I promised, at the beginning of the school year, that I would write one sticky note a day and share it. I modified my process slightly, deciding to share each note over Twitter with the hashtag #DailyNote.
It has been a little over two months since I started (Sept. 3), and when I started I mentioned that I would likely fall off of the wagon with the intention of getting back on as soon as I could. I have not merely fallen off the wagon, I have jumped off and, it seems, run in the opposite direction. Of the two months, I have missed 33 days of notes.
That's over a month out of two months total.
So, what happened!? Why couldn't I sustain my practice? Here's what I did to find out.
I identified the 33 days I missed and then dug back into my calendar to explore what happened during those days. I identified all of the reasons that had floated through my mind for not taking on what is no more than a five-to-ten minute task at most. I then synthesized those into four main categories: tired, travel, meetings and weekends.
Then, I laid out 33 sticky notes. Rather than fill each sticky note and then lay it out, I laid out 33 blank sticky notes, including one for today. Then I labeled each sticky note with a day I missed. I then summarized the main activity(ies) I engaged in that day according to my calendar. Above each sticky note, I wrote the category(ies) it fit into of the four I had previously established.
Then I tallied everything up:
I also developed an identity and assigned it to my reasons for not moving forward. I called it the "Procrasti-Shadow", the dark companion to my bright optimism. This consists mostly of my triggers that prompt me to procrastinate:
Hold on. I have a meeting.
I'm not kidding. In the middle of writing this, I have to go to a meeting.
Here are the other components of my exploration while you wait:
Okay, I'm back. Where was I? Right. What have I learned from doing all of this? Here it is:
1. I am not approaching my days with adequate intent. I am, it seems, just far enough behind the eight ball to be reacting to events rather than anticipating them. For example, I start on projects, forgetting I have a meeting in an hour, I then get lost in the project and am late for the meeting. Or I get caught in an aside, am asked a random question that turns into a discussion, and then I am behind my schedule.
2. I do not make time for this project. I always assume that, because it is so small, I will be able to get it done. That's clearly not the case.
3. This project has become a chore -- one from which I seek time away rather than the other way around. I believe the pivot point was when I took my first flight this fall. Flying eats up your day. The flight itself may be short, but transportation to and from the airport, security, taxiing to and from the gate take an incredible amount of time. Then there's the time to recover and adjust to a time zone should you need to.
4. I overestimate my capacity for work. No, I will not read or write nearly as much as I think I will on the plane, including a sticky note's worth.
5. Novelty should not be underestimated. The initial energy for this project was driven largely by its novelty and the nature of the challenge. While I wanted to pursue the project for the insights a continual snapshot my process might produce, I wasn't entirely sold on the actual method of capture and delivery.
So, how do I plan to move forward?
1. I am going to establish a time, which will serve as a deadline each day.
2. I am going to write down the first thing that comes to mind, rather than edit myself constantly.
3. I will keep a book of sticky notes in all of my bags
Alright, let's see if I can get back (and stay) on the #DailyNote bandwagon.