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My Own Personal Bootcamp

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Hello again, GQ. This is my fourth attempt at this. Things happened recently and I realized that life doesn’t stop and wait for you to catch up. You have to keep moving with it or it will leave you behind. I’m trying to catch up here, and I’ve put a TL;DR at the end which is not exactly exhaustive but should at least hit the core of what I’m doing here. Hopefully the section headings will make it easier to keep up. My goal here (especially in the interest of not annoying veterans or Cam) is for this to be the last journal I make on this site because I want to stick with it for more than a few weeks. But if you’re interested, here are links to my previous journals:

Gank’s Log

Dave’s Log

Resistance is Futile

Introduction

Where I Went Wrong

I don’t want to go back through my old blog posts again to see where I went right or wrong in the past. I think I had some good insights that violated one core principle I’d discovered in self-improvement. I had gotten good at keeping up with running, until I stopped suddenly. But I hadn’t told the world about my running because I wasn’t looking for a pat on the back. Only when I felt comfortable in my progress and my resolve to keep up with it did I tell anyone about it.

Running taught me the power of habit, of focusing on today and not thinking about the goal. By just running a little a day, I made it a habit that I wanted to keep up with. It made me feel good about myself, and it gave me energy. I didn’t get to do that 5k I wanted to do because I got sick that weekend (and ultimately this led to me not running anymore for a while because I’d broken the habit) but for a time, I felt great.

I also made a good daily habit of getting the apartment clean, and reading, and writing. I wouldn’t allow myself the more “time-sink” activities like gaming or YouTube until after a certain time of day. Usually 8 on weekdays and 5 or 6 on weekends. That way, when everything was clean, my only choices for passing the time were finding other errands, reading, or writing. I usually settled on reading, especially if I’d already done my writing and didn’t feel a burning need to get more words down.

More recently, I’ve lost sight of my priorities. I put them on the wayside and let all the things I need to do pile up. We have the things we need to do, the things we want to do, and the things that we just do to pass the time and pacify ourselves to the world around us. I chose the third category too often for too long. As a sidenote, I lost my job recently.

Some of my hobbies became habits. Gaming is one of them. I drank too much, watched too much porn, and blamed all my unhappiness on these things rather than the person I had become. It was my decision to do all these things and yet I didn’t think to blame myself.

Now I recognize where I went wrong, and I know what I have to do to fix it. It’s uncomfortable, but I know from the past that it is worth it.

But before I also complicated my life with trying to adopt new hobbies and turn them into habits, under the guise of learning and personal development. Like learning to draw or code. Thing is, while I would still like to do these things, I need to get my life as it is under control.

I’ve had my girlfriend help me with porn before, by blocking access to it and giving her exclusive control of the account with her own password for it. But I found a way around it because I understand how the modem and router work. I don’t think I’ll do that again. There’s so much more power in being able to say “no” when I feel an urge to go back to my old ways.

She did come up with a “you drink when I drink” rule a while back, though. I’m going to go back to that. I felt better about it. I didn’t overindulge and she didn’t come home to find me passed out in bed and worried for my life.

The Future

The goal of this is not just to eliminate bad habits, but to focus on building and keeping new ones. I’ve tried using programs developed by others before, even tried Habitica. The only thing that’s worked for me is relying on my own intuition. Coming up with a plan, sticking with it until it works, and figuring out how to adapt and overcome in order to keep on keeping on.

Here comes the hard part: Figuring out where to start.

Scheduling

Well, I can start off by focusing on my schedule. I’m in class for a large portion of the day Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; off Tuesday; and back again for one class on Thursday. Tuesday and Thursday mornings I go to a high school for observation hours. So those hours are pretty much locked down.

However, when I start my day, I can give myself a little time to relax. Let’s say an hour because that’s what I did before. This means that when I get up or I get home from school/work (you know, when I get a job again) I can watch a little YouTube or something. But once my time is up, it’s time to get to work.

After 8 on weekdays and 5 on weekends are freetime.

School

Homework comes first during home hours. There can be no exception to this. However, I got into the habit of waiting until the last minute to do this work, especially for my two online classes. To change this, I’m going to start looking a week ahead at my requirements for my online classes. The workload on one of them changes from week to week and has taken me anywhere from fifteen minutes to three hours to complete. By looking ahead, I can be prepared to work on this homework throughout the week whenever I get downtime.

As for other classes, I actually care about my in-class classes. So I’ve had no issue doing the work for those (except for online discussion. The points aren’t worth it and I really don’t care). The one sticking point is the reading for one class, which requires a weekly journal response. I'll just have to work harder to put up with the forty-page chapters.

Reading

I’ve tried setting a minimum time for me to read daily. I don’t wish this upon anyone, and won’t do it to myself again either. It makes it into a chore and takes the fun out of it. Instead, reading will be my go-to activity when I’m out of things to do.

Writing

Hoo-boy. This is perhaps the biggest hurdle. I’ve done every approach to this: Write when the mood strikes; write a half-hour a day; write 1500 words a day. I can say that every method has shown results to varying degrees. I have an issue with a time limit or word requirement, though, because I end up only doing that much, when I could do so much more.

Instead, I’m going to hold myself to work on a novel every day. But that comes with the attachment of a daily task. I don’t ever know how long that task could take and once I get into it, I often stop caring about how long it will take. It’s done when it’s done, whether that takes fifteen minutes or three hours.

Cleaning

I’ve written before about how the physical clutter in my life becomes mental clutter. Now that I have an office that I keep generally pretty neat (he writes as he spots an ant on his desk) this isn’t such a problem. But it’s funny how quickly keeping the house in order gets away from you. I know from experience that once the place is clean, it’s easy to do little things here and there to keep it clean. Just spend fifteen minutes a day going around picking things up, throwing things away, and dealing with the day’s dishes. Better yet, if you do the dishes on a meal-by-meal basis, it’s like there were no dishes to begin with.

New Habits

Considering I don’t have a job right now, I’ve been applying at places around the area. But this has also lit a fire under my ass to try and start writing for money once more. I mentioned in a followup post on my last journal that I might try Reality Craft once more. I can use this to develop the skills I need to become a copywriter (or better yet, a copy editor) and get paid to do it. This is one aspect where I know less about my goal, but I’ll look into it on a daily basis.

As for other habits, like drawing and coding… Well, I draw when an idea strikes me, and I came up with a pretty cool idea for a book cover design. But it’s not something I want to focus on. With coding, I have a pretty good lesson plan through Udemy to follow, but again I’m not going to focus on it. I want to get the other aspects of my life in order before I get into the thick of coding.

Compartmentalization

Simply put, when I’m working on school, I’m working on school. This goes for all other aspects. I might even draw circles on my whiteboard labeled School, Writing, Cleaning, and so forth, and move a magnet into the appropriate circle depending on what I’m doing.

Exercise

[TBD]

No, seriously. I’m bad at coming up with workout plans. I would get a gym membership if I had an income right now. And the trail where I used to run is about seven miles away now. And I’m not running on the sidewalks of Cleveland.

I guess I could work out at the gym on campus for free, though… Damn, I guess I’m going to have to do that. Just give me a little time to adjust to this idea first.

TL;DR

I know this is a long post. This won’t be a continuing trend. Actually, I can’t make any promises there. Anyway I will distill all I said into the following:

My goal here is to build up habits like cleaning, doing schoolwork, reading, and writing. My “freetime” where I can screw around a little more happens later in the day, but only if everything is done. I’m going to stop making up excuses, and stop blaming other things (or other people) when I’m responsible for my own shortcomings.

Talk is Cheap

The only way I can prove that anything I’ve written here is valid is by going ahead and doing it. I’ll check back in with my progress tomorrow.

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Day 1

Today was pretty good. Had to deal with a sudden emergency, but overall I got most of what I wanted done.

I wanted to edit a chapter. Instead, I read through the chapter and made notes. Ultimately I determined that it needs largely rewritten, especially because of some huge character changes I've made to the overall story. I will do that tomorrow.

I thought about that Reality Craft idea and decided against it. It's a complicated system, and one I don't really want to keep up with. Instead, I got about halfway through a Udemy course on copy writing. I will probably do the rest tomorrow.

Basically, today was a good example of ways to adapt. I didn't do the dishes because my girlfriend is home sick, asleep on the couch. I'd rather not wake her up smashing dishes together. I also got a good bit of reading done. Not a huge amount, but more than I've done lately.

I want to keep this journal positive. I can be pretty negative at times, and I don't want that to be a continuing trend. But when I say that, don't assume that when I say things are good that I'm bullshitting you. I like being honest. If I have a bad day, I just won't mention it was bad. But I will, at least, try to salvage the good from it. Part of this starts with me, though, because I have more control over my livelihood than I give myself credit for.

See you tomorrow.

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It's great to see you back! Don't hesitate to put negative posts here, it helps to unload emotions. We are here for change, which sometimes comes through pain so negative parts are essential.

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It's great to see you back! Don't hesitate to put negative posts here, it helps to unload emotions. We are here for change, which sometimes comes through pain so negative parts are essential.

Hey, man. Thanks. Besides being unemployed, I don't have a lot of negativity to share right now without getting too personal.

Day 2

Got everything done for the day. Well, that's not totally true. I said I'd rewrite that one chapter, but after looking at it again, I got a bit overwhelmed. I printed it out, made notes on it, then set it aside and wrote a whole new synopsis for the rewrite. I might end up typing up the new draft later, but I've got to give some time over to the girlfriend who will be home soon.

I also finished that Udemy course on copy writing. It had some good insights, but it made it pretty clear that it's a really hard profession to get into and make profitable.

Other than that, I'm sort of weaning myself off of caffeine finally. I did it by accident, though, because I wasn't paying attention and bought decaf coffee. I decided I'd still drink that then only get caffeinated coffee on campus when I need it. Having the decaf is good for me psychologically (I think) and yesterday I almost fell asleep in my first class without coffee. I've done this before, and I know how rough it is at first. But in the end, I'll be able to make it through a day without crashing. And if I do begin to crash, the caffeine will finally have an effect on me that it hasn't in a long time. Still, I'm exhausted right now.

I'm thinking about getting back on my youtube channel again to talk about writing, but using my own writing as the source material. I wouldn't talk about the specifics of the story, but I would definitely talk about the issues I'm facing in the story in a broad sense, and follow up with how I fix them. Could be a good resource for other writers, and it could also be a good way for me to talk out some issues.

See you tomorrow.

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I'm back for real, right now. I just uninstalled all my games, and I've already had my girlfriend hide the physical copy of a game from me.

Any time I try to get my life back on track, I constantly have this "Right after I do this one more time" kind of mentality. Well, I'm stopping that now. No excuses. I might have to be a bit of a hardass on myself, but I have a short list of things I must avoid. That list is allowed to grow only if new activities present themselves as being disruptive.

I have a paper due at midnight (about a half-hour from the time this is being written) that I've barely started on. I realized a while ago that it wasn't going to be done in time, especially since I have so many research documents to sort through for relevant information. I will submit it late. Luckily, I've figured out that the class's points system is pretty stupid, and even if I were to never turn this draft in, I would only lose 6% from my final grade. I'll still turn it in. It will just be late, and it might lose some points.

I'm also planning on starting a schedule on my personal blog, where each month has a theme. This month's theme is supposed to be breaking old habits. Next month's will be about building new habits. My website is geared toward writers, so these aren't typical themes, but they're where I want to start to get the ball rolling, and they're also still pretty relevant to writers in general.

But because of this blog plan, I realized that I should practice what I preach.

Don't expect me to update this daily because I have a lot of work to do and would like to avoid the Internet as a distraction. I'm quitting gaming at least until the end of the semester. We'll see how I feel then.

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Day 1.

I decided that this is my actual starting point, especially because of the post on my personal blog today. I'd rather not direct link it, but you can hit the link in my sig if you want context.

Basically, I decided that I feel like I'm killing myself. I feel like I've given up. It's all or nothing with me right now. If I get overwhelmed I just say "fuck everything" and go back to destructive behaviors.

Today I started an Accountability Journal. I might share my findings from it, but really it's just a log for myself to see where all my time is going, see how many of my wakeful hours are spent being productive. And how much of my free time (when I'm not required to be in class, for instance) is spent well. I'll probably end up making an excel sheet, breaking down the day into hours awake, hours free, hours spent productively, and hours wasted.

Anyway, I need to go read for class. I'm not planning on opening my laptop again today unless I need it or I decide to write something.

Cheers,

David

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Posted (edited)

Day 2

I might have given up on the psychology paper. I mean, not entirely. I still have to turn it in at the end, but for now, I'm not sure if I can get credit for this draft of it. The upload link is no longer online. We reap what we sow, right? I'll probably still get around a low B without those points, so, eh. It's an important class, but it's one that's required for everyone in my major, so it's one that a lot of people quickly stop caring about.

I'll still finish it this weekend and try to email it, but I really have absolutely no drive to write it. I freeze at the letters APA.

Anyway, today was a horrible example of what I can do when I put my mind to things and hold myself accountable for my free time. I had time between classes which I used to read for class and start my essay. Then I went to the store, got home, and helped and spent time with my sick girlfriend. So there isn't a whole lot of "free time" I can actually use effectively.

I'll have the house to myself tomorrow. I've been keeping up with the accountability journal and making sure there's no time unaccounted for. No really profound observations to make yet. Give me a week and I'll report my findings. The one thing it does effectively, though, is force me to live each day intentionally, hour to hour. I try to write down a start time for every activity, but if I'm in school, I'm more likely to write it in after the fact since the day is so scheduled. Now I have to make a decision every time I'm not forced to be somewhere. This is actually how I got my essay started. I sat down, wrote down the start time, and wrote "Psych Essay." Once it was committed to paper, I had to do it, and I got about a quarter of it done.

I feel like keeping up with my blog is also helping me stay motivated. Now that the first week of posts has gone up (which is really only two posts) I feel like I have to keep going. Especially since I'm getting views, comments, twitter mentions, and all that. I even had someone come directly to me for advice and another person contribute to my writing resources page. It's been a really uplifting week for my blog, and I think the accountability journal has given me an idea for a new post.

Cheers,
David

Edited by gankylosaurus

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Day 3

New finding of this accountability journal. Two, actually. One, it doesn't really deter me from succumbing to my vices as much as I thought it might (2.25 hours logged in that category). Two, it makes me consciously aware of what it feels like to spend eleven and a half of my wakeful hours being productive.

I'm fucking tired now.

Cheers. Everybody knows your name.

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Day 5

I didn't do anything yesterday except watch movies with my girlfriend. I started working on some homework, but I decided I'd get it done more effectively today. I was partly true. This essay is the bane of my existence. However, I'm tackling it by integrating one element of it at a time. Now I only have one more article to pull quotes from, then I can incorporate Vygotsky and Piaget probably, and write up my conclusion. I don't even care if it hits the 2000 word requirement. I'm about halfway there, though.

I'm going to spend today and tomorrow getting ALL of my assignments done. I have a little bit of a backlog. For one class, it's been no problem because the teacher just basically gives full credit for turning assignments in. Psych is going to be a little more of a question. The teacher hasn't given me any zeroes for missing assignments yet, so I'm hoping I can swing the possibility of getting something for turning them in. At the very least, I just want them off my mind. Hell, I'd take the zero just so I don't have to think about it anymore.

On the plus side, I'm getting better at staying on top of keeping the house clean again. So that's something.

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Essay draft done and submitted. Tomorrow morning I get to deliver a lesson to a class of high schoolers, and then I'll be coming home to work on yet more work I'm behind on.

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