This is another post that's written to track the trails I'm thinking on; it's therefore long and does not necessarily make sense, and I may change my mind on things by the end of it.
September's experiment was a mutual deal between myself and Andrew wherein he would write a request for help in a letter every day, and I would get 6 hours of continuous sleep every day. I had far from a perfect record, but learned a lot from trying Specifically, I learned that 6 hours is Way Too Much - somewhere around 4 feels more right - but that not having wildly varying bedtimes from day to day is actually a good idea. Not that I need a strict bedtime, but that now I know that sleeping at 10pm one night and 4am the next and 1am the next night feels less good than, say, hovering around 1am all three days. Knowing the tradeoff. (Yeah, yeah, I know, all books on sleep will tell you that, but I needed to experimentally determine whether that applied to me as well.)
October was an experimental reversion of that, and some of the other things I've tried (being mostly-vegetarian, having an actual RSI prevention routine). I wanted to see what would stick and what wouldn't, and what would be bad to slip. Turns out that an actual RSI prevention routine (loose timers to remind me rather than "I'll deal with it when I feel things coming up because I'm much more sensitive to this now" is a good idea - not so much for my hands as my peace of mind - and that being mostly-vegetarian is something that stuck, and feels good, though I need to try to be a little more regular about meals. As in, not eating for 36 hours due to utter distractedness, then gorging on a giant fried burrito (that's what a chimichanga seems like, anyway) the size of your head... is not the best idea.
November's already booked with NaNoWriMo, for the record. I'll be doing the writing; it won't necessarily be a novel.
One thing I've been thinking about a lot recently is how long my freakish amounts of energy are likely to last. I don't think my capacity to Do Stuff has gone down since I started noticing that I was in perpetual overdrive in a way that people around me weren't (somewhere around 5th or 6th grade) - not smarter or faster or anything, just... itchier, antsier, no-really-my-brain-can't-sit-still-ier. Not more than all, but more than most.
But as I've gotten more conscious of it and learned how to harness it better, my work habits have gotten mellower; I no longer pull quadruple allnighters to streak like a speeding demon towards something and then crash mightily at the end. Granted, I only did that between the ages of 15-17, when my Young And Stupid (Now With More Independence!!!) meter was constantly overrunning its limit; more often I would just sleep 5 days a week and crash more lightly after those two regular allnighters. Not that that's a good idea either.
And right now, I can direct most if not all of my energy towards things that are work-like. This means my actual job as well as the various things I volunteer for, but mostly it means that I can wake up in the mornings and go OUTPUTOUTPUTOUTPUT! with some quiet pauses, long rambles, exuberant spurts of energy, small spontaneous moments interspersed to recharge me, and then sleep (typically early the next morning) feeling good and tired, and repeat. I only need a buffer for myself, and it's not very large. I don't need a buffer for a boyfriend or a husband or kids. If I lock into hyperfocus mode and forget about time, I'm not missing a school pick-up or leaving someone without dinner. Nobody will sit up late at night waiting anxiously for me to come home; nobody will complain my work travel takes me away from them too much. I'm not causing trouble.
And to have this time where I am decoupled from that is wonderful in many ways. And I still get to hang out with friends, and we have even more intense conversations now that the time we spend with each other is precious rather than normal-pass-you-in-the-hall-at-school. And I seem to be on better terms with family when I appreciate them in, say, one-week doses every month or two (or in the case of my brother, online with emails and chat and the occasional "hey, we're in the same place! let's eat!*") rather than constant expectations to keep track of everything all the time. And seriously, I don't want to have to worry about someone else right now. I want to be able to sneak in late at night and nuke a plate of leftovers and kick my shoes off and crash down to sleep and be fine. Right now.
*my brother can eat more than I can; he has my genes, but in the body
of a 20-year-old athletic young man. If you ever buy him dinner,
consider going to a buffet.
But maybe someday these things will change. Either or both of them. I may someday have less energy (I hear this happens when you get older), and I may someday have to spend it to take care of people who are Not Me, constantly and consistently. And I know that some relationships can't happen in spontaneously scheduled spurts that may have weeks or months between them. To some extent, this might be easier to work out logistically if I were a guy. (Not that this situation's right, mind you. Just that it is easier to arrange in the cultures I move in.) Maybe I'll get lucky and find someone who really wants to be that steady presence in the family, 'cause I don't think I can be that. But even so, it's still... another balance that I'd have to strike. And I'm trying to learn to juggle and strike enough now balances right now that I can't do that. Another experiment and risk and balance that affects just me, sure; I can tumble down, that's fine. But to take the risk of someone else crashing because of something I did, knowing I'll manage it poorly - that wouldn't be responsible of me. (I'm in publictest. Not even ready to move to staging, let alone production.)
So right now, I'm learning how to budget my time. How to not go as far as I could go on something so that I'll have more time for something else. Recognizing that even manic-Mel-worksprints can't do everything, and that I need to pick the few things that will have the biggest impact, do them, and then stop. Trouble is, I'm new enough to most everything that I don't know what those few things are, so I've got to try them all to see; that's fine. It's wild experimental overboarding, but with plans to move away from it. So I can, y'know, with the saved time, go completely bonkers on something else. Woo! (But really, someday, I may allocate that saved time to things like... family. Or school! School is another good thing to carve out time for.)
And with Sugar Labs (I was elected to the Oversight Board last week for a two-year term) I'm having my first strict time-budget project. I can only do SLOBs stuff. (Sugar Labs Oversight Board - I love this acronym.) I should not code or do design or write docs or debug computers unless it is directly related to SLOBs stuff. I can spend as much time on SLOBs stuff as I spend exercising, which has so far been easy since I bike-commute everywhere and only let my to-do list for SLOBs grow to about 2-3 hours per week including meetings. (So far. It's been a week and a half.) I prep for weekly meetings (reading mailing lists beforehand, etc), I go to them, I try to make them run efficiently and well (a little better and more efficiently each time), I get my thoughts in order afterwards. Once I have that down more, and can do it faster, I'll have time to send out better notes and blog out my reflections to Planet Sugar Labs. But the point is, I'm not doing that yet, because I can't get it all in under time yet. I hit my time limit and I stop and move on with my life and try again the next week.
Yeah, it feels extremely weird. And I know that in the short term I'd be more effective if I didn't try to learn this discipline. But in the long run, it's better for everyone. After all, whoever gets my seat after my term expires will probably not have crazy large amounts of free time to spend doing this either - and it behooves me to get my job (or what I consider to be my job) down to a size where someone else can take it on and live. It feels like an excuse to be lazy (because I'm doing less work), but I know that's far from the truth because it's harder for me to do less work. But... y'know. Long term planning. Planning so that I don't have to plan, planning to be spontaneous and crazy. It works out.
All right. I'm ready for the SLOBs meeting now. Time to go and do that prep - this, at least, with mail filtering, I've gotten down to less than ten minutes. Hoo-yah.