Let’s say you have 4 good hours per day to work on projects. Here are 2 very different ways you could approach those hours:
1) Brainstorm and refine an outline for project A for 30 minutes; complete project A for 90 minutes; do a relaxation exercise; work on an outline for project B for 60 minutes; complete project B for 30 minutes.
2) You know your first priority is to complete projects A and B so you can start projects C and B.2; project A is more important and difficult, so you decide to work on that one first for as long as you’re able to concentrate; project B is more relaxing and fun, so you decide to look forward to working on it last; you’ve found that getting organized for projects C and B.2 will also require projects 9, D, and J to at least have outlines ready; you keep all this information about your sequence and priorities jotted on a notecard in front of you; you try working on the projects in different orders over time, keeping track of what works and what doesn’t while always remaining aware of where you are in your sequence: [(A+B finished) + (9+D+J outlines)=>C+B.2]; you continue to intuit and experiment, keeping track of and refining what works.
The first method is fixed and regimented. You might find yourself often glancing at the clock as you wait for your allotted times to pass.
The second method is flexible and open. It involves freely testing intuitions and making adjustments as you continue searching for the best ways to maximize your potential in the time you have.
There is definitely comfort and value in the simplicity of the first method. Such is the appeal of seeing the world prescriptively—seeing things as you believe they should be: It requires no guess work.
And yes, the first method might prove to be incredibly effective.
But even if the results from both methods are exactly the same, the second method is still better.
With the second method, you know why it worked. You’re also able to make reliable predictions about future projects.
In Science, putting your thoughts about what you see to the test allows you to make predictions. Patterns and relationships confirmed by significant testing are called theories. Theories are the opposite of prescriptions. Theories are descriptions about what is currently seen as being confirmed. Prescriptions are interpretations drawn from beliefs about what is seen.
Neither theories nor prescriptions can be known for certain, though prescriptions are treated as certainties.
My Facing Addiction story puts my thoughts about my own experience to the test by measuring them against humanity’s current cumulative knowledge of addiction and related themes as objectively as possible over time.
Unless you commit to a specific prescription, going public with your experience leads to an often uncomfortable, unpredictable process of honest measurement and testing.
I wrote this in September, 2014 (while high):
“Each stage of going public acts as perfect training for whatever must come next.
“The process of going public aligns you with yourself. Whatever caused you to fall out of sync is brought to light in undeniable ways. You begin to see, value, and then embody specific characteristics of your best self.
“I wish I could somehow say all of this with far less words (it really all seems so simple).
“As if to keep me from becoming arrogant about the things I’m seeing and writing, each piece seems to arrive as a random, separate daydream. Each intuition or experience is like a picture out of sequence to eventually see in time amongst the whole.
“Looking back, I’m glad I never ‘made it’ or tried to put my story out there earlier.
“Everything that happened had to happen.
“It took this long because it took this long.
“When you value your experience enough to manage yourself, you’re able to learn and try all sorts of different methods for becoming the most efficient version of an integrated you that you can be, using all that’s currently available to you.”
The ideas I’m sharing are all shifts in perspective I had to have.
For years, I fearfully grasped at prescriptive plans for how to change, losing more and more confidence in myself each time I failed.
What holds you back?
I want to help you, but my words can’t change your perspective.
Share your experience. See the likely answers for yourself. Put them all to the test for as long as you need to.
Here’s something else I once wrote while high:
“Combinations of intuitions work like theses, not conclusions. Going public simply creates a means for you to test all your theses objectively.”
Once you find your likely answers, go help someone else find theirs.
Tomorrow: how self-management can be as natural as a child’s ability to daydream.