Blogging is hard (and so are many other things)

Once again, it turns out that consistent blogging actually involves a decent amount of work and self-discipline.

This is not horribly surprising, since exactly these requirements also killed off my previous attempts at blogging, but it is somewhat disappointing that it also applies to this blog, which was intended as a really low-quality, low-effort blog right from the beginning rather than a blog filled with thoughtful, in-depth analyses incorporating lots of facts and citing all sources. I figured that since I spend a considerable amount of time navel-gazing anyway, writing some of that down and posting it would not take much more effort.

And yet here we are, quite a way from the every-other-day schedule I aimed for, and whenever I think about this blog, my first reaction is “ugh”.

The same used to be true about working out back when I started, but not anymore – I’ve been doing it pretty consistently since the Sweden break, and summoning the motivation to start is getting easier and easier. I wonder why – sure, I feel good every time I finish another workout, and that helps a lot, but I also feel good every time I put up another blog post. And while the writing itself is not as much fun as it could be, I certainly also don’t feel like I’m having fun when I’m holding one of these goddamn horrible bodyline positions. (Which I am still worse at than prior to the Sweden break, by the way, and which I don’t seem to be improving at.)
It’s also true about doing research to figure out what I want to do for my master’s thesis, and for setting up appointments with doctors etc.

It has never been true for writing responses to D in our endless email debates, doing housework, studying in accordance with a previously made schedule, doing well-defined homework (even if it is challenging), and figuring out specific details about appointments already made.

Maybe the deciding factor here is scaffolding: when a schedule is already in place (work out every second day according to this step-by-step workout plan, clean the bathroom every two weeks, go to class every time it takes place), sticking to it is doable, but unscheduled activities where I have to decide for myself when exactly to start (and maybe even how much exactly to do/when exactly to stop again) are hard.

The good news about this is that I might not be horribly lazy, undisciplined and weak-willed after all, just bad at executive functioning. The bad news is that… no wait, actually, there isn’t really any bad news about this. Sure, knowing it doesn’t mean I know how to fix it, but neither would knowing that I’m lazy etc., and having a clearer idea of where my troubles lie should actually make it easier to find out.

Actually, the “news” part of the above paragraph is not exactly true: I’ve known for a while that executive functioning isn’t my forte, that’s why I make schedules for studying and housework in the first place (and why I currently attend a vocational school to learn programming instead of teaching myself from internet classes). I just haven’t managed to compensate for my weakness regarding things like blogging so far – I originally planned to put up a blog post every second day, but that didn’t work out (obviously), and trying to create a schedule for my free time and keeping to that has never worked, either.

Unsurprisingly, I am not the only person in the world struggling with this. Some other people have reported good results with modafinil, but unfortunately, modafinil isn’t exactly legal as a medication to help executive functioning, so insurance wouldn’t pay and I probably couldn’t afford it anyway.

Dave from boyinaband, who has similar problems, recently posted a video on Youtube in which he attempts a new method to fix them: he tracks what he is doing all day every day, and if he deviates from his self-imposed schedule, his sister will take £ 10 000 from him and donate them to Scientology (which he hates). While this is not an approach I would or could take (I neither have anyone to monitor me that closely nor € 10 000), tracking my daily activities is something I’ve considered for a while.

The day before yesterday, I looked up time-tracking programs and apps, got horribly lost in the jungle of options (most of which are geared towards freelancers), finally asked for recommendations in a Facebook group, and wound up installing Gleeo. I started using it yesterday, after spending a while fiddling with it and thinking about what domains and projects and tasks to include and what to call them.

While it’s far too early for any conclusive results, so far it seems to help me make decisions faster: before, I’d go online to browse tumblr etc. aimlessly whenever I wound up wondering what to do and not coming up with an immediate answer. Now, I’d have to record aimless browsing as an activity of its own, which makes me think of aimless browsing as a decision in itself (which, to be honest, it is), and then sometimes I make smarter decisions instead.
I won’t really be able to check whether I really make decisions faster or it just feels that way because I don’t have a distraction while making decisions, since I don’t have records of my activities prior to recording my activities (duh), but it might be useful anyway – after all, it ensures I won’t get stuck anywhere during “decision-making” aimless browsing.

I’m curious to see how much time I actually spend doing “productive” things (including workouts, because they feel like they take a similar kind of motivation and they technically do produce a stronger, fitter, healthier body). Once I’ve figured out my baseline, maybe I can increase my productive times little by little, setting attainable targets for myself from one period to the next, until I reach a satisfying amount of productiveness. (I’m not sure what that would be. Maybe eight hours a day, like a normal full-time job?)

I’m also faintly amused by the fact that all my tasks have normal, everyday names (“reading”, “tumblr, fb etc.”, “Meeting friends”) except for the ones I need to do to survive, which have highly pretentious names like “Sustenance (intake)” and “Recharging” (for sleep). I feel like this says something about how I relate to my flesh case (aka body).

I’ll keep you posted about how this goes. Maybe.

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