[This was written in 2010 at some point, and I don’t know when or if it will be posted to the daily blog. If it is now posted to the daily blog, please keep in mind that a lot of this is outdated. Nathan was living in Fort Worth for that brief amount of time when I wrote this.]
Sorry if the title makes you think this is about movies, or anything else cool. I’m actually going to deal with a subject that will require focus: Focus.
I spoke recently about how we kind of got off task, especially where the daily blog was concerned. Strangely enough, it was focus, rather than lack of focus, that caused much of this off-taskness. I was trying to convince Nathan to shift all of his focus toward cleaning up his financial woes. The problem is that it required two things that people don’t like to do; work more hours and listen to me.
When we had the cards and comics shop, we managed to pay our bills through eBay sales. I’ve often suggested that if we did eBay full time now that we could pay some of our normal bills. The problem is that when we did it before, Nathan had all day to focus on eBay. Now it would have to be an after work task. This doesn’t appeal to Nathan, and truthfully, it doesn’t appeal to me either, and truthfully, I doubt it would appeal to too many people. So Nathan has declared himself out.
Initially, Nathan declared himself, “eh,uh,hmm,ar,idk.” Which is an incoherent way to say that he wouldn’t come right out and say, “No,” even though it was the syllable on his tongue. He has a number of reasons he doesn’t want to do it, and I’m not saying they aren’t valid, but I am saying that I think they are rationalized.
During the time that Nathan was, “eh,uh,hmm,ar,idk,” I was getting ready to sell, whether Nathan was on board or not. First off, it was a ten weeks goal at one point. I dropped it in favour of getting all of my taxi permit crap done. The thing is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other, so I revived the goal. Second, the one night I drove taxi so far, there was plenty of downtime to speak of. I figure that if I can keep up with some amount of eBay sales during downtime driving cab then the downtime becomes potential earning time. I can use as much money as I can make right now. This found me fully focused on sorting cards to get them ready for auction building. For four days and four nights, my bedroom was flooded with Magic cards and chocolate milk.
Don’t ask. It was pretty horrible, and I’m surprised that I didn’t actually ruin anything.
After those four days, I had to go back to my guard job, and various other things were going on. I continued to sort through cards, and should be ready to start posting auctions soon, but it was more about finding extra time than just doing nothing but sorting.
I wrote nothing for the daily blog during this time.
Normally, I spread my focus over many things and at times too thinly. One would think that I would be happy then that I was able to focus strictly on one task and get so much done. The truth is that I can say, “at times too thickly,” too.
The simple term is “balance.” Somehow when we plan and execute our projects we really need to find some sort of elusive, optimal balance. I did a lot of work getting the cards in order, and I watched many episodes of “24,” and “Lost”, and I’m good with this. My writing came almost completely to a standstill though, and I’m not good with that. My room is a trash pit somehow, because I didn’t spend a few minutes a day cleaning things up. It’s really odd how effective spreading a little focus over a number of tasks can be. It’s also odd how quickly things can get out of control if you don’t. Shhh. I hear a segue sneaking up on us. I didn’t even have a chance to mess with Farmville for a couple of weeks.
Speaking of Farmville…
I told you I heard it.
I like drawing analogies from the games I play, and Farmville is strangely apt here. You see, Farmville can be set at a very low priority in your life, because there are never drastic consequences if you don’t sign in. You don’t come back to find your cows turned into maggoty hamburgers. Your farm doesn’t get foreclosed on. Heck, I’ve never once had to sell my game progress for them to build a new information super highway. Low priorities are like that. They can be neglected almost indefinitely while you take care of more pressing matters.
The problem is that sometimes high priorities fall victim to the same treatment. I can honestly say that I have not spent very much of my life as I would have chosen. Things don’t work in a very orderly way. I hear it all the time in the self help texts that you pick your top priority, and you focus as much time on it as you can each day until you achieve your goal. Simple enough. Except that then they tell you to review your priorities frequently, and if something else is now the top priority then focus all your time there. The problem is that for people like me that is the kiss of death. My priority changes monthly, weekly, daily, and sometimes from hour to hour, minute to minute.
My actual theory on time management is that there are two basic types of things: things you wouldn’t do if you didn’t have to and things you would do even if you didn’t have to. The trick in life is to separate activities into “want to” and “have to” categories. Then find large amounts of time each day to devote to “want to” items. The “have to” items will always manage to get done, because you have to. You have to go to work or you lose your job. You have to pay your bills or you live a less comfortable life. It’s the things that you want to do that will get sacrificed.
What I have realized is that it doesn’t matter what I do with my “want to” time each day as long as it is something I want to do. In this way, I do try to set priorities in the “want to” category, but the important thing is that I spend the time on it. To me this doesn’t necessarily mean that you pick one priority and stick with it, but rather that you concentrate on the amount of time that you spend on things you want to do in life. To me that’s what focus should be about.