Saturday, October 27, 2012

43rd ROW80 Check-In

A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 4 2012

The writing challenge that knows you have a life
I'm doing things quite differently this round.  Since I joined mid Round 2 this year I have been using a blog-within-a-blog format for these check-in posts with updates stacked atop previous updates and commentary added under each goals section including a string of Ns and Ys for the five time investment goals.  This got quite unwieldy by mid round.

So now I've created a Google Doc Spreadsheet to keep track of the Ns and Ys and have set up a ROW80 page to feature the goals sans commentary.  These check-in posts will now contain only the commentary relating to the previous half week, a screenshot of the relevant lines on the spreadsheet and link to the spreadsheet and goals page.  And as of October 23 the READ CRAFT reading lists.


READ CRAFT:

Currently Reading

What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack (Part of my attempt to organize my life around my priorities. So part of my ROW80 reading list)
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors.  many of them self-published)  
The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler


Recently Read:

A Cheap and Easy Guide to Self-publishing eBooks by Tom Hua read this online
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg  Just finished this Tuesday and wrote an overview of it for the last check-in along with my musings on how to apply what I learned..  This is where I've been getting the most help with learning how to recognize a habit, determine if it is desirable and if so maximize it but if not change it.


View the spreadsheet Google Doc directly
View the goals list


I must keep this short.  I hope.  It's after midnight now and I've been awake since 4:30.  spent the following 12 hours in trip prep--packing and housework and self prep--the next seven hours in travel and then another hour visiting with my sister and getting my netbook set up.

You will note that I reverted to all Ns on the FICTION FILES goal again and continue to have all Ns on the FREEWRITE.  I will cut myself a little slack about it this week as I had to take time out to prepare for this month long visit at my mom's.

So I will leave you with a thought or two I've been considering since my overview of Duhigg's Power of Habit the other day.  While I was busy sorting my craft stuff, writing and reading and office supply stuff all week to both organize my office/craft room and pack what was going with me, I did a lot of thinking about the habits I had identified as the problems and possible solutions.  Two aha moments came of all that thinking.

One, that this trip was going to be like a new beginning because it would force me to leave behind the routines and habits I had at home and if I did not allow myself to fall automatically into the poor routines I have had here at Mom's in the past this could be an opportunity to purposefully create new productive routines.

Two, that I may have identified one of what Duhigg referred to as Keystone Habits, or those habits that when changed tend to have a ripple effect over many other habits causing a significant shift in behavior.  Following the advice in The Power of Habit I started observing myself as I move through my day looking for the cues that set off a routine and the rewards that satisfy the craving.  I noticed that I would head straight to my office upon waking and lift the lid of my netbook and check my email or fb for messages.  The browser would be opened with all the tabs and windows that I had walked away from six to  eight hours before and all of the apps would be sitting on the taskbar open as well--the ebook readers, itunes, calibre library, WhizFolders (my note ap which is also my rough draft editor and fiction files organizer), freecell or spider, a photo manager.  My main to-do list is the open tabs and windows and the email inbox.

What I tend to do is flit around among them getting distracted in the middle of one task to dart off to work on another.  My whole day grows out of that first half hour on the computer.

What if, i asked myself, I were to have closed all windows before going to bed?  What would the first thing I did be then?  If I still checked my email it would not. be because it was sitting on the screen when I lifted the lid but because I'd made a conscious choice to do so.  I tried this a few times and found that on one occasion I did go ahead and call up email and fb but only because my sister was going into the hospital again and these are my only access to the info loop.  On one occasion I opened itunes because I needed to get a podcast downloaded before it was too late.  Another time I opened the ebook I'd been reading just before I'd headed to bed.

Better but still not ideal.  Not so flutterby but still hit and miss.  Too random.

What if, I wondered again, I were to leave open the app representing the task that I did want to be the first one for the day, the one I'd like to develop the habit for?  What if I then had the intent and a plan in place to immediately go from that task to the next so those two tasks were tied together?  What if, I left open one application, a word processor or note ap waiting for a free write session and held the firm intent to move immediately from that to working on a task in my fiction files?

I would not have to be the first tasks of my day but it would have to be the first ones on the computer.  It would be better actually if I did not go directly to the computer upon waking.  It would be healthier if I spent a few minutes on the mini-tramp first, washed my face, fixed a real breakfast, maybe meditated.

Regardless of what I decide to do with those first minutes of my day,  those first minutes on the computer, it is clear to me that the effects would ripple out across the whole day.  Which makes it a Keystone Habit according to how I understood Duhigg's definition.

So NEW GOAL:  before heading to bed, close all aps but the one I've chosen for freewriting and the time slated for that is up segue directly to working with the fiction files.

Who knows where this could lead for one other thing I've observed about my behaviors is that once I've turned my attention to a thing for over twenty minutes it is more than likely I'd still be attending to it four hours, five hours even ten hours later.  Whether its crocheting, watching video, playing spider, manipulating metadata in my ebook libraries, or writing fiction.


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