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.

Small tasks pile up quickly. One tip I use is to simply remind myself that if the task takes less than 10 minutes, Its best to get it out of the way right now.

Doing the dishes right after eating or cooking takes about 1-5 minutes tops for 1-2 people’s dishes. It takes about 3x as long to finish the same load if you let food dry onto the dishes overnight.

Doing your dishes encourages others to do theirs as well. You should continue to do at least your own dishes regardless of whether your roommate/partner/family take notice or not.

Taking out the trash takes no more than 2-3 minutes. Before adopting this habit (took awhile) I used to let garbage pile up in my garage and take it out in big batches monthly.

It’s unlikely you would have productively used the 5-10 minutes each task takes. When depressed, anxious or just unproductive, time seems to fly by very quickly. In fact, 10 minutes is a very long time. Adopting a habit of learning something, recreational reading or exercise for 10 minutes a day is a great start.

Posted in Bad Habits, Time Management at February 25th, 2011. No Comments.

There are some excellent self-help material out there. Some of it can change lives, or at least instill excellent habits and help one see things in a new light. Think and Grow Rich is a classic. Steve Pavlina’s articles are informational and motivational. Joe Novarro’s books on body language are a must read for everyone. There’s something I noticed about people who don’t get many benefits from self-help.

Self-help books assume that you’re healthy to begin with. How can you Get Things Done when you can’t even change the cat litter less than once a month, or do the laundry or dishes?

These things aren’t easy, but for some people they just aren’t possible. It’s not that one may be physically incapable of doing something, but for people who suffer from depression (clinically, not just occasional sadness,) it’s easy to justify against doing anything. No matter how good this advice is, telling a depression person to exercise daily will never produce results. Telling a depressed person to quit smoking will never produce results. That person may be able to exercise and quit smoking after the depression is taken care of. In this sense, these things would serve as symptoms of depression rather than a cause.

If you’re stuck and you can’t seem to move forward, especially if it has been this way for a prolonged period, I recommend seeking professional help. It takes a lot of courage to get past the stigma of mental illness (it takes about 8 years to diagnose depression, on average) but it doesn’t make sense to loiter through life until it gets bad enough that you will end up seeking professional help anyway.

After the mental illness is being taken care of, the self-help material begins making sense in a new light. It’s no longer just mental masturbation, but begins being actual habits that you can work into your life slowly. Treating the depression will not change the bad habits a person depressed for years may have integrated into his life, but once you treat the illness (either via medication or psychoanalysis, or both) getting things done, exercising on a regular basis, getting over shyness, socializing, etc become feasible, especially after you begin seeing changes occur at such a rapid rate.

Instead of trying to get things done. Try getting any one thing done.

Posted in Procrastination, Thinking vs Doing, Time Management at December 12th, 2009. No Comments.

Like most people I know, I do my best and most productive work late into the AM. This is generally seen as a bad habit, even by those who do it, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who tries to “fix his schedule” every other day.

One reason I’d like to fix my schedule is because I feel if I wake up early and get my work done, I have “the whole day ahead of me.” This is true, but in reality, I have the rest of the day ahead of me no matter what my schedule is like. If I wake up at 5 AM, 12 PM or 3 PM, I have the same amount of time between when I awoke and when I’m going back to bed. It only feels like waking up late eats most of my day because I subconsciously go through the day still intending to sleep at the early bed time I set for yourself; i.e., 11 – 1AM. If I give up the idea of trying to fix my schedule and accept that I will be awake late, I suddenly feel I unlocked more time.

For people who have jobs or classes to attend in the morning, getting up early isn’t a choice. In that case, there’s no doubt you need to fix your schedule. What matters is getting enough sleep. That aside, there are many benefits to waking up early in the morning:

  • Being up late at night can be depressing, especially when there’s nobody around.
  • Staying up late is usually the result of worse habits, like bad time management. Perhaps a feeling of “I wasted the entire day, and now I don’t want to sleep before I get something done.”
  • In most places, even  New York, being up late in the AM is much more limiting than being up at night. Things you might need to get stuff off your todo list, like banks, libraries and post offices, will be closed.
  • People are far less likely to think you’re a drug abuser or a zombie if you wake up early morning.

With those benefits, why not fix your schedule? Accepting that your schedule is bad and taking the above factors into account, there’s really not much harm in staying up late. If you do wake up and sleep early, you might not get anything done if you’re poor at managing your day.

I noticed if I wake up early, I feel lazy just because I know I have so much time ahead to get things done. It’s idiotic and easily fixed if I look at the big picture, but I generally have no obligations in the morning and so no real reason to be up. I work from home with no fixed schedule, and if I take classes they’re almost always after 12 PM.The stress and pressure of feeling guilty for staying up late aren’t worth the benefits of waking up early. Being up in the morning is overrated, especially when you’re getting enough sleep and getting things done.

Re-evaluate if you really need to fix your sleeping schedule, and then if you do: Fix it. Wake up at the same time everyday, no matter when you sleep. Don’t take naps and your body will naturally adjust to make sure you get the right amount of sleep. You’ll begin to feel tired later in the day, and more energized in the morning, provided you give your body enough time to get used to the change. Just be aware that you will likely not be able to get anything done the first 2-3 days. I tend to feel like indifferent, tired and dysphoric while waiting for my body to adjust. That’s OK. Just realize this is normal and will go away, otherwise this withdrawal syndrome will keep you tied to your bad schedule.

Posted in Bad Habits, Sleep, Stress, Time Management at June 18th, 2009. 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.

There are plenty of software solutions and tweaks that will make you more productive, but the things I do in meatspace have the biggest impact.

1) Always have a little notebook and a pen. This lets you get ideas and thoughts out of your head and onto paper so you can focus on whatever you’re doing. I always carry a Moleskin notebook and a free Commerce Bank TD Bank pen.

2) Get a whiteboard, or any surface you can write on that will be prominent and near you when you’re working. I have a whiteboard with a list of routines I check off as I go through the day.

3) Get a kitchen timer. An alarm clock or a phone timer are decent, but they’re too much work. Software is also too much work. A kitchen timer is $3-10 and lets you allocate an amount of time to a task quickly. Just twist. Make sure it’s not too loud, though I don’t recommend digital because of the added complexity. The ticking sound puts me in a hurry-the-hell-up mindset, like I’m diffusing a bomb. The perfect timer would be one that has 1 big red button that you press to countdown 1 hour.

4) Use your calendar. I suggest Google Calendar because it syncs easily with my computers, Blackberry, and it’s accessible from anywhere. The convenience outweighs the paranoia of an Internet based calendar.

5) If you drink coffee, dilute and sip it throughout the day. This is more effective than one heavy dose. If you aren’t a coffee drinker, then an energy drink will do, though the stronger ones do have a crash (despite what they tell you.) No matter what your Speed is, diluted is better than a shot. This applies to pills also. A crash will cause mental fatigue and irritation and ruin the rest of the day.

6) Print out papers you’re reading or plan to read online. This gives you a chance to catch up on your reading on the bus, and with ink so expensive, it will cut down on what you read – thereby increasing quality. I got this tip from Getting Things Done.

7) Get at least two monitors. I said no computer stuff, but this is tangible, and it’s something often overlooked. Getting a second monitor increased my productivity 10-fold. I can have my calendar or have a site, debugging tools or reference manuals open in one monitor, while I code in the other. You’d be surprised how much time you actually waste dragging shit around. Two smaller monitors are better than 1 bigger monitor.

8) Wake up at the same time daily. Staying up late feels productive, but it actually takes 2 hours to complete a 20 minute task. It’s also much harder to wake up early; Make it a challenge. We take it for granted, but did you know that if you wake up at 6 AM, you have 6 hours before afternoon? Crazy. I have a coworker that wakes up early and begins work at 5 AM. He finishes his work day at 12-1 PM.

9) If you don’t have your own office or a room dedicated for work, you need ear plugs. You can blame your wife, pet or family for bothering you while you work, but they aren’t doing anything abnormal. Distractions are to be expected, and it’s up to you to give the message that you can’t be distracted for the next N hours. This means no phone calls, no requests, no “one quick question”s, nothing they wouldn’t do if you were working in a corporate office 30 miles away.

10) Take frequent breaks. The 80/20 rule is hard to follow but will greatly increase productivity. I try to take a 10 minute break every 1-2 hours. I also try to do something completely off the computer every few hours. Work out, meditate, take a walk, etc. This helps your brain incubate and reduces headaches and eye strains you might get from excessive computer use.
Exercise and a proper diet are a given. If you feel you don’ t have enough time in the day, work on managing your time. Time management is damn hard and is something most people won’t learn until they have kids and a job.

Posted in Bad Habits, Productivity, Time Management at November 27th, 2008. No Comments.