Last year I cracked getting up at 5am every weekday to write and it was a boon. It was bigger than that, it was huge. This year I want to stamp some kind of structure on my weeks, a base pattern for how Monday-Friday should go. It never will: no week is ever going to stick to a plan. But by having one, I hope to be aware of what I should be doing and have each hour be more of a conscious choice to do the plan or go off it.
Six days ago I told you my plan was finally ready for you to see, albeit a bit redacted. Now, read on.
I stuck to the plan perfectly for Monday to Wednesday, inclusive. Then Thursday was a day of meetings and a talk in the evening that ran late into the evening. I can't ever just go to bed when I come back from one of those so it was a late night and that had its impact on Friday.
The best thing from the pattern week is easily that it got me to make calls. This is, for some reason, a real weakness with me: I'm far better yapping face to face and I can write a crackin' email, but cold phone calls are tough. I do go in phases, though. There's a bit about this in my book, The Blank Screen, (US edition, UK edition) where I mention that my most successful calls happen between 11am and noon. That's quite true: I don't understand it, I can't see a particular reason, but I've noticed it. When I was writing that chapter, though, I think I was on a high for some reason because I said I had five calls to make and that I'd just whack through them. I did have them to do and I did whack through them.
But it was unusual. And I have to be aware now that while calls are a difficulty, I do seemingly have these highs and so it's far too soon to tell: did I make my calls this week because of the pattern schedule forcing me to or did I just happen to be good at phoning people? We'll see next week, I suppose. But for now I'm choosing to think it was the pattern. I made sixteen calls and perhaps seven of them were successful.
If you've ever worked in sales – and I haven't so I'm just guessing here – then I imagine the figure of sixteen doesn't impress you but the success rate might. It's certainly encouraging.
There was one other thing that was good about working to this pattern instead of my usual chaotic plate-spinning. And it was also a bad thing. That's great for having something to tell you about, it's ace that I can have a natural bridge between the good and the bad, but I didn't want any bad.
Here's the thing. At 10:59 on each day I was making calls, I would rush to start and then at 12:00 I would stop it and feel great. So far, so excellent. But that happened with each hour that I had planned and the pattern has huge, giant gaps which is where I'm supposed to be doing the work and instead, I'd look at that and think phew, I can relax a bit now. And I did. Too much.
As a result, I don't feel I got enough done in the week and that is exactly the opposite of what this was all supposed to do.
So I'm just going to have to work harder, aren't I?