writing how to work | virtual book

writing how to work

#journal #writing

Notes about style and process of writing

how to work

how to work

(Originally posted on okjuan.medium.com.)

#essays #psychology #time-management #energy #physiology Mentioned in writing how to work, how to chart moods

When I do work and I get stuck I leave my desk and wander down the hallway. I meander and look out the window as I think lightly about the problem. I weave through the complications crowding my thoughts until I’ve sorted them out. Then I return to my desk and refocus on the screen.

Focus narrows the mind. It zooms you into the fine details and blurs everything else out. But sometimes you need to relax your attention and widen your view to notice the missing piece, or the jagged edge that would snag your approach. You need to loosen up and make space to have new thoughts and interact with them.

Focus guzzles energy like an SUV. But accessing your energy reserves isn’t as easy as pressing the gas pedal. Hour by hour your energy levels rise and fall. If you tune into your body it tells you how much energy is available.

For long I’ve known my energy dips after I eat but still I’d push myself to be productive. Now I embrace it as a natural part of my day and let myself relax for a few minutes. I lay on the couch and play chess on my phone and soon I feel fresh and ready to resume work. Taking those 15 minutes to repose lifts my mood. Listening and adapting to my internal state makes work pleasant and less draining. It makes it sustainable.

Sometimes you need more than a few minutes. Energy levels can dip for days. This could mean you need to rest or do something to replenish your energy. Rest isn’t the only activity that reenergizes.

When you lose steam you can spend time absorbing instead of producing. Moments of low energy are a chance to listen and think passively. When you relax, your creativity stirs and feeds on what your senses are gathering. When you can’t be diligent, be curious. Let yourself follow a thread and soon you’ll be moving.

Watch movies, go for walks, listen to music, spend time in the sun, talk with friends, flip through photos, clean the house. Open yourself and allow thoughts to trickle in and out. Replenish the energy and ideas you’ll use to produce next chance you get. You can delay rest, but you can’t skip it. Dues you don’t pay today you pay twice tomorrow.


I wrote this piece while reading Steinbeck’s East of Eden. I experimented with writing very short sentences and leaving out commas. I like the feel of this style. It moves quickly and is easily digestible.