No, I’m not procrastinating: 2014 Routines

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Tabascoeye wisely stumbled on to a point I’ve been waiting to bring up, in case you’re curious. By writing at least one blog post a day, as part of a larger set of daily routines, I’m claiming that I’m not actually procrastinating on my main goal of becoming a CPA.

I’ve been telling folks that I’ve been “studying for the CPA exam” since I left my last full-time job in May of 2013. While I did register for the exam and sit for all 14 hours of it prior to the 30c3, I didn’t pass any of the four sections of it. Why? If all the reasons were plotted on a Venn diagram, the largest circle would be “Lack of Routine”.

This isn’t to say that the entire time between my last job and now has been a complete waste. I have crunched through a ton of smaller tasks that I had been postponing for up to a decade. I have taken on a number of smaller projects. I answered 5 year old e-mails. I rekindled a lot of friendships. I tried to bond with my partner’s cats. I got to Level 8 in Ingress in six weeks. There was SIGINT, OHM, Burning Man, DerbyCon, 30c3 and a lot of things going on in the Art World that I’ve also thrown myself into.

Yes, I was also studying…but not nearly as much as I should have or in the way I should have. My weeks lacked a certain rhythm that comes with a regular day job. The only thing I did somewhat consistently was clear out my Inbox.

As with most of my cohort, without a job or other structured activity during working hours, I fell unchecked into a rather wicked nocturnal schedule that would start out productive but end up in something ridiculous like a “Storage Wars” watching binge or a four hour long Ingress walk at 2 AM.

It’s easy to postpone a planned self-study session, especially when you’re a few minutes into it and you realize you’re too tired to continue. Do that often enough and the results aren’t good. That’s real procrastination.

How does setting a goal for myself of writing one blog post a day fix that? First, it’s the one persistent growing list under the many in my to-dos. I always have an idea for a Blog Post, a link I wanted to write more about, something I wanted to call BS on, etc. It’s actually time I started executing on those ideas and crushing that task list.

Second, it creates both a social pressure and a critical metric leading to a routine. Did I put a blog post out today? Not only will I notice it if I don’t, but there’s a good chance one of you will notice if I do it consistently enough. It’s kind of like FitBit that way, but there’s no leaderboard to blogging, just like there’s no leaderboard to CPA exam studying. That metric itself is enough to get me going on writing first thing in the morning. It’s exercise for my brain, especially since I haven’t been able to drag myself more than a handful of times to the YMCA.

Finally, it’s a way of engaging with the world on a more productive plane while being a form of study in and of itself. While the essay portion of each section of the CPA exam was where I consistently scored my highest marks, I wasn’t proud of the way I was writing. I knew I could do better and I was also painfully aware of how much my writing skills have atrophied in the interim.

So far, three days, three posts, Today’s post came out a little late on account of being completely sidelined by a fever yesterday, something I didn’t really recover from until earlier today. Even with that throwing me, I’m still staying true to my goals, including getting to bed at the ridiculously early hour of “sometime before midnight”.

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