Driveways, priorities, and strong motivation

Today (and for the past several days) I have used every speck of energy, not to write, but to dig mud out of the edge of the driveway, between the asphalt and the 4 x 4” wooden edge.

Why? Because I foolishly arranged to have the driveway sealed tomorrow – it hasn’t been sealed since it was put in several years ago – and this is the right kind of weather – still warm enough, and not too dry… In any case, it seemed a good idea to prepare the surface (the sealing company blows leaves away, but nothing else), because there was over an inch of mud over the far end.

Best use of my time? Hardly.

It got done – except that I will have to get up early tomorrow and pack the rest of the gap with driveway compound.

I was proud of myself for using a large collection of tools which I figured out with no help (DH was grading papers).

The amount of physical energy that went into it was far beyond my normal capacity, and I will pay for it with a couple days worth of staring at the wall, but it is going to be DONE, and it will look nice.

I then had a little talk with myself about using that kind of energy for my writing. And realized that I have a common problem: Writing is my #1 priority – but it never gets the kind of time and attention I want to spend on it. So, effectively, it is NOT my #1 priority. Hmmm. Which got me thinking about what do I want to leave for posterity? A driveway edged in 2012, or a completed novel?

Franklin Covey, in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about things that are URGENT, but not important – they consume a lot of attention. And things that are IMPORTANT, but not urgent – you have your list, I have mine – get pushed aside time after time, especially by those of us who really have to choose, because there’s no way to do them both.

But the driveway, though exhausting, is an easy task. The steps are obvious, and the project can be done without much thinking going on during it.

Whereas my writing uses the good part of my brain, when I have some of it. And it is hard, and I need to do a lot of thinking. All the more reason for doing it first, isn’t it?

What did I learn today? That I can’t have it all, so I need to choose. And I raised my awareness of where my priorities actually lie.

So how to make the on-going writing – which I claim is IMPORTANT – competitive with the many URGENT things that come along and chew up my energy? How do I preserve my brain-on time for writing? How do I make myself/allow myself to do it first, before the energy is used up for the day?

By putting my time use where my priorities really are.

I’m going to go out every day for a couple of weeks, STARE at the driveway, and come in and write.

(PS It DID get me outside in glorious weather – I’ll have to think about fitting more of that into the schedule, too.)

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