A few weeks ago I decided not to post to the blog on Sundays. Now I’ve decided to abstain on Saturdays too. I think I see a pattern here but it’s too early to tell for sure.
It’s not that I’m getting lazy or trying to do less. Quite the opposite. I want my Saturdays and sometimes Sundays to be times when I focus more on writing, photography and projects rather than posting something to a blog. Nobody reads blogs on the weekends anyway.
So this will be my last Saturday post. Not that anyone will care since they don’t read blogs on the weekend anyway.
For several months now I’ve been posting something to the blog every day of the week. I’ve made it a point to create something (prose, poem, drawing, photograph) new every day and share it. But lately I’ve been feeling like weekend posting is too much. Even something good like writing can benefit from a disruption in the routine.
I don’t want to get out of the habit of creating something every day. But I think I’m going to go down to posting only 6 days a week by taking Sundays off.
It seems like it’s been a nonstop week with work, family in town, shuttling kids to events as well as all the regularly scheduled programming of life. One thing I’ve done a lot more of this week is to hike. Hiking is something I’ve always considered fun but unnecessary. I usually only go a few times a year locally. Sometimes I make an extra effort to get out on a trail when I’m visiting a different place.
This week I’ve hiked twice and have loved both times. I was out with family which made it even more enjoyable. I had at least one of my sons on each hike and each one said it was a lot of fun and we should do it more often. That’s enough to motivate me to get out with them again. And in the place we live, there is never the excuse of not having enough hiking destinations. We could probably choose a different trail within 30 minutes from our house each day for a year without repeating.
I felt really good after the hikes too. I go for walks every day and that’s wonderful. But there’s something different about a dirt trail. Sidewalks are great but I love uneven terrain more. It gives you a better workout and hits different stabilizing muscles. Everything feels good after a few hours of trail walking. I think it’s even easier to go further on a hike than walking on the street. That’s because there’s scenery when you hike so you don’t get bored. On the street you just see people’s front lawns and those aren’t usually awe inspiring. I can’t stand waking on a treadmill because it feels like you’re exercising. Walking and hiking give you a sense of accomplishment beyond just step counts or time put in.
When I hike I always feel inspired. There are always new photographs to take, interesting people to meet and beautiful places to see. Living in the west is a special thing. We have some absolutely amazing terrain and outdoor spaces. I don’t want to waste the time that I’m living here.
I’m determined to make hiking a regular part of my weekly exercise regimen. Unfortunately, this means I have to push myself to literally go the extra mile of getting to a trailhead. I’m up for the challenge though.
I haven’t been sleeping well lately. It’s partly my fault since I’ve been staying up late watching pointless TV shows on Hulu. When I do go to bed I end up thinking too much. I usually come up with ideas that I feel I have to write down. So I get up and write them. Or worse, I use my note taking app on my phone. That kind of late night screen time, even a few seconds, just wakes me up too much. Unfortunately, this behavior can be a detriment to creativity.
I used to not even bat an eye at not getting enough winks. But it’s been affecting me more lately. When I’m tired and sluggish I have little capacity for creative thinking or doing. I’m OK working on left brain analytical projects which is a lot of what I do for my job. It’s after work when I have time to write, build or edit that I find myself flagging with little motivation to do the things I really want to do.
Stress is another big creativity killer for me. I get really nervous when preparing to speak publicly. When I’m prepping to give a talk, that’s about all I can do. Forget writing poetry or sketching something the night before an event.
After a stressful event, my mind relaxes and it more easily shifts to creative endeavors. The same thing happens when I’m more rested from adequate sleep. The key, according to the LSE article authors, is in allowing physiological recovery, primarily through sleep.
Of course this isn’t anything new. Last year I read an excellent book called Rest: Why you get more done when you work less, by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. Pang makes the case for not only a good night’s sleep but resting throughout the day to allow your mind the time it needs to work on problems and ideas subconsciously. There’s a lot more to his book and I highly recommend you read it. It’s one of the rare books that I actually read all the way through.
Ultimately, the point is that we’re much more creative and productive when we aren’t running ourselves too hard. Putting in more hours to the detriment of rest and reflection will only make you less effective at what you’re doing.
Now I have to heed this advice, keep Hulu off at night and get more sleep.