Recently, I had a wedding. Against, perhaps, all odds, I was the groom. Dances and drinks were had. Merry times and all that. Nobody died, and I woke up the next morning with a wife. All in all, quite awesome.
However, over the last two weeks, I’ve been doing the sort of thing that usually comes up in the wake of tragedies: adjusting to life after a major event. While certainly not sad, a wedding and the preparation for one often (unless you take the far easier step of courthousing it) dominates months of time ahead of the event. For my wife and I, it meant days built around vendor contacts, putting together seating charts, wedding website updates, and more. We’ve still got the thank you cards to put together.
These sorts of things hit my schedule like a hammer – knocking away routines and filling even non-wedding acts with stress about all the wedding-related things yet to come. While I wouldn’t say the experience was true misery, it was definitely an adjustment. An acknowledgment that other life goals would need to be set to secondary status.
Now, that’s not the case. I’m free to focus again on things like writing. This blog. Other things. There’s always stressors, but they’re not destabilizing, they’re normal (take out the trash, play with the cats, put off mowing the lawn as long as possible).
You would think this should make me more productive. It hasn’t – not right away, at least. Partly this is due to the well-known idea of deadlines and pressure – namely that we work harder when we feel our time to complete a task is limited. If I feel I can take all day to do something, I very well might. Or at least, it’s going to be harder to get started because I won’t have that burning urge to go (especially if I’m not supremely enthused by the task – like updating vendor listings for my books).
I’ve also had to re-orient priorities. Return to focusing on my writing and publishing as a business. Before, with the wedding coming up, it was easy to cast aside the more analytical or commercial aspects of the career and focus on the words because, well, when you only have small amounts of time you do what’s most important (and what’s most likely to keep you sane).
The sudden freeing of mental anxiety, though, is a good chance to take that look at current endeavors. To explore what’s really important in the work I’m doing, and to revisit what my goals are (personal and professional). In times of pressure, its easier to buckle down and proceed in the direction already chosen. When that pressure lets up, we can take stock of where we are and change course.
As it is, I’m trying a few new things with the added time I now have. Some of them, even, are about fun, a word often missing from evenings spent updating spreadsheets and such. One such experiment, leveraging a version of the Pomodoro method (divvying up the day into tiny chunks with discrete objectives for each chunk), is so far been a success – I’m finding it easier to keep writing if I switch subjects every 30 minutes or so, or take a break to do house work or (gasp) accounting.
Ultimately, of course, we’re still adjusting. Part of the fun, though, of getting back into habits is adjusting those same old routines. When your days are forced into necessities, you learn what you really do and don’t miss. Then, when the constraints are relaxed, you can try filling those moments with something new and see if it’s more satisfying than the way things were.
And if it’s not, you can always go back.