Friday, 18 August 2017

When Is A Day Off a True Day Off?

The above is a simple enough question with an obvious answer - when you're taking a break from something that you will actually go back to. It's the "going back to" part that I tend to struggle with, as part of my life-long battle with inertia.

See, I took 2 days off this week. One was planned, the other spontaneous, but I agreed with myself at the outset that I wouldn't do anything related to quizzing on Tuesday or Thursday night. That is, I wouldn't watch, write, listen to, blog about or participate in any quizzes at all.

The reason I did this is that I needed the break. Badly. Normally I have the opposite problem, with much of my 20s being spent seemingly procrastinating from life itself, trapped by a combination of anxiety, laziness and lots of other things as life passed by and my peers moved generally forwards. Don't worry, this post isn't a rehash of the mammoth one from a week ago, and won't be nearly so long. It's just something I need to discuss, and it saves me the hassle of doing it in pieces in this week's roundup.

So for years I was doing too little, but lately I've been doing too much. Don't get me wrong, the last month or so has included several of the best times of my life, and my quality of life really does seem to be improving quite a bit. But work/life balance isn't something I've got right yet, and last week I stretched myself to breaking point, having far more to do after my holiday than time to do it, and no time at all to unwind and relax after my holiday. The weekend after I returned from the New Forest I was unavoidably busy, and I only really returned home late on the Sunday night. After that it was straight back to work, with a lot of blogging to be done during the week on top of the actual quizzes, the reviews for which were posted tonight.

Physically and mentally both I needed the break, not helped by the fact that I didn't get it last weekend as I had stuff on then, too. So I decided that Thursday would be a formal night off, at last. Tuesday was more spontaneous, but no less necessary, really. I spoke in my last review about the issues I've got with that quiz, though I'm not stopping going by any means. Still, I was in a really horrendous mood, having just gotten out of bed on the wrong side, I suppose. Little things were annoying me far more than they should, and honestly, I didn't want to subject people to that in the evening, especially at a quiz that had a decent chance of frustrating me anyway.

Had my usual team been there, I could have relaxed a little in their company, but as I fully expected given my luck that day, they couldn't make it. I was really in no mood to cling to desperate hope I could join the NCP, and I definitely didn't want to be doing it alone. So I stayed away, and I honestly felt better for it.

I decided that I'd stick to the original plan and keep Thursday clear as well, though I actually caught myself writing a quiz round in my head on my way home from work! I could easily have gotten on with things that night, and I did seriously consider "allowing" myself to do that, making the night off instead tonight, Friday. I don't think that would have been such a good idea though.

Doing it on Thursday meant I was still constrained by the need to go to work on Friday, and therefore not stay up until 2 or 3am. It forced me to be somewhat sensible, and not act in a way that would leave me utterly exhausted in the morning, thus making said morning a total write-off. When I allow myself free reign on Friday nights, that tends to be what happens.

Instead, I'd rather do this - work on the Friday, ahead of a busy weekend that involves blitzing my next hosted quiz. That's on 28th April, so only 10 days away now, and this weekend is my very real chance to actually get that written. It will be much easier to do that with these blog posts written tonight. Thus far in this post, I'm actually on a tea break in work, so I can't yet say that I'll be genuinely doing anything when I get home, but I feel motivated and I don't feel like I need to take more time away, as I did admittedly consider doing.

I woke up this morning feeling unrecognisably refreshed, especially considering I'd drank far too much Diet Coke than is good for me on a school night. I'd taken and enjoyed my night off, though the work remains, I recognise that and I'm not going to put it off. That's extremely positive, if it actually holds and I can keep it up. 

Okay so I'm back at home to complete this post. I admit I wasted a bit of time when I got home, but for context, all of the review of The Granary's quiz and below from the 11/08/17 roundup has been written since I got home from work. It's currently 9.30 and I'm still hoping to both finish this post and complete my other roundup before I go to bed at around 1.

Part of the reason I felt refreshed was likely the imperative of it; I knew I'd have a crazy day in work and when push comes to shove, I can always do what I need to do. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by just how much good last night seemed to do me, especially as I didn't get the extra sleep I should have given myself, and despite a bit of a delay I am now getting on with my work.

Not that my blogging, or quizzing generally, is a chore! I've talked about this. But it's something I compel myself to do, and that conflicts with my natural inclination to not do things I feel compelled to do. I'm the guy who takes a 10 minute break and turns it into 30, or 60, or 300, never formally abandoning the attempt, just endlessly putting it off.

That's what I'm hoping formal days off are a solution to. If I set myself a day or an evening well in advance that I categorically won't do anything, then I think I've a better chance of succeeding in both sticking to that and actually doing the work the rest of the time. I can make inertia work for me - I can give myself that extended time off, a whole evening at a time, provided I also ensure that I can just work for hours on end in order to complete a major project. Like with this weekend, completing the entire next quiz. If I can start early on on Saturday, get into a good flow, then there's no reason to think I'll stop. Whereas if I just say, "I'll do it for an hour, and I'll start in 2 hours time, after I've watched this film", then it definitely won't happen because I won't start.

I've tried other things too, like procrastinating on one task by doing another - my massive amount of housework being another I need to do, for example - but that's never really worked when doing it deliberately. No, I think formal, pre-planned down time of a decent length is the way to go.

I'll let you know late on Sunday or on Monday how much I've actually backed it up, and you'll be able to see by the timestamp whether I got the next blogpost up in time!

Thus concludes another random ramble from Addy. I do need to start putting up more interesting, varied content in this blog besides the weekly roundups, and it's fair to say basically nobody cares about stuff like this, but it's something different at least! That's something, right? *stares curiously at passing tumbleweed*

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