sup homeslice. This site is in beta. Posts are drafts; streams of consciousness.
Better to have published and been Insulted & Humiliated than to have never published at all.

If it takes less than 10 minutes to do, do it now. Some 10 minute or less tasks are taking a shower, doing the dishes and going around the corner to buy something you need.
Don’t have idle moments. If you feel you’re being idle or conversing with your inner critic too much, shake it off and remind yourself what the next important action is. It will make you feel like crap but if it’s something you can finish in 10 minutes or less, the pros beat the cons.
Have yourself complete at least one small part of what you’re doing before going on breaks. If you feel the need to take a break because you’ve “earned” it by doing a task, then do another task but for no more than 10 minutes, then continue with your break. Over time you will naturally build a habit of reminding yourself what matters right now. Doing the dishes so you don’t have to do 2 loads before bed, vs doing the dishes now and possibly having to do another load before bed knowing both tasks will take 20 minutes in total.

The idea here is to use the time you have between important tasks to complete mundane little tasks that quickly pile up

Sometimes you’ll need help. Sometimes you’ll fail (certainly more than you’ll win, at anything) and sometimes you’ll have regrets. These are part of the human experience and brooding over them costs a lot of time. Most people don’t realize how much time they have in a day (even minus sleep.) It’s not easy to condition yourself to change right away

New experiences are important to help your brain cells build stronger and more efficient connections together. This plasticity is responsible for molding your behaviors and humans are able to constantly make use of it in positive ways to induce a conditioned response. You can’t choose exactly how you feel. Your brain
Don’t say no unless you have a great reason. If the person inviting you is constantly rebutting every excuse you have, they know you don’t want to go because you’re disturbed or anxious. There’s no point hiding it and there’s also no real point in saying no unless you really have an excuse. Alone time results in strengthening the networks between neurons such that they are configured in formations that determine how you feel about something and how you approach it. It’s obvious when somebody is depressed or anxious, and trying to talk them out of it isn’t going to work.

Always take into account the fact that others don’t perceive things you do. You might have a grand idea or you’r enthusiastic about a subject. You’ve found something that’s meaning to you. This means whatever it is you can’t stop raving about is a way to help you cope with your own issues. For others to join in to help you achieve it, or when it comes to explaining your idea to somebody else, keep in mind that the other person probably doesn’t have the same definition of the adjectives you’re using. Some people might understand you at an intellectual level, but unless you have authority (experience) and a proven track record, telling people your ideas generally results in questions and topics that lead you to never start. Show off or ask for help only when you’ve done a majority of the work and have shown that this is something you’d actually pursue this time. You waste everyone’s time by constantly switching between ideas.

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(Cleaning and cleaning up in this paper are used interchangeably to refer to restoring a unit or environment to how it was prior to starting a task, including but not limited to water+soap cleaning, such as doing the dishes.)

Cleaning up sucks. It can stop you from starting an otherwise fun project because you don’t want to bother with the clean up. Unfortunately, it’s a necessity — one that many people would never learn to just accept and do without whining. It’s one of those are things that just have to be (done).

Cleaning up is actually a manly thing to do. A major aspect of being a man entails putting emotions aside and doing whatever task needs to be done. Being able to stop yourself from thinking how awful and ‘worthless’ cleaning up might be – whether done in a whiny fashion in which you bitch about how annoying cleaning up is, or done in a state in which you envision devising some clever way to avoid cleaning up: A business plan, an innovation, or any philosophical or logically correct idea – will almost always result in you just getting up and doing the work anyway.

The thought that you have to clean up is easier to accept effortlessly if you tie it into each task you’re doing. It might take 2 minutes to cook Ramen noodles, but it would be erroneous to tell yourself that eating will only take 2 minutes. Though the noodles need to remain in the water for 2 minutes before they are ready, the entire process from opening the cupboard to finishing the dishes takes much longer.

Keeping the entire process from start to finish in mind before you begin will make it easier to quickly accept and finish up anything that needs to be done afterwards. But besides that, cleaning up is actually pretty cool sometimes. Quality cleanliness is an art. Anyone can wiggle a plate left and right under running water and say they did the dishes, but being able to use an efficient amount of water (and no more), the right amount of soap/solution, and devise methods for making finishing the task easier or more efficient, takes practice. And it shows, as you will learn if you live with somebody who’s impatient or simply doesn’t put much effort into cleaning up

Posted in Productivity, Thinking vs Doing at September 21st, 2009. No Comments.

It’s something we know deep down but continue to ignore and try to find alternatives for, sort of like physical exercise. We look for tips, shortcuts, medicine to take, people to copy and people to push us. Ultimately, all the experience, wisdom, knowledge we gain, and all the self-help books, will lead us to this same conclusion: Just Do It – it’s the only mantra you need.

Knowing this, begin looking for an answer not on how to be more productive (I just told you how), but on why you avoid things that aren’t enjoyable right now. It’s because you’re not future oriented, and it’s the same reason you don’t exercise on a regular basis. The kids who sat in the back of the class in junior high school and didn’t do any work probably had the same problem. Imagine you’re teaching them why they should suck it up and go to class, and then use the same thing you tell them to motivate yourself to suck it up and just do what needs to be done, right now.

Thinking about doing something, but never actually going ahead and pursuing it is actually more common than you think. I’ve met very very few people (none I can think of off the top of my head) who will take an idea, no matter how simple or grand, or what the potential is, and then implement it. Some start, but most will lose hype in the idea within days if not a few weeks.

When we feel hyped about an idea we have (a new project, a business plan, etc), we feel the idea is brilliant, perfect, etc, and we feel determined to begin working. This hype never lasts however, no matter how brilliant the idea is in an objective sense. We eventually sober down and will easily begin pushing the idea further back on our todo list, if not completely disregarding it as being unfeasible or stupid. Every idea is stupid unless it works.

Being a Doer instead of a Thinker requires an excruciating amount of discipline. 99.9% of people can’t do it. Stop thinking you have a mental illness or any sort of problem, disadvantage or misfortune. You don’t even have a lack of discipline, if you’re comparing yours to the average person. Sure, Amphetamine might help, but it doesn’t mean you have ADD. Depression and anxiety can hinder progress and stop you from doing pretty much anything, but it doesn’t mean not being depressed or anxious will necessarily mean you will begin knocking big projects off your list.

Understanding this may give you a more accurate picture of yourself and put you in a more positive mindset. You don’t want to be normal, you want to be exceptional. Suddenly, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with you — instead, you have a drive to work beyond your limits and excel at what most people cannot – Doing things when you absolutely don’t feel like it. Skipping naps and other enjoyable things to get shit done.

Sometimes we avoid doing trivial tasks because while the task itself takes 5 minutes, there’s a burdensome process that must happen before and after the task. One example is upgrading your computer. Putting new computer memory (RAM) in is easy. It’s simple and takes literally a minute. The entire process of upgrading your RAM can take much longer, or at least seem to be a huge burden psychologically. We need to shutdown, move the pc, open it, put the RAM in, close the pc, move the pc back, run some RAM tests, etc.

In reality even the entire process done fully as hypothesized above doesn’t take too long, but we will subconsciously avoid or procrastinate on tasks that we think might be a chore. One way to counter this is to always think about maintenance while you work. Don’t do a half-assed job because you’re in a rush. Take extra time to make sure your work is quality. Leave your work in a state in which neither you, nor anybody else would mind going back to and maintaining. Depending on what you’re working on, document your work (for yourself as much as for others), clean up properly and make sure things are as close to how you left them as possible. Try to be consistent.

I have a major problem taking the garbage out, not because I mind spending 60 seconds picking up bags from every room and tossing them in a bin, but because I can’t find the garbage bags. Irritated, I fumble through my garage for a garbage bag, get the chore done, but then have the same problem a few days later. If I take an extra 5 minutes to organize all the things I need (bags, twist ties, etc), probably close to the bin going out, then the chore will remain trivial.

Another major cause of stress is not being able to find something, because I didn’t put it back in its usual place the last time I used it. This is especially aggravating when somebody else does it to me. Living with others who have bad habits is probably the best catalyst in getting you to make positive changes in your own habits.

Spending a little extra time in every single task you do takes considerable effort to make a habit, but is well worth it. I suggest starting small. I began by always putting things back where they belonged, and then moved on to doing the dishes as soon as I’ve used them, instead of having them pile up. It’s especially important to keep the flow going when you absolutely don’t feel like doing so. The best time to keep pushing and go with it is when you can logically justify putting the chore off. Being able to realize that washing a just-used plate will only take a minute and is worth it, when you can easily justify not washing the plate because you’re studying or otherwise very busy, is one of the last steps you’d need to get through before this habit becomes regular.

Posted in Bad Habits, persistence, Procrastination, Productivity at June 20th, 2009. 1 Comment.

You’re walking down the street, watching TV, or just browsing the web, and you come across something profitable or unique you had an idea for long ago, but never bothered to pursue. The feeling is both good and bad. On one hand, this discovery reassurances you that despite what your peers might tell you, neither you nor your ideas are crazy, inane or unfeasible. But on the other hand, that dude totally stole your idea.

But what does “stole my idea” mean? This assumes that the idea itself belongs to you, and being that it’s your own idea, it does belong to you, but does it mean that nobody else can have the same idea? We’d like to think so. In reality, there’s a good deal of people who have long had the same ideas we have now, and there will be people having these same ideas thinking they’re unique long after we’ve actually implemented the idea and shown it to the world. The idea can belong to each of these people, but the actual implementation cannot.

What matters is not just having the idea, but actually going forth and implementing it. Walk through a supermarket and mall, and there’s plenty of “obvious” things that “anyone could have thought of” – and there’s no doubt plenty of people did, but who actually went ahead and risked working on something unique, and then became popular for it?

People believe that the idea itself is 99% of the work, but is isn’t true. It takes a lot of time, money, effort and some luck to actually implement an idea. And after that it might never take off because it’s ahead of its time or its implementation wasn’t good enough.

Most people will brush their own ideas off as being unrealistic, but most ideas begin like any other: “you know what they should make? something that …” or “man, if only they put a ____ that also does ____” – these usually bring a laugh, but somebody, somewhere will actually find profit or value in these innovations and risk time and money to make them a reality. These people are the ones that deserve the credit.

This  means you need to choose what you work on wisely. Most of our ideas will never see the light of day, and that’s OK. The important thing is being able to spend our time working on ideas that we truly believe will be of value, and especially related to things we are passionate about (if possible). After many failures we will begin to see what we excel at, what we suck at, and our ideas will become more focused and “realistic.” It becomes easier to get our ideas off the ground, but until we’re at that level, we need to throw shit at the wall until something sticks.

Giving up can be beneficial, or rather: Not knowing when to give up can be detrimental to your health (in the form of stress) and to your productivity. Being overwhelmed with many things to do and no sense of priority (no deadlines) usually means nothing will get done.

We all do it. We write down ideas we have with the intention of getting to them eventually. We register domain names for projects we plan to work on, and we might even begin working on a project as soon as we get the idea for it.

You wake up in the middle of the night and write down some new idea. You note it on your Blackberry, or in the corner of your notebook in class, or you record a voice note, or create a new file for it.

Eventually, we end up with a notebook or a folder containing dozens or even hundreds of ideas and plans. Most of them we have not started, nor even thought about after we recorded them. Some are maybe 5-10% complete, and a few maybe at least 50% done. This is normal, but it can quickly turn into a bad habit.

We become so backed up, that new ideas which may be brilliant quickly get thrown to the end of our project queue, which by now is populated by ideas we’ve had months ago that we still plan on getting to, eventually. This means that most new ideas will remain deferred.

We also feel an accumulating amount of stressed because each plan we have allocates a little space in the back of our mind (the idea stays in our mental RAM). Prioritizing becomes damn near impossible. This is especially a problem when we believe that an idea is “easy” or will take a short amount of time. This is a bad habit.

“Giving up” on some of these ideas and plans doesn’t occur to some people. It didn’t occur to me for a long time. I had intentions to work on all the projects I brainstormed, even when I was renewing the domains I registered for them years ago, that were sitting around inactive.

My brain was full of things I wanted, or felt I needed to get done, but in reality my interest in most of my previous plans had dwindled long ago, and I only held on to them because they remained unique (at least as far as I knew), or because I still thought they had potential, and many of them probably did, and still do. Maybe I felt guilty that I had paid for some resources for a project (such as a domain name, or supplies), and felt a dire need to get at least something done with the resources.

I just let a few hundred dollars worth of domain names expire, and I’m looking for all the books I planned to read years ago, and putting them up for sale. This problem occurs a lot with books. I hate having a queue of books I plan on reading, and then going to the library and coming home with 6 new books that I feel a greater urge to get through because of the return date. And when I go return them, I usually come home with more.

We all have an overwhelming number of projects we’d like to work on. We have a lot of things we’d like to pursue. This is normal, but we don’t have the manpower to get all of these projects even half way done – at least not with any amount of quality that would suffice ever starting on them. It’s time to give up.

Give up. Admit to yourself that you have not gotten to this in a year, and will probably never get to it, and that’s OK. It’s OK if somebody else releases something you intended to a year ago. Keep in mind that not doing anything is the same as intending to do something but never actually doing it.

Also realize that you’re impeding your time, brain power, and other resources from being used to improve things you’ve nearly finished, or on starting a new project that you might have thought up this morning.

Let it go. You might have wasted $10, $20, even $100 registering that domain name, but if it’s just sitting there – and if it has been sitting there for 2 years, what makes you think it won’t remain inactive for another 2 years – then you’re only wasting more money.

It’s similar to how people hold on to a falling stock just to avoid taking a loss, because they fail to see that losing a little is not the same as losing everything. This is also why some people become pack rats, or hold on to certain things they don’t use anymore.

Keep in mind that very few of your brilliant ideas and projects will actually come out as you see them in your head. Most will flop, and the ones you least expect to flourish, will.

No matter what type of project you’re working on, it will require a lot of time, money, a lot of thinking and problem solving, and even way more doing – mostly tedious work. If you think your idea is simple and will only take a few days to release, you’re probably wrong. The actual technical work might take 2 hours, but when you calculate a more realistic, objective, estimate of how long something takes, you almost always come up with a figure way larger than you expected.

For example, changing your car’s oil might take 15 minutes, but this figure might not count all the other necessary steps: Getting the supplies, moving the car to a suitable location, jacking up the car, doing any initial cleaning and preparations, doing the work, cleaning up, and taking into account the fact that in real life, shit happens. I.e., a small nut gets lost, or you realize you’re missing something essential, or you make a mistake.

Besides, do you really want to put all the effort into some small project that you think might have a chance of getting anywhere? Especially when you’re competing with some other people in the world who are focusing solely on this exact idea, and have much more passion about it?

Sit down and jot all the things you need to get done, and then examine each one realistically. Prioritize, and realize that you don’t always have to note down or pursue every single idea you get.

Specific goals are important. They provide a direction, and more importantly, a finish line. Here’s what happens when you set goals, but don’t get specific enough.

On the whiteboard went a list of sites I planned on releasing for the month. The only thing I wrote was “Next Sites Up” with a check off list of 5 sites. Obviously no thought was given to the goal, although the sites were small and I had a general idea of what I wanted to do with each one.

I began working on each site, but a week later noticed that I was only focusing on the 1-2 sites that I enjoyed working on. Which is fine, except I had no idea if the sites were done or not. What was the goal, again?

What does “releasing a site” mean, anyway? Should the sites have a specific amount of content? Should the code or content by refactored or revised? What ended up happening was, 4 sites were barely started (2 of which weren’t touched), and 1 had too many drafts and content for me to work on before losing interest. The month goes by and I look at the whiteboard again and feel discouraged that zero sites have gone up, more so because I did put in the time required to “release” all the sites on time, whatever that means.

To get over this, I created sub-tasks for each goal. I began by using the first 2-3 days of every month to plan out the goals for the month, and using Trac, created only 3-5 tasks for each site. The very essentials that I _hated_ doing, were the first things I needed to get off the todo list. I only put down the absolute minimum amount of work needed to get the sites up and running, knowing that once they were, adding things here and there was no longer a turn off since a foundation was in place.

A goal should have a general timeframe, and a set of actionable tasks, both of which should be realistic. This applies to any goals you set. When it comes time to actually put in the effort and finish a task, if it requires any sort of thinking, and there are other things you could be doing that are either 1) more enjoyable (like the sites I enjoy worked on) or 2) require no thinking (mundane, mindless tasks, like dishes), then you’re going to avoid doing what you have to do. It’s easy to rationalize not doing something important when you can tell yourself that you’re something productive anyway.

Remember that productive for you, doesn’t mean “producing results,” but “producing results that matter.”

Posted in Bad Habits, Productivity at December 24th, 2008. No Comments.

Here’s something we’ve all experienced. You wake up late, and miracourasly get dressed and out the door in minutes. But had you been awake 2 hours earlier, would you have gotten ready as quickly? For most of us, it would have taken us 2 hours to get ready.

If you have a lot of time to complete a task, you’ll make plans, organize yourself, and get “ready” to work. In the end, you spend 80% of that time just organizing papers and thinking, but not actually working on anything. In the end, all your work would total only about 5-10% of the allocated time the task was assigned.

I know that if I’m coding something, and have a big gap of time, I either won’t start doing anything until I absolutely have to, or, I’ll begin by taking my sweet time coming up with neat flow charts, and coding every possible scenario that “could” happen into my program. Whereas if I was pressed for time, I would only code the bare essentials. What’s the task? OK. (12 hours later) This program completes that task.

I noticed that I personally take a lot of time because I wanna ensure high quality in whatever I’m doing. What I’ve been failing to realize was that a finished product of the lowest quality is 100% better than having an incomplete product of higher caliber. Indeed, I usually end up having NO product.

I’ve thought about this for a long time but didn’t know until about a year ago that it’s known (and therefore deems me sane): Parkinson’s Law

Posted in Productivity, Time Management at December 18th, 2008. No Comments.

Time is interesting. Most of us will agree that there isn’t enough time in the day, but the truth is that we waste more than enough time to finish everything we need to. Feeling like you never have enough time just means that you aren’t managing your time. Here’s what I thought about and observed, in myself and others.

You wake up in the morning, and you have 2 hours before you need to get to class. During those two hours, would you get any work done? Most people won’t. They will justify not getting anything done with “can’t really do anything in 2 hours, I’ll do it later.”

You go to class, and then come home and have another 2 hours before you need to head off to work. Again, using the same logic, those two hours are wasted reading blargs or watching TV, or doing something very productive that’s NOT what you’re actually supposed to be doing (this is a very interesting habit us procrastinaters have).

After work, you justify wasting a few hours by telling yourself that you’re too tired to do the work anyway, and it would be best if you get some sleep and do it in the morning.

Now looking back through this day, it might have felt like you had no time to get anything done because of classes and work, but at least 6 free hours were wasted doing nothing. So when people say “I don’t have time,” what they really mean is, “I don’t have a 10+ hour gap of time in which to get this done.” Which might be true, but

So the meaning of “wasting time” doesn’t just apply to wasting large gaps of time, but to not make productive use of the free, fragmented hours you get here and there. Besides, if you had 10+ free hours, it’s not like you would have done any more than 1-2 hours of work anyway, right?

Posted in Bad Habits, Procrastination, Productivity, Time Management at December 9th, 2008. 1 Comment.