Category Archives: Short Cuts

Since procrastinators are often delaying, they end up being short on time and need to cut some corners. Here is a humorous look at some of the novel methods we may use.

A Tale of the Tape

Okay, I truly hope work people who may see this will see it more as humor than as me slacking. Yes, I have another short-cut to save time, but already the word ‘short-cut’ does not jive kindly in a work context. Laugh, just laugh. I am trying to reduce everyone’s blood pressure.

Okay. I was doing some work in the forest of bookshelves. Yes, I could probably get lost in there for inordinate amounts of time, read a chapter, and not be found, but I emphasize: I didn’t do that! Instead I was adjusting some labels and call number ranges to make them reflect more accurately to the items that were actually on the shelves. All this to make the lives of patrons a little bit easier for when they try to locate resources.  My intentions are good! Give me a raise! Okay, maybe not, especially if you read on to the next section.

When I got back to my desk I realized I left the roll of tape in the shelves. Fortunately, I remember exactly which book I left it beside. In fact, after working with call numbers for an hour, I even remembered the exact call number of the book near the tape. For my amusement, I just took a short-cut and left the tape there. Call it lazy, call it a short-cut, call it slacking, call it illogical, call it irresponsible, even call me evil, but please don’t say that I don’t care. I care greatly for your health and your tension.

So whenever a patron asked me to borrow the tape, I would say: “Did you try going on the computer and searching for it in the online catalogue?”

When they responded with quizzical looks, I elaborated by insisting: “Really, trust me. If you go on the catalogue and look up this book title (the title I had memorized from before), copy down the call number, and go to the shelves, you can find the elusive collector’s edition of the tape that you are looking for.”

Some who had the time to play along, did the search, went on a short treasure hunt, and I heard them laughing somewhere in the shelves. For others who didn’t want to go on the computer, I just gave them the call number.

Then I went into the back room and made a request to the cataloguer with an air of seriousness and urgency: “I’ve been getting a bunch of requests for the tape this morning. Would you mind quickly making a record in our system and assigning a specific call number to the tape?”

Everyone in the back room stopped what they were doing and just froze, trying to comprehend and make sure they had in fact heard what they thought they heard. Yes, I was dead serious. A few more seconds of awkwardness, and then bursts of laughter all over. You could almost hear, or at least imagine, the blood flowing smoothly through all our veins.

Have a great day at work everybody!

-Patrick Law

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Short Cut to Deal with Sleep Shortage: Inflating the Count with Placebo

As the pace of society quickens, and we want to sardine as many tasks as we can into one day, short cuts and sacrifices are inevitable. Unfortunately, sleep always seems to be the unlucky candidate that gets the short end of the stick and told: “Sorry, maybe I’ll get to you tomorrow.”

Well, if these are just the facts and realities of the times, then we may have to be creative and find our own kind of placebo effect to convince ourselves otherwise, and maybe derive some unanticipated health benefits from our strapped circumstances.

Here is an example: We usually count sleep duration by erroring on the side that puts us in the category of being sleep deprived. We may be in bed 8 hours, but not all of it is quality sleep time. So, in our sleep journals, maybe we put total of 7 hours or even less to account for all the tossing and turning, aches, thinking, and, yes, procrastination. Accurate? Yes, but depressing. Realistic? Yes, but doesn’t do anything for the ‘feel good’ side of the ledger.

I want to argue that some days we should try to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. If we are in the midst of a hectic period where the allotted time and hours don’t add up, then let’s skew the statistics in our sleep journals, a little bit. On the odd chance, in the odd morning, that you find yourself sleeping all the way to your alarm, with the alarm actually waking you up, but it still totals only 6.5 hours of sleep, then let’s inflate the numbers a bit. For myself, I imagine myself, and tell myself, that I could have slept another half an hour at least, if the alarm didn’t go home, then I’ll just reward myself with the bonus. I could have slept a quality 7 hours, so just give me the credit.

Will this placebo effect carry me through the day? I know I could be just deluding myself and this could actually have adverse effects on my health over the long term, but it sure feels better than fretting and dwelling the entire day over how I’m short of sleep. We can deal with the truth in therapy later on when things die down, but can we be allowed this short cut for the time being? Instead of always shorting ourselves of it, how about we go long for once? Really, I’m refreshed.

-Patrick Law

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The ‘Sort of’ Method of Cooking (Cheating a little…)

Short on time? But still want to eat semi-healthy? Don’t want to eat out? Feels better to make an effort to cook and eat at home? But cannot do the full preparation?

Maybe there is a short cut for this in-between scenario. We don’t have time to prepare dishes from scratch, yet we don’t want to eat out, and we also don’t want to do take out. And what if guests are coming? Just doing a frozen dinner thing may not look too good. Is there any way to sort of half cheat?

Take a look at the picture below:

Cheating a little with my cooking!

Cheating a little with my cooking!

Guests are arriving any minute. My plain pasta needs to accelerate. Grab a Lean Cuisine frozen pasta dish, and just mix it in. Would they know? It’s sort of like cooking, isn’t it? It’s not eating out and it’s not take out. It saves the effort to prepare sauces and spices and, out of all the frozen varieties, is Lean Cuisine not one of the most healthy brands? Even if the frozen portion lacks authentic health, most of it is covered, blended, camouflaged with my original whole wheat (not enriched) brown pasta.

Is this similar to how some people add Campbell’s soup to their original soup stock to give it that little extra?

Maybe this in-between style can be called the ‘Sort Of’ method of cooking. A kind of intermediary step for people to take before graduating into full out food preparation. It’s sort of healthy, is it not?

-Patrick Law

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Meditation That Makes Us Heavy

Ever wondered how sometimes when not exercising for awhile, you still manage to keep off the pounds despite not cutting down on the number servings or serving sizes? Yes, some may have a naturally high metabolic rate, but perhaps many use a short cut?

They sit, and work, and intensely stress. Do you think it’s possible? To sit at your desk, fret, and think, over-think, so excruciatingly that calories are burnt just from considerations of the mind and all the associated possible contingencies?

Maybe this is not such a short cut. It may, in fact, take a great amount of work and effort to be able to generate such forces at your desk to be able to drain so much out of your system. But, next time you skip a workout because of the mental toll you put yourself through during the day, can this be a convenient excuse or rationale that you actually did put yourself through the sweat shop with a little bit of imagination.

I think I’m starting to understand through writing out these processes of short cuts. Trying to spend time devising up these plans actually take longer than the original act I am trying to short cut. While it potentially could burn more calories, we can say the same about death and its ability to make us lose weight.

Ironically, this variant of meditation is kind of heavy.

It’s probably time for a new criteria.

-Patrick Law

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Hairstyling as a Method of Time Travel

Not to put a damper on the great summer weather we’ve been having in Calgary the past week, but my hair! Sorry, thoughts of my flat hair and its refusal to stay upright have returned. Those who are accustomed to my frugal ways know that I often take short cuts when it comes to beauty products. That means, in these times of high food and gas prices, I have scrimped on the hairspray and gel. Or, I try to make the present bottle/tube last as long as possible.

In a previous post I talked about how unwashed and sticky hair can be an effective, short-term substitute to make your hair hold a particular yoga pose. Today, in this summer heat, I am dreaming of winter, and wondering aloud if the ice cold freeze would be a better alternative.

I yearn for those childhood days when getting up with such youthful exuberance, never sacrificing the comforts of a morning shower, and hair still wet while chasing the bus and trying to maintain traction on icy patches. Yes, I can never forget my fascination with how the bitter cold would just freeze my hair in place. It sort of made missing the bus worth it.

Of course now, worries of pneumonia and other illnesses predominate the mind. And I guess, once indoors, the frozen hair will eventually melt and be no more effective than water in sculpting the follicles. Still, that pure joy I had on my face running across the fields of winter, with nature as my hairstylist. Maybe these short cut thoughts of holding my hair in place are really indicative of some inner urge to freeze myself in time.

-Patrick Law

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Dusting Off the Brain, So it can Think of Ideas on Why Not to Dust

Is there a short cut to dusting? Open the windows to let the breeze blow it away? Yes, but then more dust will come in. Cover most furniture and items with plastic or some other kind of protective layer and then just throw away the plastic after a certain amount of time? Yes, but is this really a short cut? The time it takes to wrap valuables in plastic and then remove them, and rewrap, could be spent actually doing the dusting.

So, what could be a real short cut? Don’t dust. At least, don’t dust with a duster. I know it’s quite the leap going from methods to reducing dusting time to totally not dusting, so perhaps an analogy can be helpful. Would you only do a little bit of the hornet’s nest? You poke and prod a little bit, stick your nose in briefly, and the whole thing is likely to explode on you.

Could this be the same with dusting? My sneezing and allergies are manageable, but they totally go into overdrive once I start dusting. Is it better to leave the dust concentrated, undisturbed, in a certain area, rather than dispersing it over a wider range and having the particles fly airborne?  What’s that expression? Don’t wake up sleeping giants? Can this be a possible approach to take with dust? Or for those of us who are more mythological, could we be opening up a Pandora’s box when dusting?

I would continue this, but someone just threw a wet rag in my face as I’m typing this, to offer a not so subtle hint about the solution to my problem. Damn. I guess I’ll be wiping dust with this rag for the next hour. Indeed, despite the dangers, we end up getting honey, don’t we?

-Patrick Law

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Using Mosquito Bites as an Assessment Tool

Of course there are many ways to count the time or the passage of the years. And as time passes by, aging, trips to the doctor become ever the more frequent. At the very least, for those who used to go only when sickness or accident befell them, they now find themselves booking time off work months ahead of time for their respective annual medical checkups. For others, it’s not a stretch to say that every few weeks brings a trip to some health professional or other.

This short cut is not to replace true expertise and treatment from a medical professional. Its purpose is just to maybe cut 45 annual health office trips to maybe 35? What I mean is self-assessment. Sometimes we can save time, save gas, save a little bit of insurance, by not requiring a doctor to tell us that we are showing signs of aging and senility. We can do this ourselves.

There are many methods of alternative self-assessment, and maybe we can revisit this topic in the future. For now, just one short cut. Do you remember when young, how we would run into the house after an entire day of playing outside and proudly with anticipation count the number of mosquito bites accumulated to our siblings, parents, or whoever would listen to our boasting?

I remember even trying to scratch areas that were not itchy in hoping of making it itchy or possibly manufacturing a mark that could count as a bite and add to my growing total. The more bites, the more bragging rights, and the more evidence of supposed toughness in the active outdoor life of a boy. Surely, I couldn’t let my sister have more bites than me!

Today? After a day outdoors, we lament how even liberal amounts of DEET insect repellant could not stave off the inevitable bites. And we try with all our might to resist the urge to scratch and spread, and this resulting state of twitching leads to another restless night of sleeping. What’s worse? We wake up looking at the marks still counting them like in our youth, but now counting to calculate the statistical probability of catching a disease.

This is aging! And probably some indication of other problems as well! While on those long waiting lists for medical scans, and imaging, can this be a good, unscientific, before and after shot of health done by yourself? A qualitative comparison of how we count mosquito bites every ten years – a longitudinal study?

At least now I know there’s something wrong with me, unofficially, by doing a quick and easy body check.

-Patrick Law

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