While working to finish up Things Grak Hates, I learned a valuable new piece of wisdom for my novel startup. I learned that when cramming to get things done, I can only afford to sacrifice one thing at a time.
I was putting in crazy hours and pushing hard to get my final draft completed in time for my self-imposed deadline. First I let it cut into personal time with my wife. Then I opted to sleep less and gain those hours for additional work. Then I decided that exercise should go too. Finally, meals starting getting more sporadic. Needless to say, this was a bad idea.
I burned out quickly on that routine. The pressure only got worse as I altered more of my valuable schedule. So I took a small amount of time to recover, carefully weighed my options, and started a new pace. I sacrificed some sleep and nothing else. My time with my wife, my exercise, meals, and relaxation were all sacred from that point on.
Since then, I’ve found the need to alter my schedule here and there to get more done. Sometimes I’ve had to cut out a little of this or a little of that, but now I only choose one thing at a time.
Maybe some of you out there can cut out a few things at once. I know they show it in movies and on TV. I don’t think that’s realistic, though, and it certainly isn’t sustainable for long. It’s never worked for me, and I wouldn’t recommend it.