I have many interests in life, and even a few of them are bona fide passions. However, we can reach a point in life where we find that we are being pulled in so many different directions, that we lose our way, and we lose our ability to be productive on any front. It is a continuous challenge in life balancing our desire to be productive, out time for those we love, and making room to take care of ourselves. Those tenuous, but brief moments of balance between productivity and sanity is what I want to begin to focus on today. There are a few techniques I rely on to keep me on-task, moving forward, and leaving margin for living and thinking. Here is one that may help you.
1. Writing in the Dark.
I have had insomnia most of my life, I think. When we are not sleeping well or deeply, we are not at our best. We become cranky, unproductive, fuzzy thinkers. We can become intolerant, as well as, intolerable.
I have only sorted out in the past few years that part of my problem is that my conscious, as well as sub-conscious mind, are actively sorting through problems. Even an occasional epiphany manages to worm its way through. For a long time, I wrestled with myself trying, sacrificing sleep, to hold on to those one or two things that were so important, that I really needed to share them someone in the morning. When we try to do this, we cannot drift off into deeper, more restful sleep, because we fear that the thought will disappear into oblivion or get lost in some seemingly senseless dream.
My solution, after trying several methods is “writing in the dark.” I keep a fresh stack of index cards, and writing utensils next to the bed. When the idea is crystal clear, I scribble it out on a card, without turning the lights on. The index card is thin enough that I do not usually go back over what I have already written. If another idea comes, I grab a fresh card from the stack, and place it on top of the “done” stack. Some nights I have written as many as 20 clearly executable ideas, or resolved something I could not see clearly in the noisiness of the work day. In the morning, I can take a quick glance at these and translate them into something I can use or share.
With this now fairly simple setup, I do not lose an entire night’s sleep trying to manage my thoughts, ideas, and the occasional “aha” moment. I do not turn the light on, so that after writing a quick note, I can just turn away from the cards and drift back to sleep. The idea is safe until morning.
Of course, it takes some practice. And, you have to tweak any suggestion to make it work best for you, and to make it your own system. And, that’s the whole point, isn’t it? That it work best for you.
I will share a few more ideas in the coming weeks…