Specifically, I’ve committed to getting to bed, lights out, by no later than 11pm every night this month — a shift of 3 full hours from my usual 2am bedtime.
I call it…
The Great Bedtime Experiment Debrief
It’s been a week since I started the Great Bedtime Experiment. How’m I doin’?
I’m pleased to report that I’ve succeeded in keeping my commitment, and it is dramatically helping my energy and quality of life, as expected.
What I didn’t expect is the “side effects.”
To wit: for the first couple of days, I was surprised to find my tension and stress level much higher throughout the day than normal. My usual M.O. has been to just keep working as late into the night as necessary, until I literally had to stop. Now, with a “hard endtime” to my days, I no longer have that “luxury,” and the perceived limits on my time added some extra felt-pressure — “gotta get X,Y & Z done, NOW!” — that I hadn’t felt before.
I swear my blood pressure rose several points for a couple of days there.
Thankfully, that began to stabilize as the week went on, as I kinda figured it would.
The ritual of shutting down started to become normal and my perspective on the shape of my day began to adapt and adjust.
I’m much more conscious of planning ahead, and though I’m still in major catch-up mode (inevitable, when you’ve been living in last-minute, push-til-the-wee-hours-whenever-necessary land for as long as I have), it’s shifting, and it feels great!
One thing that’s really surprised me is that the Great Bedtime Experiment has revealed how seriously overextended I am.
Let’s be clear: I knew I was overextended, but somehow pushing late into the night had masked just how overextended. There’s no hiding when you face a hard-stop at the end of the day, and 7 items are still staring at you from your “must get done this week, preferably today” list, uncompleted.
I knew I had a tendency to overestimate just how much I could get done in a day — I just didn’t realize how much I overestimated.
What to do? It’s a situation that cannot be sustained.
I started by writing down every single thing I do on a regular basis that takes up my time. Then I looked at that list. Something has to give, but what? I honestly don’t want to give any of it up! I still haven’t come to any happy conclusions, beyond possibly posting less here on the blog…
I have, however, allowed myself to drop some planned projects from my “foreseeable future of 2012” list — such as my long-held dream of creating a Uke Diva site, with video tutorials on how to play my original songs on the ukulele.
…which I’d hoped to have up by the end of 2011
…which obviously didn’t happen…
Yes, I’m still very eager and excited to do this, and I’m not letting it go entirely, but I just have to be ruthless about my priorities, and with only space for 4-5 pots on my stove at any given time, this pot is just going to have to wait. I’ve got other bubbling pots to attend to right now, which are threatening to burn or boil over if I’m not careful!
Meanwhile, my sweetie and I are in agreement that this new, earlier bedtime regime is working very well. We’re both much better-rested (though I still seem to be a lot sleepier than I’d like [what’s up with that?]). I’m no longer totally steamrollered when I get up, and come to think of it, I don’t feel on the edge of a migraine all the time.
Unfortunately the Great Bedtime Experiment hasn’t yet eliminated my tendency toward insomnia, but the month is yet young.
The Other 2 Words
Meanwhile, I’m also very pleased with my attempts to integrate my other 2 words for 2012, Practice and Untangle.
Mornings are highly creative times for me, and I love to spend the first hour (or more!) of my day sitting up in bed, writing in my journal. I do some “morning pages”-style brain-dumping, but my journal (good ol’ paper and pen) is where I strategize, brainstorm ideas, and more often than not, pen drafts of blog posts (like this one!), sales pages and emails.
It feels like Lazing Around Time, since I’m sitting in bed in my pajamas (as opposed to sitting in front of my computer in my pajamas), but in fact, I get some of my best, most important work done there!
It’s a practice I’d let slide, and although I’m not able to do it every day, it feels good to be incorporating my morning strategizing/writing time back into my days.
Two other rituals I’ve started (or, rather, re-started) are going well too:
1) My Write-Ride: Every day, usually in the morning, I hop on my exercise bike-cum-satellite work station and write. Yes, I sometimes pop over to email, Facebook, etc., but one of my big goals for 2012 is to publish, and I’m committed to working on something for publication every day, with a target of at least 700 words, or an hour on the bike. (Sometimes the Write-Ride is more of an Edit-Ride, which is why I decided not to be a total stickler about the number of new words produced.)
This commitment has helped me bust through a block that had kept me stuck for weeks on my e-book, and I’m finally at a point I thought I’d never reach: actually looking forward to my writing time each day!
On the down side…
2012 is shaping up to be much more focused on writing than on art-making, and I confess I’m sad about letting my art time slide, but I remind myself that whatever mode I’m creating in, it all counts as time in the Creative Sandbox. (Fellow Passion Pluralites, remember, you can do it all, just not all at once!)
I’m also taking steps to make teeny-tiny little art-making moments more likely to happen: like clearing off my drafting table, and stretching a sheet of watercolor paper to have at the ready for a spontaneous moment of smearing/dribbling/brushing paint/ink/gesso.
2) And last but not least…
I made a secret commitment to myself at the start of the week that I would try out doing something — one thing every day — to rid myself of clutter.
My thoughts are very organized, but my environment, not always so much.
Now that I know some tools that work well to keep me motivated, I thought I’d put them to work on a big goal that has been all-too-easy to put off for way too long.
Here are the drivers that I know work for me:
- Time-limited commitments. “Every day forever” feels impossible, and makes my inner rebel want to run for the hills. “Every day or one month” feels like a fun game!
- Public accountability. That public may be a single client, waiting on a project; or my ArtSpark subscribers, who expect art delivered in their inbox on a particular schedule; or it may take another form. As long as there’s an element of wanting to avoid letting people down, my ego is vain enough to kick me into gear so I don’t!
- A tribe/gang/team facing similar challenges. There’s some overlap between this driver and public accountability, but a tribe, or community, or support group is more than just an accountability group. Our successes inspire each other, and counseling each other through the times when we get off track helps strengthen our own resolve.
These elements are part of what make my Creative Ignition Club and Creative Ignition Circle so powerful. (There’s still room in the next Circle, btw! Starting Tuesday, 6pm PST. Click here to snag your seat.)
Soooo… Knowing all that, I decided to try yet another experiment this month:
The ClutterBusters Pilot Program
I have to admit, I’m a bit giddy about this one. I’ve already cleaned out a desk drawer and purged & sorted my crammed-full bathroom mirrored cabinet, and tomorrow at the first ClutterBusters session I may start tackling my file cabinets.
It’s going to take a big change — and change is hard — but I am dedicated to creating the uncluttered home and studio of my dreams. And if you’ve got your own Closet of Doom, you can join me!
You can read all about it here. No charge for the first month, except the request that you offer your feedback whenever I send a survey.
And now, as this review-of-the-week-that-was has gotten long, I’m going to sign off and turn it over to you.
How was your first week of 2012? Have your intentions colored anything in your life so far? What’s going well? What are your challenges?
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!