The Strength of Being a Loner: The Impasse of Entertaining Friends

I would like to begin by saying I like people. I am an extrovert. I love my friends, I enjoy mingling with new people and on occasion I strike up conversations with strangers. However I prefer to spend the majority of my time alone or with my wife. If you call chances are I won’t answer because I keep my phone on silent. I prefer to live in the present and a vibrating pocket prevents me from doing so. I also like to organize my meeting up with friends and family in advance. That way I can set aside time for great conversation with those who are important to me. If it sounds a bit too structured, go read some Steven Covey and try it on for yourself — it’s actually quite liberating.

Since our daughter’s birth our front door has become a turnstile for family and well-wishers. There was a time (12 days ago) when I could go four or five days knowing exactly who I would see. Now, it’s like a roulette wheel where the occupancy of my home is decided entirely by chance. I enjoy the company, but the loss of structure has created an impasse in my productivity. In my own experience, it takes time to get shit done. I used to be lackadaisical about my schedule, consequently I was the kind of person who didn’t get shit done because I “didn’t have time.” Then I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and began the steady climb to personal efficiency.

It was slow at first. I still took summer afternoons to drift down the river with friends drinking beer. But I also began to slowly cross off all the little tasks that I’d been putting off indefinitely. Within six months my life was really shaping up, I’d made amends with old friends, actually knew where all my tax information was and started blogging about day trading. The worry of living like a robot receded because while I had several things scheduled every day, I still had enough flexibility to fit in living life.

Enter the baby phase, or as I’m beginning to see it the “use your child as a crutch” phase. After our first week as parents my wife and I were both feeling spun out. Aside from the “Is this really what we wanted?” question that plagues all new parents we were overwhelmed at how the days flew by without feeling like we’d done anything. After an hour of deep thought in a glider (for you non-parents it’s like a rocking chair, only better) I realized that in the zaniness of the past week I hadn’t scheduled anything. I was off kilter because once again I was just rolling with the punches and life had been throwing haymakers.

We are now rolling into week three of parenthood and things are looking up. I’ve once again got my priorities listed for the coming days. We’ve imposed a 6:00 PM curfew for visitors (even grandparents). While I’m not able to consistently knock out my 5:00 AM workouts anymore I do fit them in later in the day. Having my critical task list holds me accountable to myself and makes sure that our life doesn’t fall to pieces while Michelle takes care of our daughter. Sometimes tasks do get rolled over to the following day, but they aren’t forgotten. I’ve yet to miss a market open, but I have skipped a shower or two. You can get it all done. There is enough time. But you have to plan for it if you want it to happen.