During May I gave myself a challenge to complete a large number of specific tasks and goals. The purpose was to see how much I could push myself and how much I could get done. It was ridiculously ambitious and unachievable.
But I would still consider it a success if I stuck with it, even if I got nowhere near my targets.
I learned some things about myself.
The May Challenge was an almost complete success — I surpassed some targets and got within a couple of percent of achieving the others. It was only a family emergency on the final day that stopped me hitting all the targets.
But the most interesting thing to come from it was that most of the heavy, consistent work was done in the last third of the month. Up to that point I did very poorly on most measures and thought there was no way I could get anywhere near the results I wanted.
So now I am thinking, can I work at the intensity I reached in the last ten days, or even surpass it, for a whole month? And I reckon I could.
The June Challenge was born. It is vastly more difficult than the May Challenge. It is probably three or four times as difficult to achieve. And there is an added difficulty in that there is a category of task that is not well defined.
Before anyone thinks I must be mad and what about downtime and rest and recreation and socialising and family time and all that normal stuff — I will still do that. There will be less of it, maybe, but the idea is to work more intensively, more focused on the work and less distracted by anything at the times when I am supposed to be working.
I will have seven to eight hours sleep a night, because without good sleep none of this would be possible. I will go for walks and exercise for about an hour or so a day. I will do the housework and the shopping and the cooking as normal. I will spend time with the family as normal, and socialise as normal.
But I will do much less TV watching and much less mindless or aimless surfing of the internet. I will spend less time staring into space with no purpose, and I will catch myself being distracted before the distraction becomes a several hour waste of time and energy.
There is a trick to this. The trick is to make all the work into fun, or as much of it as possible. That way, I don’t need to set aside time for entertainment and relaxation because my whole day is enjoyable.
During the May Challenge I discovered that I did my best work early in the day, so I turned my days upside down. Instead of showering in the morning, I shower at night. Instead of staying up late, I get up earlier. Instead of reading news and checking email in the morning, I do it later. Instead of housework in the morning, I do it in the evening (and prepare for the next day).
If I start work at six, and immediately get on with the important thing, which is writing, I can go for about three hours before I need breakfast. Then I have a quick nutritious breakfast and work more, mostly writing, for about four hours and then have lunch. After lunch I am losing my gloss, so I do easier things like admin, reading, editing, anything.