Me — Accidental Cleaning

Okay, I know that being two days late on a post seems incredibly lazy when I’ve cut my content all the way down to twice a weak, but I realized something. For the entirety (9am-9/10pm) of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I am booked. Every week, and the longest break I have on any one of those days is about an hour, which is reserved for lunch and breathing.

That said, when I got home from work today, Friday evening, I intended to write out the detailed descriptions of a few D&D magical items that have been twirling around in my head. But in order to do that I needed to clear my desk a bit to give me more room to work.

This turned into vetting every single document that seemed important enough to hold onto for the last year and a half, and then managing all of the past year’s worth of writing group critiques, and then I thought “Hey, if I’m going to be sitting in my room cleaning stuff, I might as well also have laundry going,” and, well, to make a long story short, my room is now spotless, my desk is nice and tidy, and my Friday evening is gone. I somehow managed to spend five hours just doing more and more things I hadn’t planned on working on, but had been piling up.

Funny thing is, I’m not even done. There’s a writing thing on my to-do list that’ll take about two or three hours, and I’ve been trying to find the time to write that for weeks. And my original plan—writing magic items for D&D—never even got around to it. But now that I’m making a list of all the things I want to have done, it doesn’t look so bad anymore. I’d guesstimate it at about 13 hours total, which means that if I’m disciplined enough to spend all my free time on those things (spoiler: I’m not) then I should just about get it all done in about a week’s time.

I’ll be honest—I’m surprised to find that I’m more disappointed that I had no free time today than I am satisfied that I got a lot of chores done. I don’t know how Saturday night Kollin will feel about this, but he had better be grateful that he can just forget about everything when he gets home from work. Well, everything except those 5ish things that still need doing. Oh well. I just want to be able to relax without things hanging over me, but there always seems to be an innumerable amount of things, even when you spend the day getting rid of them.

I guess this is what adulting is like. I don’t know whose idea this shroud of responsibility was, but I am not a fan. Days like this are probably to be expected over the next few months. The hours of free time I have every week are threatening single digits, which hasn’t been too bad so far. Part of me likes to brag about how I don’t have time to just “do things” like everybody else seems to. And yet…

Me — Relaxation Allowance

I’ve recently started working on a new data-oriented Google Sheet. I mean, that sentence would probably be true if I had said it any given week in 2018. I’m really excited about this one though because it’s geared towards holding me more accountable towards productivity, and for the two days I’ve used it it’s been great.

Here’s the jist of it—I like not doing things, just like everyone else. Relaxing and playing video games is great, but if I do them when I know I have other things that need doing, it stresses me out. This Sheet is to help me quantify that line. Assuming I don’t have any deadlines (personal or otherwise) that need to be met that day, how much “stuff” do I need to do in order to feel justified in spending the rest of my day doing nothing?

Let’s take an arbitrary (but nice) number, say 10, and call that the number of points I need to achieve in order to allow myself to relax. What earns me points? Well, simple: anything at all that makes me feel better about myself as a Responsible Adult™. Getting dressed is 1 point. Vacuuming is 2 points. Folding laundry is 2 points. Writing Friday’s flash fiction piece is 4 points. So if I do all four of those things, I’m just about allowed to not do anything the rest of the day. (I realize that’s 9 points, not 10.)

The important distinction here is that these numbers are not solid, and this is not a rule. I am not restricting myself from doing whatever I want. Rather, I’m using it as a guideline to test the point at which I internally feel like I’ve done “enough” for the day. In terms of game design, these numbers aren’t supposed to be balanced, they’re supposed to accurately represent the amount of satisfaction I gain from completing certain tasks. If I look at the chart and see that I’m at 8 points, I can look at what I haven’t done and just do it.

This does a few awesome things. The first is that the chart is a good way to visualize all the things that I may or may not need to do. I don’t need to vacuum every day, but if I’m almost at that threshold of 10 points and I haven’t done it in a week, I might as well. The second is that because I’m literally racking up points, it encourages me to be productive I might otherwise not even consider. Reading, for example, is 3 points per hour. I basically never read, but if I genuinely don’t have anything else to do, it’s a good way to actually force myself to be productive.

The idea is that I will, eventually, get to 10+ points every day. Eating a meal is 2 points, so if I’m being a responsible adult that’s the majority right there. But this will actually encourage me to eat three meals a day, and doing nothing besides getting dressed and eating all day won’t be enough to earn me relaxation. Not to mention I’d have to be doing something in the time between eating those meals. Might as well use it to be productive!

So, this is a new thing. I expect the numbers to change significantly on a quarterly basis, but given a very short two days, it’s been awesome. Would recommend.

 

Me — Visualizing Information About Yourself

I like lists and putting things into boxes. This mostly means Google Sheets. I used to keep track of everything I had ever written, for example. I had categories for each universe I wrote in and subcategories for each project. Every entry has the name, when it was first written, when it was last edited, how many words it was, how much it needed edits, whether or not I had had my writers group look at it, and whether or not I had recorded it. For each short story and novel I had written.

I haven’t updated that particular thing in months. It’s just a lot of maintenance because I’m constantly writing and editing. I even kept track of how many words had been published on my blog in posts like this. I had to do the math myself because that particular metric had to exclude fiction which would have been featured elsewhere anyway. I was careful not to duplicate.

I love graphs and visualizing data, but I’m not keen on doing things that don’t do me a whole lot of good. The only thing useful that Google Sheet told me was word count, so working so hard to keep it accurate wasn’t an efficient use of my time. But there are three things I use a ton because they’re very useful for my daily life. I have a “Hype Tracker”, an “Audio Tracker”, and a “Timeline”.

The Hype Tracker lists every game, movie, book, or event I’m looking forward to. Not only does it allow me to know what I’m looking forward to and how long it will take to happen, but I can also keep track of games that are out that I haven’t gotten yet (such as Pyre, for instance). I change the color of each entry for dates that have passed, and change it again if I still have yet to see that movie or read that book. It’s a nice way to see all the things I’m looking forward to (plus even just seeing the names of a bunch of things you love is a positive thing).

The Audio Tracker is the Sheet I have for all the podcasts I’m listening to. The data includes how many episodes I have left to catch up, what the last episode I listened to was (the single most important metric), how many hours I’ll need to invest to catch up, and how many weekly hours the podcast produces. For podcasts I’m caught up with, I just change the color and keep track of how many episodes are currently released. This particular Sheet requires a good amount of upkeep, but it’s useful for getting an estimate on how much time it will take to listen to all the things I like.

The Timeline is very simple. It’s just a graph of all the major events in my life. I have lines for age, the grade I was in, the house I live in, the major events, birthdays, larger writing projects, etc. This one I mostly keep so I can pull it up every time I want to know how old I was when “X” was happening, or what house I lived in when this game came out.

I also write a few notes in a journal on my phone twice a day about my mood and what I’ve been doing. I do this so I can learn about myself and my energy levels. Things I do and do not enjoy, etc. For example, I took a few hours to clean all the clutter off my desk and put things away today, and I realized I felt amazing. If I had just been about my day without consciously taking the time to analyze how I feel, I may not have learned how important a clean workspace is for me.

This all may sound like a lot of work, and in some ways it is. But I enjoy it, it teaches me about myself, and I don’t do things if they’re too exhausting. Learning about oneself is a job never done, so I like to take the time to do it.