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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Saturday (8/27/11) 5:30pm - ... wherein Peter projects some day-to-day scheduling.

So, I'm continuing to make plans for being unemployed, and possibly unemployed for a long while.

One part of this is figuring out how to schedule my day when there isn't work to organize things around.  And trust me, I do need a schedule; I don't deal well with big unscheduled chunks of time.  So here's a first pass at a typical unemployed day for Peter:

noon:  awake
12:00-12:30pm:  bike/read
12:30-1:15pm:  exercise
1:15pm-1:30pm:  shower, etc.
1:30pm-2:00pm:  breakfast [Internet on]
2:00pm-2:30pm:  errands/housecleaning [Internet on]
2:30pm-3:30pm:  blog + correspondence [Internet on]
3:30pm-5:00pm:  non-writing project #1
5:00pm-6:30pm:  non-writing project #2
6:30pm-7:00pm:  lunch [Internet on]
7:00pm-11:00pm:  rehearsal/socializing [Internet on]
11:00pm-11:30pm:  dinner [Internet on]
11:30pm-11:45pm:  meditate
11:45pm-12:45am:  guitar, diary, Spanish posts
12:45am-3:45am:  writing project
3:45am:  get ready for bed
4:00am:  asleep

Some comments about this:
* Yes, add all your smug jokes here about how, when unemployed, I'll just sit around the house watching soap operas and eating Chee-tos, because that's what people do when they don't have a job to give their lives meaning.  Ha!  Hi-larious.  And now let me tell you about when I was putting in fourteen-hour days to hold down my job and write that radio play for Writing on the Air.  All things being equal, I choose to be ambitious, or at least diligent.

* That said, I *will* just get paralyzed with inaction without a schedule.  Even if I have to rearrange the items on this list to make it work right, I can only get stuff done if (1) I have a clear list of what to do, and (2) I know how much time I'm going to devote to each thing.  Yes, if I were a better person I could be a spontaneous butterfly and do whatever I felt inspired to do in the moment, and everything would be fine.  Instead, I choose to work within my limitations.  (And most productivity experts are on my side on this one, so nyeah.)

* Also, schedules are smarter than I am.  If I put a lot of thought into a schedule that advances my long-term goals and ensures that I'm doing things I enjoy, that schedule is better at allocating my time than my decision-making process in the moment.  Moment to moment, I just tend to do what's easiest.  If I'm at a party, I stay at the party.  If I need to meditate, I just ping the web aimlessly.  And so on.  In my experience, if I offload my decision-making to a schedule, I wind up happier.

* re: the schedule itself:  first off, I'm trying to get exercise back into my life, partly for health reasons, partly for vanity, and partly because I want to be a little less tired all the time.  I'm thinking I'll buy a stationary bike so as to try to get something vaguely aerobic into my day.  This assumes that my Embarrassing Medical Problem goes away, and I can trade out my "half-an-hour of reading while soaking in a sitz bath" for "half-an-hour of reading while pedaling an exercise bike".  (This also assumes the exercise bike itself doesn't exacerbate the Embarrassing Medical Problem -- I'll need to check on that.)  In any case, it looks like I could pick one up for $150-ish on Craigslist.

* Also, exercise tends to 'settle me down' a bit.  I get a little less moody and twitchy.  It becomes easier for me to focus.

* This is also why I'm including just a bit of meditation (probably just listening to Alexander Technique stuff for ten minutes) in my daily schedule.  Right after being around people for a few hours, it's really hard for me to settle down and focus on *anything*.  So, when I get home from the day's socializing, I've cordoned off a little time to 'cool off'.

* I'm also trying to be judicious about when I turn on and off the Internet.  I definitely have a problem with Internet addiction, and social networking badly wrecks my focus.  My plan is to turn on the Internet during the "Internet On" periods, and shut it off the rest of the time.  (It might help to get some sort of automated switch for my WiFi router.)  Hopefully I can make it known what my Internet schedule is, so that people know when they can expect to reach me online, or when they can expect to hear back from me when they message me.  (I'll also need some sort of bin I can hide my phone in during 'disconnected hours'. #noseriously)

* These days, it usually takes me about half an hour to prepare and eat a meal at home, so I don't *think* that part of the schedule is overly optimistic.

* I'm trying to shift my sleep schedule *way* out of sync from what it is now.  This is partly because I have more trouble focussing when it's light outside.  Also, I want to try putting my 'social time' in the middle of the day, when I'm most awake for it.

* A lot of how I've arranged this schedule is to optimize things for a long stretch of writing at the end of the day.  I put it on the opposite end of the day from all the exercise.  I've arranged to gradually settle myself down after the nerve-jangling 'social' part of the day, first with meditation, then with guitar and some simple, "no-brainer" writing tasks.  And I give myself a big continguous chunk of time for it, so that I don't lose anything to task-switching.

* ... but this daily writing session may be something that I re-evaluate later on.  Honestly, (1) it may be that I don't write well at the end of the day, (2) I might do better breaking the time up into smaller chunks, and (3) I might only have a couple of hours of writing *in* me on any given day.  But this seems like the soundest plan to start with.  (Hell, it may be that I'm just not supposed to be a writer.  We'll see.)

* I'll put up a separate post about what kind of projects ("writing" and "non-writing") I expect to take on.  I'm accumulating a "bucket list" of ideas.

* I will need to re-organize my to-do-list manager.  I'll want task lists for "household stuff", "writing projects", "non-writing projects", and "blog stuff".  This might be a good time to migrate from RememberTheMilk to some other manager.

* You'll notice that, for this schedule to work, I'm suddenly limited to one social thing per day.  Honestly, I think this is a good thing.  It still leaves room for as much improv as I could want, and I can still go out dancing.  (There may be room for dating; there may not.)  But it also means that, for days with multiple social outings, I'll have to pick the one that I want.  I think the result will be that I skim off the best social opportunities, and leave the more boring stuff alone.  And hell, I'd much rather lead a life where I'm getting momentum going with multiple creative projects than a life where I'm wallflowering at parties.

* That said, I recognize that occasionally things will come along and wreck this schedule.  I know I'm doing a film shoot in late November, for example.  I suppose I'll fly off to Louisville for Christmas.  Bits of work may come my way.  But still, I'm going to try to chain as many days like this together as I can.  With most of the things I like working on, what matters most is getting momentum going.  I can rarely write anything worthwhile in one big marathon session, but I get a lot done if I can put in a few hours a day for a lot of days.

Mood: [mood icon] contemplative · Music: none
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[User Picture]
Date:Saturday (8/27/11) 7:55pm
w00t!! This is awesome, I think it's a great schedule if you can stick to it. Good luck! :-)
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Date:Thursday (9/1/11) 10:58am

(And yeah, I realize that the "if" you mention is a pretty big "if". :)  I figure I'll start out with something ambitious, and if I can't sustain it, then I'll scale back until I have a schedule I can maintain.)
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[User Picture]
Date:Thursday (9/22/11) 12:26pm
I love this schedule. It looks a lot like a schedule I keep sometimes.
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Date:Thursday (10/20/11) 8:07am
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