How I Do Things: Chronic Fatigue Edition
I feel like a battery that can’t keep its charge.
Chronic fatigue is my greatest foe. I have a lot of things I want to do, and I have to wedge it all between uncontrollable “emergency naps”.
Narcolepsy medication is godsend when I get my dosage right, but I have a very small habitable zone between panic-attack and asleep. To avoid stimulant meltdowns, I err on the side of naps.
My capabilities shrink as I tire. I need lots of brainpower to build software, but very little to wash dishes.
And so I prioritize my infinite queues by “amperage”. Throughout the day, I tackle the highest-amperage work that my battery will allow.
Here’s my strategy for most days, ordered from most urgent to least urgent:
1. “Emergencies” and Appointments
- Evade death for me, my family, and my plants.
- Avoid embarassing myself over missed commitments.
- Clear queue of random obligations and responsibilities.
- Respond to all inbound messages, once per day.
Chores eat up my mental energy faster than anything else. The quickest way to drain myself is to do things I’ve been avoiding. If chores were easy, I would’ve already completed them.
I wait to do all non-urgent portable chores until I’m stuck in a car, plane, hotel, dentist’s office, etc. That’s how you scrounge for between time.
3. Personal Projects (Implementation)
- Take an idea and bring it closer to reality.
Like many other makers, I have a strange attraction to design/research loops. I’ve found that reserving energy for actually building things is an essential part of my process. Write tired, edit less tired?
- Spin the well-oiled wheels of capitalism to sustain my standard-of-living.
This is a difficult dance. I am committed to doing high-quality output at work, but I also want to reserve enough time/energy for my personal projects. My current compromise is to allocate a fixed number of hours to implementing personal projects before starting career work. Design/architecture work is for afternoons/evenings.
- Tidy house; clear piles.
- Exercise for 5-20 minutes.
Most of my work is bound to The Internet Machine™. But sitting all day makes me slumpy. When I feel the call of the bed coming, I throw on an audiobook and make my home habitable.
6. Personal Projects (Design)
- Pull the next idea from my list (currently ~7,000 ideas) and prepare it for implementation.
Separate design and implementation phases force me to consider how I want a personal project to come to fruition. Should I skip the work and publish the blueprints? Should I try to assemble a team? Should I give it away for free? Kickstarter? Apprentice? And so on.
- Pull from RSS.
- Read books.
Via an RSS reader, I follow myriad tiny blogs and YouTube channels and HackerNews. I sometimes walk while I read to avoid accidental slumber. In the past 2-3 years, I accidentally abandoned all streaming services.