Okay, I need to set all modesty aside for a moment in order to write this post, mostly so that I can start with the premise that, all in all, I get a lot of crap done. I’m not saying it’s all amazing, wonderful crap, but I’m pretty proud of most of it. Somehow I manage to work a demanding, full-time job; I write fairly lengthy posts for this blog; I keep up with a nontrivial set of duties at AIGA New York; I design and co-publish A Brief Message; I maintain a robust enough social life that I get to see friends I genuinely like several days a week; and, not least of all, I take pretty damn good care of my dog.
Now we’ve established that, I can address the fact that, fairly frequently, people ask me how I get all of it done. It’s not easy, but it’s not that hard, either, mostly because there’s not a thing on that list that I don’t care about passionately. I like my life, my career, my work, my friends and I love my dog. All things considered, I feel like a pretty lucky bastard.
On My Own
Admittedly, being single again (my ex-girlfriend and I broke up last spring) affords me a lot of free time that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to devote to all of these pursuits. Having the freedom to spend your time on what matters to you is another luxury not to be underestimated. (Of course, there’s a whole discussion to be had about what I’m giving up in personal intimacy in exchange for careerist productivity, but for now, I’m going to conveniently set that aside.)
But really, aside from having the time and having the passion, I think a lot of this productivity comes down to a problem I’ve been having for the past few years: I don’t get enough sleep. I don’t mean that I can’t sleep, because you can pretty much just lay me down horizontally, leave me to sit idly without multiple mental stimuli, or put me on any kind of motorized transportation (what with the gentle rocking back and forth and all), and I’ll pass out straight away. No question.
I could sleep just about anywhere. The problem is when.
Nights of the Living Dead
As each night draws on, I could pretty much lay myself down any time after 10:00p and, again, pass out like a light. The problem is that I just don’t want to. Nighttime is when I feel fully energized; it’s the time I want to just keep writing and designing and surfing — I just want to keep going, and turning in at a decent hour seems like the least attractive course of action I could take. If I could stay up every night until 2:00a messing around online or tinkering with my blog or hanging out with my friends rather than sleeping, I clearly would.
On the other hand, regardless of what time I go to sleep, I open my eyes at 6:00a the next morning. Like clockwork. Oh, I’m tired and all, for sure, but it doesn’t matter how exhausted I am; my eyes just open like some sort of atomic alarm clock. Even if I’ve only had a few hours of rest, I just can’t sleep past a certain hour of the morning. Partly, this is because 6:00a is the hour Mister President starts demanding to go for a walk, but even he sleeps in later often enough for me to know that it’s just my body, ready to get up and tackle the day.
This inability to take to sleep is partly age, too, right? Only old men wake up so early without an alarm clock. But they also tend to turn in really early — soon after the early bird special and well before the ninth inning of an evening ball game. That’s not me though. Heck, if I get a full eight hours of sleep (as I forced myself to do over the weekend), I feel even more tired the next day.
Mostly, I think it just comes from wanting to do so much; I’ve got a to-do list brimming with projects I want to tackle. And, again setting aside modesty, it comes from having what amounts to a pretty good life. I’m excited by everything going on in my life. Why would I want to sleep through it? I’m a lucky, lucky bastard. I just wish I wasn’t so tired all the time.
Okay, I’m off to bed now.