Lifestyle design: iteration two

I’ve spent 20 days trying to follow the routine I set up in iteration one. It didn’t work.

Well maybe that is a bit dramatic. It didn’t work as expected, but I learned a lot about how time tracking an entire life really works. As usual, I’ve been slightly too enthusiastic. So I need to tweak my formulea based on what I’ve learned.

What I learned one: Sleep is hard

I planned to sleep 8 hours and spend an aditional 1 hour per day in bed to relax.
I mananged an average 6 hours of sleep and I felt like shit. I was lucky if I spent more than ten minutes relaxing before I needed to sleep.
This isn’t really a fault in planning, just an observation that I’m not disciplined enough. I need that sleep. It’s the foundation of everything else.

What I learned two: No one works 8 hours a day

Now when I say work I mean active time being productive. Since all my work is digital I’ve been able to track every minute of work. And let me tell you, whenever someone says they work more than 40 hours a week, what they really mean is they spend that time in proximity to work.

  • At 4 hours a day I work great. A lot of things get done and I’m nice to collegues.
  • At 6 hours a day I work sporadically. Some things get done but I get easily distracted and I’m a bit of a grouch.
  • At 8 hours a day I don’t work well. Little things get under my skin. My solutions are equally brilliant and idiotic. I’m easily angered and everything stresses me out.
  • At 10 hours a day I’m mad. Everything pushes my blood pressure through the roof, and little real work gets done.

Thankfully I also tracked the number of tasks that got done. I’ve edited out the small stuff and most of these tasks were about as much work.

  • At 10 hours: average of 4 tasks.
  • At 8 hours: average of 6-8 tasks.
  • At 6 hours: average of 12 tasks.
  • At 4 hours: average of 15-25 tasks...

Working less apparently forces me to focus better. A lot better. In fact I’m slightly shocked at the difference.

What I learned three: Media is not rest

I had 3 hours of play, or rest, planned per day. But after 8 hours of focused work, I ried watching a movie or reading a book. Both of which made me even more tired. Media, it turns out, is not really that restful.

We spend a lot of time with media, as relaxation, as a social event. So much time we take it for granted that we should. But at least for me, I’ve found that media doesn’t relax me at all. On the contrary, it keeps me focused and alert, spending more of my energy.

Perhaps more media is not the answer.

What I learned four: This is going to take forever

I can’t keep testing this slowly. Or I will never find a balance that works. Thankfully a tip from my friend Michael gave me an alterantive strategy.

From now on I will try to plan only the next day, and evaluate how it went each night. I’ll keep tracking my time and use Day One to plan and evaluate my days.