The paying work I'm involved in now doesn't run on a set schedule. There are a couple of regular assignments, but most of the time it depends on what clients ask for on a given day, if they ask for anything at all. I'm gaining more assignments over time, but sometimes there just isn't much to do.
This week is not one of those weeks. A really big order landed and there's plenty of work to go around for the next week. It's a great time to make some extra money, because I get paid per article.
That was the plan this morning. In actual fact, it turns out that my brain doesn't care that there's plenty of work today and I can make more income out of it. I have been eight different kinds of distracted today, and the only reason I have not been MORE kinds of distracted is that my brain got distracted from thinking up new distractions. I tell myself "okay, let's get some work done!" and my brain is all "lah dee dah, whee! Internet! iPad! I need a snack! Let's check Facebook! Lah dee dah dee dah, dum, dah. Doo be doo. Squirrel!"
It hasn't been a very productive day.
I'm not really sure what to do about it at this stage, because if I've been distractable all day I'm not going to suddenly discover real focus this evening. I'm going to keep chipping and get a little more done. But what I really need to do this evening is eat a good supper and go to bed early.
You see, yesterday's pile of work was truly massive, and I was up late working on my chunk of it. I left my computer at midnight, leaving behind more work that I could have still done. It was 1:00 a.m. before I fell asleep.
I didn't set my alarm this morning so I wouldn't lose out on sleep, because I know that's a fast route to feeling stupid and grouchy and useless. Even so, even though I didn't miss much sleep, losing my whole evening yesterday has bombed the productivity right out of today. I didn't have enough time last night to relax and let my brain rest, so it's fighting back today by not wanting to work.
Sometimes there isn't a choice but to push through and work long hours, whether or not it's easy and whether or not brains cooperate. I'm recognizing, though, how much of a toll it takes when I break my daily patterns. Some people gloat over working long hours and pulling amazing feats of productivity; I'm just quietly horrified. This kind of creative work I'm doing now doesn't benefit from pushing my brain past its limits. It just makes me feel terrible, and trashes the quality of my work.
There may well be more long nights this week, and there will certainly be some in the future. But I don't see them as a virtue, and I want to get better at planning my work to avoid them as much as possible. As far as I can tell, they don't really make anything better. They just make me feel bad about how little I accomplish the next day, while my brain sings "lah dee dah" and doesn't give a darn.