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Thursday, September 23, 2010

10 minutes, 2.5 kilometers

No, I can't run 2.5 kilometers in ten minutes. But these two figures mark a kind of minimum threshold for the effect that busy-ness in my work is allowed to have on my regular physical and intellectual activities. This week, for example, I have (as always, partly owing to poor planning) found myself having some difficulty keeping up with the commitments I'm making and have made, teaching, editing, consulting, etc. So I'm a bit busier than I'd like to be.

This morning, therefore, I didn't cancel my jog in order to get a bit more prep time in between 6 and 7 am. Rather, I cut it down from 5 kilometers to 2.5. There are other reasons for the shorter, easier run, like my still somewhat sore rib. But the principle of cutting down on rather than outright canceling recreational activities is the point I want to make here.

The same goes for my writing sessions. My plan says I should write 1 hour every day on a paper I'd like to get done before the fall break in mid-October. But this week that would be an extravagant luxury. So at 9 am, when my writing session begins, I take exactly 10 minutes to write about the subject of a particular section of the paper. That produced 236 words yesterday and 213 words today. Not bad, when you think about it. And it's good for my style because I'm writing straight out of my head; the language gains a certain kind of freshness under those constraints.

Both my mind and my body are happy (if not thrilled) to be given at least some attention. The momentary crisis is never allowed to become a rout.

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