Sunday Journal Issue 07: Stumble and recovery

“I often like working with a hangover because my mind is crackling with energy and I can think very clearly.” — Francis Bacon

I heard that in Daily Rituals about Francis Bacon. So far it seems like artists before 1900 drank a lot and ate with no knowledge of nutrition. Not that there was a ton of knowledge to work off of at the time.

I involuntarily experimented with Bacon’s technique today. My conclusion: I don’t like writing with a hangover because I feel awful and can’t think at all.

There are allegedly benefits to a hangover. Not seeing them right now. I enjoyed Wait But Why’s explanation of the monkey mind. The instant gratification monkey steers us toward procrastinating. According to that article on the benefits, the hangover would put the monkey to sleep for a bit. What’s missed is that some other gibbon takes its place and bangs on your head with a wrench for a few hours.

Last week, I did a lot of catching up and was a little too happy with myself. I was finishing multiple posts in a day and I thought I could keep that up and finish the hundred posts early.

I took a few days off and now I feel like I’m stumbling to the finish line. For the last week I had some posts saved that I wanted to close out the project with. I thought I’d magically have more time to work on certain posts without actually scheduling the time.

I’m determined to finish in the next few days. I will not miss this deadline. Nobody’s watching. Nobody’s going to see if I reach the finish line on time or not. It still feels like it would take away all the work leading up to the day 100.

I finished reading The Ego is the Enemy. I saw Ryan Holiday speak live a couple months ago. Something that stuck out that I remembered while reading the book was the concept of Standards of Performance. It’s rooted in Bill Walsh and his time as the 49ers head coach. Here are a few of Walsh’s standards of performance from The Score Takes Care of Itself:

Exhibit a ferocious and intelligently applied work ethic directed at continual improvement.

Be deeply committed to learning and teaching, which means increasing my own expertise.

Honor the direct connection between details and improvement

Those come from a much longer list. Many of the items on the list, like these examples, also apply to much more than coaching a football team. I could do much worse than use these three standards to guide my future writing. Here’s another:

Maintain an ongoing level of concentration and focus that is abnormally high

I’ve been practicing meditation and my concentration and focus seem to be improving. I’ll also make sure to take care of the simpler things, like scheduling properly so I don’t end up trying to write with a hangover.

Whether or not anyone’s watching, it’s important that I know I got to the finish line on time.