Haven't gotten too much done the last few days. I was in Saigon for three months, so I had to pack up and finish errands there before moving on, and I haven't really gotten settled into Kuala Lumpur yet. I'm not really working on the big expansive projects I've got, I'm doing little odds and ends with my time, including giving in to a fair bit of distraction.
And then I realized - I'm actually doing okay, because I'm not engaging in addictive pastimes. Some pursuits, once sucked in, really grab you and hold you. Things with high levels of stimulation, learning curves that keep you in flow, and social elements are the worst. I've never played World of Warcraft, but I imagine that's why it's so addictive. Heck, I used to spend quite a lot of hours on Conquer Club each day, which is an online version of Risk. Part of it was, you'd get into team games, and if you dropped out you'd hose your team.
So the last few days, not much has really happened... but that's okay, I've been screwing off and wasting time on Hacker News, Quora, Less Wrong, and various blogs in my RSS Reader. That's not good, but it's not so terrible. It's easy to let those fall off and get back onto track.
This was part of a conscious shift I made a while ago - get off anything that's a consistent presence in my life that's not producing good things. It took a while, but I cleared out a lot of that stuff. How about you? Got any addictive pastimes? Could you, perhaps, swap them for less addictive pastimes? The latter paves the way to dropping out of pastimes that don't serve you in favor of activities that really do.
I do some time tracking every day. The latest version, v5, is here.
Believe it or not, it's not actually a lot of work. Periodically through the day, I mark down what tasks I've been working on. At the end of the day, it takes me around 5-10 minutes to tally up how I spent my time (along with some other things - what I ate, how much I spent, appointments I had, general habits I completed or didn't). Again though - this looks like a lot of work, but it's not. It takes work to set up and habituate, but then it's pretty automatic.
Over time, I've broken down how I spend time into four general categories - Excellent, Good, Okay, Bad. "Excellent" includes things like exercising and working on big expansive things. That's really excellent time.
"Good" includes reading and general maintenance-type work that keeps things how things going the way they were. Now, note that "Good" really is good. When I have a day with lots of time in the Good category, I'm happy.
The one thing I consistently fail to account for when planning trips, especially shorter ones, is the disruption it will cause to my routine. For over a hundred days in a row, I wrote a blog post every day, did a Chinese lesson, worked on SETT, and a few other things for which I hold myself accountable.
I went to Peru for ten days, and although I started off strong, jamming in the blog post and Chinese lessons on my flights and bus ride to the Andes, once I started hiking I stopped doing those things. No real foul there, because breathing and walking had become difficult first priorities. When I got back to civilization, still in Peru, I resumed working hard on SETT, but I stopped doing Chinese lessons. I was practicing Spanish every day, though, so that made it okay. I wrote a monster blog post about Peru and sort of let myself coast on that. After all, it was a lot longer than my average post.
I got back to San Francisco and had only a week before I was going to Mexico. That week was great. I felt bad about being off schedule, so I used that as motivation to get back on. I rated three of those days as As and four as Bs, which is a pretty solid week. Next there are ten days completely missing from my schedule. I remember them, though. I worked on SETT every day while I was in Mexico, at a reduced capacity, as expected. I did a couple Chinese lessons, but was speaking Spanish, and fell behind on blog posts. Maybe I wrote four during those ten days.
Again, I got back and got back on schedule, but this time with less consistency. One day I gave myself an F and didn't even write any notes on the day. A few others I got Ds. There are As and Bs, too, but not as many as there should be.