It’s something I see echoed by writers on blog after blog. Can’t find the time. I need more time. And I feel the pinch at both home - trying to squeeze an hour or so here and there for writing in amongst work, family, errands, after-school activities and appointments - and at work, where my calendar sometimes looks like someone’s tipped a box of Lego blocks all over it.
Then, after a particularly bruising couple of weeks, something odd happened. I found myself with a couple of days almost entirely meeting-free.
And I realized, you can have too much of a good thing.
Here was a golden opportunity to get things done. And I did. But it was utterly draining. Yes, I feel drained after a day rushing from one meeting to the next, while wrestling my inbox into submission in between, but having hour after hour with few interruptions is equally challenging.
I used to be able to focus for hours on one thing, but I find I’m become so used to interruptions and producing results in brief bursts of activity, that I now depend on that pattern of working.
In fact, there’s research to back this up. The Pomodoro technique of time management advocates breaking work up into roughly half-hour bursts with short breaks in between. The trouble is I am used to having my day broken up into bite-sized chunks for me, so I’m out of practice planning my time for myself.
I find the same thing happening at home. A day at the weekend with no specific plans? Should be a gift, and yet it happens so rarely that when it does, after a while I get restless and start needing something else to turn my attention to.
I never had this problem as a youngster. Before children came along and family dominated a large part of my life, I could keep myself creatively occupied for hours, days, weeks at a time. I look forward to retirement (a few years off yet) with thoughts of returning to that blissful state. And yet I wonder...