Tag Archives: productivity

While you were sleeping…


I get a ridiculous amount of crap done while everyone is in bed. No brag, just fact. I am not by nature what one might call a “morning person.” In fact, I am unlikely to be able to respond in a civil tone or in human language before I’ve had at least two cups of coffee and the sun has passed the yard arm. I will communicate when I must, but I prefer to avoid all interaction that might require civility.

That being said, I am usually awake and conscious at what might be considered a very early hour. I usually wake up before my alarm (which is set for 6:00AM on work days). My eyes will generally fly open around 5:00AM or 5:30AM. While a part of me is significantly resentful of my internal clock that insists upon robbing me of 30 minutes to a full hour of time that I might otherwise have spent slumbering away before being dragged from somnolence by the blaring klaxon of my alarm (yes, it actually does sound like that), I’ve gotten used to it. Instead of resentment or anger, I have chosen to approach this particular facet of my biology with resignation and use the time accordingly.

So, up I am at the butt-crack of dawn. If I am feeling more tired or irritable, I may use the additional moments before the alarm to meditate (either on my own or using my guided meditation app). More frequently as of late, I have chosen to go ahead and remove myself from the bed clothes and get kitted out for my gym time and run. I take some additional moments to drink a cup of coffee and boot up the computer. Then, I go ahead and get in the workout. Returning home, I shower, get more coffee and maybe something to eat, and I dive into my day.

For weekdays, this involves going through email (reading and responding), reading up on various reports, news stories, and starting to run the productivity and affordability reports for which I am responsible. On weekends, the routine is similar but often includes writing projects, bill paying, and any correspondence not involved with job #1. Some days during the weekend, there may be clients, and some weekends, there are other activities like camping. However, between the hours of approximately 7:00AM and 10:30 or 11:00AM are the most productive of even my very long days.

I usually feel very accomplished during these early morning hours. The rest of my day whether during the week or the weekend, I feel as though I spin my wheels but find absolutely no purchase. Why?

Well, it seems that I have something that many parents have found to be true. The only time to get anything done is when the rest of the world is asleep. From the moment that others in my life become conscious and aware of my own presence (this includes the demonic feline that shares my living space), I am besieged with questions, comments, pleas, and requests. I spend the majority of the time putting out seemingly unending numbers of metaphorical fires (although there have been some actual ones as well) with the equivalent of a tiny kitchen extinguisher. I run hither and thither virtually or actually trying to patch and stitch the many levels of my responsibilities together, and by the end of the day, any projects or things that needed doing that did not get done before someone noticed I was there… well, there they sit at the end of the day waiting for me to have the quiet and repose to address the myriad of tasks.

I cannot blame it entirely upon the pings, rings, and meetings. I have to take some responsibility for the productivity variants myself. I am a victim of the “But First…” disorder as well. So, despite my best efforts, I do get distracted by the shiny squirrels dancing in my workspace and sometimes find it incredibly difficult to finish a sentence, let alone an actual task or project. You would think that the shiny squirrels would not necessarily be constrained by the time schedules of my daily routine, but for some reason, it seems they are not early risers. So, from the real and the imaginary distractions, I am free to pursue my list of things that must be done without distracting escapades so long as I do so while I am alone and in the early hours of the day.

Why wouldn’t this be the same with perhaps the hours after people go to sleep? I honestly do not know. It is possible that I could be as productive post bedtime routine as I am in the pre-dawn glow of day. I know that for many parents of toddlers and even older children, this is true. However, it does not work that way for me. The late night is not as productive as the early morning because my brain wants to shut down. After a full day of corralling the shiny squirrels and putting out the metaphorical (or literal) fires of the day, my brain often decides that it has had enough of the productivity and deserts me entirely. Thus, trying to stay up late (as I once did during my higher education days) to accomplish tasks that were pushed off during the day generally results in poor progress towards my productivity goals.

I suppose the title of this rambling examination of my activity and attempts to be productive is a misnomer. I suspect that there are many other humans out there who are, in fact, not asleep during my more productive hours. They, like me, may also be less than happy to interact without sufficient time to caffeinate or participate in morning rituals. For whatever reason, I am remarkably grateful for the time (regardless the cause) when others appear to be still in hibernation so that I have opportunity to attack my mental and physical agendas for the day. If it were not for that window of opportunity each day, it is likely I would never get anything done.

Sunday Morning musings…


Even the light that is barely oozing into the room through the various miniscule gaps in the venetian blinds gives of the air of … “Meh” today. Nothing so dramatic as a blaring sunrise with high energy, but more like an overcast feeling of a gray, tired blanket… and it’s cold. Technically, since it is Sunday, the one day of the week that is guaranteed to be free of  planned obligations or events (with the exception of one weekend every month), I really do not have anything that I am expected to do. Well, at least not by any entities outside my immediate household.

Because this day of the week has been preserved as the day that I needn’t leave the house, and there are no work related tasks that are on the regular agenda, this has become a day of recovery for me. It becomes a day that is mine. I can lay around in pajamas all day. I can drift in an out of sleep. I can binge on streamed video. I can read books. The day is mine, and I can choose…

Except… Yeah, see there is a problem with only really having one day completely unscripted. All the activities of living that get shifted aside to accommodate those scripted activities on all the other days of the week sit like a waiting bog monster at the edge of my conscience and responsibility awareness to gobble up any sense of peace and relaxation. In other parlance, I am compelled to do the things. What are the things? Generally just the boring and mundane tasks like household chores, projects that have been put off, dealing with bills and budgets (which don’t normally get put off so much, but the reconciliation and evaluation piece often gets a quick brush instead of the full assessment that it deserves), blog posts… yes, I’ve been quiet, but there are a whole hoard of reasons for my lack of verbosity that I won’t really delve into for this particular post.

So, as you see, while I don’t really have any “HAVE TO’s,” on a Sunday, there are roughly a blue billion “REALLY OUGHT TO’s” that are hammering at the doors to the keep even as I type this.

I have been having one of those mornings where I have been awake for a couple of hours already. Going over and over in my mind the list of tasks, chores, and projects that really ought to be done. Some of them have been hovering there expectantly for months (or years) waiting for me to have that so vaunted “time to get to” them. The time has been there on an off periodically as the Sundays do come. However, I always seem to find excuses to ignore them, and so they sit like so many neglected creatures throwing guilt at me.

And yet… Here I am (or rather was) hiding in the blankets. If I get up, I have to face the reality of that list and all those neglected creatures and their guilt. If I leave my warm bed and ignore them to vegetate on a convenient piece of non-bed furniture because I have the collective motivation of a slug colony, I will be filled with self-loathing for my laziness. I sense unspoken judgment while I fritter time away that could be applied to cleaning and yard work and laundry. As long as I remain in the bed, I’ve not yet gotten up. So, technically, I’m not wasting the time because in my warped logic, the clock hasn’t started. Once I set my feet upon the floorboards and leave the questionable fortress of flannel sheets and down comforters, that clock starts counting down the hours until Monday and that time I could have used on the things that must be done dwindles with an alarming speed.

However, a stronger pull than the guilt about the things or the desire to binge on mindless video watching compels me now… Coffee has spoken. It is my master. I acknowledge it. I hear the sounds of the automatic coffee maker in the kitchen and smell the aroma wafting up the stairs. I can no longer resist. And thus, the dreadful stopwatch of Sunday hours has been set. The unending struggle between lethargy and industry begins.

Grant me serenity… nope, time for your 4th reboot


Technology, the bastion of science and engineering, brain children of visionaries that see options for taking away the burden of the menial from busy modern working people… I don’t think it’s working. We have wonderful things in the world these days. Pieces of electronics that allow us to talk to people on the other side of the planet face to face. We have magnificent gleaming, sleek equipment that perform complicated mathematical calculations in nano seconds. We have incredible gizmos that can see into the human body and identify problems before they become catastrophic. We have space-going vehicles that travel to other planets and even to the ends of our galaxy and beyond.

It’s amazing to me. Maybe I’m showing my age. I can remember a conversation that I had with my father over a decade ago now. We were talking about a prequel of a science fiction franchise and wondering how they would address the issue of technology since we had at that time many of the things from the original version of said series. How would they have technology that was ahead of what we already had but still having room to grow for the original (which was at that time filmed over 30 years prior).

So, with all the advances of modern technological miracles, tasks that once would have taken great effort and time are now completed in the blink of an eye… and, why in the name of all that is holy am I consistently plagued by technology that takes up way too much of my day? Things that should take an instant with the marvels of our electronics now take even longer than I could have managed manually and menially because of glitches, freezes, and generally unpleasant gremlins in the works.

What is especially perplexing to me is the sheer number of updates that seem to be pushed out through the wires and wireless signals of the internet and networks to effectively shut down all productivity while various changes are made in operating systems and other software. The timing is a bit baffling as well. It always seems to happen when the process will cause the most amount of bottleneck, slowdown, chaos possible. I can understand when security concerns or “backdoor” issues present that there must be a correction for the safety and security of our data and privacy, but seriously why can’t this be scheduled for a time when I don’t need to actually be performing a function on the machine.

windowsupdateremindercountdownOne of the most baffling situations is my work computer. We have an IT department that will push out updates to all the different systems and software on our machines through the network. So, I totally get that it depends on my machine connecting to the network. However, I’m not entirely sure why, for instance, my entire week was plagued by the update-reboot two step. I might even be less irritable if it would tell me that the reboot thing needed to happen as soon as I got logged into the system. Just a little “Hey, don’t get too deep into anything because we’re gonna be asking you to reboot about 17 times in the next hour.” But nooooo, it waits. It waits until I’ve opened multiple applications and projects and am hip deep in spreadsheets and reports that took their sweet time to open, let me tell you. Then, it says “Reboot in 57 minutes…” Really?!? 57? Not an hour? Or possibly any round number? The point is, it’s not like I’m going to get anything accomplished in that 57 minutes. Truthfully, it will probably take me that long to save and close all the crappola I have open. So, I manage to get it all buttoned up and if the timer has not run out, I click the “Reboot Now” button. Go get coffee.

And now, hopefully, the machine has finished its preparations and is now ready to be productive with me. However, I failed to take into account the passive-aggressive nature of the beast. Apparently completing all the updates and downloads and everything that is needed in one happy session and reboot is just not part of the programming. Once again, the hateful system waits and lets me get complacent enough to open projects and start into my work before… “Rebooting 57 minutes…” It won’t do it immediately, just waits for me to be in the middle of things. “Oh look! She’s opened all her @#$%. She’s really getting in the groove. Tell her to reboot now.” Yes, I know there is usually a feature to postpone the cycle, but honestly, you can only postpone it for so long and it annoyingly will continue to pop up and remind you. It’s often just better to just get it over with.

chickenclickyesApparently the gremlins that live in the computer network also like to play this game when there is a meeting, teleconference, WebEx, or presentation to be done. On these occasions, it seems that you cannot even delay the situation until the end of said meeting or presentation. “Rebooting NOW!” because we know that there are a bunch of people waiting for you to share a PowerPoint display or explain with visuals why targets are off and reports are screwy.

There are days when I take it all as a sign that perhaps I was supposed to take the day off. Wouldn’t that be nice? “Hey there. Sorry. I know that you need me to get that project completed by close of business today, but the computer has told me that I have to take the day off so it can reboot 173 times. How does tomorrow work for you?”

There are days when I question whether the convenience of our modern technology truly outweighs the frustration and delays that occur while they are babied and maintained. While a part of me knows that with extremely rare exception the technology we use do not have sentience or personality, it is difficult to resist believing that there is something in there just messing with me. It is at those moments that I find going to get a cup of coffee is a better choice than chucking the machine out a convenient window.

Technology deity…
Grant me the patience to deal with random errors,
The strength of will to wait for ridiculous boot time (and multiple reboots),
And the wisdom not to take a hammer to the piece of equipment that would take too much of my finances to replace.