Writing This is how I work

The List of Things to Tidy

Two-week holiday. Walk into my home office with big plans that start with a thorough cleaning of the space. A clean space is a healthy and productive space. A place where proper work can happen. But first, let’s play Destiny… for two days.

Day three. Ok, just clean the desk. This part of the desk. Near the spot where the coffee lives. Move things from desk to floor because that is cleaning. I know. We’ll set a timer and clean for fifteen minutes straight. Seven minutes in… more Destiny. Such a good game.

Day four. The plans. They will be written down to focus. Tidy is the theme, and we’re going to tidy all the things. Starting with passwords? Three hours adding entropy to passwords, nuking old accounts and making sure it’s HTTPS all the time. The first productive work I’ve done. A weight is lifted. Celebrate with a seven-mile bike ride.

Day five. Start calculating the number of days left on break with a focus on the mid-point which is two days away. That was fast. Stuff still on the floor. Unorganized. Shift stuff hither and fro to create the illusion of progress. Realize I’m doing this and punish myself with a 30-mile ride. Dizzy.

Christmas here now. Family invasion. Treat it like work and set out clothes the morning of. Treat interactions like 1:1s, and it’s familiar and easy. Use the Internet to figure out how to cook the perfect Tri-Tip. Nailed it. Red wine. Deep inky Cab. Suddenly not worried about much.

Mid-point. Sticking with tidy and today, we’re tidying the wine closet under the stairs. People keep giving me whiskey when they should be giving me gin. I can walk the wine closet for the first time in years and the tidy… it just calms me down.

Past half-way now and I forgot I wrote down the plan. So, a bit more Destiny.

Next book needs attention. Table of contents received multiple hours of necessary work. More than 50% done and feeling ahead of the game for the first time in the break. A ten-mile ride. Attend a party in the mountains and discover inspiration for a New Year’s article. It’s not this one.

I can see the end now. Close to New Year’s and thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Replace the calendar. Deactivate my Facebook account. Fix every single broken link on the blog. (1532). Finally fully clean the home office — follow-up with a complete rebuild of my bookmarks. That all felt unexpectedly great.

A few days left. Home office is clean. Half-written chapters of the book are organized neatly on the floor. That is how I work.

Go on a long ride around the reservoir, and it feels… easy. It only feels easy when you’ve done it a lot.

Starting to tuck work work in here and there. The list of things to tidy is short — dangerous time. This is when I’ll begin to rearchitecting things… unnecessarily. How about a bit more Destiny?

Happy New Year.

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5 Responses

  1. William 5 years ago

    Nice post! Just curious which New Year’s article did you discover inspiration?

  2. Brian 5 years ago

    What do you mean by rebuilding your bookmarks? Are you literally making fancy bookmarks for your books, or are you organizing your collection of links? If the latter, what does that involve? That’s an interesting way to phrase it! I have a large collection in pinboard.in and have given up on keeping it tidy.

    • rands 5 years ago

      It’s just my Chrome-based bookmarks. Nothing fancy, but I hadn’t purged them in a good long time.

  3. David Whiteis 4 years ago

    Ah, that picture of the chapters on the floor. Why haven’t I written a book? I can so clearly imagine the excitement and happiness it would add to my life to be right there in the middle of that process. I have done projects that big, just not a book. Why not? Or, instead, dare I say, when?