Minimums

Blog No. 390

orderlyincompletehoki-size_restrictedHere we are again, dear reader. It’s a new week and if I’ve been able to continue as well as I started, I’ll be feeling good about my progress (remember I write these on Tuesday even now that I’m at home and really I have all the time in the world to write posts on Thursday or even Wednesday night, but I don’t want to break my habit). Not just with the writing, either. After a less than productive weekend, I had a bit of a reset. It happens from time to time. I’ll do well, keeping on top of things, then I’ll hit a wall or get worn out and then things fall apart for a few days. Then I pick myself back up and try again. Sometimes it’s a matter of days and weeks, sometimes months. It’s the same kind of thing I’ve been struggling with over the years with the summer slump.

I try to keep the bad times at bay by coming up with minimums. I have a minimum word count to reach when I sit down to write, a number of pushups or a time to skip, and even a minimum time to go to bed. It’s usually a low end number that I have to at least reach in order for me to consider that I’ve done that job for the day. Since I’ve been at home and my old routine is out the window, I’ve tried to adjust the numbers a bit. Like a quarantine version of my minimums.

giphyThe 1000 words hasn’t changed, but now its every day or nearly every day (currently all towards the Invasion Novel). Since I’ve not been going to boxing, I’ve tried to do two sets of pushups, sit ups, and squats, each day with mixed results. Would you believe that actually forget to do it some days and only remember as I’m getting into bed? I’ve also been trying to spend more time reading and attempt to reestablish a bedtime. The word count and exercise have been the main target this week. Sleep still eludes me, but I’ve found that reading before bed has helped (a little). That’s a bit of two for one. I get more reading in and it helps me sleep.

I’ve found minimums are a good way to balance productivity and laziness while appeasing my guilt enough that I don’t implode. I’ve had times before when the pressure got too high and I did nothing rather than at least a little. I know I’m not alone there. Whole projects fell apart because I couldn’t get my head around them or there was too much to do, or my guilt over not getting them done caused me to ignore and avoid them. Guilt can be a double edge sword. It can help you do the things you need to, but it can eat away at you and blow things out of proportion. Maybe I got too serious in this paragraph. I don’t know. The whole idea of minimums isn’t special or original. It may not even be the best way to keep myself on track, but it works.

482dcf9b-d9a0-48a4-bf6c-41c7a5ed566d_screenshotI tried to find a reasonable number, too. 1000 words isn’t a lot, but it’s a good middle ground. I don’t want to set the bar too high. The bad side of minimums is that they can prevent me from doing any work. If I don’t think I have the time or energy to write 1000 words, I will sometimes just not even try when even getting a few hundred words is better than nothing. But with that in mind, if I let myself get away with a few hundred words, I may not push myself to reach the thousand when I probably could. There I go, over thinking again.

I think did an okay job choosing my minimums. What really is the minimum. It’s the lowest, the least. I used them as a goal I have to reach before I can stop. I often go over an sometimes when writing I can go way over, but I try to never do less than the minimum. It’s an obvious concept, but I fell like I have to justify it. I set minimums at a level where if I get at least that much done, I will feel comfortable if I spend the rest of the day doing anything else. Plus, they can change. If I find I’m doing well writing every day, maybe I punch it up to 1500 words for a few days and see if I can keep that going. If I’ve been really struggling, I may tell myself to do at least 500 words in the hopes that I’ll end up going longer.

t8jjqixI’ve often found that starting is the hardest part. Once I get going, I can tend keep going. A minimum helps with that. It’s a tool I can use to convince myself to start, or go a little farther. I just have to try to not let them be reasons to stop. So far they’ve been more help than hinderance. They keep me writing every day (or nearly) when time feels so vague. I don’t know if any of this will make sense, or be of any interest to anyone, but I needed to write about something and this was on my mind. Heck, maybe it’ll be of some help. Either way, I’m over my minimum for a blog post, so I can end it here. See how that works?

 

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