Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FTT Off Topic: Micro Sleeping

Another in a series of posts in which we do some Personal Sharing that's only partially related, at best, to sports. You've been warned.

One of the things that happens to you when you get older -- or, at least, I hope happens to the plural you, because if it's just me, that's a little disturbing -- is that you will not get enough sleep. This has become much worse for me over the past few years. Between the commute (about 17-18 hours a week, spiking occasionally up to 20 if the delays get obnoxious), the day job (45 hours, for the most part, in that I enforce a hard stop and pick it up again on the train or at home if there's more to do), the childcare (10+ hours during the weekdays, as I take them as soon as I get home, and another 5 to 10 on weekends of just general hang out time), the gym (another 2 hours a week, just because it's close enough to my house that I can squeeze in a pretty continuous amount of work, and I'm not trying to get ripped here), and the blogging (OK, I do some of this on the train, but not nearly enough, so let's call that another 5 on its own, in that there's more than just writing to it...)

Well, we're already up to 85 out of 168 hours in the week, or over half of my waking life, booked solid. And we're not even getting into yard work, shopping, time with the Shooter Wife, the actual watching of sports (different from blogging), poker games as a side income, and so on, and so on.

The writer David Sedaris posits that every human life is a four burner stove in which only three of the burners work. These burners are Health, Family, Work and Romance, and you really only get to have three of the four. If you really want to get good at something, you make it two burners. Famous, one. It's a depressing little thought, but I think there's merit to it.

I like to beat myself up for taking too much time in the writing. You'd be amazed at how quickly 70% of a list can come, and how slow the last bit of it goes. But the awful truth is that the more efficient you are in the time that you spend doing it, the worse it will probably be. A writer who takes shortcuts is one that is letting the self-editing go; typos and word repeats are sure to creep in, along with common phrase choices, template moves, etc., etc.

And sure, some of that is just finding your voice and knowing your audience and having confidence, but there's only so much self-justification that you can do for hackwork. Or ignoring your own typos and other mistakes. It is what it is.

So it should be clear by now... for me, the off burner is health. The secondary off one is Romance, in that I've been married for 11 years, and the great and good benefit there is that when you sacrifice your spouse for your family or work, they get that it's not an entirely selfish act, and sacrifice with you. But getting back to health. While I try to eat well, get exercise and take vitamins and only necessary medications, there's just not enough time in the day. I sleep about five hours a night on average,

That sounds, and is, horrible... and is probably the root of many an ailment and overall negativity about things. It's also something of a life pattern. In my last semester at college, with a 70-hour a week job, internship and 18 credit hours, sleep was more or less forgotten for a four month period. It wasn't pleasant, but it got done, and it taught me a valuable lesson: I'm capable of great things if I can simply convince myself that there are no other outs.

Flash forward to today. I'm on the train as I write this, eyes closed as my fingers type these words. Ten minutes later, I jerk back to consciousness, and write another line. This will happen, assuming I don't focus hard on whatever task is at hand, 2-3 more times before I get home, and can happen 2-3 more times after I get the kids to bed and finally give up the ghost. By the end of the week, it's hard to get through a day in the office without coffee, the occasional walk, more coffee or forcing myself to walk around the place and interact with coworkers offline.

Eventually, balance will be achieved. Maybe my commute will be lessened, or my kids will take up less of my time as they move into adulthood (not counting on that one), or I'll give up the blog or the fantasy sports or the poker, or the house work goes away, or something. Or I'll just get OK with the micro sleeping, since it's not really a negative yet -- it hasn't happened while driving, at the poker table, or during a busy day. I haven't even missed my stop on the train. Yet.

Besides, you'll sleep when you're dead, right?


Anonymous said...

Pretty insightful post. As a 50 year old father of 5 sons I know exactly what you are writing about. I haven't had a good nights sleep in almost 15 years.

Love your posts! They often provide the only humor in my life each day.

Keep up the good work.

DMtShooter said...

Happy to help, and thanks for the kind words.

Ads In This Size Rule