Thursday, February 07, 2013

The William Gallagher Method

A friend calls this ‘The William Gallagher Method’ and I have yet to forgive her. She called it that to my face and she called it that when she sent notes to someone who had missed my talk at the Birmingham PowWow LitFest last year.

Her notes state that I get up at 5am to work every day.

And she bases that claim solely on the tiny fact that I said so on stage.

But, look, I was asked what my writing schedule was and at that time I’d just finished a Doctor Who (which comes out later this month, by the way). It’d had a short deadline, I was already doing other things, I just meant that every now and again I’d had to be up that early to get this finished.

But this friend – let’s call her Anna Lawrence Pietroni and mention that she has a rather beautiful and absorbing novel available now on Amazon – what was I saying? This friend Anna wrote down my 5am lark, told people about it and, worst of all, gave it a title. And it has crippled me with guilt that the one person you would reasonably imagine would use The William Gallagher Method has been doing anything but.


Entirely because of this guilt and not at all because I’ve so much work to do, I now follow The William Gallagher Method faithfully. I get up every day at 5am and with a banana in my hand, a pint of water on my desk and a song in my headphones, I work through to 7am or maybe 8am before stopping for breakfast. I’ve been doing this for five or six weeks now and it is with the very greatest of regrets that I have to tell you that it sodding works. I write better, I write more, when I do this. For God’s sake, why? Why is my 5am writing better than when I start at 7am? Or I’m freelance, why isn’t my noon writing good enough?

There is some trickery involved.

Every weekday morning that I do get up at 5am, I put a one pound coin in a pot.

So far, so what?

That’s not the trick of it.

The trick is if I don’t get up at 5am.

You’re thinking that I don’t put a pound coin in or maybe, if you’re very cruel, that I have to take one pound coin out as a kind of punishment. You’re very harsh.

But not, as it happens, harsh enough.

If I fail to get up and be working at 5am on a weekday, I take out all of the coins I’ve ever put in. Empty that pot completely and start again from nothing.

It hasn’t happened yet.

Every weekday, the pot grows and makes the thought of giving it all up for one lie-in just harder and harder.

Do you know, I have only this very instant thought to wonder: did Anna only write down The William Gallagher Method or does she actually do it?

Sorry, that popped into my head there and distracted me. Did you ever see Up? There’s that moment when the dog thinks there’s a squirrel and its concentration is snapped to the left.

Hello. That was me, a moment ago.

So what was I saying? I get up at 5am, yeah, yeah, brutal, show off, who cares. There. That’s a kind of ‘previously on this blog entry’ description.

Here’s the thing. As you can imagine, I don’t see midnight much any more. (This kills me. Going to bed before midnight is just wrong. Wrong.) But sometimes I do. Such as Thursday last week when I nipped to London for a thing and nipped back, getting home around maybe 1am. That was a 5am to 1am working day. Fine.

But I couldn’t sleep. Time was ticking by.

And I was really tempted.

Not to put the alarm back a few hours, this had nothing to do with getting up: I was still going to get up at 5am, no question, no doubt, surprisingly little hesitation, but I was seriously tempted to stay up longer to hear about the debut of OmniFocus 2.  That was coming at 6pm Eastern Standard or 2am William Standard Time.

Notice I said the debut. Not the launch. Not the sale. Just the first unveiling of what this software will look a bit like. Not even a lot like: this was the first viewing of a software you’ve never heard of and which will be released later this year looking at least a bit like this and with these features but many more.

And, god, I was tempted. I did a blog about the original OmniFocus last year and it was surprisingly popular. I thought I was the only one who got excited about this To Do application. Or any To Do applications. My one thimble of an excuse is that I wrote about them for a Mac magazine a while ago. And I recommended OmniFocus. I said something like “First it will destroy your mind, then it will own your soul”.

If you have an iPad, just go get OmniFocus. If you have an iPhone, just have a very good think about getting OmniFocus. If you have a Mac, wait a second. (Find out about them all at the Omni Group site.)

I have and use all three and they are transformative. My wife Angela says I am lighter because of this software. And that’s despite my taking on far more work than before.

But it’s fair to say that the iPad one is gorgeously powerful and easy to use, the iPhone one is powerful enough and good to use, but the Mac one is sock-knockingly powerful yet hard to grasp. OmniFocus 2 is promised to take a lot of the gorgeousness of the iPad version and bring it back to the Mac. It’s not that there is going to be a lot of new functionality but there will be bits and it should all be easier to work with.

It is ridiculous how tempted I was to stay up to find out.

And it’s not at all ridiculous that even as I was in bed, thinking about all this, it was suddenly 5am and I had to get up.

I’m glad now that I didn’t stay up because while the event was at 2am WG Standard time, actual news from it didn’t start surfacing for a good six to eight hours afterwards. And the video of the event was released last night, exactly a week later. I've been watching for it, now I've been watching it.

But two things. First, just because I really like this: Omni Group makes a lot of software that I have no use for, things like OmniOutliner, OmniPlanner, OmniGraffle. (Every now and again I look up what in the world OmniGraffle does, then I go oh, right, and seconds later have forgotten again.) But now the company is launching a product called OmniPresence.

I don’t care what it does. I just like the name.

Here’s the other thing. I thought I was alone in this and I’m looking at you now thinking you’re looking at me like that and maybe I should’ve shut up when I still sounded all virtuous and righteous for getting up early. But when one particular feature of OmniFocus 2 for Mac was revealed at the debut, writer David Sparks was there and says on the video that it made him pee a little. And I understood. Yes.

There’s not enough time. Getting up at 5am helps, living in OmniFocus helps a lot. And do you know what it helps with most? Not the working, not the getting everything done on time, but with the relaxing afterwards. Right this moment, I know where I am with everything, I know exactly what I’ll have to attend to next and I also know that I can relax here with you, that we can talk.

Mind you, it is 5:30am and getting up this morning was especially easy since I haven't been to bed yet.

Maybe I should write about falling asleep at 5:31am.

Maybe I could’ve picked a better topic than peeing about software, but.

Anyway. Join me. Join me. And start here with the firm's news blog about OmniFocus 2 for Mac.

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