When the day is done, the day is done

I’ve started doing this thing where I stop working at midnight. If you know me and/or follow this blog, then you know I’m a night owl, and you know I like to take on a bunch of fun and creative projects that tend to feel like obligations in the wee hours. So I’ve drawn a line in the sand and declared that anything that feels like work can wait until the next morning.

It’s good to have a general daily deadline. Not only do I work well under pressure, but I feel better about my days when I set these kinds of limits. Just as it’s easier to run that extra distance when you know a rest is seconds away, or to tighten your belt when you know a cheque’s in the mail, it’s easier to get some good work done when there’s a quitting time set in stone.

I know that makes me sound like a workaholic. I’m going to have to plead a combination of “work follows us everywhere in the mobile age” and “look, it’s obvious I’m trying to do better” on that one. When you’re a husband and dad who wants to keep his own things going, your free time becomes a sort of reverse bell curve, in which the time before everyone else gets up and the time after they all go to bed take on a heightened importance.

So far, the mornings are winning. As you know, I’ve come to love getting up early and getting my day off to a good start. But sleep is important, and if I’m getting up early, I shouldn’t be staying up late. As it is, after a certain point, you’re only spinning your wheels.

Now, I’m only cutting off the things that feel like obligations. If I genuinely want to work on something after midnight, then of course I’m going to go for it, assuming I’ve got the strength for it. But if my main motivation is the pressure of the clock, then forget it.

To be fair, it’s easy to wrap it up at midnight when you’re jet lagged as hell and need a nap on the couch just to get there. But I’m going to try and keep this up as I settle back into my own timeline. Wish me luck, won’t you?

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