Life tends to be lived in chunks. Hours, days, weeks, months, seasons, years - these are familiar if slightly artificial concepts. But what’s the best-sized chunk of life to focus on? Some would advise living in the moment, by which they don’t really mean the 86,400 seconds that are available in a single day. They effectively mean no chunks at all (or infinite chunks, perhaps).
Reading an article on why you should divide your life into semesters reminded me that I’ve already come across this idea in the shape of the book The Twelve Week Year. I actually bought The Twelve Week Year for Writers, which I’ve skimmed but haven’t read properly yet. I’d like to have a structure to my year that’s more than just “get through it”. But I’m daunted by the thought of needing something concrete to show for my time spent on earth. What did you achieve in your chosen chunk of life? This question won’t be answered by heartbeats or breaths, by sunsets or swims. It would be OK maybe if it could be answered with dollars, but that’s not really acceptable either. It’s too soulless. The question, what did you achieve? needs actual achievements. It needs productivity of the sort I’m not very available for.
@visakanv says “the meandering mind is a feature not a bug”. Why can’t I accept this? Perhaps because I keep putting myself in situations where the meandering mind is a bug not a feature?
I can just about manage to write a short note like this. And then another one… and so on. Austin Kleon calls this “Sisyphus mowing the lawn”. And indeed, I’m happy writing my short notes. If I can’t manage to organise my life into semesters, perhaps I can organise it into atomic notes - the shortest possible viable writing session.
I saw on the zettelkasten.de forum that some members log their note-making productivity on a 10-day rolling tally. One person has written 16 notes in ten days, another has written 33.
They are inspired, as am I, by Sonke Ahrens' exhortation to work as is nothing counts other than writing (well, some of them are).
"If writing is the medium of research and studying nothing else than research, then there is no reason not to work as if nothing else counts than writing.
Focusing on writing as if nothing else counts does not necessarily mean you should do everything else less well, but it certainly makes you do everything else differently.
Even if you decide never to write a single line of a manuscript, you will improve your reading, thinking and other intellectual skills just by doing everything as if nothing counts other than writing."
I’d like to know what kinds of time you find yourself dividing your life into. Do you mainly live in days, or mainly in hours, or perhaps weeks? Do you instead devote yourself to living in the moment? If so, which moment?