It's the little things in life that drive me nuts. The tiny, mundane life-maintenance tasks that pop up and interrupt you... bills, health insurance, dishes to wash, laundry to fold, bathrooms to clean, renter's insurance and correcting a car rental bill and convincing a company that yes, my address is in Raleigh, please ship me my computer stuff. I try to minimize and streamline and automate it as much as I can, but things still slip through - particularly since I have no steady-state, no constant shipping address, none of the steadiness and settling-down most of the world assumes.
So today I said okay, screw that. I'd been craving maker time - research time, thinking time, long unbroken hours for my mind to focus on one problem. One hard problem. No interruptions for cooking food (I'd preemptively batch-cooked over the weekend and filled the freezer with homemade instant meals) or washing dishes (later) or folding laundry (later) or dealing with the mail (okay, I slipped and did this after dinner, but it's done now).
Today I went to the office, disregarded everything else, and thought about the POSSE curriculum. That and only that. And it felt so good. All the scattered, disconnected pieces that had been building up in my brain all summer flew onto the whiteboard and gradually merged into coherence - a picture I could understand, a system I can work with. I laid it out in color on a whiteboard in a meeting room, looked at it with the calm sense of assurance and quiet pride of someone who knows - somehow - they've done well, took a few deep breaths, and waved Max over. He looked at it in silence for a few moments, then looked at me. "Wow. This... is really good. I don't know what you had to do to get your brain in a state to produce this stuff, but this is amazing."
I'm going to try this again next week - next Wednesday is going to be another Research Day, my deep-thinking day, where I do nothing but work on one problem, one hard problem that requires mental focus and attention, all day. I won't get anything else done. Emergency email check in the morning and report-back at night, but I'm unavailable for meetings, off chat, unable to be pinged... it's my time to work. My time to solve the problems that I want to solve.
That's not to say I'm just going to force myself to work on that and burn through it no matter what. I took breaks, I ate bananas, walked around the building... when I needed to relax, I did, but POSSE was gently turning in my mind, and I did not worry about any other work, did not do any other work, did not stress about my backlog. Listened to music, walked on the office treadmill, drank some soup. After the relaxation came the sprints - 30 minutes of walking and then suddenly I could just write things and they made sense.
I came back from that tonight and felt a rising sense of frustration because - well, laundry pile, dirty dishes, envelopes on the table... I took care of some of it, but shouldn't have - I'm still finishing up my Research Day. I'm going to write up my results (which I am proud of), post them, share them, and then I shall call the day a wrap, and then I shall become available for other things (I do have to wash my dishes if I ever plan to eat from them again). It's still my day and my time and I'm entitled to do uninterrupted work that I am proud of for the day until I'm done.
It feels ridiculously satisfying, just tackling your priorities and dropping all the tiny unimportant things. Now all I have to do is get rid of the guilt.