This is a review of my previous day. So I will be recapping how the day went and simultaneously I will try to pinpoint how it turned out to be so uniquely productive. If you can relate to it then you can share some of your ideas on how you get things done or you can consider this post as a way to glean in some insights and use them through your day.
Yesterday (a Sunday) I really pushed myself through the day. And when I reflect on it, it is amazing how I managed to maintain my concentration and efficiency throughout the task (this post). I was working ceaselessly for at least 5-6 hours without being distracted at length by any other activity. It surprisingly awesome for me as I usually tend to struggle with concentration/productivity/efficiency. I over-plan, over-commit, set high expectations and underperform. This is especially worse when I haven’t gotten at least 8 hours of sleep. Sometimes even 7 hours isn’t enough. So for me to work so efficiently with just 4 hours of sleep and 4 hours of cycling, was really like a big feat, something worth recording, reflecting and writing about, which would definitely serve some purpose as I walk along this path.
So I am going to start with my reflections on the day from here –
Firstly, I began with this sudden firmness. It was a sort of resolve which stayed firm throughout the task, which was starting right from around 12 in the noon till almost 7 in the evening when I finally hit publish.
I was organized without a written plan and I was punctual without a predefined deadline.
This firm resolve was like a vast reservoir of determination that welled up in me suddenly, which I think had always been there, but I had forgotten about it somehow. And I think it was because I hadn’t pushed myself enough to go over my (assumed) limits in a long time. Hence in the past few years I never really got to experience it and so I forgot how it feels like (which is why I think I am in awe of my own ‘lost’ ability).
So when I did tap into it, it felt so bloody amazing, so much so that all the negative thoughts – not delivering the message clearly, not touching on all aspects, not having an impact, not being able to finish the post on time – which have a habit of creeping up didn’t get the chance to nag me even once.
Secondly when in the middle of a long project/task, whenever I am faced with mental blocks like – uncertainty on how to approach and what to finalize on, not being able to deliver exactly as I imagined, feeling inadequate as I couldn’t do better or couldn’t be any more unique and creative – I distract myself from the task (and the unpleasantness of it) by leaving it half way and get sucked into something else which is far more pleasant and enjoyable. But this time, I was thoroughly engaged in the task.
Thirdly, I was more joyful as I was commandeering myself or rather my abilities to put all that I had into that one thing. I just felt so energetic imagining what all I could do with such an ability, I could read more, learn more, finish more books, etc etc. I was actually imagining all the things I could do in the future, and the sight of me getting to do all those things and not having to struggle while doing that – that possibility gave me this surge which I managed to rein in and make use of to get the post done.
Fourthly, I literally ‘conquered‘ my sleep and some other really overpowering lazing habits. I am usually sluggish throughout the day when I don’t get enough (8 hours min) sleep. So on such days every few hours I am lying on the bed fiddling around, sometimes grabbing a book to skim through or playing around with the tablet. Basically, not doing anything productive, but still doing something only to feel like I am doing something and getting somewhere. So I spend a lot of time trying not to sleep and will myself through the day by dabbling in other easy-to-do activities just flipping through the hours without getting anything done nor getting the required rest.
getting things done – it is not entirely about getting things done as much as it is about how you do those things
But on that day, despite being stretched too thin on sleep, the strong impulse to lie flat on the bed did not arise even once. Best of all, I wasn’t even thinking of sleeping. I was going on and on, reading articles, browsing web pages, managing tabs when overflooded, re-reading the post and re-framing sentences and many other things one after the another; all so I could hit publish and share it.
I was organized without a written plan and I was punctual without a predefined deadline. I just knew I had to write this and finish it by afternoon or evening, on that day itself. And so I went on with it.
Now the things I believe helped me enter this highly determined persevering and focused mind state are mostly what led to the build up, starting from the day before the event.
The Day before and the Night
Over-planning, Over-scheduling, not keeping track of task duration, spending too much time on specific tasks, over-prioritizing one and obstinately sticking to it despite not seeing any progress, are few of the common symptoms I experience as I juggle with writing, designing, reading et cetera.
Saturday was another such day. Fortunately, I did get some writing done. But overall I was book hunting-growing my ebooks collection, aggressively tabbing-clicking on several links, opening too many browser tabs, browsing too many websites, reading up on too many topics, consequentially losing track of the main task and leaving several other tasks on the To-Do list unattended.
..the familiar disappointment of botching up another day in the usual fashion..
In such a manner I tumbled into the night on Saturday and did not even get time to prep and check the cycle for the next day’s cycling event – the IIT Bombay’s Cyclothon 2015. As a result, I wasn’t feeling like participating in the cycling event and my mind was already conjuring up reasons on why not to (lack of sleep, signs of rains…).
So I was indecisive then, as confident I was of doing it that morning, but eventually, I made up my mind by reflecting back on some of the great long and exciting early-morning rides our group of cyclists had gone for and finally made up my mind to participate in it.
Then instantly I began arranging things – getting my gear in place, check the tires for air, testing the components for oiling. And I was still frustrated while I was going through these tasks, as the familiar disappointment of botching up another day in the usual fashion was lingering within me since only few hours ago I had reminded myself to begin my bedtime routine in order to sleep early and yet I had forgotten it as I dragged myself through another hour of doing nothing and it was only post 11 that I realized I had so many things still left to do.
After few thoughts, I shut out the noise, made peace with what was, and went on with the prepping for the cyclothon and finally hit the bed by around 12. So I had somehow managed to recover myself from the setbacks of the day, and the mental fogging that accompanied them, and reached a clear mindset before I hit the snooze button for the day.
This is where I think the will set in. The will to correct my mistake and finally stop repeating them altogether. An unfulfilling day had culminated into a hopeful and a redemptive one.
How your day ends sets the stage for the next day.
The Cycle Ride early morning
I was excited about it. I woke up on time, called up friends to see if they were awake, informed them that we (I and my friend from the south side of the city) would be leaving soon. We were late as we took time to get ready and leave but in spite of that setback I was feeling quite energetic throughout the ride. We reached the college campus a full hour after the event started and we realized soon that we had missed the opportunity to grab the complementary Tees but we got to see lots of awesome bikes, we explored the sprawling campus, we even rode my friend’s new road bike (boy was it new and exciting) and we even cycled with hundreds other cyclists and also returned home before the Sun lost it’s mercy on us.
A Long, Fun, Energizing workout gives both mental and physical energy
Bonding with other Cyclists
There were interactions with people sharing similar interests, we switched cycles, recollected past rides, discussed the road ahead. All of this made for a memorable ride. And the rare experience of seeing so many cyclists together was greatly inspiring. These things collectively made the right impact which I think served as an impetus for me to begin covering the progress of the cycling scene in my city – Mumbai. Also, before I sat down for writing, I even announced in the group that I would be blogging about it and then I had urgently asked for pictures of the event.
Several Social Connections & the resulting Accountability pushes you more
A Personal Battle
It was a challenge for me to fight against the body’s demands for sleep and to summon the will on top of that was a big thing. But surprisingly, this time, it wasn’t. I was confident, I was able, I was just me, and it came so naturally. And I was inspired and rearing to go. So as I worked through the task I found myself thoroughly engaged in it, confronting problems, finding workarounds, and growing with it as I crossed one hurdle after another. In fact, I felt better the more I went deeper into it and even when I was faced with these nagging writing blocks. I was optimistically determined. While working, I was also noticing the progress I was making, which gave me the motivation to move further through the post and also filled me with this reassuring confidence which told me I could deliver exactly what I was hoping for and do it in time.
A deeper connection to the whole makes it far more personal and glorious thing to undertake
Clearcut Unhesitant Decision Making
“I have these facts with me. I don’t know more about this. So let’s leave this part aside.” “I have bookmarked certain articles on this topic so I can write something on this aspect. So let’s begin the search on this, finish it and move onto the next part of the post”. I was smartly and decisively sifting through what was important to the post and what could be done without and what was unnecessary and could be easily omitted from it. After forming my thoughts around it, I decided then and there itself, took the action and moved forward.
A sense of confidence is built with each step, so be watchful when you take the next
I knew how much I knew. I was aware of how much information I had available with me. I had an idea of what all info could be found. I knew what all and how much of it I could fit into the scope of the post and how I could fit all that within the time I set for myself. And I somehow just knew that I could easily finish this post within the stipulated time. Hence I knew what all I had to do and what all I needed to avoid in order to successfully complete what I decided to do.
Seeing the reality, admitting the truth is the way to move forward. What is, accept it as it is. Work with what you feel is feasible, abandon what is not.
Being Accepting of the uncontrollable
As I set out to do this my focus did not waver or shift away too far into any of the several calls/distractions that I encountered and had to attend to throughout the day. In fact, I noticed that I was naturally more accepting of what was coming my way (by not looking at them as distractions) even though normally I would have resisted and wished for complete isolation until I finished what I had planned to. So the bell rang, I had to speak with a bunch of NGO volunteers, I had to get up for lunch, I had to respond to my parents whenever they called for me, and I had to get up several times to attend to my body’s calls also. I did what came and went back promptly to doing what I was.
Once you relinquish control, you gain more control
Focus on the goal. Have the goal in the front of your mind at all times
As I was pulled away from the task, I had that same focus and commitment maintained throughout the other tasks. I was fully conscious and entirely accepting of the slightest niggle which otherwise would have been bothersome. I dealt with it completely and got back to what I was doing. And while I was busy tackling niggles my main objective continued to flash in the front of my mind as clearly as if I had no other goal for the day. Because of this I wasn’t getting easily distracted either when working on the goal.
Not amount of external noise can disrupt your internal voice.
– end –
P.S. This post is in reference to the Sunday’s post “Mumbai City Fights Air Pollution with IIT Bombay’s Cyclothon at Powai” and I was going to post on Monday. Courtesy: Delays & Poor Planning }
P.S.S. One more thing I remember now. I had vividly visualized having completed the task in quite a wonderful sure shot manner. I think that had some part too in giving me a sort of determination boost to grind through it. And also the accurate visualization of how many people being readily available to read the post on that day itself, might have to some extent influenced me, it was a Sunday and the event had gone big}