lately, I've been having a weird feeling.
Back in middle school, I used to be a person that a few friends would come and confide to. I enjoyed it, and throughout high school, I even missed it. I don't know what changed, but that stopped, and I became that friend that needed emotional validation to pick up my spirits. I needed a recharge of my battery, so to speak, when things got rough.
My friend Joey was always there for me in those moments. I know now it was always a slight burden for him to be there and allow me to share some of the troubles on my mind; it takes a fair amount of emotional strength to keep your own spirits up at the same time you're trying to lift others' up.
Firstly, if you read this, thank you Joey.
Now, recently, I've been in Joey's position, and I understand why the proverb is: "It's lonely at the top."