Below is the daily schedule I will try to follow every weekday while the university is in session. I’ve designed this in a way I think is realistic with respect to my strengths, weaknesses, and priorities, but also as ruthless as possible with respect to my worst demons.
5:55am - 6:00am. Wake up and get out of bed immediately. No snooze, no lying around. You’re typically slow to get up after waking because you sometimes dread the day ahead, but this is only because you’re lack of self-discipline makes your days harder and more confusing than they need to be. Break this spell now by just getting the fuck up as soon as the damn sound goes off. Don’t think, just do it. Save your thinking for the thinking that matters, otherwise recall Rousseau: the thinking human is a depraved animal. Don’t be a sick animal, just get the fuck up.
6:00am - 6:30am. Go directly to the yoga mat which will already be laid out from the night before; do yoga and meditate for 30 minutes. You always thought yoga was stupid and you’re highly self-conscious about doing bourgeois shit, but you have to face the fact that you’re a paranoid neurotic in the undeniably western, capitalist, egomaniacal mold and that this HAS TO STOP. Yes, it’s privileged and bourgeois as hell to even have the time to do yoga, and it’s evil that this is so, but you need spiritual and physical self-care to make yourself less evil, so you must not be ashamed of doing yoga regularly. Shit works! It chills you the fuck out, and you’re only doing it to become a more balanced, more lucid, more whole person, and therefore more loving toward friends and comrades (less self-obsessed, less patriarchal, less likely to aggressively misfire in complex social situations) and more firmly and militantly opposed to the status quo at all the right times and places. Don’t be paralyzed by shame or self-consciousness just because you’re doing something unfortunately associated with apolitical complacency, trust in yourself knowing that you’re doing it for the right reasons. Also, crucially, remember that all the excuses you make for skipping this are always themselves the toxic ableist hyper-productivity myths that you need to resist. So every time you think of an excuse to skip, realize that that itself is a reason to make sure you do this.
6:30am - 7:00am. Prepare coffee and a small healthy breakfast. Listen to public radio, water plants if necessary, tidy the flat a little bit. Remember you don’t have to make the whole flat perfect in any one effort. This thought is what makes you put this off altogether! Just do a few things to this effect to fill the half hour. Remember you’re doing a few easy things frequently so that you won’t have to do big hard cleaning sessions.
7:00am-9:00am. Read a book related to the project you’re working on (this has always been your best way to get into working) and as soon as the coffee and your thoughts unite, go to the computer and open up the one particular, specifically academic, professionally-respectable project which you’ll do at this time everyday until that project is complete. This is huge for you, your biggest demon. You always want to write freely and creatively and blog and tweet and rabble-rouse, but that’s what you’re already good at and it’s already what you have plenty of in the hopper. What you really need to do is get your academic articles published. You have several good articles in various stages, you need to just finish them and send them out. You find these articles alienating because you want to be able to write whatever the fuck you want and feel. But you know you want (and need) to publish good academic articles because you know that nobody will ever give a fuck about whatever else you think unless you can dance their waltz as well. And of course, these are the articles you were hired to write, so you have to just fucking write them because this is a great job as far as jobs go and you want to keep it. Also, let’s be frank: you don’t work on these articles enough because you’re insecure and scared as shit that you’re not actually smart enough to finish them well and publish them well. But remember, that’s just because you’re young and you don’t have any academic publications yet and since you’re ambitious all of your papers swim a bit beyond your depth so yea, you’re fucking scared of them! But that’s bullshit, you were smart enough to start them so you’re smart enough to finish them. The only way you’ll actually fail to live up to them is if you’re so afraid that you don’t commit to them. Thus, if you commit to working on them at a bare minimum from 7am-9am every single weekday, you’ll get fully back into them and probably want to work on them more. But even if you only do this, it will be enough to bring at least 3 of these articles to publication within at least a year, I would think. Remember, these will be actual, real, focused work hours so you’ll actually get shit done.
DO NOT even think about opening Tweetdeck, Feedly, Instapaper, or Facebook. DO NOT even think about opening one of your autonomous projects. No music either. You are afraid of silence and the terror of your own thoughts, but you mustn’t be. Also, this period must be actual execution of steps toward the completion of one of these articles. The point is that it has to be actual writing or editing or analysis and NOT organizational, contemplative, or speculative bullshit.
9:00am to 12:00pm. If teaching, teach. Otherwise, you can continue doing actual execution of the 7-9am research work, OR you can during these hours if you wish to, switch focus and work on your autonomous projects or above-and-beyond teaching work, or blogging/tweeting and other web stuff, the only requirement is that it’s an intentional project-based thing which you state explicitly at 9am as your goal until 12pm and NOT passive timesucking bullshit like commenting on some tweet or FB thread, or even READING twitter or FB, or some other idiotic pastime of yours, such as reading other people’s CVs (why would you EVER do that? well, the answer is insecurity and hero-worship, of course, which can only ever lead to narcissistic/egotistical replication of the hero at best or, at worst, a failure which does not even have the benefit of being an integral failure but would be defined by someone else—the only truly bad kind of failure). This period will be truly free time, but free in the hard Sartrean sense which must be active and responsible for itself.
12:00pm to 1:00pm. Eat lunch, relax in some good way, like make plans to chat with someone, go for a walk, and/or read a book or newspaper. If flagging, maybe lie down for 15 minutes or if on campus turn off the lights and close your eyes for a little bit.
1:00pm to 5:00pm. Take care of all your various daily affairs, work responsibilities, quotidian online tasks. Start by checking to-do list and always always work directly from there. If teaching, teach. But also: grading, emails, and teaching prep. You never want to do any of these things because you’re lazy and selfish, and you think you’re precious ideas and writings are the only thing that matter in the world. Well, get over that, because it’s not true!
You’ve already spent a really nice amount of time working on the actual projects of your life. You now must take care of the various remaining work responsibilities. You have to accept that you have a real job with real responsibilities. But take comfort and energy and even inspiration from the absolute fact that this is likely the least alienating and most empowering job for you on the planet right now, so you should be quite happy to do everything you need to do for it. Also be extremely self-aware, humble, and grateful that you already took 3-5 hours that morning to work on semi-to-fully-autonomous projects while almost all people on the planet have 0 hours per day to work on such projects. At the same time, of course, you must constantly turn this self-awareness into rage and opposition against a status quo which makes it possible, but you can’t let this simmer as vague guilt or self-loathing which will simply demobilize you from ever achieving anything against this status quo. At 1:00pm, the philosopher of daybreak puts away their dancing pen and harnesses their awareness of privilege into the daily humility of taking care of business, as grotesque as that sounds, because the truly rebellious will know they themselves are not yet better than the affairs of this world.
5:00pm to 7:00pm. Prepare a good and healthy dinner, eat, and try to relax a bit, again in some specific intentional way to avoid “relaxing” in some ultimately stressful way (like reading twitter). Pack food for tomorrow if necessary, Like after lunch, lie down or close your eyes for a bit if you’re flagging.
7:00pm to 8:00pm. Tie up whatever loose ends you need to tie up. This might be working more on your articles or doing extra teaching work that has arisen, whatever. This is open time for you to do whatever most needs to be done at this time, including relaxing if that’s what you really need. Don’t be afraid to do that if that’s what you need. Be happy knowing that if you’re really sticking to your schedule from 6:00am until then, then you’ve actually accomplished more that day than you ever typically do in a day. The only requirement is that you can’t go online without a specific purpose, this is a notoriously dangerous time for you to have hours stolen by the internet. Let’s not beat around the bush: you regularly waste as much as 2 whole hours a day, often at this time, literally doing nothing other than reading idle and sterile “debates” on twitter and Facebook while learning nothing and getting your own most radical and powerful thoughts and visions confused/distracted/shaken by 140-character phantoms. At this time, if you aren’t busy with priorities, you can read books or blog feeds or saved articles on Instapaper or even check in on family or friends on FB, just absolutely no passive twitter or FB reading.
(The whole 5pm-8pm block can also be used, alternatively, for things like having beers with colleagues, or maybe seeing a movie and eating out instead of cooking, whatever, but only once a week or so at most.)
8:00pm to 9:00pm. Very similar to 7pm-8pm but become more aware of sleep and of the next day coming up. Become more aware that you’re an animal in a nest. Tidy the flat a bit. Bathe or groom if necessary. No radio or podcasts now. Look over schedule for the next day.
9:00pm to 9:30pm. Meditate/yoga and leave the mat out so it’s natural to do this again first thing in the morning.
9:30pm. Get into bed, even if you’re not tired. Read a novel or stories or a biography, as long as it’s on paper and it’s not theory or social science. Turn lights off anytime you start to get sleepy. Feel free to write notes or aphorisms or even a letter to a family or friend, but avoid screens unless necessary and nothing too hard or intense.
11:00pm. Lights off no matter what, whether you’re sleepy or not. If you don’t feel sleepy, it doesn’t matter because you can’t go to bed any later than this if you are going to keep to your plans the next day. Recall that sleeping isn’t something that comes over you but something you choose to do by taking control of breathing and your over-hyper mind; that you need it and want it because you want to have a good day tomorrow. Remember sleep is all about breathing and by this time you simply must go to sleep.
Share this post:
Murphy, Justin. 2013. "Daily schedule for weekdays (the only legitimate drill-sergeant is autonomous self-discipline)," http://jmrphy.net/blog/2013/12/31/weekday-schedule/ (March 12, 2018).