Over the past few years, Jaimie and I have observed that I tend to go in cycles in my time-spending habits. The issue is not so much whether I spend my time well, but where I spend it. I will go on a blogging kick for a few months, as I did at the beginning of this year, then not write much at all for a few months—but in the interval spend gobs of time reading, or writing software, or so on. I am not sure what it is that triggers the change, but it has been a fairly regular fixture of my life for at least the length of our marriage.
Every once in a while, I will even go on a weeks-long video games or television kick. This is bliss for Jaimie, as she finds spending time together playing video games or watching television shows we both enjoy to be one of our best connecting activities. But then the spell comes to an end, and I’m back off to a reading kick, or designing a new website, or embarking on some crazed software development scheme or another. It somewhat drives Jaimie crazy, I suspect.
I am not entirely sure what makes me tick this way. I do know that in those dedicated phases of work I can knock out significant tasks in the given area where I am motivated at any given time. (I have no doubt, for example, that I could pull off the 50,000 words needed for National Novel Writing Month some November, if I were in a writing mode.) Being able to predict these things would be nice, though. I could make a plan for the year and have a good idea what projects I would accomplish. Instead, I find myself extraordinarily productive in some area at any given time—but never sure what it will be a month later. That’s not a problem. It is, however, a bit perplexing.
To be sure, I can and do force myself to continue on with certain tasks even when they are not particularly holding my interest. Sometimes that discipline is really helpful, and I eventually break through to another extended session of productivity in the same area. Sometimes, though, the interval—whether it is switching from writing to software and back again, or from software to Doctor Who and back again—brings me back fresher and more energized to complete the tasks. That is no surprise; I see the same patterns play out on the time scale of hours and days with my paid work (where just taking a month off is not particularly workable). Again: I just wish I could get a handle on the timing, so I could take advantage of that in making plans.
Right now, I seem to be in a video games and general blogging mode. I want to dig back in on my software projects, and I expect I’ll do so soon. And by “soon” I mean: whenever I quit playing more Skyrim. Probably in about two weeks.
In the meantime, I think I’m going to start tracking the particular moods I am in so that I can see if there is an established pattern throughout the year. Whether it correlates with the season, my other activities, or nothing at all would be helpful to know. For Jaimie’s sanity, if nothing else.