It’s not true that yesterday, the 194th in 2016, was the actual first Big Year day . . . but in one sense it is. Among the 194 days there have been many good and effective working days legitimately judged “successful,” and there were pivotal periods, back in February and April particularly, that redeemed the very big year concept. But I’ve struggled all year to find a way of expressing and measuring what a “writing big year” looks like.
Initially “big year” meant “finish the millstone book,” broken up into week-by-week targets, but if some days got a tick, many didn’t, and not always because I was dumb or slack. It’s demotivating to push at a daily goal that is not precise enough. Jogging 4 times a week, 10 kms each outing, is so easily measurable that it it creates its own momentum. “Complete Chapter 4 by Week 3” is measurable, true, but what if that quickly seems unachievable, what do you do? What do you do? What do you do?
I’ve found a solution. I still have week-on-week, indeed day-on-day completion targets but the brunt of the challenge focuses equally on “how to work.” Put simply, every day for the rest of this year (when in town), I give myself a tick if I do four things:
- Rise early, on time. No ifs or buts.
- Don’t touch the world: no email, Internet, newspapers, phone calls, chores, meetings, shopping . . . nada. In my cave I am.
- Set big but hopefully achievable tasks and pour energy at them.
- At noon I down pen and turn off computer.
Most days target additional afternoon and even night work but if these times get swamped by real life, it’s the morning that counts. If I fail to complete the set tasks, I recalibrate; as long as I’ve worked flat out, the tick remains. The rest of the world, even the Jogging Big Year, must be jammed into the PM portion of each day.
Day One worked and worked beautifully. Peace. Let’s repeat today, okay?