I find that I go through phases of ambition and phases of “I enjoy being a slug…” There’s probably some seasonality to it (in the winter I want to hibernate…aside from a burst of New Year’s ambition). Once spring/summer arrive, I want to do so many things that I think will enrich my life. Rather, I want to do too many things that end up pulling me in too many directions.
I think my ambition/self improvement junkie streak is mostly a good thing. The blog name “striving cynic” came from the fact that even though the voice in my head goes “Yeah, right,” I still want to push myself more in all different directions. As my goals for 2012 indicated, I wanted to run farther, blog more often, tackle clutter, read…well not more books but certainly not less than in 2011, and take better care of my hands (sigh…that one still eludes me…but I’ll save that for the more formal update once we hit the “year is officially half over” [eep]) mark.
One thing I have picked up on about myself over the years, is that my ambition will often hit the wall of the limits of my concentration. Looking back, this is probably the reason why I never tried to pull an all nighter in high school or college. I was too much of an “I hate deadlines” nut to ever leave a project till last minute, and as far as exams went, I always felt that if I didn’t know it by 1 in the morning, I wasn’t going to. I was simply incapable of absorbing more information.
Another example is my blogging “schedule.” I’ve mentioned that I pretty much always prewrite/schedule posts. This usually means that on weekends, I work on my Monday and Tuesday morning book post. I’m happiest when I have the Thursday post knocked out on a Monday night (Tuesday will do…Weds. is pushing it!) and the Saturday post done on Weds (again, Thurs. will do…Friday makes me angsty). I end up usually writing Monday/Tuesday back to back….but by the time I’ve done those, I hit my limit for thinking about what I want to say, writing, reading, editing. So even though I would love the feeling of “wow, it’s sunday and I’ve got all my posts scheduled for the next week,” it just doesn’t happen. After 2, I need to move on to something else.
I think I’m happiest when I’m multitasking. Not in the “studies have shown multitasking is a loser’s game because you can’t concentrate” kind of way (I have no citation in mind, but I know there have been stories of late about how literally multitasking gets you nowhere [okay, fine. Don't trust me...here's a link to a story on this from The Huffington Post. Not good enough? Here's another from NPR]. I mean when I don’t block out an entire day/large chunk of time for one task, but rather have a number of things to work on (another lesson from college, when I had a semester that was so intense, I would literally take a break from whatever I was working on by shifting over to something else). And I prefer to mix the types of tasks I’m multi-ing (must do’s with/would like to do’s) (brainy/with physical). Although I can deal with “today is devoted to one task” when I have to, I’m miserable when I hit “today is devoted to x because it must be 100 percent done tomorrow [should have started earlier]!”
Good to know it only took me about 40 years to figure out how I work best, right? (okay, I wasn’t too worried about this for at least the first 16)!
How do you think you work best? What are your “limits”?